Windmill Software Ltd
Data Acquisition Intelligence

May 2008

The Newsletter for PC-Based Data Acquisition and Control
Issue 118           May 2008
--------------------ISSN 1472-0221----------------------

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* Windmill Notes: The Messages sent by RS232 Devices
* Excel Corner: More on E-mailing Alarm Alerts
* DAQ News Roundup

Windmill Notes: The Messages sent by RS232 Devices

In the response to our recent survey, you asked for a 
list of message strings sent by popular measuring 
devices over RS232.  Here is the first installment of 
the list.  We are still looking to add devices - if you 
have used Windmill with an RS232 instrument please could 
you help us by sending an example of its data message to 
[email protected]? 

Our thanks to everyone who has aready done so and who 
has helped us compile this list.

Free software to collect data from RS232 devices is available 
to all our newsletter subscribers.

The "typical message string" gives an example of the 
sequence of characters sent by the instrument when it 
transmits data.

Where the instrument requires a command to transmit data, 
this is shown below as the "prompt string".

<cr> represents a carriage return.
<lf> represents a line feed.

The "Windmill parse string" gives an example of how 
you might set up Windmill to extract data from the 
instrument. We haven't included this for instruments 
sending many items of data in one message. For more 
details of parsing data see

Ashtech G12 GPS Board
Typical message string = $GPGGA,145229.80,5141.086059,N,00006.429733,W,1,8,1.0,61.620,M,45.78,M,999,0*4F
More details at

Atlas Deso Echosounder
Typical message string = $GPGGA,082545.00,3411.57308,S,01826.70951,E,1,06,1.5,30.1,M,31.8,M,,*4C
More details at

Desoutter Torque Tester TMP220
Typical message string = ( #  5   0.48 Nm )
Windmill parse string = \S"#"I06\E04
More details at

Garmin GPS
Typical message string = $GPRMC,hhmmss,A,llll.ll,N,yyyyy.yy,W,kk.k,tt.t,ddmmyy,mm.m,W*CS
More details at

ICP DAS I-7000 Series analogue and digital modules
Typical message string for analogue input reading = >+05.123+04.153+07.234-02.356+10.000-05.133+02.
More details at

Mettler Toledo Balance
Prompt string = S<cr><lf>
Typical message string = S S     100.0 g
Windmill parse string = \I"0123456789"\E" "
(extracts just the numerical part of the string) 
More details at

Parker PDFX Stepper Drive
Typical message string with encoder positions for rotator scan = 
Windmill parse string = \S"*"\E5

SG Brown Gyro Compass
Typical message string for heading = $GPGGA,082545.00,3411.57308,S,01826.70951,E,1,06,1.5,30.1,M,31.8,M,,*4C
DA00013.67 m
DB00013.67 m
More details at

Sylvac Dial Gauge (digital indicator)
Typical message string = +00.0000<cr>
Windmill reply parse string = \I"+-"\E"\C013
More details at

TSS DMS motion sensor
Typical message string for roll, pitch, heave = :003D31  0000U 0026  0005

Further Reading
Parsing Messages from RS232 Instruments

Instrument setup files

Excel Corner: More on E-mailing Alarm Alerts

Last month we discussed how to send an e-mail from Excel 
whenever a channel crossed an alarm level 
(  One 
of our readers - Brian Yeager of SCE & G - suggested that 
some users wouldn't want the e-mails to show the
default e-mail address of their PC, and gave a solution.  
A slightly modified version of this is below.

On an alarm condition, this sub-routine sends an e-mail 
containing the data in cells A2 to G2.  The e-mail is 
from whatever you specify in the From = line below.  You 
can download an example spreadsheet with this sub-routine 

Sub SendEmail()

    Dim iMsg As Object

    Application.ScreenUpdating = False
    Dim cell As Range
    Dim MsgTextBody As String
    MsgTextBody = "The temperature reading in cell A2 is in alarm " & vbNewLine
    For Each cell In Sheets("Sheet1").Range("A2:G2")
    MsgTextBody = MsgTextBody & cell.Value & vbNewLine

    Set iMsg = CreateObject("CDO.Message")

    With iMsg
        .To = "[email protected]"
        .CC = ""
        .BCC = ""
        .From = "[email protected]"
        .Subject = "Alarm alert"
        .TextBody = MsgTextBody
    End With

    Set iMsg = Nothing

    Set iConf = Nothing

    Application.ScreenUpdating = True

End Sub

(1) If your company is using a firewall, you may need to 
define via your email system any recipients outside the 
firewall that will receive messages 
(e.g., [email protected]). Otherwise, the 
firewall will likely block the home-grown email.

(2) If your From address is not a real e-mail, make 
sure you add a line to the MsgTextBody telling people 
not to respond to this e-mail. 

(3) The code won't work in Windows 98 or ME.

(4) To test the spreadsheet you may like to use 
Windmill's automatically generated data values provided 
by the Software Signal Generator. Just add the Signal 
Generator in the ConfIML program and make sure it is 
in your SetupIML listing.


Further Reading

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

For more on sending e-mail from 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  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.

Bluetooth gives spies a window into your life
   Cellphones with Bluetooth are more of a privacy threat 
   than RFID chips, say researchers who used the system to 
   track 10,000 people in one city.  Bluetooth makes our 
   movements trackable by anyone equipped with a PC and 
   an appropriate receiver. Scientists in the UK placed 
   four Bluetooth receivers in the city's centre. Over 
   four months, they tracked 10,000 Bluetooth phones and 
   were able to "capture and analyse people's encounters" 
   in pubs, streets and shops.
   Source: New Scientist

Explosive sensor
   Scientists at the University of Massachusetts have 
   created complex molecules containing zinc for use in 
   portable sensors that quickly and reliably detect the 
   presence of plastic explosives.  Sensors containing the 
   zinc complexes are also the first devices that allow 
   the user to identify which type of explosive is present, 
   since each metal complex has a unique response to 
   explosives and explosive mimics.
   Source: University of Massachusetts

Role of Sensors in Automotive Applications to Grow
   New analysis from Frost & Sullivan finds that the
   availability of better next-generation sensors makes 
   electronics one of the fastest growing areas in 
   automotive technology. Sensors advancements include 
   those affecting tire pressure, engine control, vehicle 
   safety and fuel efficiency.
   Source: Frost & Sullivan

Adapted aircon can track movement in the home
   Pressure detectors in air-conditioning units can 
   track the movement of people through a building 
   and could be used to save energy. An HVAC system 
   circulates air throughout a house using a system 
   of ducts. In an empty house, that circulation 
   reaches a steady state and there is a constant 
   airflow through the central filter. But the flow 
   is disturbed if a person moves through the house, 
   particularly if they open and close doors as they 
   go.  A research team found that they could detect 
   these tiny disturbances to airflow simply by placing 
   five air-pressure sensors on the filter that lies 
   at the centre of the HVAC system.
   Source: New Scientist

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

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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]


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