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A Simple RS232 LIMS Interface
You have your LIMS up and running. Due to budgetary or time constraints, you may not have interfaced your lab instruments to it yet. That is the situation I was in about a year ago and was searching for a simple method to transfer data from balances and tablet hardness testers to our LIMS. What I will describe is a simple and inexpensive way to transfer data from balances, gages, pH meters, barcode scanners, tablet hardness testers and similar RS232 instruments.
Using WinWedge by TALTech to Transfer RS232 Data
1. Install WinWedge
Open the software and you will see the following menu bar.
2. Set WinWedge to send keystrokes to any software
Go to Mode/Send Keystrokes To screen on the main menu. Clear the default settings of "Notepad" and "Notepad.exe" from the two fields and choose the <OK> botton.
3. Setup WinWedge port setting to match that of the instrument
Prior to setting up the software you will need the following information about the instrument that will be sending the data. (Most RS232 capable instruments allow you to modify these settings so, you must check the instrument to find the current settings.)
Once you have this information at hand you can set up the communication settings. Go to Port/Settings on the main menu.
4. Set WinWedge to parse the data
Open the Port/Analyze screen on the main menu and transfer data from your instrument. (Instruments such as Mettler balances usually have an arrow button on the tare bar for just this purpose.) This will test that the serial port setup is functioning and allows you to see the format of the data.
You may want to print this screen so that you can reference it when entering the data parsing settings.
Parsing data that only has one numeric value in its Input Data string:
The input data may have only one number as is the case with a Mettler balance.
In this example, "18.7" is the only data that you want transferred to the field in LIMS. Having only one numeric value transferred makes the data parsing very simple.
Choose the Define/Input Data Record Structure on the main menu and you will see the following screen. Set the Start of Record Event as seen below. The End Of Record Event will be set as seen below for a Mettler balance. If for example, you balance has the letter 'g' after your weight in grams, you would need to choose Special Char Received and type 'g' in the empty field.
Choose <Continue> and you will see the following screen. In this example I have chosen the single data field option.
Choose <Continue> again and you will see the following screen. For the single data field you can choose Numeric Data Only as the Input Filter and General Number as the Format Expression. I have added a <Tab> from the <Keystroke List> to be added after the number. This moves the cursor to the next field on the LIMS screen after the number is transferred.
Choose <OK>. At this point your data transfer settings should be complete. Save this file and then test it. Choose Activate/Test Mode from the main menu and you will see the following screen.
Open your LIMS and place the cursor in the field to which you want to transfer the data. Transfer the data and it will be sent to your LIMS.
To open your WinWedge setup in normal working conditions, you just need to double click the set up file and minimize it.
This is the basics for setting up WinWedge to transfer data to your LIMS. Some instruments will transfer data in a bit more complex format and it may take a little more set up to get the appropriate data parsing settings.
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