Interfacing a Transcell Digital Indicator
Windmill software lets you interface Transcell TI-500 digital indicators, and other instruments with an RS232 serial port, to a PC running Windows. To do this you need our COMIML driver.
Windmill automatically feeds data from the Transcell indicators to Windows application software like Excel. The package also includes data logging, charting and output control software. These are ready-to-run applications: no programming is required.
- Run the Windmill ComDebug, select Create a new Windmill Instrument File, and enter your balance's communication settings.
- Run the Windmill DDE Panel, Logger or Chart program to save or display data from your balance.
After you have entered your configuration settings with ComDebug, you don't need to use this again and can go straight to the logging and display programs.
The TI-500 Series Digital Indicator is a general purpose, industrial grade weight indicator. It requires a null modem RS232 cable.
Use ComDebug to enter data about your Trancell Digital Indicator
For an overview of entering the configuration settings see the Getting Started with COMIML and ComDebug page. Specific example settings for a Trancell TI-500 digital indicator are given below.
COM Port Settings
These must be the same as your Trancell uses.
|Comm Port:||Select the port to which your instrument is connected.|
|Baud Rate:||As you specified for your Transcell with the User Menu (A1).|
|Data Bits:||As you specified for your Transcell with the User Menu (A2). If in doubt try 8 bits and no parity (Transcell 8n).|
|Parity:||As you specified for your Transcell with the User Menu (A2). For 8 data bits the parity is always none. For 7 data bits, parity might be odd, even or none (Transcell 7O, 7E, 7n).|
- Enter your instrument's settings. What you enter here depends on how you have configured your Transcell indicator.
- Reading Protocol: This depends on your Transcell User Menu setting (A3). If you have selected Simplex then choose Continuous Flow as the Reading Protocol. If you have selected Full Duplex, choose Request/Response On Demand.
- Timeout: 5000
- Instrument Idle or Wait Time: 0
- Returned Message Length: For Request/Response on Demand, 20 should work; for Continuous Flow, try 18.
- Instrument Initialisation String: Leave blank.
- You now need to define how to extract data. To do this press the Channels button. Here you need to enter parsing instructions to extract the data value from the Transcell's message. Check your Transcell Manual for details of the commands to send, and the format of the display's reply. If you can't find this information, try these settings.
- Prompt String: P (not needed with Continuous Flow)
- Parse String, Continuous Flow
When in Simplex mode, the Transcell returns a message like this
<STX> indicates the start of the message. This is non-printing character decimal 002.
<SP> is either a space for positive or - for negative
xxxxx.xx is the weight
K are the units (or L for pounds)
G means gross weight (N for net weight)
<STAT> is the status - space for Valid, M for motion, O for over or under range
<CR> is a carriage return
<LF> is a line feed
To extract the weight from this message you could search for the start of message (decimal 002), ignore 1 character and extract the next 9 characters. This appears as \S"\C002"\I01\E09
- Parse String, Request/Response On Demand
When in Duplex mode, the Transcell returns a message like this
<STX><SP>xxxxx.xx KG GR<CR><LF> Again you could search for the start of message (decimal 002), ignore 1 character and extract the next 9 characters.
- Initialisation string and Acknowledge string: Leave blank.
- Save your settings.
Open Windmill DDE Panel
Use DDE Panel to show your data.
- From the File menu select Load Hardware Setup and choose the *.ims file you just saved.
- Connect your weight channel. You should see the correct weight in DDE Panel.
- Proceed similarly for the Logger and Chart programs.
Logger gives you many choices of how to start and stop collecting data.
- Log when you press the Start button in software
- Log only when the weight changes on the balance. Even if two items weigh the same, Windmill knows that a change has occurred and so no readings are missed.
- Log to a new data file at regular intervals, every hour or every day for example. This is useful in continuous, long-term logging.
- Log data only when channels are in an alarm state.
- Log data for a fixed duration, for example during an alarm condition and for ten minutes afterwards.
- Log data when you press the space key on the keyboard
- Use Excel to start and stop logging.
- Log from different balances at different rates.
- Log from different balancers to the same or different files.
Getting the data into Excel
You can use the Windmill Logger program to collect data, and after collection has finished import it into Excel. Alternatively, you can collect data with Excel in real-time by using an Excel macro to read data from the Windmill DDE Panel. For more details see our Excel page.
Have you successfully used Windmill with your Transcell Digital Indicator? Let us know about your project.
If you are unable to get data go back to ComDebug's Message screen. Can you see data?
- If not...
- Check that the communication settings you entered in ComDebug match those currently in use by the Transell: COM port, baud rate, parity, etc.
- If using a USB-RS232 converter, make sure that its settings also match those used - read the USB-Serial page for details, especially point 7.
- If still no luck see our Testing Serial Port Communication page.
- If, in ComDebug you see data coming in but DDE Panel isn't showing it, you may need to edit your parsing settings. Go to ComDebug's Terminal or Message Screen, click the Parse button. Enter your Ignore and Extract Settings and click the Step menu. Is your data shown in the Value column? If not adjust your settings.
- If you are getting accurate data readings, but much slower than expected, change your sampling rate. With COMIML, Windmill can make 5 readings per second per channel. So it can record one weight measurement every 0.2 seconds. If you have the sampling interval set much smaller than this, then Windmill may slow down considerably and only make a couple of readings per minute.
For more on the Transcell Digital Indicator see the Transcell web site.