Windmill Software Ltd
Data Acquisition Intelligence

27 November 2006

The Newsletter for PC-Based Data Acquisition and Control
Issue 100      November 2006
--------------------ISSN 1472-0221----------------------

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  If you have any 
suggestions for the newsletter please fill in this 

Thank you very much for subscribing: should you 
wish to cancel your subscription you can do 
so at

* 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 
   number assigned.
   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.

More Information
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

Excel Corner: 
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 
   Edit menu. 
3. From the Edit menu select Paste Special.
4. Choose to paste as a picture.

That's it.

For more tips on using Excel for data acquisition and 
analysis see

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  Read 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.

   Warsaw Poland
   13-16 March 2007
   International faire for measurement and control.

* 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

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]

Do you have a question, comment or suggestion on this 
newsletter? Fill in this form to contact the editor.


To receive Monitor every month please fill in your e-mail address below. We will not pass your address to any third parties, nor send you any unsolicited e-mail.

*  Email:
*  Format:
    First Name:
    Last Name:
*  Enter the security code shown:

Previous Issue Next Issue