Windmill Software Ltd
Data Acquisition Intelligence

Windmill
May 2000

-----------------------------Monitor-----------------------------
     The Newsletter for PC-Based Data Acquisition and Control    
Issue 22               www.windmill.co.uk                May 2000
-------------------------ISSN 1472-0221--------------------------

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CONTENTS
========
* Windmill News: Laboratory Tool for Teachers
* Reading Binary Sensors
* Acronyms and Other Abbreviations
_________________________________________________________________

                         WINDMILL NEWS
			   
Laboratory Tool for Teachers
============================
In Issue 18 we brought news of how the Windmill Graphics demo was 
being used in Scottish schools to teach control technology. Now 
the New Zealand Technology Education Centre (OSTEC) is using 
Windmill to show teachers how to create "an inexpensive laboratory 
analysis tool with formidable capability".

OSTEC illustrate how to collect data from an electronic 
temperature sensor and use it in a spreadsheet (Excel) on the 
teacher's PC. Other parameters, such as pressure, strain or rain-
fall can be measured in a similar manner.

Previously the cost of the serial port software needed for the 
equipment was prohibitively expensive. Now Windmill's free 
software puts the system within educational reach. (The free 
software is exclusively available to Monitor subscribers.)

For more details of the OSTEC initiative, see 
our application story or OSTEC's site.

                                *
								
Windmill reads data from Binary Sensors
=======================================
To speed up your installation of Windmill, we provide a library of 
set-up files. If your instrument is represented in our library you 
can download the appropriate files and automatically configure your 
system: without the need to fill in a series of dialogue boxes.

We've now updated this library to include details of the Parallax 
BASIC Stamp interface. Amongst other things, this lets you use 
your free Windmill software to access data from sensors sending 
their readings in binary, rather than ASCII, format.
_________________________________________________________________

      DATA ACQUISITION AND CONTROL ABBREVIATIONS
Abbreviations are ubiquitous in the scientific and engineering 
worlds, and the data acquisition and control sector is no 
exception. Here is part 1 of our abbreviation reference guide, in 
many cases with pointers to more information.

AAF
   Anti-Alias Filter
   Prevents high frequencies from introducing distortion into a 
   signal. See Monitor 8 for more details.

A/D, A-D, ADC
   Analogue-to-Digital Converter
   Converts an analogue signal (such as a voltage signal from a 
   temperature sensor) into a digital signal suitable for input 
   to a computer. See Monitor 3 and 4 for more details.

AC
   Alternating Current
   Electric current whose flow alternates in direction. The 
   number of times the current changes direction in one 
   second is called the frequency. The normal waveform 
   of ac is sinusoidal. 

ANSI
   American National Standards Institute

API
   Application Programming Interface
   A set of tools for building software applications, 
   guaranteeing that all programs have a similar interfaces.

BIPM
   Bureau International des Poids et Mesures
   The international bureau for weights and measures, the heart of 
   the International System of Units (SI). 

BSI
   British Standards Institution

CAD
   Computer-Aided Design
   The use of computer systems for precision drawings.

CAE
   Computer-Aided Engineering
   Computer systems that analyse engineering designs.

CAM
   Computer-Aided Manufacturing
   The use of computers to help automate factories, for example 
   with    real-time control or robotics.

CAN
   Controller Area Network
   A serial data communications bus for real-time applications, 
   originally developed for use in vehicles.

CE
   Conformite Europeene
   A mark that is affixed to a product to designate that it is in 
   full compliance with all applicable European Union legal 
   requirements. 

CEM
   Continuous Emission Monitoring
   See Monitor 6 for more details.

CEN
   European Committee for Standardisation or
   Comite Europeen de Normalisation

CENELEC
   European Committee for Electrotechnical Standardisation or
   Comite Europeen de Normalisation Electrotechnique
   CENELEC develop a set of voluntary electrotechnical 
   standards for the European Union and European Economic Area.

CMOS
   Complementary Metal-Oxide Semiconductor
   A type of integrated circuit for digital processors.

CMRR
   Common Mode Rejection Ratio
   See Monitor 11 for more details

D/A, D-A, DAC
   Digital-to-Analogue Converter
   Used to produce analogue output signals. These may be control 
   signals or synthesised waveforms.

DAQ
   Data Acquisition
   The automatic collection of data from sensors, instruments and 
   devices: in a factory, laboratory or in the field, for example.

DC
   Direct Current
   Current that flows in one direction. 

DCE
   Data Circuit-Terminating Equipment or Data Communications 
   Equipment
   Part of the RS232 standard which represents, for example, an 
   instrument or modem attached to your PC. 
   See Monitor 15 for more details.

DDE
   Dynamic Data Exchange
   A standard Microsoft Windows protocol that defines a way for 
   Windows applications to share information with one another. 

DTE
   Data Terminating Equipment
   Part of the RS232 standard which represents the computer at 
   the end of the cable. See Monitor 15 for more details.

EEA
   European Economic Area
   Includes the 15 members of the European Union and three of 
   the countries in the European Free Trade Association 
   (Switzerland is the odd one out).

EFTA
   European Free Trade Association
   Members: Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland.

EIA
   Electronic Industries Association
   An organisation that defines Recommended Standards (RS) for 
   hardware devices and their interfaces.

EMC
   Electromagnetic Compatibility
   The extent to which a piece of hardware will tolerate electrical 
   interference from other equipment, and will interfere with other 
   equipment.

EMF
   Electromotive Force
   Difference of potential produced by sources of electrical energy, 
   which can be used to drive currents through external circuits. 
   Unit is the volt. 

EMI
   Electromagnetic Interference
   Electromagnetic waves that come from electrical and electronic 
   devices.

ETSI
   European Telecommunications Standards Institute
   Non-profit making organisation that produces telecommunications 
   standards. ETSI unites 773 members from 52 countries inside and 
   outside Europe. 

EU
   European Union
   Member states - Austria, Belgium, Denmark, England, Finland, 
   France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, 
   Portugal, Spain and Sweden. 

FIFO 
   First in, first out
   A buffer where the first value placed in the store is the first 
   value subsequently read.

FFT
   Fast Fourier Transfer
   An analysis algorithm - given a finite set of data points, the 
   FFT expresses the data in terms of its component 
   frequencies.

FTP
   File Transfer Protocol
   A protocol used to transfer files over a TCP/IP network like the 
   internet.

GPIB
   General Purpose Interface Bus
   A standard designed to connect several instruments to computers 
   for data acquisition and control. Also known as HPIB or IEEE-488.
   
GPS
   Global Positioning System
   Uses satellites to provide accurate, three-dimensional, position and 
   velocity information.

GUI
   Graphical User Interface
   Uses the computer's graphical capabilities with the aim of making 
   the program easier to use, for example with windows, icons, menus 
   and pointers. See Monitor 9 for tips on designing 
   user interfaces.

Next month: the second part of our data acquisition abbreviation 
explanations.
_________________________________________________________________

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