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23 July 2013

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

The Newsletter for PC-Based Data Acquisition and Control
Issue 180           July 2013
--------------------ISSN 1472-0221----------------------

Welcome to July's issue of Monitor. Today we're pleased 
to launch a new version of ComDebug, the data acquisition 
software that we give to subscribers. All the 
improvements in the software have been suggested by you. 
Read below for details.

For more measurement and control discussion and tips 
see the Windmill web site or join us at Google+.

I hope you find Monitor useful, but should you wish to 
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* Readers of Monitor help improve ComDebug
* Excel Corner: A Lightning Quick Way to Create a Chart
* Questions on Using Windmill
* DAQ News Round-up

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Readers of Monitor Help Improve ComDebug

Windmill Software is delighted to launch an improved 
version of ComDebug, the serial communication, data 
logging and trouble-shooting software. 

The enhancements were all suggested by users of ComDebug, 
and make the software even more versatile. For instance, 
with ComDebug you can now:
- Log data from sensors that send data as a web page
- Communicate with Love Controls devices
- Enter custom commands to extract data or output 
  control messages
- Collect data more easiliy from Modbus devices
- Collect data as 4-byte (32-bit) integers, 4-byte words 
  (double words), ASCII characters, hexadecimal, signed 
  bytes, bytes, bits, 4-byte floating point or 4-byte 
  reverse floating point
- Easily identify communication problems

The new custom commands allow ComDebug to extract 
data even if it is an unusual format. For example, 
the start of a message might be indicated by only part 
of a byte whilst the rest of the byte carries data.  By 
entering a custom command, ComDebug can log the just data 
and ignore the rest. You can enter custom commands 
yourself, or we are happy to set up a custom command 
for your instrument. 

Another improvement makes it easier to use ComDebug 
with some Modbus devices. Previously ComDebug read 
data as 2-byte words. This was inconvenient when the 
device sent 4-byte words. One user had to open the log 
file in Excel, concatenate the two hex strings then 
convert the hex to decimal. Do-able but laborious. 
We've taken notice of his "gotta be an easier way???" 
plea and added options to collect data as 4-byte words 
or 32-bit integers.

ComDebug's extracts data in a range of formats

A trouble-shooting screen in the new software 
means that you can quickly identify where any problems 
may be occurring. The screen shows the outcome of each 
data reading, the messages sent and received, the data 
extraction procedure and result and the time in 
hundredths of a second since data logging started.

ComDebug communicates with instruments over TCP/IP, 
Modbus, RS-485, RS-422 and RS-232. Bundled with the 
free software is a trial of the other Windmill data 
acquisition programs.

As always, we welcome your comments and suggestions. 
Contact [email protected] or fill in the 
comments form at

A Lightning Quick Way to Create an Excel Chart

It was quite a complex tip last month - on saving a 
copy of the logged file in Excel every day. In contrast 
this month a bit of light relief - how to create a 
chart with one keystroke. 

1. Highlight the area to be charted.
2. Hit Alt F1.

And there is the chart with the default settings. 

To change the default chart type:

1. Select the chart and then the chart menu.

2. Choose Chart Type. 

3. Either Click the Standard Types tab and click the 
   built-in chart type which you want to be the new 
   default, or 
   Choose the Custom Type and define the type of 
   chart you want.
4. Click the Set as default chart button. 

This month's tip was suggested by Michael Rempel 
of Another Set of Eyes.  If you have an Excel tip 
contact [email protected]

Read more tips on charting with Excel at

Questions on Using Windmill

In this section we answer a question we've been asked 
this month about using Windmill. If you have a question 
on Windmill e-mail [email protected]

   Do I understand correctly, that I can use an input
   signal, say temperature, to send an output signal 
   that will close or open a valve or trip an alarm?

   Yes. With the Windmill SetupIML program you can set 
   alarm thresholds and link these to digital output 
   lines. For example, whenever a temperature rises 
   above 33 oC a valve could automatically be opened.  
   You can set two alarm thresholds, warning and 
   critical, on each measurement channel. SetupIML 
   is included in the standard Windmill software suite 
   which costs just £50 from
Alarm on high temperature

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.
China's DCS Market on a High Growth Trajectory	 
   According to the 12th Five-Year Plan, China will 
   invest in the process industries and energy sectors.  
   However, ARC Advisory Group's new study, states that 
   the DCS market in China is experiencing fierce 
   competition and this trend will not change in the 
   short-term. More than ten players are competing in 
   this market, and are slashing prices to gain more 
   market share.
   Source: ARC Advisory Group

Water treatment technique uses apple and tomato peels
   Billed as low cost and efficient, the novel water 
   purification methods could benefit economically 
   and technologically disadvantaged communities
   Source: National University of Singapore 

EU and US to Extend Scientific Cooperation on Measurements and Standards
   The EU and US have agreed to expand their current 
   scientific cooperation to include new areas of 
   research, such as energy, clinical measurements, 
   food safety and nutrition.
   Source: NIST
Internet-Wide Scan Finds Hundreds of Thousands of Ready-Made Backdoors
   Many poorly-secured company servers are exposed 
   online, offering attackers ready made backdoors 
   to wipe or steal data
   Source: MIT Technology Review

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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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