Windmill Software Ltd
Data Acquisition Intelligence

Data Acquisition
February 2002

The Newsletter for PC-Based Data Acquisition and Control
Issue 43       February 2002
--------------------ISSN 1472-0221----------------------

Welcome to Issue 43 of Monitor. Thanks for filling in 
last month's survey. The results are below.

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* Windmill News: Survey Results
  - How we used your Survey Responses
  - Wish List of Topics to be Covered in Monitor
  - Your Windmill Questions Answered
* Data Acquisition and Control Exhibitions

Windmill News: Survey Results

If you completed last month's survey - many thanks. 
It's still not too late if you wish to send us your 
opinions: the questions are now on the web site at

How we used your Survey Responses

All suggestions for improving the software have been 
passed to Windmill's managing director for his 
consideration. We received a varied list of items 
you'd like to see covered in Monitor, which we've 
summarised below. We also had a few questions on 
using the software - see later for the answers.

Wish List of Topics to be Covered in Monitor

Our survey produced many suggestions for future 
Monitor topics, which we've categorised here under 
5 topics. 

1. Application Stories
   Several people wanted real-world examples of how 
   Windmill is being used. To make this a regular 
   feature we need your input: please tell us about how 
   Windmill is helping your project. E-mail the editor 
   at [email protected]

2. Using Windmill
   This was another popular category of request. 
   Suggestions included "Getting started with the free 
   software" and "Trouble Shooting". We already have 
   quite a bit of information on using Windmill on the 
   web site. For instance, Issue 19 of Monitor had tips 
   on getting started with Windmill:
   and technical support answers at

   Details on using the individual Windmill programs are 
   in their on-line Help. For the latest versions of 
   the Help see

   If you feel these resources fall short, let us know.

3. Visual Basic and other Programming Tips
   We ran a series of "Visual Basic Corners" in earlier 
   editions of Monitor. These are archived at:

   If you have any VB tips you think would benefit our 
   readers, please send them in and we'll be pleased to 
   publish them.

4. Subjects Previously Covered
   Some suggestions were for topics we've already 
   covered, such as GPIB, choosing a data acquisition 
   system and USB. You can see a list of previous 
   Monitor editions at
   Plus we plan to provide a more comprehensive index 
   to all back issues in a future edition. If there 
   are subjects you think we haven't covered in enough 
   detail and could do with revisiting, let us know.

5. Other Suggestions
   We've noted all your topic suggestions and have 
   plenty to work on for coverage over the rest of 
   the year. 

Your Windmill Questions Answered

Our survey raised a few questions on using Windmill. 
In some cases we've replied directly, others are 
answered here. You might also like to look at our 
on-line faq.

How to incorporate software gauges and graphs in Windmill?
  For software gauges you need the Windmill Graphics 
  program. With Graphics you draw a background in any 
  painting package and save it as a bitmap. You then 
  drop "live" items, like analogue gauges, onto the 
  background. For more details see
  For reviewing graphs of previously saved data use the 
  Windmill Replay program
  For real-time graphing use the free Windmill Chart 


How to introduce ramp functions like those used in recipes for brewing beer?
  Ramp functions are provided by our Test-Seq software. 
  This sends commands and data to other Windows 
  programs, or directly to the hardware inputs and 
  outputs. The command, or test sequence, file is a text 
  file which you can easily create in a text editor or 
  word processor. 
  Some typical Test-Seq operations
  - Monitor channels for alarms. 
  - Perform PID control. 
  - Display a dialogue box that lets the operator select 
    the next action. 
  - Wait until a value from an input channel complies with 
    that specified, for example Wait Temperature > 20. 
  - Change channel attributes, for example change the units 
    of a temperature channel from Celsius to Fahrenheit, 
    or the range of a voltage channel from ± 10 volts 
    to 0-10 millivolt. 
  - Ramp output values up and down. 
  For more details of Test-Seq see


How to take out the fake instrument?
  The "fake instrument", or signal generator, lets you 
  play with Windmill without the need for any 
  measurement hardware to be attached to your computer. 
  To remove the signal generator:
  1. In the Windmill SetupIML program, open your 
     hardware setup file (*.ims).
  2. From the Mode menu choose Select Channels. 
  3. Double-click each of the SigGen channels. 
     They are now greyed-out and will be ignored by the 
     other Windmill programs like Logger and DDE Panel. 
  4. Save the *.ims file and close SetupIML. 


How to plot an xy diagram?
  The free Windmill Chart program plots data against 
  time. However, with Windmill you can collect data 
  from your device and send it in real-time to other 
  software like Excel. You can then create your 
  x-y diagrams in Excel. For more details see our Excel 
  interfacing and Excel charting pages.

If you have any other questions that are not answered 
here or in the FAQ, please fill in the form at


Data Acquisition Exhibitions and Conferences

Korea International Factory Automation System Exhibition
6-8 March
Seoul Korea

13-14 March
Burton-on-Trent UK
The first European show organised by the 
Instrumentation, Systems and Automation society. It 
comprises four conference sessions running parallel each 
day, plus a two-day exhibition.

World of Industry
14-17 March
Istanbul Turkey
Showcasing the latest technology in manufacturing. 
Includes automation, process control, sensor systems, 
energy management and data acquisition.

17-22 March
New Orleans USA
Laboratory science conference.

Science & Technology India
10-12 April 2002
Pragati Maidan New Delhi India
Combines Environment India, Water India, 
Instrumentation India and Industrial Automation India.

Hannover Messe
15-20 April
Hannover Germany
6,950 exhibitors from 60 nations covering factory 
automation, microtechnology, industrial IT and energy 

Instrumentation North
1-2 May
Leeds UK

Instrumentation and Control Expo
9-12 May
Bombay India
2nd International exhibition and conference for 
instrumentation, control and automation.

Sensors Expo
20-23 May
San Jose California USA
Brings together the technologies that are shaping 
sensing, data acquisition, control and communications.

Drives & Controls
28-30 May
NEC Birmingham UK
Conference for drives, automation and control.

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

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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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