Otago Schools' Technology Education Centre (OSTEC) are using Windmill software in one of their short courses to extend teachers' professional development. Along with Microsoft Excel and a Parallax BASIC Stamp interface, Windmill has provided "an inexpensive laboratory analysis tool with formidable capability".
OSTEC illustrate how to collect data from an electronic temperature sensor and use it in a spreadsheet on the teacher's PC. They use the BASIC Stamp to acquire data in binary format from the temperature sensor. The Stamp plugs into the serial (COM) port of the computer and converts the temperature data into ASCII format. The Windmill software then streams this data into Excel.
Previously the cost of the serial port software needed for the BASIC Stamp was prohibitively expensive. Now, however, the Windmill software suite has put the system within educational reach. Although the example uses a temperature sensor, the system has a myriad of applications and is ideal for teachers of sciences and environmental studies.
Windmill is capable of simultaneously handling several multichannel instruments, including the appropriately programmed Stamp. The latest version of Windmill (Version 7) is currently reduced from £145 to £50 and is available from our data acquisition catalogue.
Although OSTEC are using Excel to display data, the Windmill package also includes an easy-to-use charting program - shown above.
Windmill Software is a British company established 1991, specialising in data acquisition and control software for Windows. OSTEC is a New Zealand based organisation whose aim is to provide high quality technology support for schools. We have more on interfacing a Parallax BASIC Stamp to a PC here.