Windmill Software Ltd
Data Acquisition Intelligence

May 2000

     The Newsletter for PC-Based Data Acquisition and Control    
Issue 22                     May 2000
-------------------------ISSN 1472-0221--------------------------

We only send this newsletter to people who have subscribed - 
should you wish to cancel your free subscription please visit

* 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.

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.

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

   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.

   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. 

   American National Standards Institute

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

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

   British Standards Institution

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

   Computer-Aided Engineering
   Computer systems that analyse engineering designs.

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

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

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

   Continuous Emission Monitoring
   See Monitor 6 for more details.

   European Committee for Standardisation or
   Comite Europeen de Normalisation

   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.

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

   Common Mode Rejection Ratio
   See Monitor 11 for more details

   Digital-to-Analogue Converter
   Used to produce analogue output signals. These may be control 
   signals or synthesised waveforms.

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

   Direct Current
   Current that flows in one direction. 

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

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

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

   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).

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

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

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

   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. 

   Electromagnetic Interference
   Electromagnetic waves that come from electrical and electronic 

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

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

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

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

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

   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.
   Global Positioning System
   Uses satellites to provide accurate, three-dimensional, position and 
   velocity information.

   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 

* Copyright Windmill Software Ltd
* Reprinting permitted with this notice included
* For more articles see

We are happy for you to copy and distribute this 
newsletter, and use extracts from it on your own web site 
or publication, providing the above notice is 
included and a link back to our website is in place.

An archive of previous issues is at
and an index of articles at

We welcome your comments on this newsletter: please fill in 
this form.
Comments: Email:
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 E-mail: [email protected] SUBSCRIBING Please fill in your e-mail address.

Previous Issue Next Issue

Home | Windmill Measurement Software | Data Acquisition Shop | Monitor Newsletter | Contact Us | Contents: Tutorials, Tech Support, Applications, Free Stuff, etc | Search