Interfacing a Transcell Digital Indicator
Windmill software lets you interface Transcell TI-500 digital indicators, and other instruments with an RS232 serial port, to a PC running Windows. To do this you need one of our serial drivers: COMIML or LabIML. Windmill COMIML software is very easy to use and you can try before you buy. Alternatively, subscribers to the Monitor newsletter (ISSN 1472-0221) can download the earlier LabIML for free.
Windmill automatically feeds data from the Transcell indicators to Windows application software like Excel. The package also includes data logging, charting and output control software. These are ready-to-run applications: no programming is required.
This page helps you get started with the free Windmill 4.3 and LabIML software. (Configuration is similar with COMIML, but you use the ComDebug program instead of the ConfIML program). There are three basic steps.
- Run the Windmill ConfIML program and enter your display's communication settings.
- Run the Windmill SetupIML program and choose names and units for your display's data.
- Run the Windmill DDE Panel, Logger or Chart program to save or display data from your display.
After you have entered your configuration settings with ConfIML and SetupIML, you don't need to use these again and can go straight to the logging and display programs. More details on entering the configuration settings are below.
The TI-500 Series Digital Indicator is a general purpose, industrial grade weight indicator. It requires a null modem RS232 cable.
Run the Windmill ConfIML program
This detects and saves a record of the hardware you want to use. You need to add the LabIML ASCII instrument handler and enter your instrument's communication settings. To do this
- Press the Add button.
- Select LabIML RS232 ASCII Instrument Handler.
- Type a name for the Transcell and a description. The name and description can be anything you like. Enter the number of channels of data you will be collecting. (Each channel holds one type of data item: for example weight.) Press OK.
- Enter your instrument's settings. What you enter here depends on how you have configured your Transcell indicator.
- Reading Protocol: This depends on your Transcell User Menu setting (A3). If you have selected Simplex then choose Continuous Flow as the Reading Protocol. If you have selected Full Duplex, choose Request/Response On Demand.
- Timeout: 5000
- Instrument Idle or Wait Time: 0
- Returned Message Length: For Request/Response on Demand, 20 should work; for Continuous Flow, try 18.
- Instrument Initialisation String: Leave blank.
- You now need to define how to extract data. To do this press the Channels button. Here you need to enter parsing instructions to extract the data value from the Transcell's message. Check your Transcell Manual for details of the commands to send, and the format of the display's reply. If you can't find this information, try these settings.
- Prompt String: P (not needed with Continuous Flow)
- Parse String, Continuous Flow
When in Simplex mode, the Transcell returns a message like this
<STX> indicates the start of the message. This is non-printing character decimal 002.
is either a space for positive or - for negative
xxxxx.xx is the weight
K are the units (or L for pounds)
G means gross weight (N for net weight)
<STAT> is the status - space for Valid, M for motion, O for over or under range
<CR> is a carriage return
<LF> is a line feed
To extract the weight from this message you could search for the start of message (decimal 002), ignore 1 character and extract the next 9 characters. This appears as \S"\C002"\I01\E09
- Parse String, Request/Response On Demand
When in Duplex mode, the Transcell returns a message like this
<STX><SP>xxxxx.xx KG GR<CR><LF> Again you could search for the start of message (decimal 002), ignore 1 character and extract the next 9 characters.
- Initialisation string and Acknowledge string: Leave blank.
- Parse String, Request/Response On Demand
- The next step is to enter your communications settings. These depend upon your User Menu settings in the Transcell Indicator.
- Com port: The port to which you have connected your Transcell.
- Baud rate: As you specified for your Transcell with the User Menu (A1).
- Data bits: As you specified for your Transcell with the User Menu (A2). If in doubt try 8 bits and no parity (Transcell 8n).
- Parity: As you specified for your Transcell with the User Menu (A2). For 8 data bits the parity is always none. For 7 data bits, parity might be odd, even or none (Transcell 7O, 7E, 7n).
- Flow control: None.
- Save your settings and close ConfIML.
Now Run the Windmill SetupIML program
Here you can name your channel, set its units, any alarms and so on.
- From the Device menu select LabIML.
- Your data channel will be shown as a number like 10000. Double click this channel.
- Type name for your channel (for example "Weight") and make sure Enable for Input is checked. If you want to change the units enter an appropriate scale and offset. For example, if you wanted to convert kilograms to pounds you'd enter 2.2 as the scale and 0 as the offset.
- Save your settings in a *.ims file and close SetupIML.
Now open Windmill DDE Panel
- From the File menu select Load Hardware Setup and choose the *.ims file you just saved.
- Connect your Transcell channels. You should see your data in DDE Panel.
- Proceed similarly for the Logger and Chart programs.
Getting the data into Excel
You can use the Windmill Logger program to collect data, and after collection has finished import it into Excel. Alternatively, you can collect data with Excel in real-time by using an Excel macro to read data from the Windmill DDE Panel. For more details see our Excel page.
Have you successfully used Windmill with your Transcell Digital Indicator? Let us know about your project.
If you are having problems receiving data from, right-click the LabIML icon on the tool bar and select "Debug Options".
- If the LabIML Debug window says "Parsing Failed", you have not properly defined how to extract your data. Go back to the ConfIML window and adjust your Reply Parse String.
- If the LabIML Debug window shows no incoming data at all, you may have a cabling problem. The Trancell is a DTE type instrument and requires a null modem RS232 cable. See Trouble-Shooting Serial Port Connections for more details.
- Notes on using Windmill and a Transcell Indicator in materials testing are in Issue 81 of the Monitor Newsletter.
- For more on the Transcell Digital Indicator see the Transcell web site.