Windmill Software Ltd
Data Acquisition Intelligence

April 2008

The Newsletter for PC-Based Data Acquisition and Control
Issue 117         April 2008
--------------------ISSN 1472-0221----------------------

Welcome to Monitor. This month: receiving e-mails 
whenever a measurement crosses its alarm level - see the 
Excel Corner for details.  Plus how to use your PC to 
collect data from a Transcell digital indicator.

I hope you enjoy the newsletter but if you want to 
remove yourself from our mailing list please do so at 

* Windmill Notes: Interfacing a Transcell Digital Indicator
* Excel Corner: E-mailing Alarm Alerts
* DAQ News Roundup
* Data Acquisition and Control Exhibitions

Windmill Notes: Interfacing a Transcell Digital Indicator

Windmill software lets you interface Transcell 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 Monitor can download 
the earlier LabIML for free.

Windmill automatically feeds data from the Transcell 
indicator 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. 

A Transcell Digital Indicator shows weight measurements 
from load cells. It requires a null modem RS232 cable. 

Configuring the Free Windmill Software for a Transcell Indicator 

There are three basic steps to setting Windmill to log 
data from a Transcell display.

1. Run the Windmill ConfIML program and enter your 
   Transcell's communication settings. 

2. Run the Windmill SetupIML program and choose names and
   units for your display's data. 

3. Run the Windmill DDE Panel, Logger or Chart program, or 
   Excel, 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 

Windmill ConfIML 

This programs detects and saves a record of the hardware 
you want to use. 

1. Start ConfIML and Press the Add button. 

2. Select LabIML RS232 ASCII Instrument Handler. 

3. Type a name for the Transcell and a description. The 
   name and description can be anything you like. Enter 1 
   as the number of channels if you are collecting data 
   from one load cell.

4. Enter your instrument's settings. What you enter here 
   depends on how you have configured your Transcell 
   - 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, use 20; for Continuous Flow, use 18
   - Instrument Initialisation String: Leave blank.

5. Click the Channels button and define how to extract 
   data. consult 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 
   use the settings below.
   - Make sure that Read channel is checked
   - Enter the engineering units your gauge uses, eg kg
   - Ignore the maximum and minimum settings: these are 
     just a guide for chart scaling etc. 
   - Prompt string: P (not needed with Continuous Flow) 
   - Parse String, Simplex Mode (Continuous Flow):
     When in Simplex mode, the Transcell returns a message 
     like this 
     xxxxx.xxKG where
      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 means kilograms (or L for pounds)
     G means gross weight (N for net weight)
      is the status - space for Valid, M for motion, 
     O for over- or under-range
      is a carriage return
      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 

   - Parse String, Duplex mode (Request/Response On Demand) 
     When in Duplex mode, the Transcell returns a message 
     like this 
     xxxxx.xx KG GR where
     KG means kilogram (or lb for pounds)
     GR means gross (or NT for net)
     Rest as in Simplex mode

     Here you could again search for the start of message 
     (decimal 002), ignore 1 character and extract the 
     next 9 characters: 

   - Initialisation string and Acknowledge string: 
     Leave blank. 

6. Enter your communication settings. These depend upon 
   your User Menu settings in the Transcell Indicator. 
   - Com port: The port to which you have connected your 
   - 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. 

7. Save your settings, close ConfIML and start SetupIML.


Windmill SetupIML

Here you can name your channel, set its units, alarms and 
so on.

1. Choose to Create a New Setup and enter a name and 
   description. This can be anything you like. 

2. From the Device menu select LabIML. 

3. Your data channels will be shown as a number like 10000. 
   Double click this. 

4. Type name for your channel, eg Weight and make sure 
   Enable for Input is checked. 

5. Save your settings in a *.ims file, close SetupIML and run 
   DDE Panel or Logger 


Windmill DDE Panel

1. From the File menu select Load Hardware Setup and 
   choose the *.ims file you just saved. 

2. Connect your Transcell channels. You should see your 
   data in DDE Panel. 

3. 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 at



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 at	 for more details. 

Check also whether you have connected the Transcell in 
Simplex (continuous flow) or Duplex (Request/Response) 
mode.  For the TI-1500 and TI-1600 If you have used the 
COM1 port on the Transcell it will be in Duplex mode, 
and if you have used the Transcell's COM2 port it will 
be in Simplex mode.


Further Reading
Interfacing a Transcell Digital Indicator

Transcell Manuals

Excel Corner: Excel Corner: E-mailing Alarm Alerts

One of our readers is collecting live temperature data 
in Excel. He asked us how he could get Excel to send him 
an e-mail whenever the temperature exceeded a given level.

To do this you need to:
1. Collect the live data.
2. Detect when the data changes.
3. Test whether the watched value exceeds its alarm level.
4. If so send the e-mail.

These tasks are accomplished by four macros. You can 
download a spreadsheet with examples of these macros from 

1. Collect the Live Data
Although you can normally collect live data simply by 
copying and pasting a link from the Windmill DDE Panel, 
this will not work for our purpose. The data will be 
displayed and automatically update, but the formula 
behind the data remains the same. This means that Excel 
will see the cell contents as unchanging and will not 
know when the data value has updated. Instead use the 
macro given in 
For more details about collecting live data in Excel see

2. Detect when the Value Changes
To do this we can use one of Excel's worksheet event 
Private Sub Worksheet_Change. 
You must enter this as a private macro. To do this 
right-click the Sheet name tab, choose View Code and 
enter your macro. If you were collecting live data in 
cell A2 then the following code would detect when this 
live data changed, and if so would run the 
macro "TestCondition".

Private Sub Worksheet_Change(ByVal Target As Range)
    If Target.Address = "$A$2" Then TestCondition
End Sub

The macro runs everytime the worksheet changes. 
Target is a predefined variable which represents the 
location of the cell or range in which you are 
interested. When a change occurs the macro checks 
whether the target data changed, and if so runs the 
specified macro (TestCondition).

3. Test whether this Changed Value Exceeds its Alarm Level
This is a simple macro to test whether the data value 
in cell A2 exceeds the alarm level entered in cell A1. 
If so then the SendEmail macro runs.

Sub TestCondition()
    If ActiveSheet.Range("A2") > ActiveSheet.Range("A1") Then SendEmail
End Sub

4. Sending an E-mail
The SendMail Method sends an Excel Workbook as an 
attachment to specified recipients. 

Sub SendEmail()
    ActiveWorkbook.SendMail Recipients:="[email protected]", Subject:="Temperature Too High"
End Sub

This will send the active workbook containing 
the data to [email protected]

You cannot send text in the body of the message or 
attach files other than an Excel workbook.

When you run the macro you may get a message from 
your e-mail client saying "A program is attempting 
to send an e-mail on your behalf. Do you wish to 
send the e-mail?". You need to disable this in the 
Security settings of your e-mail client (Outlook 
for example), and then restart Excel. You also 
need to set your e-mail client to send messages 
immediately and not to wait until the Send button 
is pressed.

Further Reading
For how to change the e-mail address from which the 
e-mail is sent, see Issue 118 of Monitor.

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


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  Read for notes
on how to display the news on your own web site, 
read it via e-mail, mobile phone or a newsfeed viewer.

Cool Microsensors Offer Improved Analysis
   Researchers at the National Institute of Standards 
   and Technology (NIST) have combined two tiny but 
   powerful NIST inventions on a single microchip, a 
   cryogenic sensor and a microrefrigerator. The 
   combination offers the possibility of cheaper, 
   simpler and faster precision analysis of materials 
   such as semiconductors and stardust.
   Source: National Institute of Standards and Technology

Self-Powered Tyre Sensors
   Morgan Electro Ceramic, has developed technology 
   which can power car tyre pressure monitoring 
   systems (TPMS) using wheel movement instead of 
   batteries.  The device, a piezoelectric bimorph, 
   enables TPMS manufacturers to design self-powered 
   remote sensors that accurately measure tyre 
   pressure, with none of the lifetime and disposal 
   issues associated with batteries.
   Source: Morgan Electro Ceramics

Robotic Jellyfish Swim and Fly at Hannover Fair
   The biggest draws at Festo's Hannover Fair exhibits 
   have been biologically inspired robotic creatures 
   that show off cutting-edge automation technologies. 
   Turning once again to nature for inspiration, the 
   company's engineers this year came up with robotic 
   jellyfish that either swim or fly. AquaJelly robots 
   also manage their own battery-charging behavior. 
   They communicate with an in-tank charging dock 
   wirelessly via ZigBee, for example, to make sure 
   the dock isn't occupied when they need to charge.
   Source: Design News

Wireless for Process Manufacturing Growing at 32%
   The market for wireless devices and equipment in 
   process manufacturing will grow at 32% per year to 
   2012, according to a new ARC Advisory Group study. 
   Wireless process sensing is expected to be the fastest 
   growing market segment as the market absorbs a deluge 
   of new wireless sensing products that comply with 
   wireless versions of industrial standards. 
   Source: ARC Advisory Group

Data Acquisition and Control Exhibitions

Every four months we list the exhibitions around the 
world related to data acquisition and control.

   29 April - 1 May 2008
   Birmingham UK
   The UK's complete production line event for the 
   electronics industry. It encompasses all aspects 
   of the electronics manufacturing process, from 
   design to production and test.

   3-8 May 2008
   Seoul Korea 
   Industrial automation, instrumentation and 
   measurement exhibition.

Automation Vietnam 2008
   8-10 May 2008
   Hanoi Vietnam
   International factory automation, electrical and 
   power transmission and material handling 
   technology exhibition and conference.

ESEC : Embedded Systems Expo
   14-16 May 2008
   Tokyo Japan
   The largest embedded systems exhibtiion 
   in Asia.

National Manufacturing Week
   27-30 May 2008
   Sydney Australia
   Serves the automation, process, electronics 
   and electrical industries.

SIEE - Pollutec
   19-22 June 2008
   Algiers Algeria
   International exhibition of equipment and 
   services for water.

   25-27 June 2008
   Tokyo Japan
   Design engineering and manufacturing solutions expo.

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

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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]


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