The Psion 3 FAQ

The Psion FAQ at netogram.com

6. CONNECTING YOUR PSION

6.1 With an IBM or clone

6.1.1 PsiWin (by Mark Gould)

PsiWin is a package for PCs running Microsoft Windows (in all its current incarnations - 3.1, 3.11, for Workgroups, NT and 95). It allows the Psion 3a (or 3 - although this is slightly more limited) to be connected to the PC and for the filesystem of the Psion to be manipulated in exactly the same way as in Windows File Manager. Drag-and-drop copying is possible, as well as conversion of files between Psion app formats and Windows program formats (Agenda conversion is only possible from the 3a format). It is also possible for 3a users to use the True-Type fonts resident on the Windows machine when printing. Finally, there is a Windows version of Psion's built-in Database application. PsiWin normally comes with the PC 3-Link.

6.1.1.2 What if I don't have Windows?

The standard software for connecting to DOS machines, RCOM, is included with PsiWin. There may also be some RCOM packages available in stores for those who don't want to buy PsiWin at all. See later for other platforms.

6.1.1.3 What if I already have a 3-Link cable?

It is possible to buy PsiWin without also purchasing the 3link. It should be available in stores, but if all else fails, contact Psion directly. If you bought your 3-Link cable just before PsiWin came out, you might even be entitled to a free copy (contact Psion)!

6.1.1.4 What conversions will PsiWin do?

The following file types are currently supported:

Psion Agenda conversions to and from:
Lotus Organizer v.1.0
Act! v.2.0
Schedule Plus
Psion Data conversions to and from:
dBase III and IV
FoxPro
Lotus Organizer 1.0
Comma separated values
Tab separated text
Psion PIC format to and from:
Windows RGB Bitmap
Psion Record (.WVE) to and from:
Windows sound (.WAV)
Psion Sheet to and from:
Quattro Pro for Windows
Works for Windows spreadsheet
Lotus 123 (.WK1 and .WK3)
Excel 4.0 and 5.0
Psion Word to and from:
Text (Windows ANSI and codepage 850)
Rich Text Format
Word Perfect 5.1, 5.2 and 6.0
Works for Windows WP 3.0
Word for Windows 2.0 and 6.0
Ami Pro 3.0

6.1.1.5 I can't run the Psion Manager - it produces a General Protection Fault. What's the matter with it?

Early PsiWin boxes did not indicate that the minimum requirement to run PsiWin was 4Mb RAM. Attempting to run it on a machine with less than this will cause a GPF. The boxes now give the correct information.

Alternatively, it may be the case that you are not running Windows in enhanced mode. This is necessary. Some laptops don't run Windows in enhanced mode by default. In order to enable enhanced mode, type "win /3" at the DOS prompt.

6.1.1.6 Why is there no conversion for Schedule+ in Windows NT?

Because Psion have not written it yet.

6.1.1.7 Why is there no conversion for Schedule+ v.7?

Because Microsoft have not released its format yet.

6.1.1.8 How do I convert Psion files to a format which is not supported by PsiWin?

PsiWin is designed to allow third-party developers to write their own translators for integration into the package. There is a program called pwaddon.zip available on CIX for this purpose. It will be made more generally available soon.

6.1.1.9 Why is there no Windows version of the Agenda?

Perhaps the most requested addition to the PsiWin package is a Windows version of the Agenda, for those who do not have a diary program on their PCs (or who do not trust the conversion process). Psion say they decided not to include such a program for a variety of reasons. The justification for including the Windows Database Manager was that people could take advantage of the larger keyboard and screen of their PCs to enter large amounts of data. This was not thought to be an issue for Agenda users. Simply, Psion had to make a number of choices, and in their judgment a Windows Agenda was a lower priority than other things.

6.1.1.10 Why can't I access the PC drives from the Psion?

This is a problem for those who use the option in Agenda to tidy to a file on a remote PC (amongst others). The answer is hidden away in the help file, which says the following:

If you want to access PC drives from your Psion (they will appear, in dialogs, with "REM::" before their drive letter), edit the PSIONPRC.INI file in your "Windows" directory, and remove the "-x" from the end of the following line:

engine=prcenwin.exe -x

6.1.1.11 I'm having difficulty printing from my Psion through Psion Print. What's wrong with it?

On some setups using early versions of PsiWin, it wasn't possible to print to certain network printers, or just the first page of a document was printed. Psion released a file to fix this called pp_fix2.zip, which is available on CIX and Compuserve as well as at the site maintained by the moderator of comp.binaries.psion (<URL:xxx >) - this site has the file as it was posted to comp.binaries.psion, in five parts. Frontiernet also has a copy of this file in the pub/psion/addon directory.

6.1.1.12 Why can't I reconnect to the Psion once I have disconnected it? (by Angus Rae)

I posted a comment about a problem I was having with PsiWin locking up my machine. I had originally blamed it on my video card (it's a Diamond Stealth 32, and the usual mantra is "if it's named after an aircraft or a snake it's probably causing the crash") but after WinLink3 gave me the same problems I started wondering, and remembering some problems I was having with Trumpet Winsock a while back.

So, a quick trawl through Microsoft's Knowledge Base revealed that the serial port drivers for Windows for Workgroups have a few little problems. (A few big problems IMHO, but your mileage may vary.) It seems to apply to machines with higher specification 16550 UARTs on local buses. I have 16550AF UARTs on a VESA local bus.

There is a fix; replace the file SERIAL.386 with a different version. I believe, but don't quote me on this, that the version from Windows 3.1 would do, but the file WG1001.EXE in the Microsoft SoftLib has a copy which works, which you can get to from xxx. If you do a search in the Windows Knowledge base for WG1001 and appnote you can get the full info.

6.1.1.13 My conversions from Agenda to Lotus Organiser cause an Application error. What is wrong?

It has been suggested that one source of such problems is an out of date copy of a file called ctl3dv2.dll. A nice man at Psion have suggested the following approach:

Currently we sneak a bonus copy of ctl3dv2.dll onto disk 1, uncompressed, for just this scenario, but it's not on all versions. If you don't have it, then I guess the best thing is to close all Windows apps, rename your current ctl3dv2.dll out of the way, then reinstall PsiWin and see if that solves it.

If it *doesn't*, then I'm afraid it's going to come down to some fairly standard testing to narrow it down -

  • what if you use different date ranges or entry types on the "Convert what" dialog (though it sounds unlikely to me)?
  • do Database conversions work (as they use a similar "convert what" system)?
  • do your Organizer and Lotus INI files look OK in \windows?
  • does it happen with nothing else running in Windows?
  • can you change anything about the setup (eg try it on another PC)?

If none of these work, then check the answer to question 6.1.1.12.

6.1.1.14 I have another problem with PsiWin

Many problems with PsiWin are caused by having 32-bit file access enabled. Try disabling this (in the Control Panel, Enhanced, Virtual Memory). If the problem recurs, try asking in comp.sys.psion (or Psion Technical Support).

6.1.2 MCLink

MCLINK is the software which comes with Psion's 3-Link cable. It runs on the host PC (at the DOS prompt) or Mac to provide data transfer capability. When MCLINK is running on the PC/Mac, the Series 3 can see host drives as remote drives, and can access the data on them. Similarly the command interface in the MCLINK program can be used to access or copy data to/from the Series3. MCLINK can also be used to print Series 3 data by copying it to REM::C:\LPT1. MCLINK works under OS/2 and under the DOS emulator with Linux (Free Unix on PC). It had reliability problems under Windows for Workgroups 3.11. It supports only COM1 and COM2 ports.

6.1.3 SLink

SLINK is a cut-down version of MCLINK, provided by Psion. It may work in non-standard configurations where MCLINK will not. Since it is smaller, it may cure space problems.

6.1.4 RCom

Is Psion's replacement for MCLINK. It is available at the IC archive. It provides all the capability of MCLINK and adds a range of other features, including handling of Rich Text format files; backup, compress and equalize functions, a large range of DOS-like commands, from which scripts can be generated, and a Windows interface. Though it's documentation claims that RCOM is "more like a network connection", this is not yet a reasonable claim. When RCOM is running, the host machine can only see the Series 3 via the RCOM interface.

6.1.5 RFM

RFM is also available from the archive (RFM110); it is in beta release. RFM installs a TSR on the host PC; a small process is also run on the Series 3. When set up, the system makes the Series 3 drives look completely like PC drives, and vice versa. PC file management tools can be used with great convenience to manipulate files on both machines transparently. RFM cannot be installed or removed under Windows, but will run under Windows. RFM will lock your machine up occassionally; in this case, turn the link off at the Series 3. Rest the PC after the link icon disappears from the Series 3, or you may need to reset both machines.

6.2 With an Amiga

For a long time, Amiga users had to resort to using the X/Y-Modem protocols to transfer files back and forth with their Psions... that was before Oliver Wagner gratified us with his great program: AmigaNCP. To be able to use this program, you will need the PC version of the cable (3-Link) which connects to your standard RS232 serial port of your Amiga.

AmigaNCP fully implements Psion's NCP protocol and thus allows you to see your Psion as a remote drive of your Amiga and vice versa! File transfers are now as easy as drag and drop. The program also contains a simple text transfer mode which allows you to directly convert Psion ASCII files to Amiga/UNIX type; it supports multi-serial cards and needs WB 2.0+. AmigaNCP is shareware and available from the IC FTP site or any Aminet site in the comm/misc directory. There is also a WWW site devoted to AmigaNCP where you can always get the latest version and read more about it: <URL xxx>

This is definitively a must for all Amiga users!

6.2.1 Graphics support on the Amiga

There is a progam called "ViewPic" (by Marko Schuster) written in GFA basic and available on any Aminet site. It supports black and grey and even works with the stone age WB 1.3! Doesn't support multiple pictures in a single file.

6.3 With a UNIX machine

Using the Psion's 3-Link cable data transfer between a Psion and a UNIX workstation can be provided in several ways. One way is to use NFS capabilities to mount the Psion only to the workstation, where it is attached to via the serial cable. This is an easy way to capture filesystem operations (e.g, change directory, list contents of directory, move and copy files) in a program. All the UNIX commands can be used on the PSION file system. Supported architectures are SunOS 4.1.3, HPUX 9.0.x, Linux, AIX 3.2, Solaris 2.3/2.4, and SGI IRIX 5.3.

There is another proprietary program for Sun workstations that allows transfer of files and a limited number of file operations over the serial cable. It uses a proprietary protocol and has a command line interface. There is a facility for automatically filtering files, a backup utility and a mechanism for supporting scripts to automate frequently used operations.

6.4 With a Macintosh (information taken from Paul Dubois' WWW site, see last question for address)

You will need the Mac version of the 3-Link cable. This is almost the same as the PC version, only the plug which goes into your Mac changes; you can even make an adapter yourself if you already have the PC version. For the software, you need "Psion Link" or "MCLink" for Macintosh. Both come with the Mac 3-Link cable.

6.4.1 Psion Link

Psion Link allows you to see Psion disks from the Macintosh and transfer files between machines using drag and drop. (You do this within Psion Link's windows; the Psion doesn't appear as a volume on the desktop.) It runs on any Macintosh with System 6.0 or later.

6.4.2 MCLink

MCLink allows you to see Macintosh disks from the Psion, so that they become, in effect, part of the Psion file system. You use Psion file operations to access Macintosh files. MCLink is described in the "3 Link (RS232)" manual. There are also some documentation files on the MCLink disk. The current version is 1.41F. MCLink runs on Macintoshes with System 6.0 or later. (Some earlier versions, e.g., 1.20, do not run under System 7.)

6.4.3 Choosing and Using a Macintosh Port

There are two kinds of serial ports on a Macintosh, distinguished by the icons with which they are labeled:

  • -A phone handset icon indicates a modem (or phone) port.
  • -A printer icon indicates a printer (or AppleTalk) port.

Some Macintoshes have a combined modem/printer port (e.g., Duos, and the 500 and 5300 series of PowerBooks). Such ports are labeled with both icons.

Both Psion Link or MCLink allow you to select which port you want. If you have a combination modem/printer port, you need to tell Psion Link or MCLink to use the modem port, not the printer port.

To establish successful communications, the Macintosh port you want to use must not be in use by something else -- make sure you're not running any software that wants to control that port; especially make sure AppleTalk is off if you use the printer port!

6.4.4 Connecting

  • -Make sure the Psion is turned off and plug in the 3Link cable. The cable connectors on the ends of the Macintosh adapter are similar, but if you look closely you'll see that they're different. The end with the "crossbar" inside the connector goes into the 3Link pod; the other end goes into your Macintosh.
  • -Turn on the Psion and enable the link (Psion-L from the System screen).
  • -Launch the Macintosh communications application (Psion Link or MCLink). Psion Link plays a chime when a connection is established. If you hear a short "plink" sound, the connection failed. MCLink doesn't make any sound but its status window says "Link Established" when it detects a connection.
  • -Perform whatever data transfer you have in mind.
  • -Quit the Macintosh communications application.
  • -Disable the link from the Psion System screen.
  • -Turn the Psion off and unplug the 3Link cable.

If you do the steps in some other order, you may get an unresponsive machine. For instance, if you plug the link cable into your printer port, enable the link on the Psion, and then turn off AppleTalk on your Macintosh, you may have to reboot the Macintosh before Psion Link or MCLink will establish a connection properly.

6.4.5 What file conversions do Psion Link and MCLink do?

Essentially none.

Psion Link recognizes certain files as "text" if their names end with any of a given set of suffixes (e.g., ".txt"). For such files it converts line ending characters to whatever is appropriate for the destination machine (CRLF for Psion, CR for Macintosh).

In general, to transfer a file between Psion and Macintosh applications, the file must be saved in a format understood on both machines (RTF for Word is an example).

6.4.6 Other questions

You can find more info at: <URL: xxx>

6.5 With an Atari (by Daron Brewood)

The Psion palmtop computers can be connected to all Atari ST compatable computers; from the Atari 520ST to the TT and Falcon models. The 3-Link (PC) serial lead will be needed to connect the Psion's serial port to the 25-pin serial connector on the back of the Atari machine.

It should be noted that the basic unmodified ST computer can only handle baud rates of 9600bps, wheras the STe/TT/Falcon computers can communicate at the Psion's maximum speed of 19200bps.

There are two main packages designed to interface the Atari computers to the Psion series 3/3a, these are:

6.5.1 S3-ST v2.00 by Keith Baines

An extract from his documentation file can be found below:


S3-ST Version 2.00

File Transfer and Utilities Program

Atari 680x0 --- Psion Series 3/3a

Copyright (c) Keith Baines, March 1993 - August 1995

_____________________________________________________________________

S3-ST provides a graphical file-manager with features familiar from the Atari GEM desktop. You can use it to:

  • Copy files from the Atari to the Psion and vice-versa;
  • Make regular full and incremental backups of your Psion;
  • View files on either machine in a scrollable window on the Atari screen;
  • Print files on either machine using a printer connected to the Atari's printer port;
  • Delete files on either machine;
  • Create new folders (or sub-directories) on either machine.

S3-ST uses a small companion program, STCOMMS.OPA, which can be installed as an application on the Series 3 or 3a. (The Series 3a version uses the enhanced facilities of that model.)

In addition, the package includes DBFVIEW, a Desk Accessory for the Atari (there is also a normal program version), which can be used to browse through files created with the Series 3/3a Data application and to copy information from them via the GEM clipboard. For example it can be used to copy names and addresses into a word processor document on your ST.


Keith can be contacted at the following address:

Keith Baines, 8 Lumley Court, Denmark Avenue, London, SW19 4HQ, UK

6.5.2 TRAFIC version 2.2 - c1995, Club Psion Series 3

This program is keyware and will not allow files to be copied across machines without the software first being activated by a user key. The interface seems very much like 'Kobold' and 2in1 on the Atari's.

I can say little about it's features due to the documentation provided with it being written in French. However the authors can be contacted via the Club Series 3 (see "User Groups") attn: Laurent PLOMB.

6.5.3 Support for the Psion machines in the Atari world

Network ST (NeST), the worlds largest fidonet(tm) technology network in the world (for Atarians) supports the Psion via:

  • An Internet gateway to the COMP.SYS.PSION newsgroup via the U.COMP.SYS.PSION message echo.
  • An Internet gateway to the COMP.BINARIES.PSION newsgroup via the U.COMP.BINARIES.PSION message echo.
  • Distribution of files into the Atari file networks via the 90.SUP.PSION file echo.
  • Archive storage of Psion files (available by ftn file request only) at 90:90/0.0@nest.ftn.

For further information concerning NeST (Network ST) please contact Daron Brewood via:

  Email:  xxx  SnailMail: Daron M. Brewood, 7 Crescent Road, Portwood, Stockport,
                 Cheshire, SK1 2QG.

6.5.4 Graphics support on the Atari

There is no current program on the Atari computers which can create or view PIC files from the Psion, but there is a program to use to convert true colour JPG, and 256 colour GIF files, into .GIF's that take little space on the Psion. This is GEM-View by Dieter Fiebelkorn, and is highly recommended as it will quickly dither any picture through at it, and if steinberb dithering is used the end result is a very small 2-30k .GIF file, that will convert perfectly on the Psion to give a minimum sized clear picture. Very useful if you wish to carry family photo's round with you on the Psion, or to carry round proof graphic outlays.

6.6 With an Acorn Archimedes or Risc PC (by Nick Craig-Wood)

6.6.1 ALink from Acorn

This is a package including the equivalent of the 3-Link for Acorn machines, the A-Link and some software to run on the Acorn.

The software runs as a filing system on the Acorn machine and allows you to use the Psion just as if it was a (rather slow) hard disc. It does not allow the Psion to look at the Acorn drives though.

It comes with a set of conversion applications for Spreadsheet, Data and Word files into native Acorn and generic (eg CSV) formate.

6.6.2 PC programs

All of the available PC programs can be used under the hardware or software PC emulators provided you can run the correct version of Windows or DOS that these programs rely on.

Note that the A-Link has a slightly different wiring to the 3-Link. The A-Link will work fine with the PC software, and plugged into a PC, but the 3-Link will not work with the Acorn software. All that is different is the wiring from the 'soap' to the 9-way D-Type connector.

6.7 With a modem

Psion provide 3FAX, which is a hardware and software add-on offering FAX capability and a data modem operating at 2400 baud. Apparently, this is a technical limitation as the Psion could not cope with faster transfer rates from faster modems anyway (from the modem data exchange side). No one has really confirmed this though!

The 3-Link cable/software offers a standard serial interface through which standard modems can be connected, transferring (serially) up to the Series 3a limit of 19.2K (9.6K for the Series3).

Paraphrasing "Lord John" - w0400@ggr.co.uk:

The Serial 3link cable is a null modem connection, with a male 25 way end. To work with a modem, you need to "un-null" the modem wires, so you have a straight through link. The wiring of the plug is below. Note that pin 8 is not just "in the air", but connected to pin 6. Choose plugs with whatever gender you need.

                           2 ------------- 3
                           3 ------------- 2
                           4 ------------- 5
                           5 ------------- 4
                           6 -+----------- 20
                           8 -+
                          20 -----------+- 6
                                       +- 8
                           7 ------------- 7

The harder part is correctly configuring the modem; each modem is different. You need to configure the modem and the Series 3/3a to handshake on RTS/CTS. I do not use Xon and Xoff for flow control with the modem; these characters are passed through to whatever is connected to the modem. Using this configuration, I can consistently operate the link at full speed with no problems.

Also of interest, Klaus @ ernstk@delphi.com notes: The Psion Modem Adapter (cable), Partnumber 055856, is wired like this:

            Pin name    Pin number    Direction          DB-25
                        Mini-Din      Series3 - Other
            DCD             1         <-------------     8
            RD              2         <-------------     3
            TD              3         ------------->     2
            DTR             4         ------------->     20
            SG              5         --------------     7
            DSR             6         <-------------     6
            RTS             7         ------------->     4
            CTS             8         <-------------     5
            RI              9         <-------------     22
            FG            shield      --------------     1

6.8 With a packet radio TNC

If you want to work packet radio mobile/remote, your Psion will be just great because of it's small size. Adding a TNC (Terminal Node Controller) is just like adding a modem actually (that's what TNCs are in the first place!), so make the "un-null" cable first (as described in the modem section). Be sure to have a full cable with the CTS/RTS lines and set XFLOW OFF on your TNC as you should preferably use these hardware lines instead of software XON/XOFF codes. As for a specific packet program, you're in luck: Roger Muggleton (G0HZK@GB7WIR on packet) made a nice program called Pocket Packet. Now if someone could just write a little BayCom driver program...

For more information concerning packet radio and amateur radio in general, I would recommend you the "rec.amateur.radio.xxx" newsgroups from Usenet.

6.9 Terminal emulation

The 3-link cable software includes a dumb terminal emulation. VT100 emulators are also available. There are some at the IC archive:

term122s.zip VT100 emulator from Psion GmbH
vt100v2a.zip VT100 emulator from Widget.
(these are crippled versions of commercial products).

There are also free/shareware/commercial alternatives:
FreeVT (File: FreeVTxx.zip)
PComm (commercial; Psion)

6.10 TCP/IP stack

There were two TCP/IP stacks being programmed for the Psion Series 3 a while ago. Unfortunately, I don't have any news on whether or not any program has been finished. All I could gather were rumours; apparently, Psion was also very interested...

If anyone has more infos, please mail me or post to comp.sys.psion.


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