FAQ: Autotrax XP video driver

What operating systems does the driver work under?

It was designed for just XP. It uses NTVDM calls, and so it definitely will not work under Windows 98 (W98 uses a different method for running DOS apps). It has been tried under W2k, and the mouse support failed. We don't have a solution that gives mouse support under W2k yet.

Autotrax has stopped working after windows applied an update

Alex Copeland identified this one. It took him a week of work (Thanks MicroSoft - really the problem is their technical advisories are just so darn vague). KB2724197 will disable EMS memory. This stops Autotrax, and a host of other DOS based programs working. Any later-DOS era program will need EMS memory to get past the 640k barrier, and that will no longer be available. The files that this update are "patching" are: ntkrnlmp.exe, ntkrnlpa.exe,ntoskrnl.exe all in systm32 directory. When unable to uninstall update KB2724197, reverting these 3 files to the original version will get Autotrax will running again. However, it is necessary to disable your system from applying the same update again in the future.

The driver failed to work in my machine, is there a diagnostic?

The file "autoxpdv.log" contains a terse account, in programming terms, of what the driver did during initialization. It does not include comments about what happened after initialization, and certainly includes no information that is private to the owner of the computer. You can send us this log file, and it sometimes helps us to work out what happened. However, not everything can be in the log file - it contains details of just the original windows sizing.

My mouse doesn't work in Autotrax

The mouse doesn't work in Autotrax until you right click on the title bar and select "Hide Mouse Pointer" - but read the next question!

My mouse won't go back to the desktop!

When you run autotrax and select "Hide Mouse Pointer" in the title bar to give Autotrax the mouse, you need to either quit Autotrax (Esc - F - Q -Y) or Alt-tab away from the Autotrax screen to give control of the mouse back to windows.

I cannot get a background colour other than Light Grey

This was fixed 1 June 2009, background colour should now work - but you will need to exit the 'Setup-->Layer Colours --> Background' menu in Autotrax and press end before the new background colour selection will be visible.

The maximize and Close window buttons at the top right of the window do not seem to have any effect

Yes, these buttons are pretty uneventful in our application. But when you think about it, they often fail to work for most DOS applications, - DOS apps have to be shut by shutting the app directly. In the case of Autotrax, use the key sequence "Esc F (for file) Q (for quit) Y (for yes)" We have a way to maximize the screen size, see the "Resizing" question below.

I can see a flashing underscore at the top of the screen

Yes, this is the original NTVDM cursor. Alex Copeland advises that you run Autotrax from a batch file like this:
This will cause the cursor to move down the screen, which is less obtrusive. Alex says he tried DOSBox, and it was too slow, he was unhappy with the image quality, and it was not really full screen.

Does Alt-tab work?

Alt-tab does not work when "bigwindo.on" file is set in C:\autotrax. Well, actually, it does work, but the Autotrax screen stays on top of the display, so the window you have Alt-tabbed to canot be used. When you are running in a small window (ie "bigwindo.off" setting) the Alt-tab is far more useful, - you Alt-tab away from Autotrax, minimize Autotrax, and then you can use other apps/windows.

Does the Minimize button work?

Yes, but it is only useful when the setting is "bigwindo.off" If the setting is "bigwindo.on" then when you restore the screen, it will not redraw correctly as NTVDM resizes it away from the original dimensions. We may be able to repair this in the future.

Does window resizing work?

Unfortunately, not directly. Autotrax is a DOS application and we can only tell it once (as it starts) how big its window is. To change the window size the most effective method is to change the default window size for NTVDM. To get to this, right click the title bar of the autotrax window and adjust poperties: layout: window size. You then need to exit Autotrax and restart before the changes will take effect.

There is also another way to adjust the window size that avoids messing with the NTVDM defaults. You rename the file C:\autotrax\bigwindo.off to C:\autotrax\bigwindo.on. However, when you do this, Minimize will not work as the screen will restore with the NTVDM default size. Because minimize does not work in this mode, effectively Alt-tab is not useful either.

Alternative way of window resizing

(Really described above, needing window as large as possible, still want alt-tab) Problem: When open in maximum window, tab to another app, then return to Autotrax, window goes to smaller size and bottom of PCB is hidden and inaccessible.

Instead of using bigwindow.on, set the default window size by adjusting font for the NTVDM window. By setting the font to maximum, 72, all of the screen at 1920 x 1080 (HD Widescreen format) is available for Autotrax, and it all appears to work correctly.

Can I use Printscreen?

I don't think Printscreen works too well with any graphics DOS apps under XP. Printscreen does work well with Autotrax running inside DOSBox.

NTVDM came up with a "NTVDM.EXE has encountered a problem and needs to close"

Our driver cannot run two autotrax screens at once. If you accidentally start two copies of Autotrax, this message happens every time, and both copies of the program are shut down.

Where is the source for the dll?

In the download package there is the dll "autoxpdv.dll". The source for this is autoxpdv.bas, and it has no dependencies. The driver is autoxpdv.asm, is assembled with masm (the make file is also included, autoxpdv.bat) and then needs to be turned into a driver, we can supply the "exe2com" utility for that as it is public domain.

©2013 AirBorn - Last updated 01 May 2013