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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.


Sensors could make potholes a thing of the past
Tiny sensors embedded in the pavement continuously monitor road conditions, including moisture, temperature and pressure. That will allow researchers to predict which areas are most susceptible to potholes and other hazards, like traffic and crashes. Each sensor covers more than 160 square feet of pavement, all without a battery.

AI and robotics researchers call off boycott of KAIST
A boycott by global AI and robotics researchers of South Korea's KAIST has been called off after the university's president committed not to develop lethal autonomous weapons.

Underwater sensing with light and sound
Mrine wireless sensor networks to improve existing ocean sensing equipment whilst reducing ocean noise pollution

Latest issue of Monitor now up
Issue 235 of Monitor, the data acquisition and control newsletter, is now freely available at

Using Infrasound Sensors to Detect and Monitor Remote Volcanic Eruptions
The sound of a volcano can inform scientists on the duration and timing of the eruption itself.

Depth-sensing imaging system can peer through fog
Researchers have developed a system that can produce images of objects shrouded by fog so thick that human vision can't penetrate it. It can also gauge the objects' distance.

Flexible patch unlocks potential of ultrasound for inspecting irregular components
Ultrasound is often used in engineering to detect cracks in metal components, but if the surface to be tested is not perfectly flat the emitter cannot always make a good contact on the component and the technique cannot be used.

Simple arsenic sensor could save lives
Researchers have developed a low-cost, easy-to-use sensor which can test drinking water for arsenic in just one minute.

Scientists develop tiny tooth-mounted sensors that can track what you eat
Wireless real-time monitoring could add precision to the linkage between diet and health

How to Log Data from NMEA Devices
The NMEA interfacing standard ensures that conforming instruments all speak the same language. This means that data from many different instruments can be logged to one time-stamped file. Depth data from sonar and position data from a GPS receiver can be combined to plot a contour map for example.

Scientists track sharks by sampling seawater
Current methods of baiting, hooking and filming sharks, rays and other large fish are invasive and costly and require teams of scientists spending much time at sea. The new study published in Scientific Reports shows that a sample of seawater can provide the identifiable tracks of numerous species of shark.

Sea urchins help scientists develop super-strong cement
A pillar made of this cement could be built 8000 metres high - and all because of the sea urchin blueprint.

Simple system to locate marine mammals
Researchers have developed an underwater acoustic system locate marine mammals, underwater vehicles and other sound sources in the ocean, using no more than a single hydrophone (basically an underwater microphone) as a receiver.

Marine sensors funding to help probe mysteries of the deep
The sensors that will result are designed to be compatible with autonomous underwater systems such as NOC's autosub Boaty McBoatface and will be able to perform a variety of functions at sea, helping answer questions about our changing oceans.

JILA Spinning Method Confirms the Electron Still Seems Round
Physicists have for the first time used the spinning molecules technique to measure the "roundness" of the electron.

Researchers develop low-cost device to recover underwater sensor-system moorings
Oceanographic research projects often deploy underwater sensor systems in the sea. These are retrieved from deep water by remotely releasing them from their moorings. However, the mooring anchor, shackles and cables can not be easily recovered.Australian engineers have therefore developed a retrieval pod to enable the recovery of moorings. They attach this directly to the remotely released underwater devices.

New sensors exactly measure pressures at 400 oC
Many industrial processes depend on exact pressure gauges. The SOI high-pressure sensors (silicon-on-insulator) makes this exact monitoring possible for processes operating at temperatures of up to 400 oC.

Materials compression testing uses low cost strain measurement
Repetitive loadings of brittle materials like marble cause internal damages that gradually expand, leading to inevitable failures. Interestingly, a structure will only suffer further internal damage if exposed to stresses higher than previously encountered.

IoT UK Boost Award goes to Retail Sensing
Smart City technology developed by Retail Sensing has enabled them to win an IOT UK Boost award from The Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC).

Graphene fish scale coating will make structural damage visible
Colour-changing graphene-based coating could reveal hidden damage in buildings and structures.

How to add average, maximum and minimum levels to your Excel chart
A reader this month wanted to know how to add average, maximum and minimum horizontal lines to his Excel chart.

How to Interface a Vitrek High Voltage Meter
Logging data from a Vitrek voltmeter to Windows PC and Excel

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.

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.

Filtering: How to Remove Interference from your Signal
Learn when you need to filter your signals and the the right type of filter to use.

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.

Sensors and video reveal the unique feeding habits of whales
By attaching new sensor technology to whales just before they dive, researchers from Stanford's Hopkins Marine Station have captured whales' energetically expensive activity in more detail than ever before

Measuring the Olympics
From the distance of the first event to why so many swimming races are ties.

Understanding Signal Conditioning for Data Acquisition
Signal conditioning is the technique of making a signal from a sensor or transducer suitable for processing by data acquisition equipment.

Connecting a Rice Lake Balance to a Computer
How to automatically read data from a Rice Lake Balance and send the readings to Excel

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.

How to log data over I2C
What you need to know about I2C communications and data logging

Taking a weight reading by pressing the spacebar
Connecting an electronic balance directly to a computer

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.

Measuring concentration of plankton in aquaculture research
Low-cost Windmill software helps logs fluorescence data and displays an almost real-time (5 second delay) graphical display of plankton decay

How to capture data from an Ohaus Balance
Windows software logs data from Ohaus balances and other instruments with serial ports.

Vehicle Sensing - 10 Technologies to Measure Traffic
From manual counts to computer vision, vehicle traffic sensing explained.

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.

Learn Conditional Averaging in Excel
How to average items in Excel depending upon the contents of cells further along the row.

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.

GPS signal used for sat-navs could improve knowledge of ocean currents
For the first time sea level has been mapped from space using GPS reflections.

Controlling CO2 concentration in experimental greenhouses
As part of their experiments into crop efficiencies under changing climates, Spanish researchers needed to monitor and control carbon dioxide levels. The software they chose to do so was Windmill's Test Sequence.

Vehicle Traffic Sensors count in all Directions
Innovative vehicle traffic counter uses CCTV to count in all directions, in all weathers, day and night.

15 Ways to Improve your User Interface Design
How do you communicate with your data acquisition system? See and control what's happening?

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.

Tagging Seals Improves Ocean Weather Forecasts
Data from animal-borne sensors, including seal tags, improves global ocean weather forecasts by between 1 and 6 percent.

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.

Solving the five challenges of human sensing
Researchers have identified five technology challenges in human sensing systems and concluded that the best system to combat these challenges is computer vision

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.

Elephant seals measure oxygen content of Southern Ocean
The seal-derived measurements of oceanic dissolved oxygen give better results than possible using any other method.

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.

Download serial communication and data logging software
Communicate with almost any RS232, RS422, RS485, Modbus or TCP/IP device. Trouble-shooting capabilities for solving comms problems.

Connect GPS to computer and spatially reference sensor readings
How to log live data from a gps alongside other instrument readings

Excel tips and tricks for measurement and control
Over 50 tips on using Excel for data acquisition and control

Sensor sniffs out methane in deep sea vents and cows
Researchers have developed an instrument that can rapidly and precisely analyse samples of environmental methane to determine how the gas was formed.

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.

How to connect a Sylvac Dial Gauge or Digital Indicator to a computer
You need some data acquisition software, like Windmill's free comDebug program, and a Sylvac OPTO-RS cable. You can then log data and send it to Excel.

Increasing crop yield whilst reducing fertiliser?
Measuring the productivity and nitrogen-use efficiency of cereal crops

Data logging from methanol sensors
Logging data from methanol control-fed batch fermentation in cancer research

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 communicate with communicate with Modbus devices over TCP/IP
Free software lets you set up and trouble-shoot Modbus connections over TCP/IP - with data logging from instruments and devices.

Robot Swarm Slash Jellyfish
Aquatic robots communicate via ZigBee to exterminate jellyfish swarms

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...

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.