VacTools Vacuum System Software

What Is VacTools?
VacTools is a freeware Windows PC based software package that controls and monitors the performance of your vacuum system(s). Its real-time data is available to third party software via the vtde API. Real-time and archived data can be exported and printed:

 ● Controls operation of vacuum controllers, bake-out, interlocking, pump-down...
 ● Monitors all measured pressure, emission, temperature values, trip states, digital inputs, bake-out status etc...
 ● Logs Data to file for future inspection.
 ● Provides extensive graphically-based tools for ease of data inspection.
 ● Exports data as ASCII-based files for data-base use.
 ● Prints data graphically.
 ● Provides instantaneous access to its data by third party software via the vtde API, a set of 5 simple to use high-level functions located in the supplied VTDataEx7.dll library.


VacTools Logo

  • **FREEWARE**
  • Controls, Monitors and Data Logs Performance of your vacuum system via vacuum controllers (VCs)
  • User configurable Port Allocation
  • Auto-detection of attached VCs
  • Real-time control of VCs
  • Comprehensive data logging
  • Graphical data presentation
  • Comprehensive tools for detailed inspection of data
  • Select and Export data as .csv or .txt file
  • Select and Print data in graphical format
  • Full access to data to real-time data by third-party software using the high-level vtde API.

How VacTools Communicates with Vacuum Systems

    VacTools communicates directly with the vacuum controllers (PVCX, PVCi, IGC3, IGC4 and IGC5), providing complete control over their settings, and monitoring of their operation. Any combination of RS232 and RS485 communications buses can be used to support as many controllers as required. The RS232, as well as the RS485 supports multiple daisy-chained controllers.
    The serial ports can be the native (COM1) port found on most desktop PCs, or virtual COM ports assigned from card-based (e.g. PCI) port adaptors, or USB- or Ethernet-based serial converters of which there are many commercially available. If in doubt see Interface Hardware below.

    VacTools provides the user with complete flexibility of port allocation and usage (see Port Configuration Window). Installed serial ports can be added to the VacTools configuration and their serial settings set with just a few mouse clicks; and when not required, deleted from the configuration.

      On start-up, or user command, VacTools automatically scans all active ports for connected VCs, downloading their parameter sets and resetting the configuration.

Controlling Vacuum Controllers

    VacTools communicates directly with the VCs using optimized algorithms to maximize data throughput. Operation of the VCs is be controlled in real-time from the VC Parameter Windows.
 As well as interacting with the VCs, VacTools:
 ● Allows creation of VC-specific parameter sets, and saving VC Parameter sets to file for future use
 ● Uploading of previously saved parameter sets to VCs

Data Logging

      VacTools logs data so you can monitor your vacuum system performance and, for example, if something goes wrong, find out when, what and why:
 ● User defines the frequency of data logging from one sample per second to one every 5 minutes
 ● Simple, easy to use date-based data retrieval filing system
 ● Export selected data to ASCII-based file for import to database
 ● Prints selected data in graphical format

      VacTools VC Graph Windows provide graphical display of logged data, along with comprehensive tools to zoom the axes to allow careful inspection. For example, the screen shot (right) shows:
 ● Top Bar Graph show the current state of the 7 trips and 2 digital inputs
 ● Bottom Graph shows variation of the emission current (top cyan trace) and measured ion gauge pressure (bottom black trace)
 ● Pop-up Menu associated with data selection, zooming, data export and printing of displayed data
      VacTools provides a range of tools for detailed data inspection:
 ● Axes can be zoomed with the mouse using the Zoom Bars (e.g. bottom of the screen), menu commands in the popup (left) or by setting the start and end times.
 ● Start time can be fixed to a specific time. End time can be "locked" to the present. These provide a convenient format for keeping real-time data on screen
 ● Data from previous days, weeks... is easy to access - just a few mouse clicks away
 ● Passing the mouse over a graph displays the data in the Status Bar for that time
 ● For live VCs, the latest real-time data are displayed numerically as well as graphically

Interface Hardware    

    VacTools communicates with one or more VC over one or more RS232 or RS485 serial ports. Multiple VCs can be "daisy-chained" onto a serial bus (even RS232). Serial ports on PCs are designated a COM number. Serial ports can be the native RS232 port on many table-top PCs, or COM ports located on interface cards that fit in a PC (e.g. PCI slots), or USB-based or Ethernet-based serial port converters. There are a great many of these on the market (e.g. MOXA), all coming with appropriate drivers for modern Windows OS. They are easy to install and many allow COM port re-allocation. Aside from serial ports, the only other things  needed are cables from the PC to the first VC in the chain and daisy-chaining cables.

     But if you are new to all this or in doubt, EpiMAX (or your VC provider) can provide you with solutions. Our simplest range (right) includes: USB to 1 or 2 RS232 ports, USB repeaters (to allow USB distances up to about 15m), 5m long RS232 to RJ45 cables (from PC or USB-serial converter to first VC) and 0.5m RJ45 daisy-chaining cables (between VCs).

Accessing VacTools Data from your Application- the vtde API

      All real-time data available to VacTools is instantaneously available by third party software via the vtde API, a set of just 5 high-level dll-based functions.

For more information, and down-loading of VacTools and the vtde API free, please contact