NGEF Microtrac

Microtrac was a project undertaken by NG Electric Factory to provide total turnkey project of Underground Metro Train for Calcutta India. This project used a Programmable Logic Controller (PLC) to control the train.  The PLC would accept commands from the train driver and control the traction motors.

Convinced Metro Railways to buy Microprocessor Controlled Train Control System for underground railways resulting in an immediate order worth 60 million Indian Rupees.

Lead a team which designed and implemented a diagnostic system. Wrote the critical software components. The system was used on a moving train and convinced the customer with real live data that the Microprocessor Controlled Train Control System worked much better than their existing Electro-mechanical Control System.

Mindmap of Microtrac System

Challenge

It was required to understand the Traction Principles and how the Metro Train works - so as to be able to intelligently answer the questions the customer may raise about our product.
It was required to develop a Diagnostic System which can prove to the Metro officials that our Microtrac behaves exactly as they required.
It was required to source all the hardware and software for the Diagnostic System and write all the software required for the Diagnostic System.
The program running on the PLC was written by the team.
This was a very exciting project because all the lives of the passengers of the train were in the hands of the programme running on the PLC, and also because this was a most challenging hardware and software integration project.
Data from 48 digital and 8 analogue channels had to be acquired, stored on the hard disk and graphically displayed on the PC screen as running charts and meters at the rate of once every 15 milliseconds.
It was required to run the Diagnostic System while the train is moving at 60 kmph under the control of Microtrac, show the graphic display to the Metro officials, explain to them the various stages of train movement as shown on screen and relate to what their own knowledge of the train. 

Action Taken

Traction principles were studied and understood so as to be able to analyse the charts and graphs obtained during test run of the PLC on board the train.
Studied available hardware and select the most suitable hardware.  This included both the PC hardware and the Data Acquisition cards.
Diagnostic software was designed, developed and tested.
The software was written using Borland C++ running on a 80486 PC and Data Acquisition cards on ISA bus were used to acquire data from the traction motors and other hardware on board the running train at real time.
Interface device was designed to convert signals that were at 750 V DC level to those acceptable by the PC.
Image showing Microtrac in Metro

Result

The complete diagnostic system including the hardware and software were built.

The necessary graphs and charts on board the train controlled by the PLC were collected.

The data was analysed and customer was convinced that our PLC system was as required by them and in some cases our system was better than their expectations resulting in Metro Railways placing an immediate order worth 60 million Indian Rupees.