Windmill Software Ltd
Data Acquisition Intelligence

October 2010

The Newsletter for PC-Based Data Acquisition and Control
Issue 147       October 2010
--------------------ISSN 1472-0221----------------------

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* Windmill Notes: Interfacing a Denver Balance
* Excel Corner: Transposing Axes
* Data Acquisition and Control News Roundup

Windmill Notes: Interfacing a Denver Balance

With Windmill software you can log data from a Denver 
balance, and other instruments with RS232 ports, on a 
Windows computer.  Our subscribers can download a free 
copy of Windmill 4.3.  Alternatively you can purchase a 
later version of Windmill from

There are three basic steps to starting to log data 
from a balance using Windmill software.

1. Run the ConfIML (Windmill 4.3) or ComDebug (Windmill 6) 
   program and enter your balance's communication settings. 
2. Run the Windmill SetupIML program and choose names and 
   units for your balance's data. 
3. Run the Windmill DDE Panel, Logger or Chart program to 
   display, save or chart data from your balance.

Once you have set up the Windmill software you can in 
future you can immediately start logging data.

Different models of Denver balances have different factory 
settings. We've listed some of them at


Windmill ConfIML

This program detects and saves a record of the hardware  
you want to use, in our case a Denver balance.  You can 
configure your balance to send readings in a variety of 
ways.  Windmill can cope with any of them, but you must 
make sure that Windmill's settings are the same as the 

1. Start ConfIML and Press the Add button. 

2. Select LabIML RS232 ASCII Instrument Handler. 

3. Type a name for the balance, a description and enter  
   how many channels of data you will be collecting (one  
   if you are just recording weight). Press OK.

4. Enter your instrument's settings, for example..
   - Reading Protocol: Request/Response On Demand 
   - Timeout: 5000 
   - Instrument Idle or Wait Time: 0 
   - Returned Message Length: 16
   - Instrument Initialisation String: Leave blank

5. Press the Channels button. Here you enter the command
   needed to request data, and instructions for extracting
   the data.  

   The command to request data (the Prompt String) is 
   Escape followed by P, Carriage Return and Linefeed.
   In ConfIML's Prompt string this appears as 

   Depending on your balance settings, it might reply 
   with a message comprising 16 characters, for example
   +   123.45 g  CRLF
   Where leading zeroes are replaced with spaces, 
   CR is carriage return and LF is linefeed
   We just want to extract the value 123.45.
   To do this we could search for + then extract until g.
   Enter this information in the Parse String of ConfIML.
   This appears as \S"+"\E"g"

6. Enter the communications settings being used by the  
   balance. The factory settings for a Denver Summit 
   balance for example are...
   - Baud: 1200
   - Parity: Odd
   - Data Bits: 7
   - Stop Bits: 1
   - Flow: Hardware
   Some other Denver balances though use 
   Software Flow control (Xon) though: check your manual.

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

Windmill SetupIML

With the SetupIML program you can set units, alarms  
and so on.

1. From the Device menu select LabIML.

2. Your data channel will be shown as a number like 10000. 
   Double click this channel.

3. Type name for your channel and make sure "Enable for 
   Input" is checked. 

4. 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 weight channel. You should see the 
   correct weight in DDE Panel.

3. Proceed similarly for the Logger or 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 writing 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 
Sartorius balance, right-click the LabIML icon on the 
tool bar and select "Debug Options". 

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

2. If the LabIML Debug window shows a garbled message 
   coming in, check that the balance is set up  
   to communicate with the PC rather than a printer 
   and is sending ASCII messages

3. If no data is shown in LabIML, try changing the 
   flow control to software or Xon/Xoff.  Also check
   the cabling.

4. If you can't fix the problem, fill in the form at Tell us what steps you 
   have taken so far, if you have received any error 
   messages and send us a copy of your *.aid file, 
   which you'll find in your Windmill folder.

Monitor subscribors can download version 4.3 of the 
Windmill software for free. 
A newer, easier-to-use version of the data acquisition 
software suite is available from

Further Reading:
Denver Instrument Manual

Parsing Data


Excel Corner: Transposing Axes

We were asked recently "How do I Transpose the x Axis on 
the line-type chart to become the y axis? 

The answer is simply
1. Right-click on the chart and choose Source Data
2. Copy the "Category (X) axis labels" reference to the 
   Values box, and vice versa.

If you have a question on using Excel for 
data acquisition please get in touch.

For more on data acquisition with Excel see

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 live news on your own web site.

NPL Celebrates 50 Years of the SI
   It's the 50th anniversary of the International System 
   of Units (SI). Measurement today is so embedded it 
   often plays an essential but overlooked role. At the 
   centre of it is the SI - the standard system of 
   measurement units for scientists worldwide.
   Source: National Physics Laboratory

'AquaPad' controls robot dive buddy 
   You would balk at getting an iPad wet, but a tablet 
   computer has now been designed to work under the sea 
   - not to allow divers to check e-mail, but so that 
   they can communicate with underwater robots working 
   in hard-to-reach or dangerous locations.
   Source: York University

MEMS and Sensors for Phones in Growth Surge 
   The mobile phone market is changing extremely quickly. 
   According to Research and Markets it appears that in 
   2010 we are at a turning point in the history of 
   MEMS and sensors for handsets: the market for MEMS 
   and sensors will experience double digit growth. 
   Gyroscopes, pressure sensors, motion sensors and 
   environmental sensors are amongst those expected 
   to take off.
   Source: Research and Markets

All-electric spintronic semiconductor devices created 
   Electron spin could become the universal language 
   of computers  now it has been created and measured 
   electronically in a standard semiconductor 
   Source: New Scientist

NIST Identifies Five Smart Grid Standards
   NIST has identified five "foundational" sets of 
   standards for Smart Grid interoperability and cyber 
   security that are ready for consideration by federal 
   and state energy regulators. The standards, produced 
   by the International Electrotechnical Commission 
   (IEC), focus on the information models and protocols 
   important to efficient and reliable grid operations 
   as well as cyber security.
   Source: National Institute of Standards and Technology

* 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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