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31 August 2013

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

The Newsletter for PC-Based Data Acquisition and Control
Issue 181         August 2013
--------------------ISSN 1472-0221----------------------

Welcome to Monitor, the monthly data acquisition and 
control newsletter. Today our main story tells how 
researchers are using Windmill to test composite 
materials, and develop a ship structure monitoring 
system which can be used at sea and report in 

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

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Monitor Newsletter

* Real-Time Monitoring of Ship Structures at Sea
* Questions on Using Windmill
* Exhibitions and Conferences
* DAQ News Round-up

Follow @DataAcquisition on Twitter Google+ Data Acquisition News Feed (RSS)

Real-Time Monitoring of Ship Structures at Sea

Testing Composite Materials

To ensure that composites meet the demands for 
seaworthiness, they require a variety of tests simulating 
the effect of the oceans. Current methods are mostly 
based on trial and error or oversimplification. During 
the design of ships, the non-linearities of composite 
structures are often neglected and, in order to 
compensate, an overestimated safety factor is employed 
leading to heavier structure than are necessary. Our 
Windmill strain measurement system though, is helping 
engineers test an Artificial Neural Network (ANN) 
which can accurately monitor loads on ship components 
in real-time, whilst they are in service on the sea. 
This will reduce over-design whilst real-time strain 
measurements can improve safety.

Integrated Sensors

Some vessels already have integrated sensors, but most 
do not. As part of their investigations, the 
researchers - Ramazani, Sewell, Noroozi, Koohgilani 
and Cripps from Bournemouth University and Longitude 
Consulting Engineers - asked: 

  "what is the minimum number of sensors that should 
   be employed to reduce the time to train the system, 
   to reduce costs and to reduce weight?"

Training the Artificial Neural Network

During their tests the researchers attached 20 strain 
gauge rosettes to a 1 m2 composite panel, which 
provided 60 strain channels. They applied weights 
to the panel. The Windmill 751-SG strain monitoring 
and control data acquisition system, with a resolution 
of +/- 1 microstrain, captured the strain data. 

Collecting Strain Measurements with Windmill

The 751-SG package comprises Windmill Software, a USB 
(universal serial bus) measurement unit which monitors 
16 strain gauges, giving up to 64 strain measurements, 
through differential inputs at up to 80 samples per 
second. Eight USB units can be attached to one computer 
to monitor 128 strain gauges. The researchers developed 
their own DAQ software in MATLAB which utilised the 
MATLAB Artificial Neural Network Toolbox capabilities 
and collected data from Windmill via DDE (dynamic data 

The 751-SG package is currently on special offer for 
just £475 from our internet shop at

Validating Designs and Improving Safety

The ability to measure the actual load history of a 
ship in service would enable the designer to validate 
the load estimation and structural design tools used 
during the design stage of the craft. The operational 
safety of the vessel can also be improved by having a 
real-time load monitoring system that is able to 
detect any degradation of structural integrity and 
defects within the structure.

Further Reading

Sensor Optimisation for in-Service Load Measurement of 
a Large Composite Panel under Small Displacement 
MR Ramazani, P Sewell, S Noroozi, M Koohgilani, B Cripps. 
Applied Mechanics and Materials 
Volume 248 (2013) Pages 153-161

Determination of the static pressure loads on a marine 
composite panel from strain measurements utilising 
articial neural networks
MR Ramazani, S Noroozi, M Koohgilani, B Cripps, P Sewell. 
Proceedings of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, 
Part M: Journal of Engineering for the Maritime Environment 
Volume 227 (2013) no 1 12-21

Making safer composite materials for ship building, 
European Commission

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]

   Please advise if Windmill 7 Data Acquisition Software 
   will work with a RS232 to USB coverter cable. I want to 
   log 4 pH meters to a pc using USB sockets. Many thanks.

   Yes. Windmill works with RS232-to-USB converters and 
   can collect data from pH meters connected to the USB 
   socket. More on using RS232-to-USB converters is at

________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________ Data Acquisition Exhibitions and Conferences ________________________________________________________ The quarterly update of data acquisition and control exhibitions around the world. Offshore Europe 3-6 September Aberdeen Scotland Engineers, technical specialists, industry leaders and experts share ideas and debate the issues of the moment in the upstream industry. Automation 23-26 September Mubai India International exhibition and conference on process automation, instrumentation, control, robotics, etc. Contro-Tech 24-26 September Kielce Poland Industrial measuring technology and non-destructive testing fair. Sensors & Instrumentation 25-26 September Birmingham UK The only show in the UK dedicated to the sensors and instrumentation market. The Machine Building Show 25-26 September Birmingham UK For anyone that designs or uses automation technology. Canadian Manufacturing Technology Show 30 September - 3 October Toronto Canada Latest technologies and solutions in the machine tool, automation, design engineering and plant management. Engineering Design Show 2-3 October Coventry UK Show and conference dedicated to aerospace design, development and manufacturing engineering. Northern Manufacturing & Electronics 2-3 October Manchester UK For those involved in automotive, aerospace, defence, electrical, electronic or mechanical engineering and industrial machinery. Automation Brno 7-11 October Brno Czech Republic Measuring, control, automation and control equipment fair. Automation 30 October - 3 November Saint Petersburg Russia Specialised exhibition on industrial automation and introduction of information and computer technologies to the industrial sphere. International Lab Tech 20-21 November Kuwait Showcase the latest instrumentation, technologies, products and services in all major areas of analytical sciences and laboratory services. ________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________ 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. BICSI Releases New Electronic Standard BICSI have announced the release of its latest standard, ANSI/BICSI 005-2013, "Electronic Safety and Security (ESS) System Design and Implementation Best Practices." Source: BICSI Bluetooth to play leading role in Internet of Things Bluetooth will play a pivotal role in the enablement of the Internet of Things through its ubiquity in mobile devices and rapidly expanding ecosystem of Bluetooth Smart devices, according to a new report by ABI Research. Source: ABI Research Device captures signatures with tiny piezo-phototronic LEDs Using thousands of nanometer-scale wires, researchers have developed a sensor device that converts mechanical pressure - from a signature or a fingerprint - directly into light signals that can be captured and processed optically. Source: Georgia Tech New Algorithms May Help Achieve Maximal Efficiency in Wireless Networks Now that the Internet's basic protocols are more than 30 years old, network scientists are increasingly turning their attention to ad hoc networks - communications networks set up, on the fly, by wireless devices - where unsolved problems still abound. Source: The A to Z of Sensors Pressure-Sensing, Light-Emitting, Electronic "Skin" A sheet of thin plastic that emits lights with an intensity that precisely reflects the amount of pressure applied to its surface hints at a new breed of flexible computer interface. Source: MIT Technology Review ________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________ * 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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