Data Acquisition Contents

Here's a brief description of each page on our web site. They're arranged under seven topics: Products, Free Stuff, Applications, Technical Support, Articles and Tutorials and Serial Communications: RS232, RS485, RS422, Modbus.

Free Stuff

Serial Trouble-Shooting Software
The free ComDebug software is a terminal emulator that lets you quickly identify any COM port communications problems. For RS232, RS422, RS485 and Modbus devices. It also lets you log data from one instrument.
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Articles and Tutorials

See also our serial communication tutorials below.

Occupancy Sensing
9 technologies to measure occupancy
Seven Ways to Reduce Noise
Reducing and filtering noise in signals
Data Acquisition and the Smart City: A Connected Future
At the heart of a smart city lies data acquisition, the process of gathering information from various sensors and sources.
Particle Counters in Smart Cities
How laser particle counters monitor air quality in real-time.
The Rise of Virtual Machines
Virtual machines are becoming more and more widespread - what are they, why use them and what do they have to do with data acquisition?
LoRaWAN for Remote Monitoring
LoRaWAN connects sensors and devices to the Internet-of-Things, often over long distances.
MQTT and the Internet-of-Things
MQTT is the perfect solution for Internet-of-Things communications and makes it easy to establish communications between millions of devices in the Smart City.
Which Range and Resolution to Choose?
Always choose the smallest range that encompasses your signal, as this optimises the resolution.
How to Trigger Data Acquisition
Anything that causes data collection to begin is known as a trigger.
Measuring Strain
Points to consider when measuring strain.
Differential versus Single-Ended Inputs
The advantages of differential inputs.
Understanding Analogue-to-Digital Converters
Explains the meaning of terms that hardware manufacturers use when describing their analogue-to-digital converter.
Understanding Signal Conditioning
Explained - the technique of making a signal from a sensor or transducer suitable for processing by data acquisition equipment.
Filtering: Removing Interference from your Signal
Many analogue signals - temperature, pressure, strain, and so on - can benefit from some type of conditioning to improve the quality of measurement. Filtering is a type of conditioning which removes interference from your signals.
Understanding Multiplexing
Explains multiplexing, simultaneous sampling, settling time, cross-talk and mixing small and large signals.
How Smart City Sensors Work
Smart Cities have the power to provide data about what's going on in a number of unprecedented ways. They change the way we can understand, manage and study cities.
Measuring the Olympics: Then and Now
From ancient Greek stadons to why so many swimming races are ties.
Using computer vision for measurement and control
Essentially, computer vision is all about enabling machines to "see" the world and extract meaningful information from visual data.
Human Sensing
Solving the five main challenges of human sensing with computer vision.
Occupancy Monitoring
How to monitor and display occupancy on meters, by text, smart phone and via IoT.
Vehicle Sensing
Ten technologies to measure traffic
Article on data acquisition for geographical information systems.
Measuring Temperature
Points to consider when measuring temperature.
Engineering Units
Style conventions for using units and history of the different systems.
Understanding TCP/IP
TCP/IP for data acquisition over Ethernet and Internet explained.
Understanding RS232
The RS232 standard and connections.
Understanding RS485 and RS422
What you need to know to make RS485 and RS422 connections.
Making Measurements Through the COM Port
Notes on the RS232 COM port settings.
USB-Serial Converters
Tips on using USB-Serial converters for data acquisition.
DAQ Glossary of Data Acquisition
An explanation of terms used in computerised data acquisition, control, instrumentation, test and measurement.
Guide to Seafloor Mapping
Step-by-step guide to mapping the marine environment.
Interfacing NMEA Instruments
NMEA explained.
Interfacing RFID Readers
Connecting RFID readers to a PC.
Control Codes
Converting control codes to ASCII, Hex or Decimal
Affordable Sensors: Changing the Rules of the Game for Future Farming
Increasing farm productivity and crop usage through a fusion of agriscience with non-traditional technologies, such as sensors and informatics.
Routing Data to Excel
Help on transferring data between your hardware and an Excel spreadsheet.
Excel Charting Tips
Notes on choosing the best type of Excel chart to display your data.
Getting live data from a web page into Excel
How to get tables of data from web pages into Excel, which automatically update when the web site updates.
How to transfer data between applications using DDE.
User Interface Design
Considerations for effective user interface design - HMIs, process mimics, etc.
Wireless Data Acquisition
How to wirelessly connect your measurement devices to the PC.
Monitor Newsletter Archive
All the issues of the Monitor data acquisition and control newsletter.

Serial Communications: RS232, RS422, RS485 and Modbus

Getting Started with COMIML and ComDebug
How to configure Windmill to read data from instruments connected to the COM port over RS232, RS422, RS485, Modbus or TCP/IP.
Making Measurements through the COM Port
A full explanation of the COM port settings: baud rate, parity, etc.
RS232 Wiring and Trouble-Shooting Connections
If you cannot persuade your serial instrument to send a reply to the software, read this.
RS232 Handshaking
Hardware and software handshaking explained.
Interfacing a Modbus Device
Learn how to communicate with your Modbus device.
Windmill COMIML
Serial device driver which handles RS232, RS485, RS422 and Modbus instruments.
Parsing Messages to Extract Data from RS232 Instruments
Tips on using ComDebug to extract the data values from strings sent from instruments with RS232 ports.
Free Serial Troubleshooting software: ComDebug
Lets you communicate with almost any RS232, RS422, RS485 or Modbus serial device. Extensive trouble-shooting capabilities make it ideal for solving comms problems, or for quickly checking that you can communicate with your instrument before starting to automatically acquire data.
Windmill 7, COMIML and ComDebug Technical Support
Help using the latest version of our software.
ASCII codes for serial instruments
Issue 120 of Monitor lists the ASCII codes commonly used by RS232 data acquisition devices.
USB-Serial Converters
Tips on using USB-Serial converters for data acquisition.
Understanding RS485 and RS422
Find out the benefits of RS485 and RS422, differences between them, wiring options, how to prevent voltage reflection and how to avoid serial errors. Everything you need to know about using RS485 for data acquisition and control.
Serial Communications: RS422, RS485 and Modbus
Issue 32 of Monitor covered reading RS422, RS485 and Modbus instruments through the COM port.


Your Application
We'd like to feature your application of Windmill on these pages. Fill in our form and tell us about your project.
Removing CO2 from Bio-Fuels
Researchers are removing carbon dioxide from bio-fuels, and using the Microlink data acquisition system to do so.
Measuring temperatures of exploding batteries
Logging temperatures from spontaneously combusting lithium batteries.
Re-using glass in concrete
Testing how recycling glass into concrete affects the concrete strength.
Researching the impact of CO2 storage in rock
Recording displacement from LVDTs to investigate how CO2 affects rock when stored to mitigate climate change.
Increasing storage safety after mineral extraction
Safe storage of tailings slurry demands the efficient extraction of water, or disaster awaits. Improving water recovery protects the environment, improves safety and reduces costs.
Logging moisture in manure pellets
Investigating the physical properties of fertiliser pellets for efficient storage and transport, and how they are affected by moisture, using Windmill data acquisition software.
Logging voltage in solar power generation
Windmill software verifies avoidance of voltage violations in solar power systems.
Measuring Cell Forces
Microlink 751 helps Manchester University researchers investigate cell forces.
Fires in Tunnels: Researching the spread of heat and smoke with Windmill Software
Monitoring radiant heat flux in tunnel fires - measurement and continuous data logging
Investigating the biomechanics of tendons
Researchers, for the first time, measure cell responses to repetitive loads on human tendons. The data acquisition system comprises force transducers, stepper motors with a motor controller, culture wells and a Microlink 751.
Measuring absorption of nut shells for biofuel
New materials are being used for biofuels, including nut shells. Windmill monitors the moisture absorption of different shells.
Nasal device testing
Using impaction force testing to compare several nozzle/dose chamber configurations in new nasal drug delivery system.
Investigating bio-oil fuel production
European researchers are investigating the effect of temperature on production of bio-oil from straw - an agricultural crop residue.
Measuring strain during materials compression testing
Windmill Streamer software makes high-speed strain readings during compression testing of marble.
Measuring the desiccation and cracking of soil
Researchers test a new system to investigate drying soils.
Interfacing methanol sensors in medical research
Windmill logs data from a methanol sensor during cancer research
Monitoring Liquid Uptake in Rock Samples
Windmill helps research into radioactivity at the Yucca mountain.
Testing marine composite materials and real-time monitoring of ship structures at sea
Ensuring composites meet demands for seaworthiness.
Automatic Passenger Counting
How to automatically count passengers on buses, trains and light rail networks.
Testing Train Brakes
Windmill cuts time to test train brakes by a third.
Monitoring Wheel Slip in Trains
A British train operating company can now quickly deal with skid conditions thanks to an Internet based system.

Agricultural Science

Measuring CO2 Concentration during Crop Efficiency Experiments
Windmill monitors and controls carbon dioxide in two experimental greenhouses, using PID control to switch solenoid valves and maintain concentration levels
Measuring Crop Productivity
Researchers use Windmill software to log data during research into the processes conditioning nitrogen-use-efficiency, in the hope of increasing crop productivity
Monitoring Nitrogen Efficiency in Crops
Investigating Wheat Yields
Measuring temperature and humidity in greenhouses.
Measuring Soil Health by Continually Monitoring CO2
New laboratory method reduces costs for reliable, continuous measurements of CO2 evolution using Windmill software, Excel and a conductivity meter.
Free Windmill Chart Program
Climate Change Research
Windmill monitors and controls environmental conditions such as CO2 concentration, temperature, humidity and photosynthetically active radiation (PAR).
Monitoring Fluorescence during Mussel Farming Research
Invasive sea squirts can lose mussel farmers 63% of their crops. Scientists are using Windmill to investigate how sea squirts affect the food available to the mussels.
Mapping Particulate Matter during Aquaculture
Researcher uses Windmill when monitoring the concentration of organic matter released from salmon farms in Canada.
Salmon aquaculture releases organic particulates into the sea
Image: Norsk Havbrukssenter/CC BY-SA 2.0
Monitoring Oxygen Consumption of Fish
Windmill continually logs data from oxygen electrodes in copper-contaminated waters. Does more food mean the fish metabolise more copper?
Condition Monitoring for Fish Farming Research
The Seafish Industries Research Station is using Windmill to monitor their fish populations.
Condition Monitoring for Fish Farming Research

Food Science

Logging data during High Pressure Frying
Food scientists use Windmill to study pressure frying.
Continually measuring ripening grape weight
Windmill monitors the weight of wine grapes.
Testing Food Processing Equipment via I2C
A manufacturer is using Windmill to test its I2C-based thermostats.
Real-Time Fuel Consumption Monitoring
Interface a vehicle's on board diagnostics system to a laptop PC.
Diesel Engine Research
New research uses Windmill to investigate how diesel engine fuel and lubricants affect engine emissions.
Automotive Crash Testing
Windmill improves automotive crash testing procedures.

Aquatic Remote Sensing and Pollution Monitoring

Mapping Particulate Matter from Salmon Farms
Researcher uses Windmill when monitoring the concentration of organic matter released from salmon farms in Canada.
Detecting Oil Contamination
Research scientists use Windmill to find the source and extent of oil pollution.
Seabed Surveying
Marine and Estuarine Ecology Group use Windmill for seabed mapping and surveying.
Investigating Pollution from Submarine Springs
A Geological Survey team is using Windmill software for easy and accurate measurements.
Mapping Dye Dispersion
Marine scientists are monitoring the dispersion of sewage using a fluorometer, GPS and Windmill software.
Monitoring dye dispersion
Remote Sensing
Thanks to Windmill, automated sea-floor mapping has become available for anyone with access to a sonar, GPS and a laptop PC.


Teaching Technology
Windmill is being used with a Parallax BASIC Stamp to create an inexpensive laboratory tool for teachers of sciences and environmental studies.
Control Technology in Education
A new education initiative is using the Windmill Software demo to help explain control technology. The Windmill Graphics simulation software was seen as essential for student's Information Technology core skills.
Companies now have a legal requirement to "clean" waste gases, and maintain records to prove emissions don't exceed current limits. Windmill Software is helping with this task.
Wind Farm Energy Monitoring
Windmill Software is currently monitoring renewable energy generation and usage at an experimental site in Leicester (UK).
Monitoring Renewable Energy
Windmill calculates photovoltaic solar panels' power output and conversion efficiency.
Data logging from load cells, motion sensor and an RTK receiver
Calibrating tension meters to improve mooring safety on semi-submersible oil rigs.
Semi-submersible oil rig
Temperature Monitoring of Hospital Freezers
A London hospital is using a Windmill 751-TC system to monitor the conditions of their low temperature liquid nitrogen freezers.
Data Acquisition from Torque Meters
Send data from torque meters directly to an Access database with the free Windmill software.
Data Logging from Pilot Plant
Windmill software logs reactor temperatures, reactor jacket flowrate, reactor pressure, vapour, distillate and condenser coolant temperatures, weights, reagent flows and process analytical instrument readings.
Measuring the Flow Rate of Powder
The free Windmill LabIML software enables scientists in a Department of Pharmaceutical Technology to monitor powder "flowability".

Technical Support

Technical Support
Technical support page for Windmill 7, COMIML and ComDebug.
Getting started with ComDebug and the COMIML Serial Driver
How to configure Windmill 7 to log data from any instrument communicating over RS232, RS422, RS485, Modbus or TCP/IP.
Debugging Noisy Measurement Hardware: Fixing Fluctuating Readings
How to test whether there is a problem with your hardware, power supply or environment. With special reference to pH but also applicable to other measurements.
Trouble-Shooting RS232 Serial Port Connections
Covers the RS232 standard and what to do if you if you have problems getting data through the com port.
Windmll Serial Port Driver Settings
When configuring data acquisition software to work with your serial instrument, you must tell the serial driver exactly what settings your instrument is using. This page gives example settings for a range of instruments and devices.
USB-Serial Converters
Tips on using USB-Serial converters for data acquisition.
Com Port Settings
What the com port settings mean: baud rate, parity, etc.
Parsing Messages to Extract Data from RS232 Instruments
Tips on extracting data values from strings sent from instruments with RS232 ports.
Installing USB devices under Windows 8 and 10
How to install USB data acquisition hardware under Windows 8 and later.
Installing USB devices under Windows 11
How to install data acquisition devices communicating via USB under Windows 11.
How to stop Windows disconnecting USB devices
Four ways to prevent Windows dropping a USB connection.
Data Logging Tips
Logging data to a series of files, automatically overwriting old data,
Logging Only New Data
Notes on using the Windmill Logger program to record only new data, for example when data is sent when you press a button on an instrument.
Starting Windmill when you Start Windows
Starting logging, and the other Windmill programs, when you switch on the computer
Routing Data to Excel
Help on transferring data between your hardware and an Excel spreadsheet.
Charting Data in Excel
Help on drawing charts in an Excel spreadsheet.
Excel Tips and Tricks
Tips on using Excel for data acquisition, control and analysis
Extract Data from a Website to Excel
How to feed live data from a web page into an Excel spreadsheet.
Excel Data on Google Earth
How to display logged data from an Excel spreadsheet on Google Earth. Excel to kml.
Routing Data to OpenOffice
Help on transferring data between your hardware and an OpenOffice or LibreOffice Calc spreadsheet.
Interfacing a Modbus Device
Troubleshoot Modbus connections with our free ComDebug software.
How to collect data from NMEA Instruments
About the NMEA standard and connecting NMEA devices to the PC.
Connecting a GPS Receiver to a Laptop
Connect your GPS receiver to your PC.
Interfacing a Garmin GPS
For sea and lake floor mapping, and whenever you need spatially referenced data.
Interfacing a Turner Fluorometer
Use Windmill to read data from your Turner Fluorometer balance.
Interfacing a Sylvac Dial Gauge
Settings for using Windmill with a dial gauge or digital indicator.
Interfacing a Mettler Toledo balance
Use Windmill to read data from your Mettler Toledo balance.
Interfacing a Sartorius balance
Settings for using Windmill with a Sartorius balance.
Interfacing an Adam balance
Use Windmill to read data from your Adam balance.
Interfacing a Denver balance
Settings for using Windmill with a Denver balance.
Interfacing an A & D Balance
How to connect an A & D Balance to a PC using Windmill software.
Interfacing an Ohaus Pioneer Balance
Use Windmill to log data from an Ohaus Pioneer Balance.
Interfacing a Rice Lake Balance
Windmill settings for logging data from a Rice Lake Balance.
Interfacing a Vitrek High Voltage Meter
Settings for using Windmill with a Quadra_Check 2000 Optical Reader
Interfacing a Quadra-Chek 2000
Settings for using Windmill with a Vitrek 4700 Precision High Voltage Meter
Interfacing a RFID Reader
Settings for using Windmill with a RFID reader.
Connecting On-Board Diagnostics to a Laptop
Continually log data from your vehicle and display it in real time.
Interfacing a Parallax BASIC Stamp
Turn your Stamp into a multi-channel datalogging instrument.
Interfacing a Transcell Digital Indicator
Use Windmill to read a Transcell display.
Interfacing a Torque Meter
How to connect a Torque Meter to a PC using Windmill software.
Interfacing a Datel Datataker
Settings for connecting a Datel Datataker to a PC.
Interfacing an Adam 4000 Module
Settings for connecting an Adam 4018 Thermocouple Input Module from Advantec.
Interfacing a Pinnacle Advanced Energy 6kW DC Power Supply
Pinnacle data settings for Windmill ComDebug.
Tresna Digital Indicator connected to the PC via a Win-1 Special Interface, Series:Q05
Tresna data settings for Windmill ComDebug.
YSI Oxygen Meter
YSI data settings for Windmill ComDebug.
Interfacing a Parallax BASIC Stamp
Turn your Stamp into a multi-channel datalogging instrument.
Interfacing a Desoutter TMP220 Torque Meter
The settings for a Desoutter TMP220 Torque Meter plus brief notes on capturing Torque Meter data to an Access database.
Guide to Seafloor Mapping
Step-by-step guide to mapping the marine environment.
Using Windmill to Control Digital Outputs
Which programs can you use to switch digital outputs?
Backing up Windmill
Which files to save to back up Windmill.
Windmill Help Files and Manuals
You can download the latest on-line Help files for our software - get an in-depth explanation of how to use each program.


Internet, Ethernet & IoT Data Acquisition Hardware
Data logging and control over Ethernet and Internet.
USB Data Acquisition Hardware
Ease of connection, low cost and good performance are key to our USB product range.
Microlink 840 versatile data logger
Data logging over Internet-of-Things, WiFi and Ethernet networks.
Monitoring Strain
Microlink 751-SG lets you monitor 16 strain gauges, balanced bridges like pressure transducers and voltage signals. This unit also provides 32 digital inputs and outputs and 8 counters. Connect eight units to one PC and monitor 128 strain gauges.
Windmill Software
A suite of data acquisition and control software for laboratory and industry. Included with Microlink measurement and control hardware.


Subject index
List of the contents of this site by subject.
Monitor Index
List of topics covered in our newsletter by subject.
We are delighted that Biodata, our company that makes the Microlink data acquisition hardware, have received a Bronze Award in Sustainability from the world's most trusted business sustainability ratings agency, Ecovadis.