ChristmasCave Software

Welcome to the software information pages. Here you will find information on what our software products can do as well as the hardware requirements needed to run our software on your computer.

Please select from the following:

Test Communications utilities
SACB Programmer utility
Software/Hardware requirements
Software FAQ

If you have a question that you cannot find an answer to please feel free to e-mail us at

Click here for the latest Dasher news...

Click here to visit the International Dasher Users Group (IDUG) website

Dasher is a software program that will free you from the technical programming side of computer-controlled indoor or outdoor lighting displays, such as those seen at Halloween and Christmas, so you can do more with your creative side. 

No longer do you have to worry about how you are going to control your display and have that fact limit the type of display you make.

With Dasher you can do almost anything you want to do. Imagine having a display where you can change patterns on the fly. Why not have a different pattern every night?

The possibilities are limitless!  Add to that music synchronization and your display will be the talk of the town!

Here's a sample screen shot of what Dasher's main screen looks like (DasherS v2.0 screens shown):

Basically you click on the grid where you want lights to turn on. The rows represent each channel (circuit) you have (8 per control box) and the columns represent slices of time.  The timing of the grid is based on the audio track or file you select to associate with the grid. You can play the grid by clicking on the Play button and the menus allow you to access various options. You can also loop the grid when playing so it automatically repeats when done. If you don't loop the grid it will only play through once and then stop.

Other features include being able to label each channel (row) to make it easier to keep track of which channel is connected to what out in the yard. Looking at the above screen shot everywhere there is a blue box that means a channel (circuit) will be on. If the box is white the channel will be off. The column with the red header is an exception to the white/blue rule.  It contains a Global command. This means that all control boxes will mirror what control box #1 looks like. If boxes 2 and higher have data in them, that data will be ignored. While it is true that you can turn all the lights on or off by just making all the rows blue or white in a given column, a Global command does this much faster.

Dasher makes it easy to have almost any type of audio track or file play back when your display is running. You can select an audio track from a music CD or play an audio file (WAV, AU, MP3). You can even play music from the Web!

The following screen shots are of the various menu options available in Dasher:

Notice in the above graphic where you can change the number of columns and boxes represented on the grid. You can have from 1-10,000 columns (all versions) and from 1-106 control boxes ('S'erial version), 1-3 control boxes ('P'arallel version), or the number of digital output channels installed in the computer ('D'igital version). Using the serial version gives you a total of 848 channels to control. (8 channels per box * 106 boxes = 848 channels).

Now take a look at a screen shot of the Audio Wizard:

The Audio Wizard allows you to playback just the audio file you selected and records the timing of each click you make.  You can stop the playback at any time.  Once you click OK the timings of the clicks will be transferred to the grid and then you can turn on or off the different channels you want for each timing.  This makes it extremely easy to synchronize the outputs to your audio file.

And now a screen shot of the Play List Editor:

This is where you create play lists of your grid files.  You can place them in any order and it's easy to change that order using the Up and Down buttons.  Other options include having Dasher Scheduler automatically unload itself and automatically shutdown the computer after the stop time has been reached.

Once a play list has been created just run it and the Dasher Scheduler will automatically load it (with all of it's grid files) and then play them at the specified time.  Here's a screen shot of what the Scheduler looks like:

Be sure to read the on-line help for Dasher for more information.  This is the exact same information found under the Help menu of the software.  Click on one of the following links to read through the Help section:

Web-based Dasher v1.0 Help
Web-based Dasher v2.0 Help

You can also right-click on the following files to download and view later:

Dasher v1.0 stand-alone help file (file that actually ships with Dasher)
Dasher v2.0 stand-alone help file (file that actually ships with Dasher)

Latest Dasher news as of 3/23/2001:

Dasher development is coming along nicely.  The following list are things that have been happening to Dasher and their current status:

  1. building & testing CM11A interface for DasherX10 (completed 3/20/2001 - currently contacting beta testers so they can try it out)
  2. change "Box change" code to either call a routine located in another form (X10 version) or do things the same way they are done currently (D, P, S).  This way the correct number of rows will be added to the grid (8 for D, P, S and 16 for X10, FC) (completed 3/23/2001)
  3. change channel naming routines (file/open, file/save, file/save as, and grid/channel naming) so that all channel names are stored in an array in memory.   This will make it easier to change the channel names in the future, allow people to use periods "." in their channel names, and allow X10 channel addressing to work properly with the grid (in progress as of 3/23/2001)
  4. create another screen where you can specify various preferences that are retained when you close and re-open Dasher.  examples: starting and ending house codes, duration of last column of grid, preferred column and row sizes, preferred COM port, etc.  these options would also apply to the run-time version of Dasher and would be over-ridden by any information contained in each grid file (example: last column duration). (to be completed)
  5. changed the name of the "Box change (Ctrl+B)" menu selection under the Edit menu to "Box/House Code change (Ctrl+B)" in order to include X10 house code changes (completed 3/22/2001)
  6. changed play code in master code version of Dasher to accommodate the X10 initialize interface routine (completed 3/20/2001)
  7. changed splash screen and about form to have a space between the interface version and the numeric version (completed 3/20/2001)
  8. changing com port selection code to accommodate the X10 CM11a computer interface (completed 3/20/2001)
  9. changed location of global variable changeflag (used to indicate there has been a change to the grid file) in the master code version of Dasher to accommodate the X10 house code selection subform (completed 3/20/2001)
  10. changed ClearGrid code in master code version of Dasher to display a message in the status bar at the bottom of the screen and to also show the progress bar (completed 3/22/2001)
  11. fixed aesthetic bug in Dasher v2.0 on the "Box change" error dialog box.  it had the title of "Column change". (completed 3/25/2001)
  12. building FireCracker interface for DasherFC (to be completed - should be very easy to do once DasherX10 is completed and working)

Check back often as this information is often changing on a daily basis.

Test Communications software

After setting up your control boxes and display(s) it would be nice to have a way to check and make sure each box is functioning as it is supposed to. Maybe you'd like an easy way to map out your channels. That's what the Test Communications utilities are for.

You simply set the address of the control box you'd like to test and then either turn the channels on or off by checking the boxes. You can also easily turn all the lights on or off with the Box all on, Box all off, All on, or All off buttons. The "Send values" checkbox (serial version) can be used if you think you're not getting information out your COM port. Simply connect another computer's serial port to your control computer's serial port with a cable, open serial terminal program (like ProComm or Windows' terminal package) on the other computer, and then turn channels on and off. If you are communicating you'll see text come across stating which address you are sending to and the data value(s) being passed to that box. It provides an easy way to troubleshoot.

The following screen shots are of the Test Communications software.  Please note that each is slightly different depending on what version of software you are using:

Digital version:

FireCracker version:

Parallel version:

Serial version:

X10 version:

The Stand-Alone Control Box (SACB) Programmer utility is Windows-based software that allows your computer to program a Stand Alone Control Box (SACB).  Please read through the previous link to find out what these things can really do for you.

Here are two sample screen shots of what the SACB Programmer's main screen looks like:

The following screen shot is of the Edit menu options available in the SACB Programmer:

Be sure to read the on-line help for the SACB Programmer for more information.  This is the exact same information found under the Help menu of the software.

Software/Hardware Requirements

PC with a 486 100MHz or higher processor; Pentium II 200MHz or higher processor recommended
Microsoft Windows 95B or later operating system or Microsoft Windows NT operating system version 4.0 with Service Pack 3 or later installed (includes Win95B, Win98, WinME, WinNT4, and Win2000)
16 MB of RAM for Windows 95B or later (32 MB or greater recommended); 24 MB for Windows NT 4.0 (32 MB or greater recommended)
5MB hard disk space required
Microsoft Internet Explorer v4.0x or higher (not included)
Microsoft Windows Media Player v6.4 or higher (not included)
VGA or higher resolution monitor; Super VGA recommended
IBM compatible mouse or pointing device
an e-mail address (used for receiving the software)
any other hardware necessary for interfacing the computer to the lights and/or other devices (version dependant)