The Newsletter for PC-Based Data Acquisition and Control
Issue 22 www.windmill.co.uk May 2000
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* Windmill News: Laboratory Tool for Teachers
* Reading Binary Sensors
* Acronyms and Other Abbreviations
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.
Prevents high frequencies from introducing distortion into a
signal. See Monitor 8 for more details.
A/D, A-D, ADC
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.
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
The use of computer systems for precision drawings.
Computer systems that analyse engineering designs.
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.
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
D/A, D-A, DAC
Used to produce analogue output signals. These may be control
signals or synthesised waveforms.
The automatic collection of data from sensors, instruments and
devices: in a factory, laboratory or in the field, for example.
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.
The extent to which a piece of hardware will tolerate electrical
interference from other equipment, and will interfere with other
Difference of potential produced by sources of electrical energy,
which can be used to drive currents through external circuits.
Unit is the volt.
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
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
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
Next month: the second part of our data acquisition abbreviation
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