How to Transfer Data from a Laboratory Balance to your PC
Laboratory balances are powerful tools which allow for small quantities of sensitive materials to be weighed to an extreme degree of accuracy – often with 1 milligram readability or higher.
However, it can often be unclear as to how the data obtained in the laboratory can be extracted from the balance and transferred over to your PC.
It’s important to understand how this process works as using databases and other programs will allow you to easily create reports, graphs and other assets as well as helping to distribute your findings amongst relevant departments.
Here’s how to do it:
Understanding USB and RS232 Connectivity
You’ve more than likely heard of USB, however, another type of connection used in laboratory balances is ‘RS232’.
These cables are less common in the consumer world however, depending on the balance you have purchased; you may be required to use one.
If your PC or laptop lacks the functionality of one of the above connections, adapters can be purchased for a low cost which convert one format to another.
The first step to transferring your data is simply powering on both your computer and the balance and then connecting the appropriate cables to each machine.
If you’re using a laptop, make sure to connect your charger in order to prevent it from losing power midway through transferring data.
As is the case with many new peripherals, laboratory balances typically require you to download drivers which enable your computer to effectively interface with the scales.
These are usually supplied in a CD format with the balance itself, however, they can also be found on the manufacturer’s website as well.
It’s best practice to choose the latter option as drivers downloaded directly from the website will be more up to date than those supplied in the box.
In order to retrieve the data from your scales, your computer will need to be running an appropriate piece of software.
There are a number of products available on the market designed for use with weighing scales, each with their own features and benefits.
These programs will allow your PC to recognise the scale correctly and facilitate the data transfer process.
Programming your software
You don’t need an in depth knowledge of computer programming for this step so don’t worry!
You will, however, need to be able to input the following values:
- Baud rate
- Data bits
- Stop bits
Simply click on the settings option and this will open a new dialogue box in which you can assign the above information.
‘Baud rate’ relates to how quickly information can be transferred using a given system and connector type and this value must be the same at both ends (your computer and the balance).
The remaining settings can usually be found on your scale so just make sure the values match on the software program and you’ll be good to go.
Assuming the above steps have been followed correctly, your setup should be working correctly and this will allow you to run a (hopefully) successful test.
You can do this by ‘printing’ the data from the scale into your software program and checking whether this is an exact match to that on the balance’s display unit.
If the there is any disparity in the readout, head back to the previous steps to check whether you are using the right cable/adapters and if you have entered the correct information in the settings screen.
Enter data into excel automatically
Now that you can transfer data from your scale straight to your PC, the next step is to place this information into a database or other program of your choice.
To save wasting time on manually entering each value, simply open the database and select the cell where you want to input the data.
From here, simply leave both programs open, press ‘Print’ (or another relevant button on your scale) and the value obtained will be sent directly into the spreadsheet.
Using the above steps to quickly extract data from your laboratory balance will allow it to be stored securely, arranged in an appropriate format for your applications and used for additional projects in the future.
Solent Scales is a leading supplier of industrial weighing equipment and also provider an array of additional services including hire, repair and professional calibration.