Serial Transfers: NCs and Mac OS X
By Gavin Taylor
Despite the Mac's big switch to UNIX and USB you can still connect your Notepad and exchange files. (If you have an NC200 your Mac can read and write the floppy disks without problems).
What you need
1. A USB to serial converter
I use the very common Keyspan two-port USB to serial converter (www.keyspan.com). There are numerous others on the market (including PCI cards) that would probably work equally well. You also need to install the latest software driver for the device (widely available on CD and downloadable).
2. A null modem cable
It is advisable switch off your Notepad before plugging or unplugging the serial cable.
Making a cable
You need a fine point soldering iron, the relevant plugs, some cable, a test meter, and a steady hand, because soldering the 8 pin Mac minidin is very fiddly. I bought a PC null modem cable and then simply cut off the PC end, savage perhaps, but it saves you soldering the Pad-end plug, and you know for sure that you have the right type of cable (it does mean that you have to use the test meter to identify which wire hanging out the cut end is connected to which pin on the Pad-end).
When you use the pin numbering diagrams, note that the view is looking into the cable plug from the front (as if you were about to plug it into your face). This is important because when you are soldering (in particular the Mac minidin) you are looking at the plugs the wrong way round. Also note that sometimes two wires from the Pad-end have to be joined to just one pin on the Mac-end plug.
3. A terminal program
UNIX experts might prefer to use OS X's built-in terminal program, but the easy option is to use an old-style terminal emulator. The Appleworks bundleware suite no longer includes one, but fortunately the excellent shareware program ZTerm is now available for System X (homepage.mac.com/dalverson/zterm/) and is used here (please support shareware!).
Making the connection
1. Setting up the Notepad terminal
Switch on the Notepad and Press Function + S to open the terminal. Press the Secret/Menu key and set as shown below (the first three Printer settings are irrelevant).
Press Stop repeatedly to arrive at the initial page. Press Secret/Menu. Move down to the "Document transfer port and format" item and select Serial/ASCII (use the sideways arrows to change).
2. Setting up the Mac terminal emulator
Open ZTerm. In the Settings menu select Connection and set as shown below.
In the Settings menu select Terminal and set as shown below.
In the Settings menu select Transfer Options and set as shown below.
In the Settings menu select Modem Preferences and set as shown below. The important thing here is to select the correct Serial Port, which may be named differently on your system.
There are various other options in the Settings menu. Note the Receive Folder - this is where your files will go when they arrive from the Notepad.
The machines should now be ready to communicate. The settings given above are simply one combination that works. There are numerous other possibilities, but bear in mind that changes you make on one side of the link normally have to be matched on the other side.
3. Transferring files Notepad to Mac
4. Transferring files Mac to Notepad
Remember that your notepad has strict limitations in storage space and file size (see Notepad Manual).
Don't be surprised if it doesn't work first time. Keep trying, checking one variable at a time.
To suggest improvements or ask advice contact Gavin Taylor email@example.com (06/01/2003)