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Thomas Bulkowski’s successful investment activities allowed him to retire at age 36. He is an internationally known author and trader with 30+ years of stock market experience and widely regarded as a leading expert on chart patterns. He may be reached at

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This article discusses how to install and get Patternz to work. Do not skip any steps because in doing so, you could miss the solution. This assumes you have installed to the Patternz folder on a Windows system. Patternz should work with almost any system from Win 3.1 to XP Home Edition. These instructions assume you are using Windows XP Home Edition. For other Windows configurations, use your common sense to muddle through.

For XP Pro setups, one user reported that "left clicking on the .exe file and then click properties and then click the tab 'Compatibility.' I used windows 2000 as my compatibility and it worked great."

For Vista and Windows 7, 8... users, and any other operating system that cannot handle 16-bit "legacy" applications, the only help I can give is what's listed in Vista Users. You might read through the installation (Begin Here) below just to check your setup (such as having .vbx or .dll files in the Patternz folder, which is a problem).

Important tip: Keep your data files short! By data files, I mean the files that contain quote data (like MMM.CSV). If they contain no more than about 1 to 2 years of data, the program will run much faster. Thus, if the program appears to be crawling in the future, then limit your file length to a year and see if that helps.

Diagnosing Patternz Problems: Installation Problems

Diagnosing Patternz Problems: Errors Running Patternz

Diagnosing Patternz Problems: Error Messages

Other Help



Begin Here

Are you installing (upgrading) a new version of Patternz over an existing one? If Yes, then go to Step 1. If no, then continue reading.

New Installations

You are installing Patternz for the first time. Patternz comes in two forms. (note the missing z) has 3 files in it, and contains 17 files. Double click the zip file you downloaded. Did you download the one with 3 files in it? If yes, then go to Step 4 otherwise continue reading.

Return to the Patternz folder (meaning exit the zip file).

Extract (click the file then File/Extract All) or unzip the zip file into a folder called Patternz.

After unzipping, double click the SETUP.EXE file. The setup program should run. Follow the instructions.

Actual installation is brief, taking only a second or two on most computers because I only move a few files. The following files should have been moved to the windows system folder (often it will be found in c:\windows\system). Make sure the following files have all been moved.

  4. SS3D2.VBX
  5. SS3D3.VBX
  8. VBRUN300.DLL

If any of the above files are missing then move them into the windows system folder yourself. The system32 folder is the wrong folder!

After you have moved them then delete the above files from the Patternz folder, not from windows\system! Let me repeat that. You should have only one copy of the files on your computer and that includes secondary hard disks (like backup disks). One user reported having another set on a backup drive and that may have been causing his problem.

After you remove the above files, the only place they should be is in the windows system folder and nowhere else. You can do a Search (Start/Search) to locate any duplicates. If none appear then you deleted the same files you moved. Oops. Try again by going to New Installations, otherwise continue reading.


Delete the following files from the Patternz folder.

  1. SU1.EXE
  5. VER.DL_

Once you have completed that, you should have the following files in the Patternz folder.

  2. Instruction Manual.txt
  3. Readme.txt
  4. MMM.csv

PATTERNZ.EXE is the Patternz program. Double click to run it. The instruction manual is cleverly titled, "Instruction Manual.txt". Readme.txt provides installation help. MMM.csv is a sample stock data file. It contains quote data for people running Patternz in the United States.

Since the two .txt files will appear in the Patternz program as stock symbols, I suggest you move those files to another folder.

Double click PATTERNZ.EXE. If the license appears then the program is working fine. If not, then try following these instructions again. If that fails, too, then contact me.

Read the instruction manual, the Readme.txt file, and visit the website for additional tips or help. Proceed to Charting Errors


Step 1

To install a new version of Patternz over an existing installation, double click the zip file you downloaded. It should contain 3 files. Does it? If yes, then go to Step 3, otherwise continue reading.

Step 2

For an existing installation, you downloaded the wrong zip file. Click here to download the correct version then continue reading.

Step 3

Return to the Patternz folder if you are not already there (If you are inside the zip file, then go back outside it -- up one level so you are looking at the file). Extract (SINGLE click the zip file then File/Extract All) or unzip the zip file and move the three files into the folder where the already installed PATTERNZ.EXE resides. The three files must replace existing ones. If they don't then you've made a mistake or you already deleted one or more of the three files.

After you have moved them, then run PATTERNZ.EXE by double clicking it.

On the main menu, click Help then Version. The version number displayed should match the one on the website. If the version listed on the website is older than the one shown in the program, then I forgot to update the version number. You are running the correct version and you are done with installation. Proceed to Charting Errors.

If the version numbers are the same then you are running the latest version, and you are done with installation. Proceed to Charting Errors.

If the program is older than the one listed on the website then delete or rename all PATTERNZ.EXE executable files (if you have more than one) and go back to Step 2.


Step 4

Return to the Patternz folder if you are not already there. For a new installation, you downloaded the wrong zip file. Click here to download the correct version then continue reading at New Installations (near page top).

Chart Does Not Show Most Recent Data

When you chart a stock, the most recent stock quote is missing from the screen. You can tell this by right clicking on the most recent price bar and the black help window at the top of the screen shows the date. If it is not what you expect, then there could be several reasons for this.

Incorrect End Date

First, make sure the end date in the text box in the middle bottom of the Chart form shows the most recent date, including the missing quote date. For example, if you were looking on the chart for 12/5/2011 and the text box shows 12/1/2011, then that is the problem. Change the text box for the date you want to inspect and click Graph to redraw the chart.

Not Updated Quote Data

It is also possible that you forgot to update your quote data. Patternz will not do that for you. Open up the stock quote file and check if the missing quote information is there. If not, then that is the problem. Run your downloader to update the stock quotes with more recent data.

Missing Newline Character

Picture of dialog box.

The last symptom is that the quote data, on the last line of the file, does not have a carriage return/line feed sequence. This is called a Newline character and it is missing. You will not be able to see the missing character unless you have special tools.

Some downloaders have menu options to include the newline character. For example, here is a screen shot for one.

This option appears for the downloader described here. It uses an Excel spreadsheet and macros to update data. Click the radio button to allow the newline character (like that shown), and the program should work.

Check your downloader for a similar option.



If the license form appears and the program halts complaining about some error message with WOWEXEC.EXE listed, then you're probably screwed. I have no idea how to fix that problem because it's a compatibility issue on some systems. If you know the solution, then contact me.

My only suggestion is to look for duplicate .dll or .vbx files on your system. They should only be in one place. For an explanation, click here.

Charting and Other Errors

Let's assume the program is installed correctly and appears to be working. If you live in the United States, you should have few or no problems. If you live outside the US, then things can get tricky.

Picture of a portion of the patternz main menu

The screen capture to the right is a portion of the main menu.

  • If the MMM.CSV file is not listed, then use the drive and folder controls to locate the Patternz folder (the red circle is on the folder control. The drive control is just above that called "Local Disk").
  • Notice that the "Documents and Settings" folder is truncated to 8 characters. I show that circled in red. File name truncation happens with old programs such as Patternz that only allow 8 characters for a file name. You will have to muddle through this until you find the location. Hint: The Windows operating system uses the first 5 or 6 letters of the file name then a tilde (~) and a number (1) for names longer than 8 characters. If you guess wrong then you can just go up one level and try again.
  • If you installed to the Patternz folder then the path may already be set to that location. Once you have the path set, you will not have to set it again unless you move your data or relocate the folder.
  • Once you get MMM.CSV to appear in the files list, SINGLE click on it then click Chart. If a chart appears without an error, then most likely the program is working properly, at least for this file. YOU have to provide data to the program and you can use the free downloader that is available on the Patternz page. Follow the instructions to configure Patternz for files used by the downloader.


File Format Screen

Warning: If you change the format of the data files, MMM.CSV may not load properly. That's ok because you want to load your own data files and not MMM. Once you get the Patternz running properly, consider deleting, moving, or renaming MMM.CSV.

This section is composed of duplicate information since I combined text from two web pages. If you find the first set of instructions confusing then continue reading. The second set of illustrations (Instructions: Second Set) may make configuring Patternz easier.

Several types of errors can occur when using the program and the majority of them start from problems with the data. Here's the list:

  • The MMM.CSV file or other files crash the program.
  • The MMM.CSV file charts fine, but others you downloaded do not.
  • You live outside the United States and the program crashes when you try to chart anything.

If an error occurs when charting then go back to the main menu. The main menu is the page that looks like the above right (not below right) screen capture.

Click File Format at the top of the page, on the menu bar. That will display the File Format page.

Picture of the File Format page

The file format page will look similar to that shown on the right. Look at 1.

If the first line in the file has something that looks like the one for MMM.CSV, then number 5 should not be checked. Your file doesn't have to have the "Adj Close" line, but it must have the date, high, low, and close entries.

If the first line in the file looks like 2, then 5 must be checked.

Look at the date on line 2 and compare it to the options listed to the right of 6. If the date format matches one of the opens then click the circular option button, otherwise, leave it on Standard. In a few rare cases, Standard does not work but one of the others does, so if you continue to have problems, then try one of the other Date Format options.

Look at line 2 and count the number of commas (,) you see. There are 6. The column number at 4 is one more than the number of commas. In other words, count the fields of data between the commas and enter that number at 4. The program tries to warn you of errors and prompts you when the count is wrong, but it's not always successful. If you live outside of the US, commas may appear as some other separator like a decimal. Getting the column count wrong is a very common problem, so make sure you count properly.

The boxes at 3 should match the field order in 2. In other words, if the date is the first field in your files then 01 should appear in the text box. If the date is the second field, then make it 02. Match the numbers with the order of the fields and check or uncheck those fields that are present or missing, respectively.

In this example, the file has an adjusted close column, so I would enter 07 in the text box next to "Adjusted close" and then check the box. Then I would change 06 to 07 at 4, and check 5. All of this assumes that line 2 is first in the file.

Once you have finished your changes, then save them by clicking on 7.


Instructions: Second Set

This is the second set of illustrations and it duplicates some of the above information. However, you may find it helpful.

This is a screen shot of the File Format form of Patternz

The first line in file frnt.csv, circled in magenta, has the line "Date, Open, High, Low, Close, Volume, Adj Close", circled in red, and I call that the header. This line tells Patternz the format of the file, meaning that the date comes first, then the opening price, and so on.

Since the file has told Patternz the format, there is no need to configure it using the File Format portion of the screen.

Notice that the Enable check box, circled in green, is not checked. This is the correct setting when you have a header.

The date format follows the standard form, meaning that none of the exceptions apply, so the option button circled in blue is the correct setting.

If the date listed in the file (red area) were of a different format, then you would click the appropriate choice in the date format (below the blue circle) and then click the Save button (not Save Format).


Step 5

This is a screen shot of the File Format form of Patternz

The figure to the right shows a sample configuration of Patternz for a stock (a.csv) that does not have a header as the first line (it is missing the phrase, "Date, Open, High, Low" and so on).

Circled in red is one line from the file. Configure Patternz in the green circle according to the layout you see in the red area. In other words, the date comes first, so place a 1 in the box beside Date. The opening price comes next, so place a 2 in the Open text box and check that box. Continue down the list, making sure that each one matches the layout shown in red.

Count the number of data elements (date would be 1, open price would be 2, and so on) in the file and place the total in the area circled in blue. This file has 6 data elements (and each is separated by a comma, so they are easy to count).

Check the Enable check box, shown here circled in yellow. The date is circled in magenta and make sure the date configuration circled in red matches the layout you choose in the magenta area. Since the date is not one of the exceptions listed in the Date Format area, I chose Standard. Click the Save button (not Save Format) to save changes. Patternz is now setup to work with this file.

MMM Charts But Others Don't

In one case, I discovered a file that had quote data missing in the middle of it. Patternz choked on the file. If you have a few files that do not display properly, then missing data may be the reason. Use a spreadsheet or other editor to look at the file to see if it's complete, with no dropped data in the middle.

Also, look at the end of the file to be sure it's complete. Sometimes a file does not get updated (as when the symbol changes or the company is taken over) or the last line is incomplete.

If MMM.CSV does display properly but other files do not, then the other data files are in the wrong format. Open the MMM.CSV file (use a spreadsheet, Notepad or other editor if you like) using the File Format form and compare it to the file causing the error. In other words, return to the Main Menu, click on File Format and then click on MMM.CSV. Patternz will open the file and display a few lines. Then click on another file and see if the formats are the same.

Does the error file have a header (the first line in the file should have something like: Date, Open, High, Low and so on)? If the header is missing then you need to run the File Format page and configure Patternz as described in Step 5.

If the file has a header, then you can still use Step 5 to configure Patternz. Patternz will automatically remove the header. One user had a problem with Patternz in a file that had a header, but wouldn't load properly. He used Step 5 to manually configure Patternz to read in the file. However, most users with files that have headers should go back to Instructions: Second Set and setup the program to use the header.

This is a screen shot of the Date Format portion

Date Format

Are the dates in your files the same as that shown in MMM.CSV? If not, then you need to run the File Format page and select a different date format. Once you select a different date format, MMM.CSV will not chart properly! But that's ok since you want to look at your data files and not MMM.

Refer to the figure on the right. The date format is circled in red and you can find it on the File Format screen.

If the Date is a special format, such as yyyymmdd or yyyyddmm, (notice no field separators such as / as in yyyy/mm/dd) then the File Format form has options for these date formats. Your field separator may appear different in your files than the slash shown. What is important is the position of the separator, not the type. If one date format does not work then try the others! Click the Save button to save any changes.

Long File Names

If some files can be read while others cannot, check to see if the file names are longer than 8 characters. If so, and you are running Windows NT (and perhaps other Windows operating systems), one user says to do the follow so Patternz will accept long file names:

  • Run the "Registry Editor" (RegEdt32.exe)
  • Select "HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\FileSystem"
  • Double click on "NtfsDisable8dot3NameCreation"
  • Change 1 to 0

I suggest you base the file name on the stock symbol. That way, each file will be unique and short.


Running Patternz Outside the US

If you live outside the United States, then even though you configured the File Format page properly, it still might not work. Here are the steps you can try, as listed in the Readme.txt file that comes with Patternz. Below the list is an illustration showing the various parts.

  1. In the control panel, run "Regional and Language Options." Select "English (United States" in the tab "Regional Options," and in the box "Standards and Formats." In the "Location" list box, select "United States." This will change the default date format to the mm/dd/yyyy format (or see step 3 below). Click OK to save the changes. The MMM file should load properly.
  2. For older versions of Windows, such as 3.11, look for "International" in the control panel (the icon with the globe). Set the country to "United States." In the "Date Format," click "Change." Set "Order" to "MDY." Check "Century (1990 vs 90)" to get a four digit year. Click OK a few times save the changes.
  3. Patternz will not run properly with computer system configured for 2 digit years (06 versus 2006). Exit the Patternz program. In the Windows Control Panel, run the applet titled, "Regional and Language Options." That's the one with a globe for older Windows operating systems. Click the Customize button. Click the Date tab. In the 'Short date format' select one of the options that shows a four digit year, such as M/d/yyyy. Click Apply then OK until you exit the applet. Patternz should now work with the MMM file.

Regional and Language Options from the control panel

In the United States, the default date format is mm/dd/yyyy. In Canada, Australia, Austria, and other countries, the format is different. The easiest way to fix this is to run the Windows Control Panel, Regional and Language Options (shown), and switch to the United States format. For more information, consult the readme file that accompanies the Patternz program or consult the Patternz instruction manual.

I show a picture of the control panel with the two areas set up to the United States format, circled in red. The green circled item allows you to change the way numbers are interpreted. You can use that to configure the computer to match the format of the data file you are using.

I have reports from users in Germany and Poland that needed to change the way the computer interpreted numbers or dates. Using the control panel fix as described solved the problem. So, if you are a user new to Patternz and it does not chart as you expected then look at the File Format page and check that first. If the format looks correct and you are outside the US or in a country that has a different date format or that uses commas instead of decimals in their numbers (or other variants), then try the control panel fix. If you change the format to the US, then realize that it may change the way your date or price is formatted in other programs.

If you still have problems getting your data to run then send the file that causes the problem along with the name of your country where you are running it and contact me.


Diagnosing The Error Message

The figure to the right shows an example of part of an error message. When an error occurs, the message is pasted onto the clipboard. All you need to do is paste the message into notepad to view it. Here is what I look for when trying to discover what the problem is.

Picture of a sample error message

  1. ReadAscii is the routine that reads in the quote data, so that tells me the program found a problem with the file awto~1.txt (from the Filename line below 3).
  2. Check the website to be sure that the version number matches or is earlier than the one listed in the program. In Patternz, from the main menu, click Help/Version to get the version number.
  3. In both lines, matching the chart start and end dates, the dates are wrong. That's a clue to a date formatting problem.
  4. This shows the header, if any, which is the first line in the file. If this line were to have something like "Date, Open, High" and so on, then 7 should say "No," otherwise, it should say "Yes." This is one of the major problems. The file will not have a header but the line at 7 will say "No." Go to File Format and check or uncheck the Enable check box. For this file, the setting at 7 is configured properly since the file does not have a header. If the header is missing, the program needs to know how to read the file and that's what the settings between 5 and 6 indicate.
  5. This is the date format. Notice that the date in line 4 (the first series of numbers) does not match the date format, so that is the first problem uncovered. Go to File Format and change the Date Format setting.
  6. This says the file should have 6 fields or columns. Counting them at lines 4 or 4a shows the column number should be 7 and not 6. Go to the File Format page and change the column count to 7.
  7. As explained, when this says "Yes", it enables the settings shown between lines 5 and 6, telling the program the order of the fields or columns in lines 4 and 4a. The adjusted close (cAdjClo) shows 0 (not used), so that's wrong. It should show 7, meaning that the adjusted closing price appears in column 7.


Known Bugs (features)

  • Best viewed on 1024 x 768 resolution screens.
  • In countries outside the U.S. any date field (Chart and List forms, in particular) shows a bogus date until you click on them. Ignore this.
  • If you try to view too much information on a chart (like a decade of daily price information), the chart may overwrite itself. Adjust the begin date to view less data. It may take multiple clicks of the Graph button before the problem clears.
  • If you receive an error message similar to "C:\WINDOWS\SYSTEM32\AUTOEXEC.NT. The system file is not suitable for running MS-DOS and Microsoft Windows applications" then locate the autoexe.nt file on your system (probably in c:\windows\repair or c:\I386) and place it in the windows\system32 folder.
  • Patternz is a 16-bit application. I am told it will not run with XP x64 (regular Windows XP runs fine). You will receive an error message like "The image file [path to patternz.exe] is valid, but it is for a machine type other than the current machine."
  • If you receive an error message similar to "The file C:\WINDOWS\SYSTEM\SS3D3.VBX is out of date. This program requires a newer version," then contact me and I will provide a version of Patternz that does not use the ss3d3.vbx file.
  • Does not Chart or List patterns on systems that use a 2 year date. Use the Windows control panel to switch to a 4 year date. See the Readme.txt file for more information (it is in the installation folder that contains Patternz).
  • If you receive error messages citing DrawChars() and DrawIt(), then you should search your computer for the following files: chart2fx.vbx, msafinx.dll, msmasked.vbx, ss3d2.vbx, ss3d3.vbx, threed.vbx, and vbrun300.dll. These should be in the windows\system folder only and NOWHERE ELSE. Remove them from the Patternz folder or wherever you find them (other than the windows\system folder, that is). Then, reboot your machine and try Patternz again.

    If that still does not cure the problem, then download the complete installation package again and manually place the above mentioned .vbx and .dll files in the windows\system folder. There is no need to run installation again. Remove the *.vbx and *.dll files from the Patternz folder, reboot, and try again.

  • The program throws out data from the weekends.
  • The program does not handle intraday price data, only end-of-day.
  • Each data file holding stock quotes should only contain data for ONE stock. Do not pack multiple stocks with quote data into each file. It won't work.
  • For the best performance, keep your data files short, say a year or two at most. The longer the file is, the longer it takes to read in and the slower the program runs.


Vista, Windows 7, 8..., XP Pro Users, 16-bit "Legacy" Applications

I run Windows XP Home Edition and hope I am never forced to upgrade to Vista or anything else. For those of you that are using Vista or XP Pro or any other operating system that cannot tolerate 16-bit "legacy" programs, my help is limited to the gyrations that users have reported. They are listed below. Check the Microsoft website for additional help. Patternz uses Visual Basic bought from Microsoft in 1993, but some of the vendors that provided components to the program are no longer in business. Thus, upgrading to new tools is not an option.

  • Vista and Windows 7, 8(?). Here are the instructions to get Patternz to run with Windows 7, as provided by Quinn Kerkham. Please contact him for more information. Here's what he writes. "I'm using Windows 7 Home Premium with a 64 bit operating system. Go to and download the Oracle VM Virtual box. Once installed, you will need to upload an operating system to the VM. In order to do this, you must have a version of the windows you would like to upload on a disc in your CD/DVD drive. There are other ways to get the operating system on there, but this is the route I took." Use your legal copy of XP Home Edition and "make sure the disc is a boot disc, i.e. a complete version of the operating system, not just an upgrade, otherwise it will not initiate the download. After you have set up XP Home edition on your VM, download Patternz in XP. It should work."
  • Another Vista user reported that he had to install VirtualBox, which is free virtualization software and then installed an old copy of Windows (Windows 2000 in his case). He also ran Vbox Guest Additions to be able to adjust the display size to 1024 x 768 resolution.
  • For XP Pro users and perhaps other versions of Windows, one user wrote, "left clicking on the .exe file and then click properties and then click the tab 'Compatibility.' I used windows 2000 as my compatibility and it worked great." Try his suggestion.
  • During installation, if you receive a message that says something like: "The version of this file is not compatible with the version of Windows you're running. Check your computer's system information to see whether you need an x86 (32-bit) or x64 (64-bit) version of the program, and the contact the software publisher."

    See the prior note and use the same process for the Setup.exe program. The setup program is also a 16-bit application, so it needs to run in compatibility mode.

    Patternz is a relatively new program, but it's built using old tools, as I mentioned. Without spending big bucks or giving away my algorithms to others, there is no way to upgrade the program to a new version. Sorry!

    You can try to manually move the files (see the Readme.txt file found with the installation files) yourself and then run Patternz but the likelihood of success is very small. Read on to see what others have done to get Patternz to work with Vista or 32 and 64 bit versions of Windows.

  • If Patternz does not run then you may have to:
    1. Throw Vista away and return to XP.
    2. Open the Program Compatibility Wizard by clicking the Start button.
    3. Click Control Panel
    4. Click Programs
    5. Click "Use an older program with this version of Windows."
    6. Follow the instructions.
    7. If you receive a message that NTVDM.EXE is not running, then run it before running Patternz.
  • Another user reported that stock symbols with names longer than 8 characters cannot be found. In other words, 12345678.csv would load but 123456789.csv would not. The cure is to limit symbols to 8 characters plus .csv or .txt, preferably without any spaces between the alphanumerics in the symbol (that is, "123 45678.csv" might not work).
  • Still another Vista use said that "None of Microsoft's suggested compatibility fixes were effective on Vista 64," but does fine in Vista 32.

-- Thomas Bulkowski


Written by and copyright © 2005-2017 by Thomas N. Bulkowski. All rights reserved. Disclaimer: You alone are responsible for your investment decisions. See Privacy/Disclaimer for more information. Everybody wants to go to heaven, but nobody wants to die.