eMate data transfer. Bring a packed lunch.

Yes, my eMate is now actually useful, but I had a bunch of fun figuring out how to get data onto and off of it.

I started out by moving data back and forth with a plain old serial cable. I bought the bits to make one, but then a kind reader sent me his old Maclink cable for free!

And, after trying almost everything else, I'm back with the serial cable.

If you want to move documents - as opposed to contacts and calendar entries - to and from a Newton of any flavour, my official recommendation is to stick with serial and save yourself the pain.

But, I hear you say, the eMate has an infrared transceiver, which can talk to standard IrDA things if you install some software!

Yes. Sort of.

To enable IR data transfer, I did as I was told and used the serial cable and Newton Connection Utilities (which is what you use on Windows for serial document transfer as well) to install a bunch of stuff from 40Hz. I installed IC/VC and Neo and Nitro and Ntox and NHttpLib, not all of which were necessarily entirely essential for simple document transfer, but what the heck.

Then I tried to get the eMate to to connect to a PC, only to have it error out at the precise moment it connected, every time. Yes, even if I used the OBEX:IrXfer option, as instructed. This happened with a desktop machine with a USB IrDA interface; it also happened with my ThinkPad.

You actually can transfer data from a PC to an eMate even when it's doing this. What you have to do is kind of trick it, by starting a transfer (which will immediately fail) so Windows lets you pop up the what-file-would-you-like-to-send requester, then selecting the file you want, and starting another transfer. Then you click the OK button just as the connection happens... whereupon it works. For that one file transfer. Then it instantly disconnects again.

(I was sidetracked for a while by the instruction to run "irftp", which is a program that exits silently every time I run it, presumably because it sees no IR connection, because of the instant-disconnect problem. Oh, and if you transfer a plain ASCII text file to an eMate it won't be able to read it, unless you install plain text "stationery" as well. Fun!)

All of this is purely academic, though, because there's no trick you can use in the other direction. If you've got this problem, you can't send anything back from the eMate to the PC via IR.

Neo is supposed to "convert [an] object to text and send it", but all it ever actually does for me is convert an object to the generic eMate errors -8007 and -48205, and send nothing.

Perhaps all of this 40Hz stuff does actually work if you want to sync address book and calendar data, but I just wanted basic file transfer, and it wasn't happening.

You can also, apparently, use some Orinoco 802.11b cards with an eMate, and wired Ethernet cards too. But the Orinoco driver only works if you install Newton Internet Enabler, which is for... accessing the Internet, and doing other perverse things. Not transferring data from other computers. Well, not unless you do something ludicrous like transferring your documents via e-mail and installing a mail client on the eMate.

There's also commercial software that lets you use a CompactFlash card in a PCMCIA adapter as storage for a Newton device, instead of the old "linear" PCMCIA cards that work natively in these devices. I'd almost certainly be able to do this, since my dusty-old-stuff drawer contains the 8Mb version of a 16Mb card that's on the compatibility list, but it wouldn't help me much either, since the files the eMate put on the card would be in Newton Note format and I'd have to translate them somehow to access them on my PC anyway. Might as well hook up the serial cable and translate on the fly.

So, verily, did I say Screw It, and go back to the serial cable.

(I'm using the serial cable with my old ThinkPad, which is the handiest computer I've got that has a real serial port. I think Newton Connection Utilities will work with a USB-to-serial adapter, but I haven't tried it. For a bigger dose of old-stuff-on-new-hardware shenanigans, check out this page about running Windows 1.01 on 2005 hardware.)

2 Responses to “eMate data transfer. Bring a packed lunch.”

  1. Jax184 Says:

    "not unless you do something ludicrous like transferring your documents via e-mail and installing a mail client on the eMate."

    To use a Newton, you have to be accustomed to doing ludicrous things. Fortunatly I'm insane, so I managed it for awhile.
    But oh do I love my Sigmarion III...

  2. reb2861 Says:

    I have a serial cable emate to pc. It has worked to get the connection etablished. As soon as the connection is established I get the proper transfer screen(with some messing around)on the pc, but nothing happens. I don't understand where the transferred file from the emate is supposed to appear on the pc.
    It seems to me, that some time ago when I was doing this the transfer was actually made and I could read the file on my pc, but I don't remember exactly how tht happened. Do I need a particular application on my pc to collect the file after the transfer is set up?

Leave a Reply