This page tells you about a Windows program that is ready for download, and which you may use without paying anything, registering anything, or having anything done to your registry.
The program allows you to change the state of the pins on a parallel port on a Windows XP computer. I believe it will also work with older and newer versions of Windows.
Before the program will be of much use to you, you will need to know some basic electronics, and have some simple tools and skills.
There's more on that, and a warning you need to consider, at my page about connecting LEDs to a parallel port... a "proper" parallel port, I believe. (If anyone has success using the program with a USB parallel port replicator, I would be interested to learn of their success.)
So far so good? Fine... download the zip file, 192kb or thereabouts. In it you will find the application (TM12forXP.exe) and a ,dll file. Put them both where ever you want... I'd suggest in a TM12 ("TiMer program, number 12")folder within a SheepdogSoftware folder, itself within your program files folder... but they can be where you like. Set up a shortcut to launch the program.
TM12forXP.exe is not an installer... it is the program. When it runs, it will create TM12ini.txt in the folder the .exe is in. Nothing is done to your registry.
When you have the program up and running, you will be able to change the state of most of the main digital output pins (the main 8) on your parallel port simply by clicking on a checkbox on SheepdogCurtainCloser's window. Two pins are not available (they are for opening or closing some curtains... see below). Another pin is turned on or off with an "on" button or an "off" button, instead of a checkbox, and that pin (bit 3) will also be turned on and off according to a time schedule set up by entering an "on" time in one edit box, and an "off" time in a second edit box. The "day" observed by the on/off timer can be a minute long, an hour long, or a day long. I use pin 3 to turn a light on at dusk and off about the time I go to bed.
So much for the complicated bits. Just remember: you can turn 5 bits on or off just by clicking a checkbox.
N.B.: The program is hard coded (at the moment) for a parallel port at $378 (aka 888 decimal). You can check your parallel port's address by going into the Windows Device Manager and looking at your LPT1 printer port's resources. If the "I/O Range" is 0378-037F, then all is well.
The program can also be used to open and close curtains... or perform similar tasks. Anything your imagination can adapt the following to!.
At preset times the program will send a "close curtains" signal. And at preset times it will send an "open curtains" signal. This can be once (each) per day, once per hour, or once per minute. (The last is provided mainly for debugging purposes.) In addition, by clicking on a "button" on the application's interface, you can open or close a curtain immediately.
But! (There's always a but... or two...) You will need to hook up your computer to a circuit of your making, as follows. And the DC motor, if it turns one way, should open the curtains, and if it turns the other it should close the curtains. And when the curtains become open or closed, the should open switches (not shown) which turn off the motor, so it doesn't strain, not turning, when the opening (closing) is completed. There's a separate page for you with the details of the electro-mechanical stuff.
And the other "but" is that the license key to allow you to use this feature of the program costs $25. (The light on/off by timer facility is part of what you can use for free, without the license key.) (If you make the hardware side of the curtains "open"/"close" device, you can test it for free with this program by wiring the relay control circuits to other pins on the parallel port. It is only for the "by schedule" curtain opening and closing that you have to buy a license key.)
If you seriously believe that you are willing, ready, and reasonably close to able to undertake making the necessary external circuits and mechanical elements, don't hesitate to get in touch for assistance with details.... but please: No time wasters? Please look at the separate page for you with the details of the electro-mechanical stuff first... but, if you are serious about undertaking the project, I will be happy to take you through that... I appreciate that it isn't a brilliant exposition!
This page brought to you by Sheepdog Software. There's contact information there.