NTS Dreamwriter

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eeun's picture
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NTS Dreamwriter

I just bought an NTS Dreamwriter IT off ebay:
http://www.pocketpcfaq.com/wce/21/dreamwriterit.htm

I've yet to receive it. I couldn't resist it when I saw it. It's a bit bulkier than an emate, and definitely not as purty ;), but offers a lot more (with the exception of running WinCE 2.11 instead of NOS 2, of course). Built-in ethernet, VGA out, floppy...it's some sort of PDA/laptop missing link.

The device is very suitable for compact flash storage off a PCMCIA adapter, and I've found a WinCE driver that should work with a Belkin card I've got kicking around.

There's a few Dreamwriters up on ebay, and I got mine cheap for $6, plus shipping.

There's very little information on these online - part of what attracted me to it. I've found a few bits of manual Here, and that's about the most extensive site I've seen. It's like these things were on the education market for a short while, then poof! they vanished.

I'll post pictures when I get mine (probably a week or more from now).

In the meantime, has anyone here actually encountered one of these before?

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I got somtin like it

ive got a mobilepro780 http://support.necsam.com/mobilesolutions/hardware/handhelds/mobilepro780/layout/layfront.asp
got mine for $40, im sorry if this is against applefritter rules and you can delete it, but if your looking for best website for those devices http://www.hpcfactor.com

Jon
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So, it's not a touch screen?

So, it's not a touch screen? Other than that it looks like a great machine, esp. for the price!

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Both mine and his have touchs

Both mine and his have touchscreens, or are supposed to

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Re: So, it's not a touch screen?

Jon wrote:
So, it's not a touch screen? Other than that it looks like a great machine, esp. for the price!

No touch screen. There's a trackpad instead.

I'm tempted to grab a second one, just so I can keep one pristine if I get the itch to start disassembling...and of course I will have to take it apart to see what's inside.

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Piccies!

As promised...photos and review

I had to fake an AC adapter for it. 5/16 (I think) brass tubing, a paperclip, solder and hot glue. Reliable, but darn ugly. No picture of that. Wink
Dreamwriter 3/4 view
The unit is fairly light, but it's bigger than expected. In fact, it's about the same size as my old Toshiba Satellite PI laptop.

The tradeoff between this and a laptop is going to be battery life. That's really its only advantage. The 7.2V battery pack is dead, so I'm looking at building a new pack out of AA nimhs. There's room in the battery bay to put the batteries in sideways, so I can fit in a few more than the larger batteries in the picture:
Dreamwriter underside
There's a surprising amount of ports on the back of the unit. Included ethernet is a big bonus for something of this vintage, which leaves both PCMCIA ports free.
Dreamwriter back ports
Dreamwriter side view
The WinCE 2.11 OS is slow, about what you'd expect from a 486 laptop...whereas here the processor is an 80MHz SH3. Screen looks like passive matrix. The speakers on either side of the monitor are 22KHz stereo.

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Ya gotta do the "Public Reaction" test...

Ya gotta do the "Public Reaction" test and report back with your findings.

What is the "Public Reaction" test, you ask?

Simply put, you take the machine into a busy place and use it. Some appropriate examples would be a food court at a busy shopping mall, a subway stop during rush hour, or just anywhere that you're sure to be among curious onlookers.

As I noted in a previous post, the DreamWriter looks like a whimsical blend of original Star Trek technology, coupled with the funkiness of those foreign payphones you see on the back cover of 2600 magazine. Surely, this is a device that is designed to get attention.

Whether it's the rugged plastic handle at the side, or the handy little storage tray to the left of the keyboard, this machine was designed with simplicity and style in mind. Take the DreamWriter for a whirl down main street, and you, too, will discover that this vintage computing technology is the perfect accessory for any prefessional wardrobe.

Men and women alike will flock to get a closer gander at this revolutionary 20th century technology. And it's Canadian made, so you can be sure that this rugged little device will withstand the rigour and abuse of day to day use.

Find out today why the DreamWriter is a dream come true.

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Re: Ya gotta do the "Public Reaction" test...

vantage point wrote:
And it's Canadian made, so you can be sure that this rugged little device will withstand the rigour and abuse of day to day use.

Like Canadians themselves Smile

I got me an Ericsson clone of the Psion 5MX recently, you can read my crowing and progress reports at the 68kmla

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We have sync

Right from the get-go, I was able to access the internet, and my home network with the Dreamwriter.
Accessing servers is through a command line in the Explorer toolbar (eg: \\myserver). Any needed passwords are then requested, with the option of saving them as the default log-in settings.

Activesync was my big problem. The Dreamlink is just old enough that it doesn't support Activesync over ethernet, and the combination of getting the right null-modem pinout and using a version of Activesync that recognized the device was daunting.
The first few null modem pinouts I found online were missing a very important connection between DB25 pin 22 and DB9 pin 1. The Dreamwriter needs this, and simply would not sync without it.
I settled on Activesync 3.6, which now seems solid.

The Dreamwriter has an alias for Activesync, but that doesn't work with my PC, and i have to use the similar PC Link icon instead, which starts an Activesync session.

Activesync at a serial speed of 19.2K is slow. Some years back it wasn't, but today, it's painfully slow.

I've successfully played an mp3 on the Dreamwriter using Hum player. It broke up a few times, and the audio hardware only supports 22KHz, so a downsampled mp3 would probably fare well.

I've installed Prism wireless drivers, which a few posts have said may work with my Belkin wireless card. Not yet, but I haven't give it much effort.

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Oh Yeah... Public Reaction

I've been thinking on/off/on/off ad infinitum about purchasing a DreamWriter IT, mainly for the astronomy apps that will run in Windows CE, and with that VGA out, might make a nice presentation machine. Public reactions are interesting to my odd lot of older computers. Take for instance my venerable Tandy Model 102. It looks pretty old, and I get plenty of stares using it while my car is having its tires rotated. Or the looks I garner whenever I use one of my eMates; "When did Apple make those?", or "That is so cool!" I even get reaction from my Palm IIIxe when I use it with its GoType keyboard. Yeah, public reaction can be an interesting thing.
Pity my Portable is dying. I'd love to see what I get with that one.

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Re: Oh Yeah... Public Reaction

I can certainly appreciate how slow that DreamWriter must be at 19.2kbps. You would not believe how long it is taking for me to enter this message on Applefritter. I'm actually typing this on a beige G3 that is running MI/X. The MI/X application lets my G3 function as an X server for my very busy LCIII. (Technically, I'm typing this message on an LCIII running Links under NetBSD) So it's rather painful typing this message at the moment. And to make matters worse, the LCIII is also busy compiling a window manager. I can certainly sympathize with you on the the speed thing, eeun.

II

astro_rob wrote:
Take for instance my venerable Tandy Model 102. It looks pretty old, and I get plenty of stares using it while my car is having its tires rotated.

Hmmm, am I to believe that you have a Tandy 102 that has been modified to inflate tires? That is so cool.

If you don't mind my asking, how did you fit the air compressor inside that very small model 102 case? I remember wanting one of those Tandy's as a kid. I'd spend hours drooling over it in the Radio Shack catalog. Radio Shack was sort of my home away from home when I was a kid. Heck, I still have my "battery of the month club" card. Wink

EDIT: You can totally ignore that last part about inflating the tires. Now that I'm checking this out with Mozilla on my main computer, I can see that you used the Tandy 102 while having your tires rotated, and not to inflate your tires. Man, straight text browsers must make my eyes buggy or something. Wink

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Tandy Model 102 / Air Compressor

Yeah, the M102 isn't quite big enough for a good air compressor, so instead it's been fitted with a hand pump. I likes 'em old fashioned, I does...

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Dreamwriter IT battery pack connections

Were you able to figure out the connections for the battery pack? I've looked at commonly available 7.2 vdc RC packs that would fit the battery bay, but they have two leads - red (positive) and black (negative), and the NiMH that comes with this has four - three black and one red. I think the coding is the same, although I have not checked, and that probably tying the one black lead to the three on the connector for the old pack would probably work, but now that I have the Dreamwriter IT that I just bought working after trying to figure it out over the weekend without a manual I am reluctant to fiddle too much with guessing.

Thanks!
Graham

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If it's NiMH it's an "intelli

If it's NiMH it's an "intelligent" battery probably. Those extra black line are probably lines for that sensor in the photos. The RC pack you are looking at are probably NiCD. If not, I'd be suprised.

$40 for a replacement NMH3 is a bit steep though. I wonder if it would do a recell very easy, the pack in eeun's photos looks very simple.

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Battery connections

Hi, Graham;
I just delved into the mystery of the battery pack, and it looks like an RC pack would work very will - with minor modifications.

The black wire closest to the outside of the connector - let's call that pin 1.

So, looking at the six-pin connector, you've got pins:
1234OO ( O=open, unused)

Pin 1 and 2 are the power lines, with pin 2 being red on mine.

Pins 3 and 4, both black, go to a thermal resistor that's glued between the batteries.

My assumption is that the Dreamwriter uses current flow from pins 3 and 4 to determine fast-charge state of the battery. Too hot, it shuts charging down to trickle charge.

There are others here more knowledgeable than I about batteries, so I hope they'll politely nail me to a wall if I'm wrong on this, but I think the addition of the thermistor to the RC pack would give you the same charging abilities as the original pack. Without that, I don't know how the Dreamwriter would react to seeing -no- flow on pins 3 and 4.

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batteries

Finding batteries does seem to be a challenge if you want to match the capacity of the original batteries.
Most of the 7.2V packs I've seen on ebay are around the 3000-3300 mAh range, with the original Dreamwriter pack being 3800 mAh.

I did find this one on ebay, at 3600 mAh, but it's of course pricier than the others.

Jon
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I sit corrected on my NiCD co

I sit corrected on my NiCD comment. I wonder if the RC chargers do ramp charging, or if they just give it a quickie charge and don't go to full capacity.

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Re: Battery connections

eeun wrote:
Hi, Graham;
I just delved into the mystery of the battery pack, and it looks like an RC pack would work very will - with minor modifications.

The black wire closest to the outside of the connector - let's call that pin 1.

So, looking at the six-pin connector, you've got pins:
1234OO ( O=open, unused)

Pin 1 and 2 are the power lines, with pin 2 being red on mine.

Pins 3 and 4, both black, go to a thermal resistor that's glued between the batteries.

My assumption is that the Dreamwriter uses current flow from pins 3 and 4 to determine fast-charge state of the battery. Too hot, it shuts charging down to trickle charge.

There are others here more knowledgeable than I about batteries, so I hope they'll politely nail me to a wall if I'm wrong on this, but I think the addition of the thermistor to the RC pack would give you the same charging abilities as the original pack. Without that, I don't know how the Dreamwriter would react to seeing -no- flow on pins 3 and 4.

Thanks for the info!
What's the value of the thermistor (or its part no.)?

I have not taken my old pack apart yet, but I suspected there was more to it than just some AA cells strung together. has to be some way to regulate charging.

Proton emailed me this morning in answer to my inquiry about replacement batteries, and as the other reply to my post notes, 40 bucks!

Graham

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Re: If it's NiMH it's an "intelli

Jon wrote:
If it's NiMH it's an "intelligent" battery probably. Those extra black line are probably lines for that sensor in the photos. The RC pack you are looking at are probably NiCD. If not, I'd be suprised.

$40 for a replacement NMH3 is a bit steep though. I wonder if it would do a recell very easy, the pack in eeun's photos looks very simple.

That's my concern. I don't want to do something REALLY stupid and fry my toy (er... notebook)!

However, 40 bucks is pretty steep to re-battery something that I paid $21.03 to buy. If eeun can give me a part no. on the thermistor in the battery pack, I may take a crack at it.

Graham

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Re: If it's NiMH it's an "intelli

Graham wrote:
If eeun can give me a part no. on the thermistor in the battery pack, I may take a crack at it.

Unfortunately, the thermistor is just a dot at the end of the two black wires, and it looks like it's been dipped in epoxy or similar to seal it rather than shrink tubing...so no part number, and I don't think it's big enough to even have printing on it if I could remove the epoxy.

I'm thinking the best way to use an RC pack would be to cut the header off both batteries, and solder the new pack wires into pin 1 and 2 of the original connector, then tape or hot glue the thermistor against the new batteries.

Just an additional note, when just plugging in the AC adapter, there's 1.93V across the thermistor pins. My batteries won't charge, so that's the only reading I'm going to get.

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Re: If it's NiMH it's an "intelli

eeun wrote:
Graham wrote:
If eeun can give me a part no. on the thermistor in the battery pack, I may take a crack at it.

Unfortunately, the thermistor is just a dot at the end of the two black wires, and it looks like it's been dipped in epoxy or similar to seal it rather than shrink tubing...so no part number, and I don't think it's big enough to even have printing on it if I could remove the epoxy.

I'm thinking the best way to use an RC pack would be to cut the header off both batteries, and solder the new pack wires into pin 1 and 2 of the original connector, then tape or hot glue the thermistor against the new batteries.

Just an additional note, when just plugging in the AC adapter, there's 1.93V across the thermistor pins. My batteries won't charge, so that's the only reading I'm going to get.

A great and simple approach!

Thanks!

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Manual for similar DreamMax 700

I have a manual for the DreamMax 700, a later machine that is a dead ringer for the Dreamwriter IT but has a faster processor, a USB port and some other bells and whistles. I'd like to find a place to upload it for access, but for now if you'd like a copy please request one from .

I got it from Proton Corp., a company that still sells batteries for the Dreamwriter IT.

Thanks!
Graham

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NTS DreamWriter T 400

I have an NTS DreamWriter T 400
Seen here:
http://flickr.com/photos/funkytoad/969506782/?rotated=1&cb=1185939913750

Great Machine!

tcm
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dreamwriter IT

pity it died a death! It was a great product to work on. All the hardware, software dev & manufacturing was done in Shannon (Irl).

fair enough - it was ugly Smile

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Re: We have sync

eeun wrote:

Activesync at a serial speed of 19.2K is slow. Some years back it wasn't, but today, it's painfully slow.

If memory serves me right (it's been a while since I've tinkered with PocketPC devices), but if you set the bits per second on the serial port on the computer (in XP it's under Port Settings on the port in Device Manager) and the bit rate on the PocketPC it may transfer data faster.

It's set on the PocketPC device by opening ActiveSync without it being connected to the computer. On the Symbol PPT8800 devices we have at the office the max they will both sync at is 115,200.

Jon
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I've got an old Everex Freest

I've got an old Everex Freestyle that I used to sync at 115.2K on an old AMD K5-90. The AMD could barley keep up, but it did work. With a modern computer the serial ports should function well at that speed. I could scale speed back to 56K for more stability, and with only 4MB of storage, it was fast enough.

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NTS Dreamwriter IT - In Need of User Manual

Does anyone know where I can get a user manual for the NTS Dreamwriter IT? If so, please advise.

Thank you much.

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Dreamwriter IT and 400

I've got about 50 dreamwriters (small 4-line screen) software, chargers, battery packs, manuals, and even big A/V carts they came with. I won them in a local school auction. Contact me for pictures, questions, whatever.

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IR and 400

I meant IR for infrared. IT is a newer model than I have.

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