SensorVUE/ControlVUE User Guide

Loadstar Sensors offers three major software products for general purpose scientific use:




LoadVUE Lite and LoadVUE Pro can be used to measure digital force/weight only and only from a single channel or one sensor at at time. For displaying, logging and plotting data from other types of sensors offered (Force, Displacement, Torque, Pressure & Level) and to work with multiple sensors at the same time, we offer SensorVUE software. ControlVUE adds the ability to control external devices via a USB Relay in addition to all the feartures offered by SensorVUE. This document lays out the major features and highlights how to use SensorVUE and ControlVUE for your applicaiton.


Both SensorVUE and ControlVUE software can read sensors of different types:

  • Force
  • Torque
  • Displacement
  • Level
  • Pressure
  • Temperature
  • Acceleration

In addition, based on one or more of the above inputs, the ControlVUE software can control devices such as:

  • USB Relays (up to 8 channels)
  • Linear Actuators
  • Rotary Actuators (Motors)
  • Pumps


Insert the CD-Rom into drive. The installation should start automatically.

If insatllation does not start automatically, Browse to the CD-Rom folder and run Setup.exe to run the installation. The drivers needed to recognize the devices will also be installed automatically.

Startup and Sensor Selection

Click on the SensorVUE or ControlVUE icon SensorVUE/ControlVUE icon on your desktop to start the program.

The sensors will be connected eithered through wired or wireless connections. Select the appropriate one and click Continue.


Protocol Selection


The software will scan all the serial ports, detect all the Loadstar Sensors devices attached to your computer and display them in appropriate categories.



Click Continue to proceed to the main screen. (You can also uncheck the sensors that you do not want to read.)

If one or more of sensors are configured to run at high baud rates (230400 or above), the software will automatically try to configure the serial ports for increased throughput by decreasing the latency setting (default=16, desired setting=1). This may need elevated administrator privileges in some systems and if the software is unable to modify these settings, you may see a warning message asking you to adjust them manually. Please see Special Instructions for High Data Output Rate Sensors and Interfaces

If the latency settings are not reduced for high baud rate sensors, you will notice that the readings change very slowly or not at all as you load the sensors.

Main Window Layout and Docking

The main window is shown next. By default all the windows, the sensor and controls windows, log window etc are shown in a tabbed layout format. You can rearrange your layout by clicking on a tab and 'docking' the window to different areas of the screen. You can also detach a window from the main screen and let it 'float'. The layout is saved automatically when the program is closed and restored when the program is restarted.


Docked Windows


A sample layout is shown below with the force sensor and torque sensors docked to the left and the motor control docked to the right. The log and graph windows are docked to the tabbed area.


Docked Windows


Another layout with 2 graphs and a log window is shown below.


Docked Windows


Known Issue: Sometimes if you change sensors or layouts, you may see a blank screen. If this occurs, just select "Window...Reset Window Locations".


Changing Units

Click on the Units area to show a drop-down menu of appropriate force units, torque units etc. Selecting one of these menu items will convert the sensor readings to the selected unit.


Change Units in ControlVUE


Resetting Peak/Low values and Changing Number of Decimals Displayed

The number of decimal places can be changed by clicking on the Increase/Decrease Decimals buttons. Peak and Low values, when displayed, can be reset by click on the Reset Peak/Low button. (Peaks and Lows are also reset when the Start button is clicked).


Reset Peak/Low


Logging Data

Data can be logged by selecting appropriate options on the log window.


SensorVUE/ControlVUE Log Window

  1. Click Select Sensors to Log, then select one or more sensors whose readings you wish to log. An user defined field can also be logged. Peaks and Lows, and Totals where applicable (for ex, multiple force sensors) can be logged as well.
  2. Check the field Log Sensor Readings to File. This will open a File Open dialog box where you can enter a file name. If the file already exists it will be overwritten. To log to a different file, click on Select File.
  3. Click on Edit User Defined Field Name to specify a name for the user defined field, where you can enter a parameter for the field. Any text entered in this field will be logged along with the sensor readings.
  4. Select the Log Interval (for example, log every 1 sec, every 10 seconds etc). To record all the data read from the sensors (at a high rate) select the log interval as 'Maximum'.

    If some sensors output data at a slower rate than others, you may get repeated readings for these sensors.

    For very small log intervals, <= 1 sec, the actual interval at which the readings are logged may not be exactly the specified interval. For example, if you have specified 0.25 sec (250 milliseconds) as the log interval, the actual interval may be between 230 to 250 milliseconds. This is especially true if your system is not equipped with a multi-core processor, if you are logging a lot of sensors, if you have setup alarms or monitoring relays etc.

  5. If you are logging continuously for a long period (hours), select Do not log to screen. Logging to file will proceed but the data will not be shown in the log table on the screen. When logging at 'Maximum' speeds, logging to screen is automatically turned off. However, for improved performance, you should always choose this option if you do not need to see the values on the screen (and are only post-processing the data).
  6. If you are graphing the data while being logged, and also logging for an extended period (hours or days), select Graph Logged Readings Only.If you log every 10 seconds for example, only the 10 second interval readings will be graphed (by default all the sensor readings are graphed).
  7. If you have selected the Log On Demand option, data will be logged only when you click the Log button.

Graph Options

Any number of graphs can be displayed in ControlVUE, depending on the memory available and processor speed. Graphs can be configured by selecting Graph...Graph Options menu item. Graphs can have a Y1 and Y2 axes with multiple sensors plotted on each axis. The x-axis can display either time or one of the connected sensors.

By default a graph with time on the x-axis and the first sensor on the y-axis is created. Edit these options as desired and then add more graphs by clicking the New button. Delete a graph by clicking the Delete button.

In the General Options tab enter a title for the graph. You can also choose whether to show the legends and the grids.




In the X-Axis options tab, select either scrolling time axis with a specified time range, for example, 10 sec. Only the latest 10 seconds of data are retained in the graph. If you want retain all the data then select the Cumulative option. If you log for an extended period and use the Cumulative option, heavy demand is placed on the processors and memory.

You can also select the X-Axis to be non-time - for example, a Force-Displacement graph. In this case you will choose the displacement sensor as the x-axis sensor and the force sensor as the Y1 axis sensor. If you select this option, X-axis can be autoscaled as well as a minimum and maximum can be specified.




In the Y1 axis tab, select one or more sensors that you want to be graphed. If you want to graph 2 sensor readings and want to scale them differently, choose one to be on the Y1 axis and the other to be on the Y2 axis. For each sensor, you can customize colors, line thickness, marker type and marker sizes. The Y1 axis can be autoscaled or a minimum and maximum can be specified.




Configuration of the Y2 axis is similar to the Y1 axis.

You can click on the Zoom button in the tool bar to zoom in on a graph. Using the mouse draw a window on the graph and the contents of this window will be zoomed in while preserving the aspect ratio. Right click anywhere on the graph to zoom out.

Formula Sensors

You can combine one or more sensors to create a virtual sensor. Simple formulas (using the 4 basic operations: + - * / ) can be used to create a virtual sensor. For example if you are using a force sensor and know the area under the force, you can plot the stress by creating a formula Force/Area. You can then log or plot these virtual sensors just as you would a real sensor. You can also combine formula sensors to create a new formula sensor. In ControlVUE software, you can use these formula sensors control relays as well.

Click on Tools, Formula Sensors... to create a virtual sensor. The Formula Sensors window is displayed.


Formula Sensors


Each real sensor or an already existing formula sensor is given a symbol. For example in the figure above the force sensor is called S0, and the peak value sensor is called S1. If you know the area under the force you can create virtual stress sensors. For example, if the area A=8.5 you can create virtual stress sensors like so:

  • A 'stress sensor' can be created by entering the formula S0/8.5  in the formula field.
  • A 'peak stress sensor' can be created by entering the formula S1/8.5

If you create a new formula sensor, or delete an existing one, the software has be restarted for the settings to take effect.

Note: Creating a formula sensor will have an impact on the speed of data acquisition, plotting etc, since the formula is parsed and evaluated at run time for each reading of the sensor. You should post-process the data if this becomes an issue.


You can use the software's alarm feature to set alarms if a sensor reading goes above or below certain values. Multiple alarms can be active for different sensors (but the alarm sound is common.) In addition to audio alarms, you can also let the software send you an email or SMS text message if the readings exceed specified limits. Click on "Tools...Alarm Settings..." to configure the alarms.




General Options

Click on Tools...Options... to show the options screen.


General Options


The following options are available:

  • When 'Zero All' is clicked, confirm before zeroing - Check this box to prevent accidental zeroing of the sensors.
  • Enable running 'Zero' - Once you click the Start button and start reading the sensors, if you now want to zero the sensors, you have to click the Stop button to stop reading and then click the Zero All button. Checking this box will enable you to click 'Zero All' without clicking on the Stop button. Leave this box unchecked unless you are zeroing the sensors a lot.
  • Process Priority - This option boosts the operating system priority of the program and lets Windows run it at a higher priority level than the other running programs. It is ok to assign a higher priority level if
    • No other programs are running, and
    • You are reading a lot of sensors, or you are reading high speed sensors.

    This option requires a restart of the program. Boosting a higher priority may slow down other programs. Depending on what other programs are running, Windows may not honor the request for the higher priority assignment.

Controlling Relays in ControlVUE

The ControlVUE software can also be used to control relays on a USB relay board. One, 2 and 8 channel versions are available. Each relay can be controlled independently either by a single sensor, or a combination of sensors.

A relay can be in one of 2 states as shown in the figure below:
  • Turned ON (also called Tripped, Open, Energized or Activated) or
  • Turned OFF (also called Reset, Closed, De-energized or Deactivated)


Relay States - ControlVUE


Connect the device that will be under computer control to the terminal blocks marked, NO (normally open), NC (normally closed), and COM (common) as shown in the figure below.


Relay Wiring - ControlVUE


Relay channel numbers are marked next to each terminal block. The hot side of the AC power (or positive if DC) should always be connected to the “COM” which is the common terminal. The device under control should be connected to either the NC or the NO terminal depending on the following conditions.

  • If the device under control is NORMALLY OFF, unless turned on by the computer software, then connect the positive of the device to NO (Normally Open) and the negative to the C (common), as shown below. If the relay is powered off, or deactivated by software, or the computer is shut down (device is no longer under software control), the device will be turned OFF.
  • If the device under control is NORMALLY ON, unless turned off by the computer software, then connect the positive of the device to NC (Normally Closed) and the negative to the C (common), as shown below. If the relay is powered off, or deactivated by software, or the computer is shut down (device is no longer under software control), the device will be turned ON.



The NO (normally Open) position is commonly used for most applications.

Strip the insulation back on your wire approximately ¼ inch. Insert the stripped wire into the side of the terminal block and tighten the screw to clamp the wire in place. The terminal blocks are designed for 14-22 AWG wire size. Do not exceed the 10 A current rating of the relays.

For safety reasons, the neutral (AC) or ground(DC) side of the circuit should never be used to control the circuit through a relay or switch.

The software will automatically detect the relay board and display the relays' status in a separate window.


Relay Status Window - ControlVUE


Relay Settings

Click on Settings... in the relay window to set up the relays. The relay settings window is shown.

General Relay Settings

The relay channels can be controlled independently using the settings described below. For each relay channel, the following fields are required.

  • Relay Name - Enter a name for the relay as a clue to the function of the relay, for example, Lights, Power, Relief Valveetc. This name will be displayed in the relay status window.
  • Controlling Sensor - Select a sensor from this drop down list whose readings will be used to control the relay. Only one sensor can be used to control the relay. If you want, for example, the total of 2 sensors to control this relay, predefine a formula sensor, and then pick that formula sensor as the controlling sensor.

The following methods are available to control a relay channel:


Manual Choosing the manual setting will disable program control of the relay. You can still turn the relay ON or OFF by simply clicking on the ON and OFF buttons in the main relay status window.
Simple Settings This is the simplest way to control a relay. Three zones are defined, demarcated by sensor readings V1 and V2.
  • Zone 1 - The sensor readings are less than V1.
  • Zone 2 - The sensor readings are between V1 and V2
  • Zone 3 - The sensor readings are greater than V2.


Simple Relay Settings


In each of these three zones, the relay can be set to ON, OFF or Hold. Hold means 'Take no action' - the relay will stay in its current (ON or OFF) state.

Enable automatic reset - Unless this box is checked, a relay, once turned ON, will not be turned OFF, regardless of the settings above.

Example: You want the relay to turn ON if the load exceeds +/- 20 lbf, i.e., if the tensile load exceeds 20 lbf or the compressive load exceeds 20 lbf. In this case, use V1=-20, V2=20, turn ON below V1, turn ON above V2 and turn OFF between V1 and V2.

Command Sequence A series of commands (up to 20) can be defined to control the relay. Each command can be one of the following:
  • Wait for a condition to be reached. For example, the sensor value goes above or below a certain reading.
  • Turn ON the relay.
  • Turn OFF the relay
  • Delay (or Hold) for a specified time interval (in seconds).

The commands will be executed in sequence. Once the last command is executed, the program will reset the command sequence and start executing from the first command. This cycle will continue indefinitely till the Stop button is clicked on the main toolbar.

Example: - A grain hopper needs to be filled very fast up to 25 lbf, then very slowly between 25 lbf to 30 lbf. Afterwards, the needs to be emptied till the weight goes to 0. You can use 3 relays to achieve this, like so:

Relay 1
Command Sequence
(Sets the motor to high speed,
so the hopper fills fast)
Relay 2
Command Sequence
(Sets the motor to low speed,
so the hopper fills slowly)
Relay 3
Command Sequence
(Empties the hopper)
  1. Delay 2 sec
  2. Wait for <= 0 lbf
  3. Turn ON
  4. Wait for >= 25 lbf
  5. Turn OFF
(Cycles back to command 1)
  1. Wait for >= 25 lbf
  2. Turn ON
  3. Wait for >= 30 lbf
  4. Turn OFF
(Cycles back to command 1)
  1. Wait for >= 30 lbf
  2. Tun ON
  3. Wait for <=0
  4. Delay 2 sec
  5. Turn OFF
(Cycles back to command 1)
Script File If both of the above methods are not sufficient for your needs, you can use an external script file to incorporate more complex logic to control the relays. The script file must be written in Visual Basic.NET (Free versions of Visual Basic.NET Express editions can be downloaded from Micrsoft web site.)

Following functions are supported:

TripRelay(<channel number>)
ResetRelay(<channel number>)

Script file to control the relays


Click Select... to select a script file. You can make changes to the script by clicking View/Edit . Click on Verify to compile the script file. Compilation will flag any syntax errors with their line numbers. After successful compilation, click Apply to accept. This will verify the script file one more time. You will have to restart the program for the script file to be loaded.

A sample script file can be downloaded here.

Relay Warning   The values for sensor readings in the relay settings dialog should be entered in the same units that are used to display the sensor values in the sensor's (Force, Torque, etc) display windows. For example, if you normally read a load cell in lbf, enter the values in lbf. If you read the the load cell values in Newtons, enter those values in Newtons. If you change the units for display after you set the relay control values, the relay control values will not be reset. You must change them manually. If you do not do this, it will have unexpected results.

Reading the Sensors

After all the settings have been configured, just click Start on the main toolbar to start reading the sensors (and log and plot the readings if selected.). Click Stop to stop reading.