Windmill Software Ltd
Data Acquisition Intelligence

July 2011

The Newsletter for PC-Based Data Acquisition and Control
Issue 156           July 2011
--------------------ISSN 1472-0221----------------------

Welcome to Monitor, the newsletter for data acquisition 
and control.  This month we've improved our 
Windmill software so it can show, save and send data in 
hexadecimal format.  

We made the improvement in response to a request from 
one of our customers who was using Windmill with RFID 
readers. He explained that it would makes things much 
easier for him if he could enter data into the Windmill 
AnalogOut program in Hex format, and also save it in 
Logger in Hex. We were happy to upgrade the software for 
him and it is now available for everyone.

The Windmill data acquisition software is still just £50 
from our on-line shop at 
For devices communicating via RS232, RS485 or Modbus.

We hope you find the newsletter useful, but should you 
wish to remove yourself from our mailing please go to

* Windmill News: Windmill Logger Saves Data in Hex
* Interfacing RFID Readers to the PC
* Excel Corner: Plotting Data Sets with Different Timestamps
* DAQ News Round-up

Windmill News: Windmill Logger Saves Data in Hex

Up until now you could see data in hex format in the free 
ComDebug program, which collects data from instruments 
connected to the PC's COM port.  The other Windmill 
programs, however, would show it in ASCII. Now Windmill 
Logger can save data in hexadecimal and you can enter 
hex codes in AnalogOut.

Windmill works with just about any device which you can 
plug into the COM port - real or virtual - of the PC.  
You can also integrate other instruments and sensors to 
the data collection system; logging data from all devices 
into one file.  For example, GPS receivers, motion sensors, 
data loggers and digital gauges have all been interfaced 
by Windmill.

With the addition of the hex capability Windmill is now 
well suited for interfacing RFID readers. The serial 
numbers thus collected are saved in text files or sent 
directly to Excel or other Windows program.  All data is 
time- and date-stamped on collection.

Monitor subscribers can download a free trial of the 

For more information e-mail [email protected] or 
telephone +44 (0)161 833 2190.

Interfacing RFID Readers to the PC

RFID stands for Radio-frequency identification. It is a 
system that uses radio waves to  transmit the identity 
of an object wirelessly.  The identity is in the form of 
a serial number, transmitted either in ASCII or 
hexadecimal format. 

In an RFID system, an identity tag is attached to an 
object. When this tag comes within range of a RFID reader 
it transmits its unique number. Data collection software 
like Windmill can then store the serial number on the PC.

A RFID tag comprises an antenna and a wireless transducer. 
These tags can be either active or passive. Active tags 
have on-chip power whilst passive tags have no battery but 
use the power induced by the magnetic field of the 
RFID reader. Passive tags are therefore cheaper but have 
a lower range, of under 10 metres. 

A RFID reader comprises an antenna, transceiver and decoder.  
It sends periodic signals to locate any tag in vicinity. 

With the new version of Windmill you can now easily 
integrate serial RFID readers, and other devices like 
GPS receivers and temperature sensors, into a PC-based 
data collection system. 

You can buy the Windmill software for just £50 from

Further Reading:
RFID and Windmill -
RFID Settings -

Excel Corner: Plotting Data Sets with Different Timestamps

There may be times when you want to copy two logged data 
files into the same Excel worksheet. Maybe you were 
running two copies of Logger and collecting data at 
different rates.

If you later copy the data into Excel you will have two 
time and date columns - which will create problems if 
you want to chart the data.

The solution is to rearrange the data. Say you have 
two channels of temperature data. One channel (T1) was 
logged every 10 minutes but the other (T2) was only 
logged when an alarm level was crossed. Column A 
contains the time and date of the T1 readings, 
column B contains the T1 readings themselves, 
column C contains the time and date of the 
T2 readings and column D the T2 readings themselves.

What we need to do is copy the contents of 
column C (T2 timestamps) to below the contents of 
columns A (T1 timestamps), and copy column D (T2 readings) 
to below and one column to the right of the T1 readings. 
So you would have 3 columns, one showing the timestamp, 
one showing readings from the T1 channel and one 
showing readings from the T2 channel. 

Data sorted in Excel by time

You now need to sort the data, so the timestamps are in 
order. Select all the timestamps and readings and sort 
by column A.

You can now create an xy scatter chart to show the data. 
If there are gaps in the line chart, as there inevitably 
will be, you can instruct Excel to join them up. From the 
Tools menu select Options and then the Chart tab. 
Choose Interpolated.

Right-click the data line on the chart and select 
Format Data Series. Choose the Axis tab and select 
Secondary Axis.

Any Excel questions, or tips, please get in touch.

Further Reading: 
Using Excel for Data Acquisition
Charting Data with 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 live news on your own web site.

Final Version of Industrial Control Systems Security Guide Published
   The National Institute of Standards and 
   Technology has issued the final version of its 
   Guide to Industrial Control Systems (ICS) Security, 
   intended to help managers of critical infrastructures 
   to secure their systems while addressing their unique 
   performance, reliability, and safety requirements.
   Source: NIST

'Orca ears' inspire researchers to develop ultrasensitive undersea microphone
   Researchers have developed a microphone that can be 
   used at any depth in the ocean, even under crushing 
   pressure, and is sensitive to a wide range of sounds, 
   from a whisper in a library to an explosion of TNT. 
   They modeled their device after the extraordinarily 
   acute hearing of orcas.
   Source: Stanford University News

New Sensor To Measure Structural Stresses Can Fix Itself
   Researchers have designed a sensor that can measure 
   strain in structural materials and is capable of 
   fixing itself when broken: an important advance 
   for collecting data to help make informed decisions 
   about structural safety in the wake of earthquakes, 
   explosions or other unexpected events.
   Source: North Carolina State University

Industrial Automation Electronics Equipment Market Set to Surpass Pre-recession levels in 2011
   Following initial reports of a strong first 
   quarter for industrial automation electronics 
   equipment (IAEE), IMS Research has upgraded its 
   forecast to 12.9% market growth in 2011. The global 
   IAEE market is now projected to be worth $97 billion 
   in 2011, according to a new report, “The World Market 
   for Industrial Automation Electronics Equipment”.
   Source: IMS Research

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

We are happy for you to copy and distribute this 
newsletter, and use extracts from it on your own web site 
or publication, providing the above notice is 
included and a link back to our website is in place.

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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