Daqarta for DOS Contents



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Daqarta for DOS
Data AcQuisition And Real-Time Analysis
Shareware for Legacy Systems

From the Daqarta for DOS Help system:




 H-key              This Main Help system
 SHIFT-H            Toggles 5 / 25 line Help displays.
 CTRL-H             Control Help for the active menu.
 ALT-H              Installed module Help select list.
 ? (or /)           Context-sensitive Main Help.
 CTRL-? (CTRL-/)    Context-sensitive Control Help.
 ALT-? (ALT-/)      Help for requested key.


 TAB or Right       Move cursor to next topic on page.
 SHIFT-TAB or Left  Move cursor to prior topic on page.
 ENTER or EQUALS    Jump to topic indicated by cursor.
 ESCape             Return to prior topic or location.
 BACKSPACE          Same as ESCape.
 ALT-EQUALS         Jump to Contents of active Help system.
 Up, Dn             Scroll screen up or down 1 line.
 PgUp, PgDn         Scroll screen up or down 1 page.


There are two formats for viewing Help information: UPPER HELP shows 25 lines at a time, in place of the trace. LOWER HELP shows only 5 lines, but allows ongoing operation. To toggle between these formats, use SHIFT-H.

In UPPER or LOWER HELP formats, the PgUp/Dn keys move between Help pages, instead of changing trace magnification as they normally do. Note that a "page" in the lower format is only 5 lines. There is no trace magnification to change with the upper Help format, but in the lower you can always use the SHIFT-PgUp/Dn keys to do the same thing. (But note that in Y-log mode this will change the full-scale reference, not the normal full-scale range that you change with the unshifted page keys.)

In either Help mode, the Up and Down cursor keys scroll the text within the Help window by single lines, instead of controlling the menu cursor as they usually do. You can always use CTRL-Up or CTRL-Down for the menu cursor.

Scrolling text with the Up and Down cursor keys only works within a topic. If you try to scroll past the beginning or end of the current topic, the cursor will move instead... just as though you had used the TAB or Left / Right cursor keys.

The page keys are not limited to the current topic, and will allow you to move through the entire Help text, just like a book.

There is a separate color palette for the upper Help mode, but the lower mode uses the same colors as the current active palette. You will probably want to experiment to find the colors you prefer, and save them in your palette file.

The default MAIN.PAL file that comes with Daqarta contains a few ideas to get you started. To try these, activate upper Help (if it's not already in that mode), then use CTRL-C to select the Color control menu. Move the cursor to the Palette item at the top using the CTRL-Up/Dn cursor keys. (You have to add the CTRL to indicate control menu operations only when upper Help is active, since Help operations are the default in this mode.)

Hit (CTRL-) ENTER to select the Palette item, and use (CTRL-) Up/Dn cursors to change from the 'Help' palette to one of the others. The palette called 'Helpd' is the default for Help if you hadn't loaded any main palette file.


Use the TAB or Right cursor key to move the cursor to any highlighted topic on the page. SHIFT-TAB or Left cursor moves the cursor backwards on the page. ENTER or EQUALS moves to the topic indicated by the cursor position, while ESCape or BACKSPACE returns to the prior location. The ENTER / ESC method is probably more natural for occasional use, especially by those familiar with "other" Help systems. For extensive browsing, however, you can place two fingers of your left hand over EQUALS / BACKSPACE while your right hand operates TAB. This allows smooth, rapid navigation without lifting your hands from the keyboard.

The EQUALS / BACKSPACE keys are dedicated to Help use, while ENTER / ESC are also used for menu operations when Help is not active. CTRL-ENTER / CTRL-ESC are dedicated to menu use, and may be used for this at any time... but they MUST be used to control the menu when Help is active.

NOTE: Throughout this Help system, ENTER and ESC will be used to refer to the normal operation of control menus when Help is not active, rather than saying "ENTER or CTRL-ENTER" at every reference. If you are going to try a menu operation while you are reading about it here, be sure to use the CTRL key prefix.


The H-key toggles this Main Help system on and off, and CTRL-H toggles Control Help specific to each menu. Control Help allows access to special Help text provided for plug-in modules, describing unique features of installed board drivers or other special or user-written applications.

The Main Help and each Control Help system are independent, and each allows up to 64 levels of backtracking. The path through each system is remembered from prior accesses, even if there are intervening accesses of other help systems.


  • CTRL-C will bring up the Color menu at the right side of the screen.
  • CTRL-H flips to Color menu Control Help, which you can explore as desired.
  • The H-key returns to this Main Help page.
Although normal paging and scrolling is always allowed, the ESC or Backspace key only returns to prior ENTER or Equals key selections.

This Main Help system actually includes the Control Help text for menus that are part of the main Daqarta program (as opposed to plug-in modules), so the same text may be accessed in different ways. The path will be associated with the initial system. In the example above, after CTRL-H flipped to Color menu Control Help, more jumping and paging might move eventually through Averager Help topics, etc. After the H-key flipped back to this Main Help area, CTRL-H would flip back to Averager topics (if that was the last entered topic) even though the Color menu is still active. ESCaping or backspacing would then lead back to Color topics. If you go back far enough you can exit the help system completely, in which case when you next invoke it you will be at the start.

Changing to a new menu while Control Help is active does NOT automatically jump to a new Control Help section. To do this, hold down CTRL and hit H twice. This exits Control Help and re-enters it for the current menu.

For ADC boards, you normally need to have the board installed in order to be able to load its associated driver and hence bring up its control menu and Control Help system. However, you can force the installation of a driver without the board, or without activating it, in order to use its Control Help.

ALT-EQUALS moves to the Contents of whatever Help system is currently active, just as though it was a topic jump.

If Main Help is active, the H-key will deactivate all help.
If Control Help is active, CTRL-H will deactivate all help.


For this Main Help system or any Control Help system, the Index will be the first topic link on the Contents page. When you hit ALT-EQUALS to jump to that page, the cursor will thus automatically be on the Index item, so you can then just hit ENTER to jump into the Index.

The Index can be navigated just like any other part of the Help system, with one difference: While you are in the Index the alphanumeric keys no longer invoke normal Key Options, but instead take you to the section of the Index starting with that letter. Once there, each additional press of that key advances one entry through that section, rolling to the top after the last entry. Hitting any other key jumps to the entries starting with that letter... you don't "spell out" an individual entry.

If you are in the normal 25-line Help display mode, the Message Line will show

    Help Index topic letter:
to remind you of this use of the alphanumeric keys. (Since this area is hidden in the 5-line Help mode, you will have to remember this on your own.)

In a normal paper book, index entries are typically indented within groups, such as:

    Key Macros
        Creating and Storing
But to remind you that the same first letter moves you through this group, Daqarta uses this form instead:

    K.  Auto-Initialization
    K.  Creating and Storing
    K.  ...
This reduces the visual clutter of the more typical form:

    Key Macros
    Key Macros, Auto-Initialization
    Key Macros, Creating and Storing
    Key Macros, ...
While you are in the Help Index system, you can still use the CTRL-key with the Up, Dn, PgUp, PgDn, ENTER, or ESCape keys to perform menu operations. However, you can't directly enter a value for a menu item, since the text keys are dedicated to index navigation.


The ?-key (shifted or unshifted) is used to obtain context-sensitive help. Daqarta will assume you want help with the most recent key hit. For example, if you are looking at a spectrum and use the Y-key to flip to Y-Log display, the ?-key will then take you to the Help area for this option.

This method will work even for an option key that is crossed out to show that it is unavailable. If it is not clear WHY it's unavailable, hit its key and then the ?-key to find out more. If there is a key you are curious about but you don't actually want to hit it, use the Key Preview Help method below.

If the prior key operation was a movement of the menu cursor via the up or down arrow keys, the ?-key will take you to the Control Help text for the item at the new cursor position. CTRL-? (actually CTRL-/) will take you to that help text even if the prior operation was not a menu cursor motion.

Once context-sensitive help is invoked, the Help topic does NOT automatically change as the context changes further. The ?-key or CTRL-? must be hit again to move to Help for a new context.

For option key contexts, the ?-key invokes the same Main Help system otherwise invoked by the H-key, and for menu cursor contexts the ?-key or CTRL-? invokes the same Control Help normally invoked via CTRL-H... the only difference is how you get there. You are free to move through either system in all the usual ways once you are there.

To exit from context help, toggle off the relevant system via the H-key or CTRL-H. Since the ?-key can take you to either the Main Help or Control Help systems depending on context, one simple way to exit is to always hit the unshifted H-key: If you were in Main Help, you will exit completely, and if you were in Control Help you will toggle to Main Help, from which another hit of the H-key will exit completely. You could also use the ESC key to "back out" of the help system, but if you have followed a number of links you would have to ESC from each one.


If you want information about a key option without actually using it, hit ALT-? (actually ALT-/) and you will be prompted for the desired key. As soon as you hit it, the Help system will be activated (if it's not already) and jump to the proper topic. The option for that key will NOT be invoked, so this is a "safe" way to check things out first if you are afraid of commitments.

Just as for context-sensitive Help discussed above, you can get information in this way even if the option is crossed out to show that it is not available.

For help with control menu items without activating them, use CTRL-? (actually CTRL-/) to get context-sensitive help about the item at the current menu cursor position.


ALT-H shows a list of all plug-in modules installed, and allows normal TAB or cursor operation to move the highlight through the list. Note that this list is always in 25-line mode.

ENTER or EQUALS displays a single-page description or summary for the selected module. This will typically show any current settings that might have been changed by parameters in the DQA.CFG file. For example, if the module is an ADC board driver, the summary page will show the base I/O address, DMA channel, if any, and IRQ hardware settings, along with other relevant information about switch settings like input range or differential versus single-ended mode.

You can force the installation of a board driver even when the board is not present in your system (or without activating it if it is) in order to view its parameter requirements or other Control Help information.

Some very simple modules may not provide any more help than this single page of text. That fact will be indicated at the end of the page. Hit ESC to go back to the module list to select another module summary.

If the module also has its own Control Help system, however, you may hit ENTER or EQUALS from the summary page to invoke the main menu for the module and simultaneously bring up its help system. You can then navigate through that as though you had entered it with the conventional CTRL-H.

You can exit this by toggling CTRL-H off to get directly back to the trace, in which case if you later hit CTRL-H with this menu active you will go right back to the point where you left off. Alternatively, if you choose to exit via repeated ESC-key hits, you will go back to the module list and can then select another module to look at. Backing out this way will bypass the single-page summary for the module, so if you want to see it again you must go back to the module list first.


Daqarta Help files have an .HLP extension. These include this main DQA.HLP file plus the individual Help files for plug-ins such as the STIM3A Advanced Stimulus Signal Generator (STIM3A.HLP) and ADC board drivers like SB16.HLP, DAS8X.HLP, etc.

These .HLP files use Daqarta's own hypertext format for fast access. They are NOT COMPATIBLE with any other .HLP files you may be familiar with. Daqarta .HLP files can be viewed with most plain ASCII text editors, but do NOT try to modify or even simply re-save them: They contain internal link tables and checksums for validation, and will be rejected by Daqarta unless they have been processed by Daqarta's own Help compiler.


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