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24 May 2013

Windmill Software Ltd
Data Acquisition Intelligence
Call now: +44 (0)161 833 2782

The Newsletter for PC-Based Data Acquisition and Control
Issue 178            May 2013
--------------------ISSN 1472-0221----------------------

Welcome to our May newsletter: I hope you find it useful. 
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Monitor Newsletter

* Tips on Using Windmill
* Excel Corner: Regularly Saving the Workbook
* DAQ News Round-up

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Tips on using Windmill

You can use any combination of hardware with Windmill 
data acquisition software, including devices 
communicating over USB, DDE, Ethernet, Internet, TCP/IP, 
Modbus, RS232, RS422 and RS485. No matter what makes or 
types of instruments you have, you use the same two 
Windmill applications to specify hardware settings: 
ConfIML and SetupIML. ConfIML records which hardware you 
have, and SetupIML lets you choose how you wish to use 
that hardware. (IML stands for Interface 
Management Language.)

Start with the Software Signal Generator
So you can use Windmill without any hardware 
complications, and see how Windmill works, we have 
provided a Software Signal Generator. This simulates 
signals coming from an actual instrument or device. 
You can use it with all the Windmill programs, who 
see it as just another piece of hardware 
sending data.

Recording your Hardware
After playing with the Software Signal Generator 
you'll next want to use real hardware. To do this 
the first program to run is ConfIML. It detects 
which drivers are on your computer (those for RS232, 
Ethernet, USB, etc) and lets you select the 
appropriate settings for these drivers. 

Some drivers need very few settings. However, 
the RS232/RS485/Modbus/TCP-IP driver has many 
settings you can alter. This is because the 
driver is designed to work with many different 
types and makes of instrument. To choose these 
settings run the ComDebug program.

Tailor the System to Your Requirements
After using ConfIML to record the type of hardware 
you have - and, if necessary, ComDebug - open 
SetupIML. Now you can configure the system as 
you want it - for example specifying which 
engineering units all the other Windmill 
programs should use for a particular sensor or 

SetupIML scans the hardware and builds a default 
setup file. Whereas ConfIML sees, for example, 
a device with 16 analogue input channels that can 
be used in any number of ways; SetupIML sees, 
for example, a device with 5 K-type thermocouples 
called Temperature1, Temperature2, etc, whose 
measurements should be between 0 and 
100 degrees Celsius. SetupIML lets you change these 
settings, and others, for all types of hardware, 
no matter how connected to the PC. 

No matter how large and diverse your data acquisition 
system, no matter how many different instruments and 
devices you have connected, the setup details for 
everything are contained in just one file. You can 
save a library of these setup files, making it very 
quick to switch between test rigs and experiments.

Logging and Charting
Once you have a setup file, you don't need to 
run ConfIML or SetupIML again. Simply open 
Windmill Logger or Chart, choose the setup file 
to use for this session, and start logging and 
charting. The data is shown in the engineering units 
of your choice, against the channel names you have 
entered, and if you have specified alarm settings, 
any violations of this threshold are shown in 
different colours.

To summarise: ConfIML specifies what hardware you have, 
eg serial and USB, and ComDebug defines serial 
communications. You only need to use these two programs 
during set-up.

SetupIML lets you choose how you wish to use your 
hardware and Logger and Chart save and show you the 

Excel Corner: Automatically Saving the Workbook

When continually data logging Excel, it is useful to 
regularly save the workbook, so no data should ever 
be lost. 

The easiest way to do this is to save after every new 
reading of data. To do this add this line to your 
data logging macro:


In the example macro we gave last month for logging data 
(archived at, 
you could add the save code between the DDTerminate and 
the Sleep commands, as follows:

DDETerminate (ddeChan)
Sleep SamplePeriod

This method is suitable if you are taking readings every 
minute or at a longer interval. If you are logging data 
every few seconds, the delay caused by saving the 
spreadsheet may result in missed readings.

More Excel macros - including finding the first empty 
row and overlaying Google Earth with Excel data - are 
on our website at

Have an Excel question or tip? Send it to 
[email protected]

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 grab our RSS newsfeed 
at  Read for notes
on how to display the news on your own web site or 
automatically tweet it.

Honeypots Lure Industrial Hackers Into the Open
   Dummy water-plant control systems rapidly attracted 
   attention from hackers who tinkered with their 
   settings-suggesting it happens to real industrial 
   systems, too.
   Source: MIT Technology Review
Image sensors study the Earth's Vegetation
   High performance image sensors have been launched 
   into space, specifically designed to chart 
   global vegetation.
   Source: e2v
Baby turtles show robots the way
   For turtle hatchlings struggling to reach the sea, 
   success may depend on having flexible wrists that 
   allow them to move without disturbing too much sand. 
   A similar wrist also helps a robot known as 
   'FlipperBot' move through a test bed, demonstrating 
   how animals and bio-inspired robots can together 
   provide new information on the principles governing 
   locomotion on granular surfaces.
   Source: SCUBA News

Temperature Sensor Market Forecast to Grow
   The worldwide market for temperature sensors is 
   projected to reach USD 4.5 billion by the end of 
   2018, according to a report from Global 
   Industry Analysts.  
   Source: Global Industry Analysts

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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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