Windmill Software Ltd
Data Acquisition Intelligence

February 2012

The Newsletter for PC-Based Data Acquisition and Control
Issue 163       February 2012
--------------------ISSN 1472-0221----------------------

Welcome to February's issue of Monitor.  Thank you very 
much all those who filled in our survey last month.  
The results are below.  If you would like to let us know 
your thoughts on the newsletter, our software and our 
technical support service, you can still do so.  Go to

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

* New Year Survey Results
* Windmill Notes: Logging data when you press a button 
  on your measurement instrument
* Excel Corner
* DAQ News Round-up

New Year Survey Results

Thank you everyone who completed our survey last month. 
If you haven't yet filled it in, and would like to, go to

We found that some people wanted information on topics 
we have already covered - you might find our full 
subject index of previous issues useful at

Regarding the format of the newsletter - whether you 
wanted plain text; mainly text with just a few pictures or 
fancy formatting and pictures; - 35% wanted plain text, 
40% wanted mainly text but with some pictures and 
30% would prefer it fully formatted. We'll therefore 
be including more pictures in future issues, but will 
keep the format quite plain.

We were pleased to see that most respondants reported 
having no problems with the software (although of course 
those that did might just have stopped getting the 

  "...Windmill worked better than the other packages 
  for my 'quick and dirty' measurements"

was one response. However, if you have had problems 
we would like to hear from you - contact 
[email protected]

Windmill Notes: Logging data when you press a button 
on your balance or other measurement instrument

The Windmill Logger program regularly saves data from 
sensors and instruments to the computer's hard disk.  
You can choose from many logging options, including: 
to log continuously, to log only when readings cross an 
alarm threshold, to log for a set time or to log only 
new data values.  The latter allows external events to 
control logging, for instance when you press a button 
on your instrument. 

The data does not have to change to be logged. For example, 
imagine you are using our COMIML serial driver to gather 
data from an electronic balance. Every time you press a 
button on the balance, COMIML takes a reading. It might 
be that two consecutive readings happen to be identical. 
However, every time COMIML takes a reading it updates a 
"record number". Logger watches the record number and so 
knows when new data is available, even if it is the same 
value as the previous reading.

To set Logger to log data only when you press an 
instrument button:

1. In ComDebug, create a new data channel and "Extract 
   Record Number" to it. Also, make sure the data 
   persistence time (the time that the data remains valid)
   is longer than Logger's "Read Inputs Every" interval.

2. Open Logger and select the Inputs menu. Make sure 
   that the first channel in the Connected Channels list 
   is the one to be monitored for updates. For data 
   supplied by COMIML, this should be the channel holding 
   the record number.

3. Select Settings from Logger's menu bar.

Logging only new data

4. Select "Log on First Channel Change".

5. Enter a Log Duration of 0 as you only want to take 
   one reading at a time.

6. Clear the Indicate empty scans box.

7. Decide how often you want Logger to check the first 
   channel for a new value and enter this into the 
   Read Inputs Every box.

8. Press the Logger's Start button.  Now, whenever your 
   instrument sends new data, and only then, Logger will
   record the value.

To download a trial of Windmill Logger subscribe to 

Further Reading:

Excel Corner

Our survey showed that the Excel Corner was a popular 
section of the newsletter.

We have a large index of tips for using Excel for data 
acquisition and control at and  
We've now updated this so there is even more 
information there.

The Excel Corner proper returns next month - but we 
need your help. Please send us a question on using 
Excel for measurement or control tasks and we will 
endeavour to answer it in a subsequent issue.

DAQ News Round-up

Welcome to our round-up of the data acquisition and 
control news.  If you would like to receive more 
timely DAQ news updates then either grab our RSS 
newsfeed at 
follow us on Twitter at!/DataAcquisition

Electronic Eyes Monitor Tuna Fishing
   A Spanish purse seiner is the first tropical tuna 
   vessel to test the latest in electronic monitoring 
   technology, designed for instances where an onboard 
   human observer is not a practical option. A vessel 
   has been outfitted with a video-based electronic 
   monitoring system. The system uses an array of sensors 
   to monitor key fishing gear, and trigger the video 
   cameras when it detects fishing activity. An onboard 
   control center manages the system and logs the data, 
   along with vessel location, speed, and heading 
   information provided by the system's GPS receiver.  
   Source: ISSF

NASA pinning down 'here' better than ever
   Before our Global Positioning System (GPS) navigation 
   devices can tell us where we are, the satellites that 
   make up the GPS need to know exactly where they are. 
   NASA is helping to lead an international effort to 
   upgrade the four systems that supply this crucial 
   location information.
   Source: Eureka Alert

Electronic tagging system could replace barcodes
   Researchers have developed a cheap electronic tagging 
   system that could replace barcodes with a much more 
   detailed store of information.  They have developed a 
   high-performance radio frequency identification (RFID) 
   tag that could be cheaply mass-produced and prevents 
   data transfer from being interrupted.
   Source: The Engineer

Europe to Experience Five-Fold Growth in Smart Meters
   The European smart meter market is at a growing 
   stage. While smart meter developments are taking 
   place in countries like Denmark, Finland and Norway, 
   large scale rollout has been planned in countries 
   such as UK, France, Spain and Portugal to meet the 
   energy targets and environmental policies set by 
   the EU. New analysis from Frost and Sullivan finds 
   that the smart meter revenue in Europe is expected 
   to grow at a compound annual rate of 29.3% to 2017.
   Source: Frost and Sullivan

Parking sensors to take pain out of finding a space
   Bringing together wireless sensors and mobile apps 
   could steer drivers towards vacant spots, and lead 
   traffic wardens to parking offenders.
   Source: New Scientist

* 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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