ChristmasCave Software FAQ
Here you will find answers to the most commonly asked questions about our software products. If you have a question that you cannot find an answer to please feel free to e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Click on one of the following to find specific information about that product:
Q: Why does playback start at the beginning of the grid when I'm trying to play a range of columns and enter correct column times to start and end at?
A: Make sure your audio file is long enough to reach at least your starting column. If it isn't, playback will begin at the beginning of the grid. More recent versions of Dasher direct you to click on the starting and ending columns rather than typing in the times.
Q: Why can't I add more than 500 columns to the grid at a time?
A: This is to prevent the computer slowing to a crawl as it adds columns just in case someone accidentally enters an extra digit or two when they type in the new number of columns they want. This "feature" has been removed in more recent versions, allowing any number of columns to be added at one time.
Q. Are files created with one version of Dasher compatible with other versions?
A. Yes, you can save a file in one version of Dasher and load it into another. However the number of boxes set up in one file may not be supported in a different version. In this case the number of boxes will be adjusted when the file is opened. For example, if one sets up a file for 10 control boxes in the serial version and then tries to load it into the parallel version, boxes 4-10 will not be loaded (but their information will still be in the DSH file). Boxes 1-3 will be loaded normally as well as the audio file.
Q. Will the demos control lights/outputs?
A. No. However the Test Communications utilities will control lights/outputs.
Q. Are the demos limited in any other way?
A. Yes. The Dasher demo cannot save files. Everything else in the Dasher demo works and all the other demos work.
Q. I load a valid file and when I try to play back the grid is says I don't have an audio file selected. What's wrong?
A. Check the location of the audio file as it may have changed. Another possibility is that the media playback device on your computer was busy when you attempted to select or load an audio file. Newer versions of Dasher will notify you at the time of selection/loading that this occurred.
Q. Can I use MP3 files?
A. Yes. Dasher supports the playback of MP3 files as well as many other media types including video!
Q. When installing any of the Dasher software I receive the following error message: "Error registering msdxm.ocx"
A. It is because MediaPlayer hasn't been installed. Install MediaPlayer ( which requires IE4.0 or higher ) and this message will go away. Check the software requirements for version information.
Q. I don't want to use sound in my display. Can I still use Dasher?
A. Yes and No. The playback of a grid relies on the timing provided by MediaPlayer while it is playing an audio file. There is a work around for this. Simply select an audio file that is the length of time (or longer) that you need your grid to be. Use that file during playback and don't use the audio coming out of the sound card. If this doesn't work, open the Sound Recorder application (ships with Windows) and record a WAV file that is nothing but silence. Use this file for playback.
Q. I don't have a sound card so I can't use Dasher, correct?
A. Correct. Go get a sound card. They are very cheap (approximately USD$10-30) and are easy to install.
Q. Can I record any audio or video from within Dasher?
Dasher won't let you record any audio or video. It expects an already recorded audio or video file. If you are wanting to record some audio you can use a piece of software that comes with Windows called 'Sound Recorder' or some other software.
Q. I've had a few problems running large audio files & quick column timings. What should I do?
A. There are a couple of things to try.
If the grid scrolls as it is playing, go to the Settings menu and turn off the "refresh" option. That should keep the screen from scrolling. Windows is nice as a graphical operating system but oftentimes the "graphical" part gets in the way of other processes. When windows has to redraw the screen very quickly it causes other things to slow down. This includes audio functions and, in this case, the audio determines the speed of Dasher and it's outputs.
If you've already done this then try to minimize Dasher while it's playing to see if the problem goes away.
Q. Why does Dasher run just fine with WAV or MIDI files but slows down and has terrible audio quality when running MP3 files?
A. MP3's are very processor-intensive. When an MP3 plays the computer has to decode the information in the
MP3 file as it plays, turn it into audio, and then send it to the sound
card. WAV files are the exact opposite. As a wav file gets played the digital information goes directly from
hard drive to the sound card - the CPU hardly has anything to do. This is
one of the reasons why MP3's are small (encoded) and WAVs are very large (not encoded).
Another way to test this is to create your grid file and then place it into a play list (using the play list editor). Then close dasher and run the play list. This isn't a graphical program and shouldn't require as many CPU cycles to draw/redraw the screen.
Q. While editing it appeared I had lost the last 2 seconds of a song. But when 2 seconds were added to the entire grid, it seemed to pick then end of the song up. Why is this happening?
A. Dasher will play back a grid file until either the grid runs out of time, the audio file ends, or the command to stop is given. Make sure the timings on the columns in your grid will accommodate the length of the associated audio/video file (as much of the audio/video file as you want).
Q. When I try to use a play list with an end time that goes past midnight the play list will never run. Why?
A. Dasher treats the start and stop times as if they were on the same day. So if you have a start time of 5pm and a stop time of 2am (remember, Dasher thinks these are on the same day) then the play list will never start because the stop time (2am) comes BEFORE the start time of 5pm ON THE SAME DAY.
We suggest having one play list with the start time of your choice and an end time of something like 11:59:50PM. Then create another play list with a start time of 12:00AM and an end time of 2:00AM.
While this will introduce a 10 second delay right before midnight, this will get your display past the "midnight problem". One could try to get the delay as small as one second to see what happens.
Note that you can have multiple instances of Dasher running at the same time as long as they play back times are different. You can also have multiple instances actually playing back at the same time as long as your sound card/audio software subsystem will support multiple audio streams playing at the same time and your control technology will support it (i.e. Digital technology can do this but the serial technology won't unless each instance uses a different COM port).
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