From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Daniel `HB9VBC' Pfund) Newsgroups: comp.sys.psion.announce,comp.sys.palmtops,comp.answers,news.answers Subject: PSION Series 3/3a palmtop FAQ part 2/6 Followup-To: comp.sys.psion.misc Approved: email@example.com,firstname.lastname@example.org Summary: This article is a collection of information on the Psion Series 3(a) palmtop computers. It should be read by anyone intending to post to the comp.sys.psion.* newsgroups. Archive-name: psion-faq/part2 Version: $VER: Psion FAQ v2.6 Posting-Frequency: monthly URL: http://www.geocities.com/SiliconValley/8130/faq.htm
See part 1 for complete table of contents of this FAQ (including this part's).
Prices for 2Mb Psion are quoted for each when known, but you should contact vendors for latest prices, as they change quite a bit, and I don't track those changes here very often.
Numbers marked "[US/CA only]" means that the number can only be called from the USA or Canada (sometimes both, sometimes only one). If no other number is specified, the person or company presumably does not want to deal with customers from elsewhere.
Usually, you will get the best deal from a UK vendor (but keep in mind that you will also get a UK version!) If you travel to London, you can get a good deal at the "Duty Free" shops in the airports or by haggling in the Tottenham Court Road shops.
Important note: these addresses have NOT been verified, so check before you intend to buy from one of them! Also, I am NOT listing any more vendors without web sites. For a (maybe) more up to date listing, you may want to check out the PDA Page homepage at: http://www.pdapage.com which lists the best sites which sell PDAs.
For an upto date list, you may like to take a look at Psion's web site.
All Psion machines are based around the "SIBO architecture", which was developed to meet common goals which span the SIBO range, including Series 3.
Of paramount importance is low power usage. To this end CMOS circuits are used, the CPUs are static - meaning their clocks can be slowed down or stopped and restarted without impairing function, and the specially designed ASIC chips implement sophisticated power management, which always ensures that only those parts of the machine which are needed, are powered up. Power is provided by 2 AA batteries during normal operation. A Lithium backup battery, a CR1620, is provided which maintains memory during battery changes. A mains adaptor inlet is provided.
A system clock runs independently of the CPU even when the machine is "off". This allows it to keep time and to wake the machine up when (for example) alarms expire.
A six-pin outlet is provided, through which serial and parallel ports may be connected. This outlet has exactly the same signals as the two expansion ports (SSDs).
A sound system implements beeps on the Series 3 through a low power piezo-electric element at two volumes. On the 3a there is a more sophisticated system employing bi-directional digital-to-analogue conversion, a conventional speaker, and a microphone, which together support the recording and playback of digitally-recorded sound. Digital sound data is compressed and expanded between 8 and 13 bits by hardware in an ASIC using the Alaw algorithm during recording and playback respectively, at a sample rate of 8KHz. This performance conforms to the ISDN standard for digital phone systems. A Series 3 buzzer emulation is also available on the 3a.
For both machines, there are two expansion ports, also called SSD drives, into which RAM or EPROM memory modules may be placed.
The memory is split into two types: process and storage. Storage memory is only used for storing data. Process memory is the memory used by the processor. Programs run in this type of memory. Process memory is limited on all Psions to 512k maximum. There is no storage memory on Psions with 512k RAM or less. To be honest, this is a not a big problem, since the Psion implements a real good memory management and "windows" the memory needed for each application. In practice, this means that you can open several huge databases for example and only need 10k of memory for each one.
In tabular form, the differences are summarised below:
Item Series 3 Series 3a HARDWARE PROCESSOR name V30H (80C86 compatible) V30H(80C86 compatible) Bitwidth 16 16 Speed 3.84 MHz 7.68 MHz video mem access 8 bit - half speed 16 bit - full speed DISPLAY Type Monochrome LCD Monochrome LCD Physical size 97 x 39 mm approx 126 x 45 mm approx Display size 240x80 480x160 Display depth 2 - black/white 3 - black/grey/white MEMORY Internal 128 or 256Kbyte 256Kb,512Kb,1Mb,2Mb Expansion 2 slots = 16Meg max 2 slots = 16 Meg max DIMENSIONS Size 16.5 x 8.5 x 2.2 cm (6.5" x 3.3" x 0.9") Weight 275 grams including batteries SOUND Output device Piezo beeper Loudspeaker Capability variable pitched Beeps Any sound and DTMF [*] Digital system NONE DAC/ADC 8/13 bits Sound recording NONE 8K samples per second Telephone dialler DTMF capability DTMF capability *Further sounds can be generated if a custom device driver is written PARALLEL PORT Via optional link Via optional link SERIAL PORT Via optional link Via optional link Software Installed in link pod In Psion 3a ROM Max speed 9600 baud 19200 baud SOFTWARE SYSTEM SHELL Controls applications Upgraded on Series 3a DATA Database application Upgraded on Series 3a WORD Comprehensive document Upgraded on Series 3a processing system AGENDA Personal management Major upgrades on 3a application TIME Clock and alarms manager Upgraded on Series 3a WORLD World info database Cosmetic upgrade on 3a CALC Calculator Calculator Allowing OPL extension Cosmetic upgrade on 3a SHEET [*] Spreadsheet application Speadsheet application available as add-on [*] built-in *In the US, and latterly in the UK, the "Series 3s" includes the spreadsheet as standard (not for 128k models) SPELL CHECKER/THESAURUS add-on Only on 1/2Mb models * PATIENCE GAME add-on Only on 1/2Mb models * *Spell checker/thesaurus and patience game are apparently only available on UK/US country specific 1/2Mb models (ie: not available for french nor german models!) OPL Programming application Series 3 compatibility mode also available.
Normal power is provided by two AA (also known as LR6) batteries. Standby power is provided by a small Lithium backup battery, a CR1620, which maintains system data during main battery changes or failure.
It all actually depends on what type of batteries you use. Here are the advantages and disadvantages of the different battery types:
The link causes high battery loadings, as does the sound system. Accessing the SSDs also increases power drain. Because of the static architecture, a busy CPU drains more power than a sleeping one, so compute-intensive tasks will burn power. For these reasons, it is difficult to quote battery performance exactly, but the table below summarises reports received on the net (for a 512k version).
Alkaline NiCad Lithium Running time (Hrs) 40-80 20 65-100 Power delivered (mAh) 1500 800 1600-2700 Price each (UKP) 0.5 4.5 Comment 30% lighter
1/2Mb models use more battery power since they use memory bank switching which is processor intensive.
The backup battery typically lasts 15 months.
Actually, the battery consumption is only estimated, there is no real voltage meter inside the Psion. The Psion knows the average battery consumption in each state (ie: xx mA when playing a WVE file; yy mA when writing on flash ... ) and keeps a record of the time spent in each state. When the voltage drops below a threshold, the "replace batteries" and "emptying batteries" display appear.
The most important thing is to always turn the serial link OFF when you don't use it. This is the number one power eater on your Psion.
Here are some other more or less obvious tips:
Thanks must go to Philippe Lebreton and Blake Nancarrow for these great tips.
Yes, the Psion comes with a standard power outlet so you can use either the official Psion power supply or a general-purpose mains adaptor (which is cheaper). Negative polarity should be selected - ie the tip should be negative. The power supply should be able to deliver 150mA at 9V. The Psion adaptor has an indentation around the outer conductor near the tip which facilitates snug fit for improved reliability.
You can plug the external power supply in/out while the Psion is on. It will then immediately use the external power or batteries. The Psion also has an automatic turn off possibility. This is very useful if you often forget to turn it off! One of the choices for this auto turn off feature is "If no external power", so you can safely use it on external power and it will not turn itself off anymore until you unplug it again.
Flash SSDs are cheaper than RAM SSDs because the filesystem doesn't actually allow you to recover deleted space on them. Even if they're cheap compared to real RAMs, they're still quite expensive because they're not manufactered on a big scale (they're Psion proprietary). This tempted several people to accomplish upgrades. It has been successfully done, but I decided not to describe it here for several reasons:
In the mean time, there has been a company that has specialised in making SSD upgrades: Exportech in London. You can contact them by email at: email@example.com
The big question when the 1/2Mb models came out: can I upgrade my 512k to a 2Mb model? Well, sorry, but the (short) answer is no. The new models use a new ROM to access the extra memory. Psion PLC does not offer upgrades for new models either. The best solution is to sell your old model and get a more recent one.
In mid 1996, several companies have offered their services to upgrade 512k models to 2Mb models. They will change the motherboard completely, so I suppose you'll have an exact 2Mb version with spell checker/patience?...
Try to contact the following company:
Price: about 303 USD!
If you own a 128/256k or 1Mb model, upgrading it is just a matter of adding more RAM to it. Psion PLC or other official repair centres can do this for you, contact them about it. For info, Pinnock Organisers will upgrade your 256k Psion to a 512k model for 65 UKP.
For the help of us all, Fionn Behrens has made a nice web page with details on how to upgrade your internal RAM with pictures and step by step instructions. You can find his pages at: http://www.informatik.uni-siegen.de/~fionn/e/Psion/
For the time being, process memory is limited to 512k on every model and you cannot add more whatever you do.
A lot of people buy their Psions in the UK because of the huge price difference compared to their own country. This is not a problem in itself if you just remember that you will be getting the UK version, thus the UK keyboard, applications and manual. This also the reason why so many people would like to change the keys of their keyboards. For these people, there is no simple solution. The keyboard map is not just a file held in RAM, so basically, you're stuck with your keyboard, but there are workarounds to this:
Yes, if you have Tom Dolbilin's Macro System installed, there is a macro called "BigKeys" which actually reads the serial port and sends the key to the HWIM application you're currently running. Unfortunately, it will not work with normal OPL applications. On the other hand, you will still need another computer to send the keys over the serial line, so it really isn't what people are looking for!
Keith Baker firstname.lastname@example.org has made a little interface for just a normal keyboard (without the need for another computer) connected to the Psion using the 3-Link interface . Note that it will not work with OPL applications either.
For the common mortal: you can't (we're talking about 3a 3-Links here). If you have the C/OPL SDK, there is a diagram of a TTL RS232 interface... BUT the diagram is based around a Psion custom chip called "ASIC5". This chip converts the SIBO serial channel into standard RS232 signals and back. According to the documentation this chip is available from Psion for custom expansion development. Documentation also provides information about modification of example device for CMOS levels.
But this device is a serial link only, not a real 3-Link. The 3-Link contains a ROM "SSD" with software. You can use the serial link instead of 3Link but some applications (I'm not sure, it's only my opinion) can check if disk C is present or even for disk C's serial number. Of course if an application uses only device drivers interface (VT100 emulators) it will work anyway.
The SIBO Serial Protocol is also described in the SDK. Refer to it if you want know more about Psion expansion port.
For the 3c, this is entirely different! The 3c serial cable is just that: a simple cable. Justin Buckland has been kind enough to send me the pinouts for such a cable. He will also sell such cables himself; you may like to contact him by email at email@example.com or by telephone (+44 1223 570477) or simply check out his web site at: http://www-sp.phy.cam.ac.uk/~jrb25/psicable.html
Justin found the parts from CPC (tel. +44 1772 654455). Connections for Psion 3c / Siena serial cable are:
Psion: ___________ 1 /___________\ 15 9-pin D socket: --------------- \ 5 4 3 2 1 / \ 9 8 7 6 / --------- 9-pin: Psion: RS232: 1 nc DCD data carrier detect 2 12 RD received data 3 8 TD transmitted data 4 11 DTR data terminal ready 5 1 SG signal ground 6 13 DSR data set ready 7 9 RTS request to send (= DTE ready) 8 14 CTS clear to send (= DCE ready) 9 10 RI ring indicator
If you have read the previous section, you can realize that a one-way parallel link is much easier to make for people who are familiar with digital logic. Two way parallel link is possible also: typical parallel link baud rate is 40K bytes/sec, and SIBO interface allows you 1.5M bit/sec, but you'll need a hardware buffer and PDD/LDD pair to receive data.
The "soap on a rope" is simply another name for the 3-Link. It is named like that because of it's ressemblence with (guess what ;-) the well known soap on a rope.
There are a number of ways you can print from your Psion
Yes you can without fear. Nowadays the airport's X-Ray machines are harmless to palmtop computers and diskettes (hopefully ;-). In any case, if you're really not assured, ask to pass it seperately.
Yes it can! Be careful with the underside of your Psion because it is actually the speaker which contains a magnet whom is responsible for such problems. Credit cards and other magnetic data seem to be the easiest "victims" of the magnet. Check out the first page of your User Guide for Psion's own warning about this. You can try the paperclip test which consists of taking a pile of paperclips and placing the Psion on top of it. Lifting the Psion will typically take 5 paperclips with it!
You should not normally need to reset your machine at all. See "What is killing a process?" to find out how to terminate misbehaving applications. Doing a RESET re-initializes the system's processes. It re-starts things as though it had just been powered up, and so will make many error conditions go away. Doing a reset will also remove any software patches you may have applied. These would need to be re-applied after each reset. A soft reset will also make you lose your user-defined groups and installed software icons (but the real software, ie: the program, should still be there).
There are two kinds of resets:
Killing a process is like closing an application but without letting it know. This will result in loss of data if the application didn't save it before being killed, so be warned! Usually, you can exit an application (from within it) with Psion-x (for english Psions) or Psion-Esc. If the application doesn't respond to keypresses anymore and nothing else works, you will have to kill it. For this, you can go to the system screen and press Psion-shift-k (for english Psions). You can also use other specific programs which allow killing of any process (Spy is one of them).
From any point, you can take a screen snapshot, by holding down shift, control, Psion, and S. The PIC file generated is placed in M:SCREEN.PIC.
It has long been known in the computer and electronics industries that electrical components, for the most part, fail either shortly after they are first activated or after many years of service. Because of this fact the concept of the soak test or burn-in or life test was invented. Simply put, the machine (in this case a computer) is put through a repetitive testing loop for several hours (24 for the Psions to be more precise). This procedure would then filter out most of the bad batches and prevent them from reaching the hands of the general consumers.
To activate the soak test on the Psion series 3, press (See warning at the beginning of this section) Control-Shift-Psion-K on the System screen. This procedure will cause a soft-reset of your Psion.
Actually, you can't! Psion hasn't implemented this feature yet. What you can do, is use another program called "MemoFind" which will do just that. It's a freeware program from Psion available at usual FTP sites.
It may get difficult trying to find the cursor in Word for example. Unfortunately, there is no way to make it bigger. Some suggested solutions are to press shift-right (to highlight a character) or home (to find the cursor on the far left).
The hum (apparently a 60Hz sound) appears only when you record using battery power. It is probably due to the voltage converter inside your Psion (from 3V to higher). If you use the AC adapter, the hum disappears.
See also "Data security with link connected" in next section.
The Word password protection is not really good. It is known that it's possible to "crack" the password (but not find it) and see the clear text in a very short time (reported by Clive D.W.Feather in Dec94 and now included in his Psionics files). Obviously, you do need some programming skills to do it, but all in all, it is feasible, so be warned!
Also, never use a single letter password! This could be way too easily broken by brute force. It is recommended to have at least 6 characters and even better, a mix of letters and numbers.
Another issue is power on password protection. Apparently, it is possible to bypass it somehow; no infos are given!. Just don't rely on it too much. Also, remember that if you keep some data on your SSD Disks, the potential thieve can still read those informations by simply transfering the disks into another Psion!
The bottom line is that the password functions of the Psion are useful for keeping casual snoops from reading your data while you're off making a phone call, but if you're seriously worried about security then you shouldn't be keeping sensitive material on a handheld machine in the first place.
Once you've done this the application should have two lists on the System screen. Remove the one with the original icon.
If you create a new list for Word, read this: The Word application maintains a different template (which holds the styles and default preferences) for each list. To carry on with the same template as you had before, you will need to make a copy of the file Default.wrt in the \WDR directory. The copy should have the same name as your list, with a .wrt extension. For example, if your new list was called "Notes", copy \WDR\Default.wrt to \WDR\Notes.wrt.
Alternatively, use a program called NEWICON2.OPA which does just that!
End of part 2/6