Windmill Software Ltd
Data Acquisition Intelligence

June 2008

The Newsletter for PC-Based Data Acquisition and Control
Issue 119          June 2008
--------------------ISSN 1472-0221----------------------

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* Windmill Notes: Messages from RS232 Instruments, Part 2
* Excel Corner: Attaching a File to Alarm Alert E-mails
* DAQ News Roundup

Windmill Notes: Messages from RS232 Instruments, Part 2

Here is the second part of our brief guide to measurement 
messages over RS232.  Our thanks to everyone who has sent 
us details of their instrument and helped us compile 
this list.

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".

 represents a carriage return.
 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 extracting data see


Furuno Sonar 
Typical message string = $SDDBT,22.3,f,6.8,M,3.7,F
Windmill parse string = \S"SDDBT"\S"f,"\E","
More details at


MSI 3360 Scales
Typical message string = 2001 LB GROSS
Windmill parse string = \E4


OBD - on board diagnostics
Typical message string = 41 0D 37
Windmill parse string = \I06\E02 
More details at


Orbital Science OBIU with Motorola GPS
Typical message string = 
Gps:@ 1/13/1999 22:04:02
Gps:Sec Latitude  Longitude Sp Hed V T U Dop St
Gps:02 +455248866 -1226843925 0 64 7 5 3 25 14
Gps:03 +455248875 -1226843911 0 63 7 5 3 25 14
Gps:04 +455248875 -1226843911 0 69 7 5 3 25 14 
Gps:05 +455248888 -1226843994 0 59 7 5 3 25 14 
Gps: Diff Corr Msg Sent To Gps
Gps:06 +455248894 -1226843880 0 66 7 5 3 25 14
Gps:07 +455248902 -1226843875 0 55 7 5 3 25 14
Gps:Dgps Ack Rxed
Gps:08 +455248913 -1226843863 1 57 7 5 4 22 10
Gps:09 +455248908 -1226843891 1 58 7 5 4 22 10
More details at

Parallax BASIC Stamp
Message string depends on your Stamp program.
More details at


Sartorius balance
Prompt string = \C027P
Typical message string = + 32.157 g
Windmill parse string = \S"+"\E"g"
More details at


Telegan Tempest 100 flue gas analyser
Typical message string = 
TEMPEST 100 V3.3
DATE 18-06-08
TIME 10:02:31
O2 % .... 20.6
XAIR O2 > 20%
CO ppm ..... 0
More details at


Transcell digital indicator
Typical message string: xxxxx.xxKG
Windmill parse string = \S"\C002"\I01\E09
More details at

Further Reading
Parsing Messages from RS232 Instruments

Instrument setup files

Excel Corner: Attaching a File to Alarm Alert E-mails

In Issues 17 and 18 we discussed how to use Excel to 
monitor measurements, detect whether any of the readings 
crossed alarm levels and if so send an e-mail. Details 
are at and

The previous examples showed how to attach the measurement 
spreadsheet, how to include data in the body of the 
message and how to set the e-mail to be from any address 
you pleased. This month: how to attach any file to the 
e-mail. You can download an example spreadsheet with the 
necessary macros from

Our thanks again to Brian Yeager of SCE & G for 
suggesting this addition.

Function InsertFile(ByVal sfile As String) As String
    'This function supports attaching a file to an 
    ‘outgoing CDO e-mail.
    Dim fso As Object
    Dim ts As Object
    Set fso = CreateObject("Scripting.FileSystemObject")
    Set ts = fso.GetFile(sfile).OpenAsTextStream(1, -2)
    InsertFile = ts.readall
End Function

Sub SendEmail()
    Dim iMsg As Object
    Dim MsgTextBody As String
    MsgTextBody = "The temperature reading in cell A2 is in alarm: "

    Application.ScreenUpdating = False

    Set iMsg = CreateObject("CDO.Message")

    With iMsg
    'Change the values below to your e-mail addresses
        .To = "[email protected]"
        .CC = ""
        .BCC = ""
        .From = "[email protected]"
        .Subject = "Alarm alert"
        .TextBody = MsgTextBody
    'Change c:\MyReport.txt to the path and name of the
    'file which you want to attach to the e-mail
        .AddAttachment "c:\MyReport.txt"

    End With

    Set iMsg = Nothing
    Set iConf = Nothing

    Application.ScreenUpdating = True

End Sub


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.

Robot fish may track whales or pollution
   In the world of underwater robots, new Robofish are a 
   team of pioneers. While most ocean robots require 
   periodic communication with scientist or satellite 
   intermediaries to share information, these can work 
   cooperatively communicating only with each other, 
   wirelessly, underwater.  Messages were sent between 
   the robots using low-frequency sonar pulses, or 
   pressure waves.
   Source: SCUBA News

Bug-Inspired Engineering for Better Sensors
   Security, health and safety sensors in coal mines or 
   underground public areas, where air or water does not 
   readily flow may one day be improved by research on 
   young mayflies. Engineers have identified a biological 
   mechanism in the mayflies that could enable sensors 
   in stagnant environments to make air or water flow 
   past them so they can detect harmful substances.
   Source: University of Maryland

Bluetooth system tracks travel time
   Engineers have created a system that uses Bluetooth 
   signals from cell phones and other wireless devices 
   to determine how long it takes vehicles and 
   pedestrians to travel from one point to another.  
   Because each Bluetooth device has its own distinct 
   digital signature, its travel time can be tracked by 
   detectors installed at intersections or along 
   highways and other locations.
   Source: Purdue University

Kew provides climate for agricultural change
    A device to help some of the most impoverished 
   farmers in Africa maximise their crop yields is 
   being tested at London's Kew Gardens.  Developed by 
   engineers at the University of Leeds, the sensor 
   device gathers data on air temperature, humidity, 
   air pressure, light, and soil moisture and temperature 
   – information crucial to making key agricultural 
   decisions about planting, fertilisation, irrigation, 
   pest and disease control and harvesting.
   Source: University of Leeds

Robot knocks to enter
   Spanish researchers have developed an autonomous, 
   intelligent robot that can find its way around a 
   new building, identify doors and ask permission to 
   enter. The robot can navigate indoors where GPS 
   navigation does not work, using sonar infrared lasers. 
   Source: The Engineer Online

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

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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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