Psion - calling all Psion/EPOC/Symbian fans

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DrBunsen's picture
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Just putting out a call for anyone who's ever owned/used or currently enjoys the pleasures of a pre-WinCE era Psion PDA, ie the models that run EPOC/Symbian OS. I've got myself a 5MX clone recently (Ericsson MC218) and I'd like to swap notes with any other fans out there.

Special interests:

  • Mac connection and integration
  • MIDI and serial interfacing
  • WAP GPRS GSM and GPS
  • Linux/BSD on Psion
  • Development for beginners
  • Hardware hacking

    Reply here

    Smile

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DrBunsen's picture
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Edit

Ghah! What is *with* this not beng able to edit or delete a first post? Anyway, on with the show.

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Congratulations, and welcome

Congratulations, and welcome to the world of EPOC and Psion! A little late to the party, but better late than never Wink

First of all, I'll just point you to the forums at PDA Street. This is the main refuge of the last few Psioneer stragglers. If you just want to browse for a while to get oriented and get ideas, take note that the default setting only shows postings in the last month; you'll have to change that. Like here, there was a forum change a while back, I'm not sure what happened to the old forum. I'll take a look and get back to you.

Going down your list:

Mac integration: In a word, none. Psion never paid the slightest attention to the Mac market. For doing things like synching, you'll need a PC. For file transfer to/from Mac, I find the easiest is to use compact flash cards. AFAIK, some sort of serial connection (either with an adapter cable or over IR) is your only connection option, and I never tried it with a Mac.

MIDI: never tried it

WAP GPRS GSM GPS: Again, never tried it. I'm pretty sure from browsing the forums there are solutions out there.

Linux: I believe for the 5mx it's pretty well done. http://www.openpsion.org/ is the place to explore. I don't know if there are any issues specifically with the MC218, glancing at their pages I didn't see any mention of it.

Development: Not sure, but try the forums. Apparently there is a C compiler for it (might be on PC though), and it has an onboard language, OPL, which contributed a lot to the platform's popularity by making it easy to write shareware. I never did find a good OPL tutorial though, so I can't help there. There is an emulator for Windows, for PC based development. Here's a link for info on that.

Hacking: Hmmm. Up to you to be creative. The main hack for the 5mx was to fix the screen cable that always cracked (mine went out after 2 years), or to try to modify it so it didn't crack in the first place. I have no idea if the MC 218 had this same problem. I hacked a Revo to fix its battery situation (so it worked more like a 5mx). For any other hacking you might want to do (case painting, etc.), the foxpop link above shows a take-apart.

Also, in case you don't already, you should know that Opera wrote a browser for it. I'll look for the link. It's waaaay better than the built in browser, even though by today's standards it's hopelessly outdated (and of course browsing at 36 mhz is somewhat painful).

Another good site with lots of links that will probably answer your questions better than I: http://www.epocfaq.co.uk/

Hope this helps.

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Google is my friend.

You probably found this already, but since you asked I got curious and googled. This site looks like it has all the answers to your questions. Should be possible to hack a cable to connect (assuming you have a Psion->PC cable), and some sync suggestions.

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DrBunsen's picture
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Thanks

Hi guys. Yep i found that unimaas Mac connection site already, and I've made up a serial cable as per their directions - mine came with the PC cable (and box, manual and PC software, and Ericsson infrared modem Smile ). Had no luck transferring files or programs over the link, but I did manage to get keystrokes to show up in a terminal emulator. I've got a 512 MB CF card on layby so I can at least do backups, transfers and the OpenPsion linux install. I got as far with the Java connect suite as realising that I need to update Java, which will have to wait till we get broadband and I build my next Mac.

MIDI: I found a couple of old S3 programs which I'm hoping will run, otherwise something under Linux. Alas, MIDI runs at an unsupported baud rate, so I can only connect to devices that have a PC/Mac serial port. Luckily, I have one.

Also found some very useful pages about OPL (complete tutorial), GPS, and most of the other stuff I mentioned, but until I fix my freaking beige OS X ()*&&*^%%&((^%$% I can't get access to my Safari bookmarks.

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Big Psion fan here...

I've been using Psions for years, starting out with an Organiser II and moving onto a Series 3a, a Series 5 and 5mx. Wonderful machines. I've got quite a collection going now, with about eight Organiser IIs, two original Series 3 models, a 3a, two 3cs, three Series 5s, a 5mx, and a rare MC400 laptop.

Out of all of them the Series 3 range is my favourite, but they are all very good machines. I just with the Series 5 models didn't suffer from screen cable failure so easily, all three of my original 5s were cheap because they have dead screens. My 5mx hasn't been closed in three years because I'm so paranoid about it (and I never take it anywhere).

Gadgetman's picture
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I have these Psions: Organ

I have these Psions:

Organiser One (1984) 2KB RAM, all data stored on EPROM(!), single line 16char LCD...
Organiser II cm (1986) 8KB RAM, 2x16char LCD...
II XP (Well, really a POS350 with 96KB RAM), and II LZ64 (64KB RAM, 4x20char LCD)
HC100 Handheld,
MC400 laptop (rare, NEC V30 processor, 256KB RAM 640x400 B/W LCD, GUI, Pre-emptive OS, WYSIWYG Wordprocessor and spreadsheet)
Organiser S3(classic), S3a, S3c, Sienna
(Runs a steamlined version of the WP and Spreadseet programs from the MC400)
Workabout MX handheld
S5, Revo, Revo Plus, netBook...

Hope I haven't forgotten any...

I have a little bit outdated programming guide for OPL on my old site at http://home.c2i.net/trygveh/english/

Another great resource is the digest which can be found at
http://www.psioneering.co.uk/
This email digest is compiled and handled on a set of Psion S5mx and netBooks around the world...
(Using a few simple OPL programs to download the emails, sort out ADMIN messages, strip out garbagemail them to the recipients, and even synchronise the moderators' databases for the weekly handovers)

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Weird dude

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makes an excellent thin client

After flirting with getting a laptop, I've been putting in a lot of time on my netbook lately, rediscovering just how useful this thing is. I discovered VNC, which works pretty well. I'm considering setting up my spare cube to work as the "brains" of the netbook and just run it on VNC all the time, it's like having an 8" powerbook with desktop speed and storage (but with no sound Sad )! But I still need to check out how well it works from outside my LAN. If it works ok, this is really the killer app for keeping these things useful beyond their years; while the tech specs get more and more dated, the form factor and concept remain unique. My battery is pretty lame by now, but I'm going to rebuild with the latest 18650 cells which should get me 12-13 hours! Beat that, Apple!

Now if only Apple would come out with an actual 8" powerbook...

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Gadgetman's picture
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Or, you could just buy the ba

Or, you could just buy the battery pack for the netBook Pro...
(It fits the old S7/netBook/MalayBook machines, too)
One place to try is at http://www.pulster.de/

I once connected my netBook to my office PC using MochaPPP and the serial cable to get it onto the LAN, then fired up the Citrix client and logged onto one of our servers...

Another time, after trying for TWO HOURS to help my boss setup the remote-access dial-in information on his Compaq iPad(it insisted on dialling +33 before the number, and frankly, I have no idea which country has the 33 prefix) I spent a minute setting it up on my netBook...
(Not the same Remote-access crapola we have now, unfortunately)

For one reason or another I'm now banned from bringing my Psions to work...

Edit: Added link

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Weird dude

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Well, the Pro battery is 149

Well, the Pro battery is 149 Euros, and that probably is the best price. But one can get tabbed 2400mAh 18650 cells (the netbook pro is 2200 mAh) for US$9.20 each, totalling $27.60. Of course it's more hassle, but I happen to be the kind of person who has more time than money Wink

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Gadgetman's picture
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And happens not to be afraid

And happens not to be afraid if exploding Li-ion batteries?

Be careful, VERY CAREFUL, when soldering them...

That said, where the h@@k can you get the cells, and do they ship internationally?
(I'm in Norway, and the battery in mine is getting weaker...)

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Weird dude

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The batteries I'm looking at

The batteries I'm looking at are from here. You'll want to get it with tabs. It looks like they take international orders, though I have to imagine one could find this in Europe for less shipping.

Page on doing the replacement, including a strong warning like yours, here.

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DrBunsen's picture
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Re: Thanks

I'll be updating my progress more on my blog from now on.

DrBunsen wrote:

I've got a 512 MB CF card on layby

Picked that up, and a 16MB as well. What I need to know is, how can I make a complete backup of the C: drive? Linux wipes it and uses it all for RAM, so I need a complete backup stashed away somewhere before I start.

Quote:

MIDI: I found a couple of old S3 programs which I'm hoping will run

Which, of course, I now realise they won't, being EPOC16 and not EPOC32. Darn. I've decided to write my own much simpler DIN sync program which you can read about on the blog.

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Gadgetman's picture
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you CAN run S3 programs...

Well... in theory...

You need the XTM PC-Emulator, a DOS-diskette image, and most imortantly, you need one of the old DOS-based S3/S3a/Sienna/WorkAbout emulators.

For those who doesn't know the XTM emulator, it emulates the hardware of an IBM PC-XT type PC, not DOS as most emulators do... That's why you need a disk-image... To boot it...
There are rumours of people actually running Windows 3.0 on it...
(Though, for the life of me I can't understand why anyone would do that)

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Weird dude

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Psion 5MX

Hi,
I do not know if this blog is alive. I am in India and I just bought a new (acutally 5 year old unused) 5mx from EBAY UK. I am amazed by the various free softwares that are avaiable. I find it more useful than my Palm and Sony Clie. In fact I use mx more often than palm.
Do you know any website where 'previously shareware but now freeware' applications ' are available. I find that you can not even buy them but the registration serials are not available freely. What is your experience? thanks
regards,
Dr. Hemant datye
12 June 2006

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Re: Psion - calling all Psion/EPOC/Symbian fans

Hi DrBunsen,

I'm a Psioncollector and user from the Netherlands. Got a lot of Psions and look-a-likes.
Also documents and software. Always looking out for more special items and documents.
Anyone who has the German PalmtopPro Magazine for me?

Psiongreetings,

Richard