Portable terminals

Frank McConnell fmc at reanimators.org
Wed Sep 12 19:22:50 CDT 2018

On Sep 10, 2018, at 12:18, Al Kossow wrote:
> As sad as it sounds, I'm thinking now it may make sense to gut the electronics and just use the case, lcd
> and kb to make a dumb terminal. At least then you don't have to screw around with serial dongles.

This makes me wonder how much serial dongle you’re willing to screw around with.

2001’s Toshiba laptop with Windows Me (Harder) came with no serial ports except the USB kind (in spite of the specifications given on the seller’s web page).  It did have two PCMCIA slots in which I installed PCMCIA serial cards.  Yes, two, I sometimes used it as a pass-through monitor for SLIP/PPP traffic.

I like the HP 200LX for portable serial terminal purposes, and have never stretched the built-in Datacomm app’s VT100 emulation to the point of noticing incorrect emulation.  But it meant having to carry at least the peculiar cable that brought its port out to DE9S (suitable for connection to PC/AT serial port), and probably a couple DE9P-to-DB25 adapters (for “printer” and “modem”), and maybe a breakout box too.

I liked the 100LX too.  Similar hardware and software.  I cannot recall any improvements to the Datacomm app in the 200LX.

The 95LX has two problems.  It’s basically a three-wire serial interface with no hardware flow control.  And it is designed to run on battery power, and it shows sometimes.  I had trouble getting it to work with a Telebit Qblazer (also battery-powered) until I got out the soldering iron and made up a single adapter to go between the two instead of a chain or two or three adapters.  One side or the other or maybe both just didn’t have enough oomph to punch through all those connectors.

-Frank McConnell

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