Technical Issues & FAQ

This page can be reached from Help...FTG Web Site in any FTG program

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FlexiHub enables us to control remote instruments connected to USB or serial ports. Your COM1 becomes our virtual COM1, etc. This powerful facility eliminates expensive on-site visits.

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 Development System Tutorial Pages

Installation & Startup
    Gdiplus.dll not found
    Installation problems
    License key exchange
    Multiple instances (sessions)
    Office 2010 compatibility
    OLE2.DLL is not a valid Windows image
    P-E Lambda 19 installation
    Transferring FilmStar to new computer
    Updating HASP License Keys
    Unexpected error;quitting
    Windows 7 (Vista) compatibility
    Windows Remote Desktop

    Black scroll bars
    Dialogs off-screen, possible crashes
    File open/save options   
    File dialogs without places bar

    File Properties (NTFS)
    Grid keyboard shortcuts, etc.
    Organizing data directories

    FSPlot bitmap/gradient modes
    Bold fonts don't look good?
    Comparing %R and %T spectra
    Changing axes quickly
    Diabatic transmittance scale
    FilmStar dialog fonts
    FSPlot 5.0 to 6.0 update
    FSPlot Customizer
    FSPlot Tutorial I - Appearance
FSPlot Tutorial II - Legends
    FSPlot Tutorial III - Annotations
FSPlot Tutorial IV - Formulator
    Mouse pointer disappears
    Multiple spectra in FSPlot
    PowerPoint presentations
    Size of Print Graphics printout

    Configuration not saved
    FilmStar Administrator
    Importing illuminants
    Reporting problems to FTG Software

BASIC, Excel, etc.
    Aborting a BASIC program
    Adding audio to BASIC
    C++ How-to
    DDE (dynamic data exchange)
    DDE / BASIC / Excel
    Deleting rows in Excel
    Embedding BASIC in MEASURE/Scantraq
    Excel (as client) reliability
    Excel DDE doesn't work!!
    Excel VBA dialogs in BASIC
FilmStar and Excel
    FilmStar class references
    Getting started with MS Office
    Laser Focus World April 2014
    Multiple spectra
    OCX in BASIC?
     BASIC Tutorial I - Getting Started
    BASIC Tutorial II - Advanced
    BASIC Tutorial III - Examples
Saving Tolerancing Data in Excel
    VBA, FilmStar Objects & Processes

FilmStar Database
 Accessing the database
    Adding Scan command to database
    Connecting to enterprise databases
    Database capacity
    Design value list in Spectra database
    FileMaker spectra database example

Report Generator
    Including date/time in report

    Report Organizer

    Tutorial I - Getting Started
    Tutorial II - Advanced
    Tutorial III - MS Word

FilmStar Workbook
    Hidden Workbook
    Saving multiple spectra
Tutorial I - Getting Started
    Tutorial II - Multiple Spectra
    Tutorial III - Constraints

    Coating run-time
    Intellemetrics FilmMaker
    FilmMaker material properties
    Glitch at company X
    Leybold Monitoring Report

    Monochromator bandwidth

    Turning point adjustment
    Wavelength calibration

    Absorptance in layers
    AR at all wavelengths (unobtainium)
    AR design considerations (Willey PDF)
    AR for two substrates
    Bruggeman step by step
    Changing plot type quickly
    Combining multiple designs
    Contour data import/export
    Contour plots
    Correcting measured spectra
    Correcting thickness errors
    DLS 'ActiveX component...' error
Design Recorder   
    Designing for FWD and REV incidence
    Designs don't work on new computer
    Edge filter performance
    Ellipsometric plots
    Encrypting designs
    Extended materials
Gedankenspektrum Methods (PDF)
    HunterLab spectra import
    Import TFCalc designs
    Index Limits
    Index temperature dependence
    Index vs. wavelength
    Index tolerancing
    Index variations in layers
Index variations (My TiO2)
    IndexSolve.bas example
    Interactor custom plot
    Interactor Smith chart module
    Layer Error Analyzer
    Many layers
    Many materials
    Minus filter designs
    Mixed materials
    Multiple substrates
    Non-uniform coatings
    Optimizing two designs 
    Optimizing phase shift 
    Overflow error
    Phase plots
    Photopic response curves
    Plotting multiple spectra
    Reflectance vs. thickness and wavelength
    RGB Comparator
    Reliability of inverse-synthesis
    Rugate analysis
    Saving Tolerancing Data in Excel
    Side 1 AND Side 2 requirements
    Spectra Collector
    Stack Mode
    Thickness profile
    Tooling factor correction
    User-defined functions
    Wedged substrates
ZEMAX coating files

    Ambiguity in n,k for single films   
    Bruggeman approximation
    Extract n,k from graphs
    'Film Only' Absorbance?
    Import n,k Tables and Functions
    Import TFCalc materials
    Index Functions updated
Index variations (My TiO2)
    IndexSolve.bas video
    Merge R & T spectra
    n,k for Films on metallic substrates
    n,k Oxides Step by Step
    Plotting index functions
    Refractive index data (Luxpop)
    Schott filter glass database
    Solving for k with known n
    Sopra database of optical indices 
    Temperature dependence
    ZrO2 case study (inhomogeneity)

    ActiveX servers
    Agilent Cary UMA/UMS
    Agilent/HP 8453 setup
    Angular dispersion
    AR reflectance setup
Automating measurements (PDF)
    Cary UMA
    CIE Color with diode-array
    COM port in Windows 7 XP Mode
    Embedding BASIC code
    FTIR stability
    Identifying bad data
    Import PE spectra (.sp)
    Lambda 2 (10/12/14) cable
    Lambda 19 installation
    Lambda 20/40 timeout error
    Lambda 800/900 common beam filters
    Lambda Bio/XLS installation (Scantraq)
    Lambda Server error (950/1050)
    Log files
    OMT Solutions
    Nicolet (Thermo Scientific) FTIR support
    Ocean Optics support
    PE spectrophotometer communicating?
    PE Spectrum 10 (FTIR) support
    PIKE autosampler support
    Plotting multiple spectra
    Problem with %R baseline scan
    Saving spectra in two file formats
    Scan macros
    Scan vs. time
    Spectra Collector
    Spectrum GX/2000 setup
    Standard files


Aborting a BASIC program (updated 19 Sep 2012)

When running a BASIC program from the IDE (editor) it's easy to quit: just click the red END icon.

When running from a macro button add line MainEvents = True to enable the Abort BASIC menu command shown below. This works in all FTG Software programs.

While this capability has been available for some time (DESIGN 2.30.1305 and MEASURE (Scantraq) 2.30.1101) we thought it was too easy to inadvertently stop a lengthy macro (e.g. multiple spectra measured over a wide temperature range). This issue has been addressed in DESIGN 2.61.3052, and MEASURE (Scantraq) 2.51.1347 with a new confirmation dialog: click Yes to quit BASIC or No (default) to continue. Note that quitting may not be immediate. Back to top

Absorptance in layers

FilmStar DESIGN calculates absorptance vs. wavelength and absorptance vs. thickness (differential absorptance) for specified layers. While most designers never use these capabilities, they are important for solar cells and other active devices. Calculations can also be applied to the design of laser-resistant coatings.

Sample file contains FILM Archives absorp1.faw & absorp2.faw, Excel 97 model absorp.xls and DESIGN Workbook absorp.vts. Integrating differential absorptance over layer thickness gives total absorptance for each layer at the specified wavelength.(This corrects a previous definition where results were normalized by total absorptance.) Back to top 

Adding audio to BASIC

Using ActiveX server audio.exe based on Microsoft library mci32.ocx, it is very easy to add audio to FilmStar (Scantraq) BASIC programs. A typical application is informing QC technicians when a scan is completed. A sample BASIC program plus support files are provided in Back to top

AR for two substrates

Need to optimize a coating for two substrates? This can be accomplished by changing the substrate index during each iteration. An example is given in Copy the .bas files to c:\winfilm\basic32; copy bbar.faw  file to c:\winfilm\designs; copy bbar2sub.xls to c:\winfilm\workbook.  Open FILM Archive bbar and click Evaluate... Workbook (<F3>) to activate the FilmStar Workbook. Close any open worksheets and open bbar2sub.xls. Just click Optimize... Optimize (<Ctrl+O>) to proceed. Back to top 

Black scroll bars

A UK user reported that grid scroll bars in dialogs such as the Data Table (<F8>) sometimes turn black thereby making scrolling inconvenient. We were not able to reproduce this error, but the user reported that our suggested fix solved the problem:

File... Configuration... Preferences... <Grid Style>... Grid... Type... Classic.

Back to top 

C++ How-to

Thanks to Charles Anderson at St Gobain for supplying the following step-by-step tutorial on utilizing FilmStar as an automation server for applications developed in C++.

It is very easy to create an MFC automation C++ client that uses FilmStar DESIGN (MEASURE) as an automation server. To do this :

  1. Using Visual C++ Studio create a new MFC application using MFC AppWizard (.exe). In step 3 check the Automation checkbox.
  2. With the Class Wizard create a new class. That is, select the "Add Class" button and afterwards select "From a type Library". A file selection dialog box appears. Files appear withe the extensions "tlb olb and dll". However, change this to all files and go to the Winfilm folder. Select the Design1_32.exe file and select the Open button. A Confirm Classes dialog appears with _clsMain and _clsBasic as the new C++ classes and Design1_32.cpp and Design1_32.h as the files that will implement the classes. Select the OK button and the classes are created.
  3. To use the classes somewhere in the application create instances of the new classes. That is add the lines :

_clsBasic filmStarInterface;
_clsMain filmStarProgram;

For the _clsBasic class (the _clsMain is the same) add the lines

if (filmStarInterface.CreateDispatch(_T("FtgDesign1.clsBasic")))
    // success
    // problem

Note that automation ProgID is called "FtgDesign.clsBasic". The program is now ready to call the methods such as with the lines :

CString m_design("4G 40M");

filmStarInterface.SetAngle( 60.0);

That is all there is to it.  Back to top

Configuration not saved

Your computer does not retain capacity settings, preferences or file locations? Probably you are in an organization with overly restrictive IT policies.

File.. Configuration entries are stored in *.ini files in C:\Winfilm\Config or C:\Scantraq\Config. These are sometimes not saved because users do not have appropriate permissions. The problem can be seen by right-clicking on an .ini file name in Explorer and examining Properties.. Security. If it is not possible to edit Permissions and add Write, contact your IT manager to fix the issue. We suggest that you also demand full rights to update (reinstall) FTG programs.

Correcting measured spectra in DESIGN

FilmStar MEASURE performs the following calculation in order to correct raw spectrophotometer measurements.

Standard * (Sample - Baseline)/(Reference - Baseline)

With a modern instrument where the baseline is reliably zero, this calculation is not normally required in transmission. It is, however, required in reflection measurements. Hitachi and Shimadzu users who cannot use MEASURE can perform similar calculations in DESIGN on imported spectra. While the calculation is readily performed in FilmStar BASIC, you can also use the FSPlot Formulator to evaluate a formula over an entire spectral range. The process goes like this:

a. Import measurements and convert to the same wavelength range by using Sub DataConvert.

b. Use the FSPlot Formulator to correct the spectrum. Assuming that Baseline data is in column B, Reference data in column C, Sample data in Column D and Standard in Column E, the corrected spectrum is given by the following formula. Once everything is set up correctly, pressing <F9> runs the formula without showing the formula editor.

F = E*(D-B)/(C-B);del B;del B;del B;del B

c. After inspecting the plot, click Edit...Copy Data to copy a corrected spectrum to the clipboard. (The "del" commands remove unwanted columns C-F.) Warning: a spectrum will be clipped if the data goes above or below graph limits. Try -10 to 110 to make certain that clipping is avoided.

 A BASIC macro encapsulating the above steps is easily developed. BASIC Sub PlotDataCopy copies FSPlot spectra to the clipboard. Back to top

Deleting rows in Excel

Suppose you have a column of data, say a spectral weighting function, corresponding to a 1 nm interval. You want to copy and paste this into a FilmStar Workbook model, but prefer to convert it to a 2 nm interval in order to speed up calculations. This task is readily accomplished with the following Excel VBA program:

' Excel VBA code to delete every other line beginning at StartRow
Const StartRow  = 4  ' starting row number
Sub Main()
    Dim s$, i&
    i = StartRow
    Do Until Cells(i, 1) = ""
        If Val(Cells(i, 1)) Mod 2 = 1 Then Cells(i, 1).EntireRow.Delete
        i = i + 1
End Sub

If anyone can think of a way to do this without a macro, please let us know! Back to top

Designs don't work on new computer

This error typically occurs after installing FilmStar on a new computer and copying previous designs and data files. The problem is that settings in c:\winfilm\config\design1.ini were not transferred.

  1. Check directories in File...Configuration...Directories.
  2. Check values in File...Configuration...Capacity. It is possible that previous data files expect larger data arrays than currently allowed.
  3. Check entries in User Index Functions, Macros, and the Workbook.

A convenient procedure is to save the original design1.ini (measure.ini, scantraq.ini) to floppy or USB stick on the original machine and copy it to the new machine. Then, if the FilmStar data directories on the new machine are different from the original, open design1.ini in Notepad and modify paths via global search and replace. Back to top

Dialogs off-screen, possible crashes

FilmStar saves size and position settings for some dialogs. This can lead to off-screen windows and possible program crashes when opening dialogs. Problems might occur when decreasing resolution for projection or screen-sharing. To circumvent this difficulty, programs since 14 Dec 09 include a Reset Dialogs command in all Help menus.

If not possible to reach the Help menu with the mouse, type <Alt+H><R> for the Reset Dialogs prompt and <Alt+F4><Y> to close FilmStar. Dialogs will be reset after restarting.

Reset is also possible by editing ..\Winfilm\Config\Design1.ini or Measure.ini. Simple delete all 7-digit Window settings like

    TargetsWindow=0 9547 5205 9690 7080 0 0

Excel DDE doesn't work!!

Yes it does! DDE requires brackets around commands. Otherwise the system hangs up. VBA format should be as follows:

Sub Main()
    ch& = DDEInitiate("DESIGN1", "Main")
    DDEExecute ch&, "[Fred;]"
    DDETerminate ch&
End Sub

Names used in DDEInitiate are as follows: DESIGN1, MPE983, MPE19AX, MHP8453, MH3410, MCARY5, MCARY5U, MPE950, MPE1050. Click here for information about DDE with FileMaker. Back to top

Extended Materials

Note added March 2012: Users with many materials
should use Stack Mode instead of Extended Materials.

Setting Film Indices (in File Configuration Capacity) to a number n > 52 places DESIGN into Extended Materials mode. Since designs in this mode are incompatible with normal designs, the facility should only be utilized if more than 52 materials are actually required in one design! In normal operation, letters A-Z (+ a-z when n > 26) indicate film materials. When n > 52, letters are replaced by numbers enclosed in square brackets with the numbers corresponding to those in the Film Indices editor. That is,

.06502H .08876L .53248H .25093L

is replaced (replacement is NOT automatic) by

.06502[2] .08876[1] .53248[2] .25093[1]

where the Film Indices editor looks like

Back to top

File dialogs without places bar

The Windows XP DESIGN File Open dialog shown here does not include a places bar with My Recent Documents, Desktop and similar icons.

Removing the places bar requires a simple Registry tweak. This modification will not affect MS Office file dialogs. Windows 7 users need only click Organize.. Layout in a File Open dialog.

Modify the Registry at your own risk only if you know what you're doing! Users in large companies should contact IT.

Back to top

FilmStar Administrator

The FilmStar Administrator enables managers to control access to features in DESIGN, INDEX and MEASURE. Examples: preventing QC technicians from adjusting scan speeds, preventing optical coating technicians from modifying thin film designs.

The Administrator dialog is accessed in the Help menu in DESIGN and MEASURE. Administrator status is enabled via a Security ID Module programmed accordingly.

The 'Author Only' setting is utilized in conjunction with NTFS File Properties.

Please contact FTG Software for further information.

Back to top

DESIGN Administrator

Getting started with MS Office

Need to integrate FilmStar with Excel or Word but have no idea what to do? Try the following example. It will work without DESIGN being open.

In Excel access the VBA editor (Alt+F11). Click Tools References. You should see FtgDesign1 listed as a Reference. Check this to add it to your project. You will find it listed in the Object Browser with two classes: clsBasic and clsMain. Now open a new module and try the following VBA program:

Sub Main()
    Set dBasic = New FtgDesign1.clsBasic
    Set dMain = New FtgDesign1.clsMain
    k = dBasic.Macro("Fred;")
    On Error Resume Next 'prevents error 440
End Sub

Now that you have a working example, you will be inspired to Read the Manual. Back to top

Import TFCalc designs (updated Aug 2010)

FilmStar BASIC program TFCalc.bas ( DESIGN password required) imports TFCalc™ designs directly via the clipboard while TFCalc is open. Be sure to transfer GetWindowTitle.bas as well! (This is used to grab the design name from the TFCalc title window.) The TFCalc design resembles the following when pasted into a text editor. The first layer is next to the substrate.

TiO2 13.61
SiO2 38.16
TiO2 129.53
SiO2 96.57

TFCalc.bas also opens designs saved as text files (*.txt) in the Save Layer Data command in the TFCalc Layers dialog. While TFCalc is not required, comparing spectra is rather less convenient.

You need to assign FilmStar index symbols (L, H etc.) to TFCalc material names (SiO2, TiO2 etc.). This is accomplished by listing them in the Film Indices Dispersion column. TFCalc *.mat materials files must first be converted to FilmStar *.itw files (see section below). Note that film thickness must be in nm; set FilmStar DESIGN accordingly in Setup Parameters. All materials, even constants, must be defined by dispersion files.

Alternatively, Excel program TFCalcToFS.xls provides similar functionality and may be simpler for users unfamiliar with FilmStar BASIC.

Be sure to verify that the design is correct by calculating and comparing results in both programs. When comparing results be sure to check the setting for Side 2 Compensation in Setup Parameters. A file importer capable of automatically importing entire directories, is planned. Back to top

Import TFCalc materials

FilmStar BASIC program TFCalcMatl.bas (in full installation or  imports TFCalc™ material files (*.mat). It expects the following format:


Please send us samples of TFCalc .mat files which do not work properly, so that we can modify the code accordingly. This BASIC program requires INDEX 2.30.0201 or newer.  Back to top

Import PE spectra (.sp)

PerkinElmer spectral data files of different types (binary, ASCII, Data Manager, PECCS) have the same .sp extension. How can the data be utililzed in FilmStar (Scantraq)? An easy option  is to open the file in UvWinLab and re-store as J-CAMP (.dx extension) which can directly be opened in FilmStar. If this is not convenient, here are further options:

  • Import binary PECCS files via BASIC subroutine Sub Pe19SpOpen
  • Use programs pe-sp1.bas, pe-sp2.bas ( to import .sp ASCII files
  • Convert .sp file to J-CAMP (.dx) with PE program pecnvrt.exe

The last choice can convert multiple files. Copy the program to c:\uvwinlab. New files are created in c:\uvwinlab\convert. Back to top

Index Functions updated in DESIGN 2.23.6001

The number of built-in dispersive Index Functions in DESIGN and INDEX was extended in DESIGN 2.23.6001 and INDEX 2.23.2001. Not familiar with Index Functions? You begin in INDEX by fitting continuous dispersion functions to n,k vs. wavelength data. Functions are then adjusted in DESIGN where further fitting explains differences between calculated and measured spectra.

Index Tables (*.itw) stored with INDEX 2.23.2001 and newer will
be incompatible with earlier versions of DESIGN and INDEX.

1. Open INDEX and click Functions...Built-in. The functions which are initially checked are those defined in previous versions of DESIGN and INDEX. New functions are CYGEN, CYGENK2, SELL1, SELL1K1, SELL1K2, SELL2, SELL2K1 and SELL2K2. As you scroll through the grid, note that equations are displayed at the bottom. Consult these carefully if copying results from elsewhere.

Examples of Index Functions based on TiO2 data sets will be found in subdirectory c:\winfilm\index\functions. Start FilmStar INDEX and temporarily switch to this directory in File...Configuration...Directories (remember to switch back later). Open a file. Click Functions...Plot to visually see the fit and Functions...Fit Coefficients to review numeric values. If you open an Index Table in INDEX (or FILM Archive file in DESIGN) which references a function not currently in the list of built-ins, that function is automatically added.

2. In DESIGN, the same list of built-in functions will be found in the Film Indices editor under Edit...Built-in Functions.

3. Initial estimates for highly nonlinear functions CYGEN and CYGENK2 may be especially elusive. Depending on your data, there could be multiple solutions providing equally good fits. If you have difficulties with these or with other built-in or user-defined functions, send us your n,k tables (*.itw or Excel format) as e-mail attachments. Thanks to Steve Tuenge for suggesting function CYGEN (Generalized Cauchy) which he has found very useful over the years.

4. File and Edit menus have been added to the User Index Function dialog. These include facilities to load and save Function Collections (*.itf) (see c:\winfilm\index\examples.itf). Note that a Function Collection is actually the [UserIndex] section of c:\windows\design1.ini. An important use is transferring Index Functions to other users.

Be sure to backup (save as a Function Collection) any functions
that you are using before opening a new Function Collection.

The Edit menu lets you delete functions and alphabetize function names.

5. File aconst.itw can be used to test the following Index Functions included in examples.itf: ACONFM (uses formula), ACONVB (uses FilmStar BASIC program aconst.bas), ACONWS (uses FilmStar Workbook indxfnc.vts), ACONXL (uses Excel indxfnc.xls via DDE).  Back to top

IndexSolve.bas example

IndexSolve.bas (in c:\winfilm\basic32) creates index tables from multiple spectra via DESIGN's DLS refinement algorithm.The tables is then pasted into INDEX. As an example, we simulated measured spectra of 50 nm Ag on 1.52 substrate at 6 degrees and 45 degrees P and S polarization. Relevant FILM Archive and sample files are found in 

Copy FILM Archive files to c:\winfilm\designs and spectral data to c:\winfilm\spectra. IndexSolve1.faw creates spectral files and IndexSolve2.faw is utilized when running IndexSolve.bas. Once it is determined that IndexSolve.bas works as expected, it is most instructive to repeat the calculations with spectral noise added. This is accomplished via FilmStar BASIC program AddNoise.bas. Back to top

Index vs. wavelength

The following FilmStar BASIC code generates an index (n, k) vs wavelength table and copies it to the clipboard. Back to top

Sub Main
    Dim w!, xn!, xk!, s$
    Row% = 4   ' Row in Film Indices dialog
    For w = 400 To 700 Step 10
        GetIndex Row, w, xn, xk
        s$ = s & CStr(w) & vbTab & CStr(xn) & vbTab & CStr(xk) & vbCrLf
    Next w
    Clipboard s
End Sub

Lambda 20/40 timeout error

We suspect there are firmware discrepancies in these instruments. If your Lambda 40 (or similar) times out during background correction, try adding the following line under [Configuration] in

c:\winfilm\config\measure.ini or c:\scantraq\config\scantraq.ini

Exit and restart before testing. 


If your Lambda 2 or 20 (or similar) times out during background correction, try the following line: 


Please contact us about this. Back to top

Lambda 800/900 common beam filters

Expert mode OFF automatically selects common beam filters as shown below (default mode for PE UVWinLab).

             PE Lambda 900
    Index  Filter   Wave     Type
      1      10    3350     T-LPQ-2.5
      2      9     2620.8   T-LPQ-1.5
      3      8     1670.4   T-LPQ-1.0
      4      7     1190.4   RG780
      5      6     810.4    RG665
      6      5     690.4    OG550
      7      4     562.4    BG38
      8      3     379.2    UG11
      9      2     319.2    T=100% (no filter)
      10     1     150      Glass

             PE Lambda 800
    Index  Filter   Wave     Type
      1      7     950      RG780
      2      6     810.4    RG665
      3      5     690.4    OG550
      4      4     562.4    BG38
      5      3     379.2    UG11
      6      2     319.2    T=100% (no filter)
      7      1     150      Glass

Expert Mode OFF is equivalent to Expert Mode ON with the default filter program built into MEASURE (Scantraq). Note that Expert Mode ON is now required for selecting a single filter for the entire scan (not recommended).  Back to top

Lambda Server error (950/1050)

A user reported Lambda Server error: Could not connect to instrument - Object variable or With block variable not set. The problem followed network security updates when IT failed to restore the necessary user-permissions. Restoring permissions resolved the issue. This problem can arise in Mpe950.exe and Mpe1050.exe which both utilize MSLambdaServer.exe.

License key exchange

New computers lack the LPT (parallel) printer port and cannot read HASP LPT keys. Since adding an adapter card does not work, the keys must be exchanged for USB types. Pricing is nominal, but current support is required.

As an alternative to packaging and returning old keys, please e-mail a photo of the destroyed key(s). We suggest squeezing the plug with pliers as in the above picture.

The same applies to damaged USB keys. If damage is not obvious, squeeze or break off the metal section with pliers. USB keys may be damaged when not removed from laptops. If you tend to forget about the attached key, check USB key shut-down warning in DESIGN File.. Configuration.. SecurityBack to top

Log files (MEASURE/Scantraq)

A running log of input/output activity can help us debug problems in data acquisition. A log file is enabled by adding a line similar to the following under [Files] in

c:\winfilm\config\measure.ini or c:\scantraq\config\scantraq.ini

IOLog=c:\winfilm\cary500.log  (or c:\scantraq\cary500.log)

This adds a new Test menu to MEASURE/Scantraq containing item I/O Log Open. When this item is checked instrument commands and responses are stored in the specified file. Since new data is appended, the file can be used repeatedly. Uncheck to close and disable the log file. E-mail the file to us for analysis and add the exact wording of any error messages.

When no longer required, the Test menu is removed by deleting the IOLog entry, or (preferably, since you might need it again) by commenting it out by prefixing the entry with a semicolon, that is ";IOLog= etc".  Back to top

Mixed materials

DESIGN handles mixed materials via User Index Function Mixed. Here a formula expresses the final index as a function of constituent dispersive indices. A linear mixing model would be expressed as 

n = A*N1+(1-A)*N2
k = A*K1+(1-A)*K2

where N1, K1 are indices for material 1 and N2, K2 are indices for material 2. Here A is the mixing fraction (which can be treated as an optimization variable). Calculated results for TiO2+Ti are illustrated below. Please note that no claim is being made that a linear model is realistic; more complex relationships are easily programmed. 

Porous TiO2 films with packing density < 1 can be simulated by mixing film materials with material Void, where Void is an index table containing values 200 nm, n = 1.0; 1000 nm, n = 1.0; 5000 nm, n = 1.0. Users should verify that results are reasonable; the following program illustrates a method for viewing index values.

Sub Main
    Dim fmt$, w!, xn!, xk!
    Const f$ = "0.00000"  ' Format
    For w = 400 To 800 Step 50
        GetIndex 3, w, xn, xk  ' Material 3 (first film) in
                               ' Film Indices editor
        Debug.Print CStr(w) & ", " & Format(xn,f$) & ", " & Format(xk,f$)
    Next w
End Sub

  Back to top

Mouse pointer disappears

If you find the mouse pointer disappearing in the main graphics window, try setting Control Panel.. Mouse Properties.. Pointers to a different scheme. We recommend Windows Inverted which, in our opinion, offers the best contrast no matter what the background. Back to top


At first it appears that there is no way to use OCXs (ActiveX components) in FilmStar BASIC. While you cannot add a component to the BASIC UserDialog Editor, you may be able to use the OCX as an object.

This is illustrated in the following code snippet which records temperature from an Omega DPi32 thermometer. The ActiveX module iSeries10.ocx is provided by the manufacturer.

    Sub Main
    ' IMPORTANT: be sure to add reference to iSeries10.ocx
        Dim iDevice As Object
    ' Found the object name in the Registry Editor
        Set iDevice = CreateObject("iSeriesAlpha10.iDevice")
        With iDevice
            .ServerCommPort=1      ' set COM port
            Debug.Print .LastData  ' read thermometer
        End With
        Set iDevice = Nothing
    End Sub

That's all there is to it. You do, of course, lose any graphics provided by the OCX, but very often you really don't need that anyway. Back to top

Problem with %R Baseline Scan

When measuring reflectance your Baseline scan attempts to compensate for the reflectance attachment. Typically the scan is performed with no optic (or a 'black sample') on the attachment. WHAT YOU DON'T WANT TO DO is check 'Block sample beam during Baseline scan' (or similar label in older versions). This option can be found in PE 983, PE Lambda 800-1050 Scan Method dialogs and is generally intended for transmittance measurements.

Reporting problems to FTG Software

Our Glance facility allows us to view your computer. This is often
the fastest way to resolve issues, and very often the ONLY way.

We solve problems by reproducing them with data files sent to us as e-mail attachments. The body of the e-mail should also include a clear statement of the problem, exact wording of error messages, etc. Users with expired annual support may be required to renew.

DESIGN...Enable FILM Archive Mode (File Menu) so that designs and parameters are stored in one file (*.faw, c:\winfilm\designs). Attach the file to your e-mail. There are two choices if your design includes dispersive materials:

1. Attach ALL index tables referenced in Film Indices (*.itw, c:\winfilm\index). If the problem can be reproduced with constant indices there is no need to attach index tables. ATTACH ALL LISTED TABLES IN Setup.. Film Indices, EVEN IF NOT USED IN THE DESIGN! SIMPLIFY BY FIRST DELETING UNUSED MATERIALS.

Recommended alterative: if using only dispersion tables (not dispersive functions such as Sellmeier), you can enable Archive n,k Data (File Menu) which embeds dispersion data in the FILM Archive file. THIS IS THE BEST WAY TO DEAL WITH DISPERSION.

2. If using a Wavelength List (*.wls) or Wave/Angle List (*.wal) add that as well. As an alternative to a Wavelength List (often used with CIE data), consider using Wavelength Range instead.

3. If you have Subscript out of range errors it is likely that you need to increase values in File.. Configuration.. Capacity. These values are stored in ..\Winfilm\Design1.ini which you could attach to your e-mail.

...Upon exiting MONITOR or clicking File...Save All four work.* files are stored in c:\winfilm\monitor. Attach these files zipped into one file. Add index tables referenced in Film Indices.

Alternatively attach the four files referenced in File...Save As. The FILM or FILM Archive file is stored in c:\winfilm\designs and the other three files are in c:\winfilm\monitor.

...Attach a short code snippet showing your problem. Isolate the problem in the simplest code possible. Long complex programs may entail extra charges.

...Attach any spectral data files being utilized in DESIGN or INDEX. Or send an Excel .xls file (zipped please) with data pasted therein. Please do not send spectral data lists via fax. If you don't have FilmStar MEASURE, there are a number of options to create data files. See the winfilm\basic32 directory for support for Shimadzu and other spectrophotometers.

Excel...Problems in running FilmStar (server) from Excel (client) or vice-versa cannot be analyzed with "it doesn't work." Please attach the Excel file (.xls or .xlsm) and any FilmStar files required for us to reproduce the problem. VBA code copied and pasted into your e-mail is insufficient! The amount of help provided as part of annual support is at our discretion. This may be useful: Excel (as Client) Reliability.

Please include program version number. This is found by clicking Help...About. If the program absolutely does not open at all, you can get the version number by right clicking the file name in Windows Explorer. Users occasionally report problems that are already fixed. Before contacting us, consult the FilmStar Revisions History page to determine whether a newer release fixes the problem.

In some cases it is useful to attach screen images. This is accomplished as follows:

  1. Copy the active window to the clipboard with <Alt+PrtScr> (<PrtScr> by itself copies the entire screen.)
  2. Paste into a graphics program which can store in GIF or PNG format.
  3. A recommended alternative is to paste images into a Word or Excel attachment; several images can be pasted into a single document.
  4. Do not send graphics in .bmp format!  Back to top

Size of Print Graphics printout

File...Print Graphics creates a graph in the Report Generator that is supposed to fill the page. A user asked "Is it possible to reset the value for my Report Template when I am printing graphics in DESIGN? The current setting in the template is <<Graph 83>> and I would like to have this reset to default to <<Graph 130>>. Any advise?"

Default relative graph size can be changed in the Configuration dialog Misc tab. Another approach is to use a BASIC program to set the size to a particular value.

Sub Main
    t$ = Template   ' save current template
    Template = "<<Graph 130>>"
    k = Macro("ReportShow;")
    Template = t$   ' restore saved template
End Sub

This can be assigned to a macro key. Back to top

Schott filter glass database (2.4M) contains the installer for the Schott filter glass program Filter '98 that was originally available on Excel program Filter 2014 might be useful for analyzing and combining filters. Back to top

Sopra database of optical indices

Soprank.exe (537K) installs the freely available Sopra database (278 materials measured by spectroscopic ellipsometry) of optical indices. Using program INDEX, Sopra index files (*.nk) can be imported and re-stored as FilmStar index files (*.itw) via File...Import Back to top

Transferring FilmStar to a new computer

If decommissioning the old computer, be sure to copy all Winfilm subdirectories to a CD or USB memory stick. The next step is to install FilmStar on your new computer. You then need to transfer data files and custom settings. The following assumes that FilmStar (Scantraq) programs are located in C:\Winfilm (C:\Scantraq) on both computers (if not, adjust paths accordingly):

  1. Install from or, if your FilmStar support is not up-to-date, from the latest version that you have on CD or on your hard disk. Installation passwords are found at the bottom of the FilmStar News e-mails sent periodically. If you have lost the passwords to older versions, please contact us.

  2. Copy c:\Winfilm (c:\Scantraq) subdirectories from your old computer to the new; do not copy the programs directory.

  3. Check your old computer for subdirectory c:\Winfilm\Config (c:\Scantraq\Config). If it's there, (already copied in Step 2) skip Step 4; if not, proceed to the next step.

  4. Copy c:\Windows\Design1.ini (also c:\Windows\Measure.ini or c:\Windows\Scantraq.ini) to c:\Winfilm\Config or c:\Scantraq\Config. This transfers any custom settings.

  5. Can't open designs with missing n,k tables or user-defined functions? check 'Can open designs...' in File.. Configuration.. Preferences. You can then import designs and later repair index values. The location of user-defined functions was changed in 2.30.3402 (11/30/2004). When updating from previous versions it will be necessary to transfer any functions from design1.ini to a function collection file (*.itf). Note that 2.61.3048 is required to open designs with missing index functions.

Note: Attach your USB Security ID Module until after installing FilmStar. This ensures that Windows plug-and-play will find it. Back to top

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Copyright 2017 FTG Software Associates
Last updated on September 06, 2017