-------------------------Monitor------------------------ The Newsletter for PC-Based Data Acquisition and Control Issue 109 www.windmill.co.uk August 2007 --------------------ISSN 1472-0221---------------------- Welcome to the August issue of Monitor. I hope you enjoy the newsletter but should you wish to cancel your subscription you can do so at https://www.windmill.co.uk/newsletter.html CONTENTS ======== * Windmill Notes: NMEA Data Acquisition Checklist * Excel Corner: Formatting All Data Series in a Chart * DAQ News Roundup * Data Acquisition Exhibitions ________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________ Windmill Notes: NMEA Data Acquisition Checklist ________________________________________________________ Many instruments use NMEA messages to communicate with a computer, including GPS receivers, echo sounders and anemometers. You can collect data from instruments communicating via NMEA using the Windmill 7 COMIML software for RS232 Devices. Using Windmill to Collect NMEA Readings =========================================== The first time you use Windmill you need to tell it: - how to communicate with your instrument - which readings you wish to collect. In future sessions you can immediately start acquiring data simply by launching the Windmill DDE or Logger program. Collecting Data for the First Time ================================== 1. Use an RS232 serial cable to plug your instrument into one of the PC's COM ports. 2. Use the Windmill 4.3 ConfIML program (or the Windmill 6 ComDebug program) to enter your instrument's settings. In ConfIML: a. Click the Add button. b. Select LabIML RS232 ASCII Instrument Handler and click Add. c. Type a name for your instrument and description. These can be anything you like. Decide how many types of measurement you want to collect, and enter this as the number of channels. For example, if you were collecting latitude, longitude and depth, you would need 3 channels. Press OK. d. Enter your instrument settings. These depend on your device and its messages, but if in doubt start with these: - Reading Protocol: Continuous Flow - Instrument Idle or Wait Time: 0 - Data Persistence: 5000 (assuming you are taking readings more often than once every 5 seconds) - Returned Message Length: 100 - Instrument Initialisation String: Leave blank. 3. Use ConfIML to define which data items you want to collect. a. Click the Channels button. b. Enter data collection instructions into the Parse String box. These tell Windmill which piece of the data string to extract. A data string will look something like this... $WIMWV,151.0,R,001.30,N,A
This contains wind velocity data from a boat where 151.0 = wind direction, R = wind direction relative to the boat, 001.30 = speed and N = knots. - You need to first fix your position in the string. Click the Reply Parse String box then click the String Search button. Type $WIMWV, into the Search For box. This will stop the parser at the wind direction. - Click the Extract Until char button and enter , into the Extract box. In our example this will obtain the wind direction. - The Reply Parse String will look like this: \S"$WIMWV,"\E"," - To also extract the wind speed: select channel 1, search for "R," and extract until ,. - See your instrument's Manual for details of its data strings. - Click OK to close the Channels dialogue and Settings dialogue 6. Use ConfIML to enter your communication settings. Click the Comms button. Check your instrument's Manual for its settings, but if in doubt start with these: - Baud rate: 4800 - Bits: 8 - Parity: none Save your settings and leave ConfIML. 7. Run the SetupIML program. Here you can name your channels, set units, any alarm thresholds and so on. a. From the Device menu select LabIML. b. Your data channels will be shown as numbers like 10000, 10001, 10002. Double click a channel. c. Type name for your channel, eg Windspeed, and make sure Enable for Input is checked. d. Save your settings in a *.ims file and close SetupIML. 8. Run Windmill DDE Panel a. From the File menu select Load Hardware Setup and choose the *.ims file you just saved. b. Connect your channels. You should see your data in DDE Panel. c. Proceed similarly for the Logger and Chart programs. 9. Sort out any Problems If the data shown is not what you expected... a. Right-click the LabIML icon on the task bar and select "Debug Options". b. If the LabIML Debug window says "Parsing Failed", you need to refine your parsing instructions. - Close all Windmill programs and IML Device icons. - In ConfIML select your instrument. - Press the Settings button. - Press the Channels button and adjust the Reply Parse String. c. If you receive an Error 114 message, this means that no data is available from your instrument. This might be caused by: - too short a persistence time, - the "returned message length" being shorter than the actual length of the message, - a parsing problem, - a cabling problem Change the settings in ConfIML or try swapping the cable. For more trouble-shooting options see https://www.windmill.co.uk/rs232-communication.html 6. Transfer the data to Excel or a Mapping program You can use the Windmill Logger program to collect data, and after collection has finished import it into Excel or a mapping program. Alternatively, you can collect data with Excel in real-time by writing an Excel macro to read data from the Windmill DDE Panel. For more details see https://www.windmill.co.uk/excel/ Further Reading =============== Interfacing NMEA Instruments to a PC https://www.windmill.co.uk/nmea.html Parsing messages from instruments https://www.windmill.co.uk/parse.html Connecting a GPS Receiver to a Laptop PC https://www.windmill.co.uk/gps.html Interfacing a Garmin GPS Receiver https://www.windmill.co.uk/garmin.html Guide to Automatic Sea-Floor Mapping https://www.windmill.co.uk/seafloormapping.html ________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________ Excel Corner: Formatting All Data Series in a Chart ________________________________________________________ When you have many data series on your chart it is time-consuming and tedious to format each one individually. There are two ways to speed up the formatting. 1. Format one series then select the next and press F4 to repeat, and so on. 2. Write a macro to format all series. Here is an example of a macro which formats all series in all charts on a worksheet. Sub FormatDataSeries() For Each Chart In ActiveSheet.ChartObjects Chart.Activate ActiveChart.ChartArea.Select For Each Series In ActiveChart.SeriesCollection Series.Select With Selection.Border .ColorIndex = 46 .Weight = xlThin .LineStyle = xlDash End With With Selection .MarkerBackgroundColorIndex = 40 .MarkerForegroundColorIndex = 2 .MarkerStyle = xlSquare .Smooth = True .MarkerSize = 6 End With Next Series Next Chart End Sub You can modify this to suit your chart. Use the macro recorder to change the style of one data series to as you want it, then copy the settings required to your macro. For more tips on charting with Excel see https://www.windmill.co.uk/excel/excel-charting.html For how to use Excel for data acquisition see https://www.windmill.co.uk/excel/ ________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________ DAQ News Roundup ________________________________________________________ Welcome to our roundup of the data acquisition and control news. If you would like to receive more timely DAQ news updates then grab our RSS newsfeed at https://www.windmillsoft.com/monitor.xml. Read https://www.windmill.co.uk/newsfeed.php for notes on how to display the news on your own web site, read it via e-mail, mobile phone or a newsfeed viewer. Fickle ocean current foils climate modellers Scientists can now monitor the ocean continuously, thanks largely to RAPID, an array of instruments strung on cables moored to the seabed. RAPID measures the ocean's pressure profile, which scientists can use to calculate how water is flowing. What they see is that the overturning circulation fluctuates wildly, making historical comparisons difficult. Source: New Scientist http://environment.newscientist.com/article/dn12494-fickle-ocean-current-foils-climate-modellers.html See what you're spewing as you drive In future drivers may only have to glance at the dashboard to see the pollution spewing out of their vehicle's exhausts. A team from The University of Manchester has constructed a laser measuring device capable of recording levels of carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide and methane from directly inside an exhaust. Once optimised, the process could be incorporated into onboard diagnostic systems that would monitor emissions as vehicles drive along - and potentially help people reduce their emissions by adjusting their driving style. Source: The University of Manchester http://www.manchester.ac.uk/ Nanoscale Blasting Adjusts Resistance in Magnetic Sensors A new process for adjusting the resistance of semiconductor devices by carpeting a small area of the device with tiny pits, like a yard dug up by demented terriers, may be the key to a new class of magnetic sensors. The technique allows engineers to tailor the electrical resistance of individual layers in a device without changing any other part of the processing or design. Source: National Institute of Standards and Technology https://www.nist.gov/ First Automated River-Monitoring System Planned The first automated monitoring and forecasting network for an American river is being set up by The Beacon Institute and IBM. The River and Estuary Observatory Network will allow minute-to-minute monitoring of New York's 315-mile Hudson River. The system will capture temperature, salinity and pollution measurements; map fish populations via acoustical data; and track particular fish species through radio tagging. Source: IBM http://www-03.ibm.com/ Worldwide DCS Market Experiences Growth Resurgence The Distributed Control Systems (DCS) market experienced unprecedented growth in 2006, increasing by over 14% compared to 2005 and it is expected to continue growing at a healthy rate through 2011, according to a new ARC Advisory Group study. They conclude though, that 2006 will be the peak year for growth. Source: ARC Advisory Group http://www.arcweb.com/ ________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________ Data Acquisition Exhibitions ________________________________________________________ PTA-2007 Moscow, Russia 26-28 September 2007 Annual exhibition of technologies and equipment for process automation and embedded systems. http://www.pta-expo.ru/en/ MSV Brno, Czech Republic 1-5 October 2007 International engineering fair: portal for new products, innovations and key trends in engineering and other industries. http://www.bvv.cz/msv-gb Instrumentation South Reading, Berkshire, UK 3-4 October 2007 Cover all aspects of the uses in industry of test, measurement, data acquisition and control. http://www.instrumentation.co.uk/ DMS Osaka, Japan 3-5 October 2007 Tenth design engineering & manufacturing solutions exhibition. http://www.dms-kansai.jp/english/ ________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________ * Copyright Windmill Software Ltd * Reprinting permitted with this notice included * For more articles see https://www.windmill.co.uk 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. 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