Dasher Scheduler - Using play lists to schedule playback

Creating play lists helps things run smoother and allows you to schedule when grids will play back.  Only one daily event is allowed per Dasher Scheduler instance.  However one can have as many instances of the program running as your computer will allow (see Suggestions and Recommendations for information about this).  It is recommended that you have only one instance actually playing back at a time.  When the Scheduler program runs it starts up minimized - it just sits down in the Win9x/WinNT task bar so you know it's there.  If you want to watch what the program is up to just activate it (either single-click on it in the task bar or ALT+Tab to it).

Play list files have to end with a .DPL filename extension.

The way one activates the Dasher Scheduler is to either double-click on a play list file, run a play list file (i.e. Start menu, Run, enter nameoffile.DPL and click OK), or pass the play list file as a parameter to the Dasher EXE file.  This last method is especially handy when running more than one version of Dasher on the same machine at the same time.

When one of the above methods is used Dasher will load the file and then switch to playback mode.  In this mode it will wait until the start time occurs and then start playing back the list of grid files (*.DSH files) are included in the play list in the order specified.  As playback occurs you can look at the information on the screen to see what grid file is currently playing and what column is currently playing.

Play list files are created using the Play List Editor tool included in Dasher.  To access this tool open Dasher and then open the Tools menu.  Next select Play List Editor from the menu.

NOTE: Dasher Scheduler will not turn off all outputs at the beginning and at the end of each grid file it plays.  It simply starts playing what it was programmed to turn on and off at the beginning of a grid file and leaves on whatever circuits specified at the end of a grid file.  If you want all circuits to be turned off you need to tell Dasher to do this.  A global command would work well in this situation.

Explanation of information on the screen

Filename

The name of the play list file that is either scheduled to play back or is currently playing.

Start time

The time of day you want the software to start play back the play list file.  Many different time formats are supported (including 24-hour time format).

End time

The time of day you want the software to end play back the play list file.  Many different time formats are supported (including 24-hour time format).

COM port # (serial version only)

The number of the serial COMmunications port your control boxes are connected to.

Unload scheduler at end of playback?

If a Yes is placed here then the program will automatically unload once the end time has been reached.  If a No is placed here then the software will stay loaded once the end time has been reached and will play again once the start time is reached (usually the next day).

Shutdown computer at end of playback?

If a Yes is placed here the software will automatically shut down the computer once the end time has been reached.  If a No is placed here then this action will not occur.  This feature is handy if you want to place the computer on a timer.  Simply program the timer to turn the computer off about 5 minutes after the software is supposed to shut down the computer.  To get the software to automatically start after the timer turns the computer on, simply open the Shortcut menu within the Play List Editor and select the "Create startup shortcut" option (you can also use the "Create desktop shortcut" to create an icon on your desktop that points to the currently loaded playlist file.  This is handy for quickly testing your playlist.)..

The sequence would go like this:

  1. Timer turns power on to the computer.
  2. Computer boots up.
  3. Computer starts Windows.
  4. Because play list file is in the Startup group/submenu, it automatically loads into Dasher.
  5. Program waits until start time. If start time has already passed it will start playback instantly.
  6. Program stops playback at stop time.
  7. If indicated, program gracefully shuts down Windows.
  8. About 5 minutes later, timer turns power off to the computer.

Grid file name

The name of the Dasher grid file that is currently playing back.

Length of last column (in milliseconds)

The amount of time that the last column of the current grid will be left "on".  500 milliseconds is half a second long.  1,000 milliseconds is 1 second long.

Screen Buttons

Close button

When clicked the Close button will immediately stop all play back and terminate the application.

Play button

When selected the start time will be changed to the current time, thus play back will begin immediately.

Stop button

When selected the stop time will be changed to the current time.  The result is that play back will terminate at the end of the currently playing grid file and any other requested actions that follow this (i.e. unload the software or shutdown the computer) will occur.  If the "unload" and/or "shutdown" Yes options are not selected then the original start and stop times will be restored.  This may result in play back starting again.

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