Preview: What's New in Measurement and Control?
What's New in Measurement and Control?
The latest news, tutorials and articles on data acquisition and control using personal computers.
Making Inventors of us All
EVERY child has an inner inventor. I remember when I was a kid, getting excited over all the little build-your-own kits I was able to get my hands on. Technology opens up possibilities and can help us achieve near-miraculous things, but it can also be complicated. In fact, it is so complicated these days that it can sometimes seem completely out of reach.Launched last year, the BBC micro:bit, a pocket-sized, programmable computer, was designed to change this. The aim was to help every child unlock their creativity with technology, and the device was given free to a million 11-year-olds across the UK, introducing them to the world of invention. Already, a number of exciting micro:bit projects have been brought to life, from acceleration measurement in rocket cars to helping people with autism recognise other people's emotional states.
How Sweet It Is: NIST Metrology and the Maple Syrup Industry
NIST is frequently asked to provide unusual, sometimes downright exotic, measurements and calibrations in support of U.S. commerce. But even old hands in the Fluid Metrology Group were surprised last fall when they were called into a dispute over the metrics of maple sap.
Monitor 220 Now Up
Latest issue of Monitor, the data acquisition and control newsletter, is now available at http://www.windmill.co.uk/monitor220.html
Learning Morse Code without Trying
Researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology have developed a system that teaches people Morse code within four hours using a series of vibrations felt near the ear. Participants wearing Google Glass learned it without paying attention to the signals - they played games while feeling the taps and hearing the corresponding letters. After those few hours, they were 94 percent accurate keying a sentence that included every letter of the alphabet and 98 percent accurate writing codes for every letter.
Sensors Text Farmers When Cows Get Sick
A half-pound, hot dog-size, Wi-Fi-enabled sensor can be embedded into a cow's stomach to detect the stomach pH, the cow's temperature, the amount the cow is moving and the amount of water that the cow has consumed in order to send farmers a message before the cow gets visibly sick.
Sensing the stresses in advanced composite structures
Advanced composites such as glass fibre reinforced polymers are light, stiff, strong, durable materials that can be flexibly shaped to build large load-bearing structures. New research using data logged from sensors on a GFRP structure has found it is possible to directly observe stresses in advanced composite structures.
Monitor 219 Now Up
The latest issue of Monitor - ISSN 1472-0221 - is now up at http://www.windmill.co.uk/monitor219.html
Novel Sensing Technologies Present Growth Opportunities across Industries
The sensors and instrumentation technologies need to: achieve a high signal-to-noise ratio; minimise false positives and negatives; consume less power; enhance accuracy of sensed data; and be fit for operation across a wide temperature range in order to fulfill their growth opportunities. That's according to a new report from Frost and Sullivan.
Mussel-strong glue bonds underwater sensors
Researchers are using a protein produced by mussels to create a reversible synthetic glue that not only can bond securely underwater - but also may be turned on and off with electricity.
Shaking Things Up With More Control
A new algorithm can help machines avoid damage or malfunctions from resonant frequencies. This month, Samsung recalled 2.8 million top-loading washing machines due to excessive vibrations that could cause the top to break off - a problem that led to at least nine reported injuries. The vibrations happen when the normal oscillations of the washing machine become trapped in resonance, causing it to shake harder and harder at the resonant frequency. New research solves this.
Excel Tips: Using Indirect References
If, in Excel, you create a link to a cell, eg =F3, then insert a column before column F, your formula will automatically change to =G3. This occurs even when you use absolute references like =$F$3. To prevent this change, use the INDIRECT function. For example, if you wanted to sum part of a row of cells, instead of using =SUM(F6:Z6) you would use =SUM(INDIRECT("F6:Z6")) Now if you insert a new column the formula will still refer to the original values.
Move Over, Solar: The Next Big Renewable Energy Source Could Be At Our Feet
When chemically-treated wood pulp nanofibers are embedded within flooring, they're able to produce electricity that can be harnessed to power lights or charge batteries. And because wood pulp is a cheap, abundant and renewable waste product of several industries, flooring that incorporates the new technology could be as affordable as conventional materials.
Robomussels monitor climate change
Tiny robots have been helping researchers study how climate change affects biodiversity. The robomussels have the shape, size, and colour of actual mussels, with miniature built-in sensors that track temperatures inside the mussel beds.
Theoretical Climbing Rope Could Brake Falls
University of Utah mathematicians showed it is theoretically possible to design ideal climbing ropes to safely slow falling rock and mountain climbers like brakes decelerate a car. They hope someone develops a material to turn theory into reality.
Underwater robot could help in search and rescue
One potential use for a robot like this is during search and rescue operations in an underwater environment. The modules could split up and search for survivors more quickly and recombine to lift a heavy object and open up a passageway.
Excel: Copying only visible cells
You have hidden some of the rows or columns in your spreadsheet. If you select to copy a range containing the hidden cells, all cells will be copied - not just the visible ones. If you only wish to copy the cells you can see then you need to do things differently.
Underwater Robots Make Independent Decisions
Linking multi-sensor systems aboard an AUV (autonomous underwater vehicle) to enable the vehicle to process sound data in real-time means that it can independently make decisions about what action to take next.
How to choose between Thermocouples and RTDs
Temperature measurement is the most common application of data acquisition systems. You will need a device to measure the temperature - a temperature sensor. Thermocouples, resistance temperature devices (RTDs), thermistors, platinum resistance thermometers and infrared thermometers are all types of temperature sensor. The most popular are thermocouples and RTDs. The sensors you choose depends on several things, such as as your expected maximum and minimum temperatures, cost, accuracy needed and your environmental conditions.
7 Million dollar prize for developing ocean explorer robot
Teams which design an underwater vehicle to explore the deep sea could win millions of dollars. The vehicle must map the seafloor, produce images of specific objects, identify archeological, biological or geological features and, for a bonus, track a chemical or biological signal to its source.
Data shared from 1,900 sensors in the Gulf of Mexico to be quality assured
Nineteen thousand sensors collect data in the Gulf of Mexico every day, feeding it back to researchers around the world. But how do the people putting the data to work judge the accuracy and reliability of the information they're using? A new project will develop the tools and the social and technical infrastructure to gather this metadata - the data about the sensors - so end users know where the information came from and how it was collected.
Robots help map deep marine conservation zone
The UK's National Oceanography Centre has produced the first true three-dimensional picture of submarine canyon habitats, using a unique combination of marine robotics and ship-based measurements. The information captured in this new set of maps ranges in scale from the 200 km canyon down to the size of an individual cold-water coral polyp, and will be used to inform the management of the only English deep water marine conservation zone.
Robots to measure marine wildlife
Two robotic vehicles will work together over the next three weeks to investigate why the Celtic deep area of the Celtic sea is particularly attractive to marine predators like dolphins and whales.
Learn about RS-232 connections
'One of the best places to learn about RS-232 (serial port connections) is the Windmill Software web site' Blaise Milbeck
Monitoring fluorescence during mussel acquaculture research
Mussel farmers in Canada are having problems with sea squirts. A sea squirt is a marine animal that looks like a little soft vase. In the wrong place they can cause massive economic damage with around 63% of the mussel harvest lost. Scientists are using Windmill software to help research mussel and sea squirt competition
Marine monitoring with sensors can save lives at sea
Six research organisations have joined forces to save lives at sea by providing a marine monitoring and forecasting service. Temperature, salinity, currents, ice, sea level, winds, ocean chemistry, ocean biology and chlorophyll will all be measured.
UV indicator bracelet banishes sunburn
Researchers at Queen's University have developed a strip of plastic, containing "smart" ink, which turns colourless from an initial blue colour just before exposure to too much ultraviolet light from the sun, prompting people to cover up before they burn.
Oil filtering net could clean spills
Oil repellent coating on steel mesh lets through water but not oil. Certain combinations of layers yield nanoparticles that bind to oil instead of repelling it. Such particles could be used to detect oil underground or aid removal in the case of oil spills.
Satellites reveal ocean acidificaton
Pioneering technique uses satellite mounted thermal cameras to measure ocean temperature while microwave sensors measure the salinity. Together these measurements can be used to assess ocean acidification more quickly and over much larger areas than has been possible before.
Measuring the desiccation and cracking of soil
Desiccation cracks in soil cause all sorts of problems. They open a path for water and pollutant flow. In earth embankments, cracking reduces strength and can lead to seepage. In extreme cases, the cracks may trigger subsidance and even landslides. As the soil re-hydrates it swells, which could produce ground heave and serious structural damage to the fabric of buildings.
Data Logging from NMEA Devices
The NMEA interfacing standard ensures that conforming instruments all speak the same language. This language can be understood by PC programs like Windmill software, and data from many different instruments can be logged to one time-stamped file.
How to feed live data from a web page into Excel
There are two ways you can feed live data from a web page into Excel. The easiest just entails making menu and dialogue box selections in Excel. However, you can perform more sophisticated operations using a web query file.
Project to develop ultra-low energy consumption electronics
EU researchers look to advance tunnel field-effect transistor (TFET) technology, which relies on the quantum mechanical effect of quantum tunnelling to operate at voltages up to five times lower than those used in a standard mobile phone circuit.
Sensors watch for Red Tides
This year an array of sensors are watching for harmful red tides in the Gulf of Maine. Red tides are toxic and can cause paralytic shellfish poisoning.
Mapping Particulate Matter from Salmon Farms
Salmon fish farms are proliferating. The open nature of many such aquaculture systems impact the surrounding sea, not least by releasing particles of organic matter. New study maps the spread of organic particles released from fish farms
How to install USB devices under Windows 8
With the release of Windows 8, Microsoft imposes more restrictions on what it will let you install. The casualties include legitimate USB device drivers. If Windows 8 is not recognising your USB instruments, here is what to do.
Catching a tiger by the tail.
Attaching sensors to large tiger sharks means researchers can plot where they go and how deep. They even put little video cameras on the dorsal fins so they can see exactly what the sharks are doing (eating dead turtles because its easier than catching live ones).
Whale Watching from Space
But not by astronauts or space tourists. Scientists from the British Antarctic Survey are using satellite images to detect and count southern right whales
Improved free serial communication, data logging and trouble-shooting software
Latest version of Windmill Software's ComDebug lets users: log data from sensors that send data as a web page; Collect data as 4-byte (32-bit) integers, 4-byte words (double words), ASCII characters, hexadecimal, signed bytes, bytes, bits, 4-byte floating point or 4-byte reverse floating point; Enter custom commands to extract data or output control messages; Easily identify communication problems; Communicate more easily with TCP/IP, Modbus, RS-485, RS-422 and RS-232 measurement devices.
Assigning a Lower Virtual COM port number
When you plug a USB-serial converter into the computer's USB port, Windows will assign it a COM port number. This is sometimes too high for your data acquisition software. Read how to choose a different virtual com port number...
Windmill Software Announce Ten Data Acquisition And Control Programs
Windmill Software is delighted to launch their Enhanced Windmill software suite. Enhanced Windmill includes human machine interface software, data logging, charting, output control, programming tools, alarm monitoring and drivers for instruments communicating over Ethernet, Internet, USB, Modbus, RS232, RS422, RS485 and TCP/IP.
New Electronic Archive of Research Papers
E-Print ArXiv is a fully automated electronic archive and distribution server for research papers. It covers areas such as physics and related disciplines, mathematics, non-linear sciences and computer science. The e-prints on E-Print ArXiv are freely accessible for everyone. The E-Print ArXiv data in Scirus are retrieved through the Open Archives Initiative.