Windmill Software Ltd
Data Acquisition Intelligence

January 2009

The Newsletter for PC-Based Data Acquisition and Control
Issue 126      January 2009
--------------------ISSN 1472-0221----------------------

Welcome to the first Monitor newsletter of 2009.  I 
hope you it useful, but should you want to remove 
yourself from our mailing list please go to 

* Windmill Notes: Measuring Torque
* Excel Corner: Quickly Inserting Symbols
* DAQ News Roundup

Windmill Notes: Measuring Torque

Torque is the tendancy of a force to cause rotation. Its 
SI unit of measurement is the newton metre (Nm) but in 
the USA pound-inches or pound-feet might be used. It can 
be measured with a torque meter. If the meter has an 
RS232 output, you can use Windmill software to capture 
its measurements. With Windmill you can log and chart the 
torque data, and send it in real-time to other Windows 
programs like an Access database or an Excel spreadsheet.

You have a choice of two Windmill programs: COMIML and 
LabIML. COMIML is part of the Windmill 6 suite of 
software and has many more facilities than LabIML - 
details at

LabIML is part of the Windmill 4.3 suite of software and 
is free to Monitor subscribers.

How to connect a Torque Meter to a PC

Here is how to configure the free software to log data 
from the meter. There are three basic steps.

1. Run the Windmill ConfIML program and enter your 
   meter's communication settings. 
2. Run the Windmill SetupIML program and choose names 
   and units for your data. 
3. Run the Windmill DDE Panel or Logger program to display 
   or save data.

Once you have configured the Windmill software in future 
you can go straight logging data. 


Windmill ConfIML

This program detects and saves a record of the hardware 
you want to use, in our case a torque meter. 

1. Start ConfIML and Press the Add button. 

2. Select LabIML RS232 ASCII Instrument Handler. 

3. Type a name for the torque meter, a description 
   and enter 1 for the number of channels of data. Press OK.

4. Enter your instrument's settings. These should work for 
   most torque meters
   - Reading Protocol: Request/Response Background
   - Timeout: 1000 mS
   - Data Persistance: 5000 mS
   - Returned Message Length: 16
   - Instrument Initialisation String: Leave blank

5. Click the Channels button and tell Windmill how to 
   find and extract the data needed
  - Make sure that Read channel is checked
  - Enter the engineering units in which your meter will 
   send the data, eg Nm
  - You can ignore the maximum and minimum settings: 
    these are just a guide for chart scaling etc.
  - Check your manual to find the format of your torque 
    meter's data stream. An Omega torque meter, for 
    example, sends a 16 character data stream. The 
    7th character gives the polarity (positive or negative) 
    and the next 8 give the data values.
  - For the example above, in the ConfIML Reply Parse String 
    enter: \I06\E08. This instructs Windmill to ignore the 
    first 6 characters and to extract the next 9. 

6. Enter the communication settings used by your meter, eg:
   - Baud: 4800
   - Data Bits: 8
   - Parity: None
   - Flow control: None
   Again, check your manual for your settings.

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


Windmill SetupIML

With the SetupIML program you can name units, set 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 numbers like 
   10000, 10001. Double click a channel number.

4. Type name for your channel, eg Torque 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 channels. You should see your readings 
   in DDE Panel.

3. Proceed similarly for the Logger 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 your 
torque meter, right-click the LabIML icon on the 
tool bar and select "Debug Options". 

If the LabIML Debug window says "Parsing Failed", 
go back to the ConfIML window and edit your 
Reply Parse String.

For more information contact [email protected]

Excel Corner: Quickly Inserting Symbols

Imagine you wish to insert an Ohm symbol into your Excel 
spreadsheet. One way to do this is to:
1. Type W into a cell.
2. From the Format menu select Cells.
3. Choose Symbol as the font. 

All well and good, but if you try to copy the Ohm symbol 
to another cell you are presented with the W again.  You 
then have to repeat the process. If you will be inserting 
lots of Ohm symbols it is quicker set up a macro and 
assign it a shortcut key.

Create a blank macro using the Record Macro feature 
(Tools menu > Macro), then edit it so it contains this:

Sub Macro1()
    ActiveCell.FormulaR1C1 = "W"
    With ActiveCell.Characters(Start:=1).Font
        .Name = "Symbol"
    End With
End Sub

To assign it a shortcut key:
1. From the Tools menu select Macro.
2. Choose your Macro and select Options.
3. Enter a shortcut key in the ctrl box, w for example.

Now everytime you click a blank cell and press Ctrl w,
an Ohm symbol will be entered (Ω).

If you wish just to apply the symbol font to any character 
you enter in a cell, just remove the 
ActiveCell.FormulaR1C1 = "W"
line from the macro.

Now if you type, say, m in a cell and hit Ctrl w, a μ 
symbol appears.

Related Topics:
Data Acquisition in 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 in your browser.

Flying eye maps rain forest's health 
   An imaging device that maps the biodiversity of 
   tropical rain forest could help monitor damage 
   from deforestation and logging.  A laser scanner 
   linked to a spectrometer on board an aircraft 
   fires visible light towards the ground and 
   analyses the wavelengths that are reflected from 
   the leaves. This generates a three-dimensional map 
   of the chemical composition of the trees, from the 
   canopy to the forest floor, and hence the 
   biodiversity of the forest.
   Source: New Scientist

Poor-man's supercomputing goes industrial
   Grid computing technology has long been the darling 
   of cash-strapped academics in desperate need of raw 
   processing power. Now a European research effort has 
   created a portfolio of tools and services that can 
   finally bring the power of grid computing to 
   industrial applications.
   Source: ICT Results

Taking the Stress Out of Magnetic Field Detection
   A carefully built magnetic sandwich that interleaves 
   layers of a magnetic alloy with a few nanometers of 
   silver has dramatically enhanced sensitivity: a 
   400-fold improvement in some cases. This material 
   could lead to greatly improved magnetic sensors for 
   a wide range of applications from non-destructive 
   testing to medical devices and high-performance 
   data storage.
   Source: NIST

Potential for Wireless Communications in Factory Automation
   Wireless communication and its associated benefits are 
   now well established in the commercial and consumer 
   environments.  However, a recent report from IMS Research 
   on wireless communications in factory automation shows 
   that obstacles not found in the office environment continue 
   to hinder adoption. Currently, the biggest obstacle to 
   adopting wireless communications for machine builders 
   and end users alike is reliability.  The presence of 
   heavy machinery that can interrupt wireless signals, 
   together with the increasing importance of gathering 
   dependable, detailed machine data has convinced most, 
   for now at least, that wired solutions are best.
   Source: IMS Research

New Delivery Models Will Drive LIMS Market Growth
   According to the Arc Advisory Group, the worldwide 
   market for LIMS is expected to grow by 2.9% over the 
   next five years.  "Small and medium laboratories 
   currently utilizing home-grown systems may find the 
   Internet hosted model a more affordable option for 
   LIMS," according to Senior Analyst Paula Hollywood.
   Source: Arc Advisory Group

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

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newsletter, and use extracts from it on your own web site 
or publication, providing the above notice is 
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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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