Digimatic Indicator

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interfacing mitutoyo gauges with the computer?

I am working on a project where i would have to connect around 6 mitutoyo digimatic indicators to the computer. now I do not know how to go about it. They will basically have a usb input( virtual serial). I tried using matlab but i wasn't able to trigger the gauge. Purchasing a software would be very costly so i was thinking of doing it on my own if possible. Please tell me how i should go about it.

The first link shows off the shelf solutions. The basic recording to a file would involve the input tool (second link). Some models can input to excel by substituting for the keyboard apparently. Others output RS232 for a serial port or use USB (a virtual HID = human interface device = keyboard input). This can input directly to notepad or excel, as it substitutes for you typing. It seems the gauge just broadcasts a line of data whenever the button is pressed (the current reading).

You will probably need one of these devices in the second link anyway as they provide the plug and cable. If you use the USB version and the software it will allow several devices and can input data by pressing a separate USB foot switch. Several devices can be connected using a USB hub. It seems like 4 gauges and 4 footswitches might be a limit.

If this does not suit, for example you want to interrogate from the computer, the RS232 version is required. See the fourth link, further down the page type 264-007. There is also a DMX-1 model, and this leads to the DMX multiplexors, which are probably the best approach for 6 gauges. The serial interface can be interfaces to virtual or real serial ports. For virtual serial, use an RS232-USB adaptor. It needs one adaptor and one input tool per gauge. The USB adaptors can be commoned via a USB hub, or there are multiport serial to USB adaptors around with 2, 4, or 8 ports. You can initially test the setup using a serial port terminal emulator on the PC. The multiplexor only needs one serial port, as all the gauges connect to it. The Flexport is yet another way to get this control, for multiple inputs. It is like the multiplexor devices. While it may seem expensive remember this is for multiple gauges. See the sixth link. Also Infinity on the seventh link.

The next part is software for triggering and reading the gauge, a data request, all the same thing. The first step is to find out the serial port numbers allocated by the installation of the serial port adaptor drivers. This can be messy, so needs attention to detail. The manual way is to check the hardware device manager on a PC (control panel > system). The software method is to "enumerate the serial ports" which allows a list to be generated (look up examples on the internet for your language). Using software like C, visual basic or matlab, you have to open the port first, then use a print or write statement or similar to send the request to the gauge, then monitor for the received message. The individual gauges are accessed by reading or writing to the port number (port handle) allocated with the open statement. It is much like reading and writing to a file. The received data is a string or array and can then be processed as you wish, sent to a file etc. This software could be a fairly large effort unless you are already experienced. It could end up being your major effort for the project.

The final part of writing your own software is to find the data request command and the format of the received data from the input tool. I suspect this is actually an RS232 hardware data request using the RTS line from the computer probably. I had no luck here. Some years ago I wrote some software for one of these gauges, but I am hazy about that now. It was probably a model with a different interface anyway. There are also the push-buttons or foot switches. The multiplexors probably need a specific serial command, indicating the port number. Ask the person selling the gauges to provide this information for you.

There are plenty of links about the digimatic format, but this is not what you want unless you are going a step further and making your own "input tool". See the fifth link for a start to that. This uses a microprocessor to do what the input tools do. Note that different gauges have different plugs. This describes a footswitch operated version for one gauge, but the same switch could be operated from a command by the PC.

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