[NTLK] Newton USB Dongle

Jeff Sheldon jeffsheldon at gmail.com
Sun Feb 5 16:21:06 EST 2017


It’s probably pretty likely that a USB to RS422 mini-din8 doesn’t exist,
but it’s likely that two compatible ends can be sourced based on a quick
Amazon search.  I’ll go ahead and build one just a as a proof-of-concept.
I’m happy to see many solutions for USB-to-RS232 FTDI (cut wire) cables out
there presenting a variety of options.

One issue I recall with the SER-001 was that people said it would cause
slight deformation to the case and even cracking because the PCB was thick
and pressed up against the case.  I’m glad to see thinner PCBs readily
available from DIY shops like OSH Park.


I read about the WIFI board a while back, but memory escapes me—is that
your design?  Very cool.  the ESP chips are so amazingly dynamic and cheap
that I can easily see that being a good solution for a variety of needs.
USB-C is definitely forward-thinking…I don’t have anything that can talk to
it, but I think it’s worth pursuing for the long haul.

There was some talk on here last spring about using cheap, highly flexible,
chips to expand Newton functionality in various ways (from the internal
port) other than for just network or sync.  Do you recall the width of the
PCB on your design and do you have some photos of the product online?  Is
this a closed design?

Dennis, thanks for that.  Yes, “unscrupulous”. :-)

Does your SER-001 fit well or do you have that issue I was mentioning with
case fitment and pressure being applied by the thick PCB?


I’ve, too, have occasionally found the interconnect plug/sockets, but yes,
it’s amazingly difficult and they tend to no longer be available.  I’ll
look into seeing if a new connector board can be made to sit on top of the
old pads and still use the existing case footprint.  If I recall correctly,
I think even the original iPod/Pad/Phone connector had some compatible pins
for basic things which could be “corrected” as-needed with the minimal


I haven’t checked on this in a while, but do we have a centralized wiki or
somesuch for active community projects and/or needs?  It might be nice to
have a list of “must-haves” with people assigned to them (as interested or
testers if nothing more) and some documentation to go with those ideas.  My
frustration since 1994 has been that many of the expansion solutions that
have turned up are closed and limited in availability.  I’d love to have
some open projects which anyone can build and with a few alternatives for
parts should one supplier disappear.  Might be nice to have a
compatibility database for PCMCIA and CF cards, a list of expansion units
and software projects along with the developer(s) behind it, etc.

Unrelated, I’m only now just finding this nice WIRED article featuring some
of our longstanding Newton heroes (and I tweeted a photo of that same case
a couple weeks ago):



On Sun, Feb 5, 2017 at 2:17 PM, David Arnold <davida at pobox.com> wrote:

> Hi Jeff,
> I’ve been trying (unsuccessfully, so far) to source the JAE interconnect
> plugs and do a small run of adaptors.  I’ve got a MiniDIN8 prototype which
> works with the Interconnect dongle, but I was hoping to eliminate the need
> for the dongle.
> Given I’ve been unable to get the Interconnect plugs as surplus, I
> considered getting a batch made.  But given there seems to be perhaps a
> market for about 50 such adaptors all up, the costs don’t work out.
> I’ve got 5 Interconnect plugs (plus an un-potted Interconnect adaptor)
> that Newton Inc sent me while they existed, but otherwise I guess a
> MiniDIN8 would be the next best thing?
> d
> > On 6 Feb 2017, at 05:14, Jeff Sheldon <jeffsheldon at gmail.com> wrote:
> >
> > I've had problems with the Prolific chipset in many applications. IMHO,
> it's a cheap product cloned the world over and the drivers aren't well
> maintained. FTDI is the way to go.
> >
> > Adriano is scrupulous. 11 years ago, he privately pushed me to provide
> details on adapters I was creating for the community to interface with iPod
> devices and a homebrew keyboard using the internal port. He even wanted me
> to store my progress on his personal storage space. When I resisted, he
> backed down and suggested I contact Daniel Padilla to help with the
> software side. After some back-and-forth, Daniel stopped responding. It
> seemed strange. Unexpectedly, Adriano and Daniel released new products
> based on the idea, though far less capable.  It watered down the idea and I
> shelved my Newton, then dropped off the list for some time, also hiving up
> on my 2100 PCB mapping project (for the sake of creating minimized designs).
> >
> > If the community needs a USB solution, what would be the preference?
> Internal card with port, Interconnect to USB end, or RS422 to USB? Seems
> like the last--which people are talking about here--is the easiest and
> cheapest solution. All three are doable, though those JAE ports are hard to
> find.
> >
> >
> > -Jeff
> >
> >> On Feb 5, 2017, at 06:47, Jake Bordens <jake at allaboutjake.com> wrote:
> >>
> >> I recently purchased a FDTI serial cable for use in Mac OS Sierra and
> it worked without drivers.. I had a prolific-chipset cable but the driver
> was causing my machine to crash, so I decided to get the FDTI since it was
> more compatible, and apparently did not need drivers (though I do a lot of
> tinkering so its possible I had a driver installed for another device.
> >>
> >> I find it suspicious that it doesn’t show up as a USB device with a
> PID/VID in the profiler… that would indicate that it isn’t even showing up
> on the USB bus.  However silly, maybe try a different USB cable, sometimes
> cheap USB cables are charge-only. I’ve gotten bitten by that before.
> >>
> >> Side note, I would like to acquire one of these “Adriano” dongles, if
> anyone has a stash of them and is willing to part with one. Would make
> development a little easier. My guess is that they are rare, and folks
> don’t want to part with them, and for that I’d understand.
> >>
> >>
> >>
> >>
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