TOP, The Output Processor

TOP, The Output Processor


TOP, The Output Processor - Frequently Asked Questions

General Information

What is TOP?
TOP is a program that reads data from a variety of sources and transforms it into high quality graphics for inclusion in reports and documents.


I have a machine running Windows NT4.0. When executing the 401comm update it says "An application error has occurred and an application error log is being generated." The version number of comctl32.dll that appears in the caption box is 4.70.1147.1. How should I resolve this?
The comctl32.dll is supposed to be at least version The TOP installation looks for comctl32.dll in c:\winnt first, then in c:\winnt\system32. There _should not_ be a comctl32.dll in c:\winnt. If the one in c:\winnt exists and is older, please rename it temporarily and install TOP again.
Hardware/Software Supported

We frequently rent a Dranetz 658 Power Quality Analyzer and would like to compile our data using the TOP software.
TOP does indeed read Dranetz 65x data. However, you first need to convert the measurement data to an ASCII format that TOP will read. A utility program "Ascii65x.exe" can be used to complete the conversion. If you would like to receive information about this program, please e-mail

Does TOP Support ATP Files?
Yes, TOP reads unformatted PL4 files produced by the Alternative Transients Program (ATP). Electrotek is not licensed to use ATP, but the PL4 file format is based on the public-domain version of EMTP developed at Bonneville Power Adminstration. We handled compiler dependencies and other small differences by reverse engineering PL4 files provided by ATP users.

The ATP developers have asked Electrotek to stop supporting ATP files in TOP, but we are not in agreement. Actually, we think that many ATP users prefer TOP for plotting and post-processing output, so we plan to continue this support where we can.

If you have an ATP file that TOP will not read, you may email it to, and we will attempt to update the ATP support in TOP. Please do not supply any ATP input files or documentation.

We've also asked the ATP developers to publish their PL4 file format, and provide a suite of test files. We encourage you to support this idea through your ATP user group.

Does TOP Support PSCAD Files?
Yes. You first need to save your PSCAD simulation (Project Settings - Save channels to disk? = Yes). These files normally reside in your active project EMT folder. To plot the results in TOP, do the following:
   1. Start TOP
   2. File/Open: you must choose "Files of type:" ---> EMTDC/PSCAD v3&v4
   3. Go to folder *.emt
   4. Open a file named: *.inf

You should see the channel names in TOP and you can then load and plot these quantities.

Using TOP

Does TOP have a command line mode such that I could pass a file name and some command line parmeters so that I could process my *.pl4 files in a batch rather than individually through the Windows interface?
TOP will take a file name on the command line but there are no macro commands to do what you want in generating the COMTRADE files. A macro capability is probably the next "large" feature we add, but that would be around the end of 2001.

Using TOP with Other Programs

Is there any way to use TOP with PASS 3.2?
In PASS 3.2, you have to enter the path to top32.exe in a compatible format (using ~ contractions), then exit and re-start PASS before the button appears. This process is described in the release notes for version 4.00.10 or later. There were some problems with PASS impulse data, corrected in version 4.00.11.

Does TOP work with ASCII files?
TOP does not plot ASCII files directly, it only opens them in a simple text viewer. To plot ASCII data, you must use the Text-to-PQDIF utility that comes with TOP. First you define the data columns, per unit bases, phases, and other data, then you convert the data to compressed binary PQDIF (*.pqd) format. Once you set up the configuration, it may be saved and reused to convert similar ASCII files. You may also collect several ASCII files into one PQDIF file. We did it this way because of the uncertainties in ASCII file formats.

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