The Newsletter for PC-Based Data Acquisition and Control
Issue 100 www.windmill.co.uk November 2006
Welcome to the hundredth edition of Monitor. We
launched in August of 1998, sending the newsletter to
just 140 people. We now have over 32000 subscribers.
Our first article discussed things to think about when
monitoring transducers, followed in Issue 2 by ways of
connecting data acquisition equipment to a PC. These
are two themes we keep returning to - see below for
more tips on using USB-to-Serial converters.
All previous newsletters are archived on our web site
at http://www.windmill.co.uk/. If you have any
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* USB-Serial Converters: Part 2
* Excel Corner
* DAQ News Roundup
* Data Acquisition and Control Exhibitions
USB-to-Serial Converters: Part 2
As we discussed in last month's article, USB-to-Serial
converters are simple to use but need careful setting
up if they are to work properly.
One of our readers, John Hinckley of BioTek Instruments
Inc., told us that he had tried many USB-to-serial
converters. He found 15 to 20 could be made to work some
of the time but only one worked all of the time. (This
was made by Saelig.) He offers these tips for getting
the best out of your converter.
1. Make sure to install the driver correctly. If one
is not included then check with the manufacturer.
2. From the computer's perspective, the adapter is an
active USB device. What this means is that it will
only be available, or listed as an option, if it's
plugged in. While this may sound obvious, I have
seen a few folks (at first including myself),
fooled by this.
3. Once an adapter is installed, Windows assigns it a
COM port number. You can view this number by
starting Windows Control Panel, choosing System then
opening the "Device manager/hardware" window under
"Ports(Com & LPT)". It will look something like
"USB serial port(Com X", where "X" is the port
You may find that Windows assigns a COM port
number that is higher than your software can
handle. If so, use Device Manager to reassign the
COM port to a lower number. Select your adaptor
and click Properties. Choose Port Settings then
Here too, Windows can be confusing as some lower COM
port numbers will be listed as "In Use". This is not
always so and by examining the computer's actual COM
ports physically available, you may find you can use
lower COM port number.
For more tips on using your USB-to-Serial converter see
To download free serial driver software just subscribe to
this newsletter at
We also offer an updated serial driver, COMIML.
Details of this are at
How can I paste an Excel chart as a Picture in a Report?
We were recently asked how to paste a chart into a
report but without the links to the original data.
1. Create the Chart as normal.
2. Delete the Chart by selecting Cut from Excel's
3. From the Edit menu select Paste Special.
4. Choose to paste as a picture.
For more tips on using Excel for data acquisition and
DAQ News Roundup
Welcome to our roundup of the latest data acquisition
and control news. If you would like to receive more
timely DAQ news updates then grab our RSS newsfeed
at https://www.windmillsoft.com/monitor.xml. Read
http://www.windmill.co.uk/newsfeed.php for notes
on how to display the news on your own web site,
read it via e-mail or through a newsfeed viewer.
New Porousity Measurement Guide
In industries from textiles to automobiles and
from pharmaceuticals to semiconductors, accurately
measuring empty spaces - porousity - is a
substantial matter, important to efforts to ensure
high product quality and low scrap rates.
A new Recommended Practice Guide from the National
Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) provides
useful advice and instruction on how to analyse the
size, distribution and total volume of tiny pores.
Source: National Institute of Standards and Technology
Wireless and battery-free tyre monitoring
Michelin has launched a wireless and battery-free
tyre monitoring system. Designed for use on
trucks and other commercial vehicles, the
eTire II sensor patch monitors the pressure and
temperature of tyres via surface acoustic wave
technology licensed from Transense Technologies.
The system takes continuous measurements and
transmits the readings via an integrated radio
frequency identification tag.
Source: Transense Technologies
IEEE to Revise Laptop Battery Standard
Following Sony's blazing laptop batteries, the
IEEE is to revise its laptop battery standard,
IEEE 1625(TM), IEEE Standard for Rechargeable
Batteries for Portable Computing.
Firefighters get Help from Above
A team led by NASA and US Forest Service scientists
collected real-time visible and infrared data from
sensors onboard a remotely piloted aircraft over
the recent Esperanza Fire in Southern California.
From 13000m, the wildfire sensor collected
100 images and more than 20 data files showing the
location of the fire perimeter over a 16-hour period.
Source: Earth Observatory
Data Acquisition Exhibitions and Conferences
Continuing our quarterly list of exhibitions around
the world related to data acquisition and control.
IEEE Sensors Applications Symposium
San Diego California USA
6-8 February 2007
Forum for sensor users and developers to meet and
exchange information about novel and emergent
applications in smart sensors, homeland security,
biology, system health management, and related areas.
13-16 March 2007
International faire for measurement and control.
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Windmill Software Ltd, PO Box 58, North District Office,
Manchester, M8 8QR, UK
Telephone: +44 (0)161 833 2782
Facsimile: +44 (0)161 833 2190
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