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Psion Siena Connection Stuff [1/4/98]

Wednesday 1 April 1998, by Phi, 33946 Views

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Mail me any comments, suggestions, corrections etc, thanks. Forgive my bad english.

You can find this file at my current Web page : http://www.pacher.net.


  1. Foreword
  2. The Psion cables
  3. Rcom
  4. Siena/3a emulator
    1. Normal serial connection
    2. Infrared connection
  5. PsiWin 2
    1. Normal serial connection
    2. Infrared connection
  6. Pure Infrared Connection
  7. Canon BJC-80 infrared portable printer
  8. Siena Term It
  9. Files converters

1 Foreword

Hello people, the purpose of this page is mostly to list the different ways to
connect a Psion Siena to a computer to install new software or backup files. It
will list the different physical means of connection and link to the (mostly) free software
you can use for that.

As this is the first draft of the page, I’m sure there will be a lot of corrections
of errors or additions to do, just e-mail them to me, thanks.

2 The Psion cables

There are essentially two main Psion cables, the Psion parallel cable which allows you to
print to a printer (which I almost never use), and the serial cable which is very useful to
install new software and to backup data from your Psion. It’s fairly difficult to do without
the serial cable, the only way would be to use the infrared connection on your Siena or Series 3c
which is not very reliable yet (you can see examples of how to make an infrared connection on
this page). Note also that the Series 3a serial cable is not the same as the Siena/3c/Series 5 one,
it has extra circuitry in it.

As the Siena serial cable is fairly expensive, you can make it yourself or buy one without the
Psi Win 1.xx software included (the purpose of this page is mostly to list the free alternatives
to the serial cable and to the PsiWin package). I bought mine without the PsiWin package for 80 DM
(postage included) from Michael Baas of

3 Rcom

This is the old connection pack from Psion which can be used under Dos.
Rcom 1.16 is available
for free at Psion’s French Web site. A serial cable is needed to use Rcom.
To connect your Psion you have to do the following:

1> After you unpack the Rcom zip archive and install it, the files
needed for connection are in the DOS subdirectory of the RCOM directory. Go to
this directory (under DOS).
2> Just create a RCOM.INI file (ex: copy RCOMS3A.INI RCOM.INI) then edit
the file (ex: edit RCOM.INI) and add at the end of the file \"Physical=COMx\"
where x is the COM port number of your computer you plugged your serial cable
into (ex: Physical=COM1). Save the file, exit.
3> Launch RCOM (ex: rcom ). Plug the other end of the cable in your Psion and
enable serial communication in your Psion.
4> Now your Psion drives are referenced as REM:: (ex: dir REM::M:) and you
can copy files from your PC to the Psion using doslike commands
(ex: copy REM::M:AGNAGENDA.AGN .). Note that you can’t copy a file which is
still used by a Psion application, you have to close it first.

The rcom pack has some more advanced functionalities like printing from the
Psion to a printer attached to the Pc or running under Win 3.1. On my laptop,
the connection only work reliably if I disable power management. It’s useful
compared to large connection packs like PsiWin (14 megs compressed) because you
can put it easily on a floppy (around 250 Ko) to transfer files on a friends Pc
for example.

4 Siena/3a emulator

4.1 Normal Serial Connection

The emulators of the Siena and the
Series 3a are available on the Psion site, but are not supported by Psion. They only
work under plain dos (not in a dos box under Windows), but they can be useful for three main
uses, to try the Psion organisers before buying them, to be able to use your Psion data if your
Psion organiser is unavailable, and to transfer files from Pc to your Siena.

To transfer files, you have to do the following:

1> First you need to download the emulator and install it on
your Pc. You have to start the emulator under plain dos (ie shutdown and then start in
msdos only mode). As the Siena emulator access by default the M: drive, you should
create such a virtual M: drive on your system (under dos: \"subst M: C:SIENA\" for example,
substitution of the A: and B: drive are also recommended so that the emulator don’t access
A: and B: drive when starting).
2> Then you must have a Psion serial cable between your Pc and your organiser, and you
must enable serial communication on both your Psion and the Psion emulator. Note that if
on the PC your cable is not on the COM1 port you can specify the port on the \"Extra parameters\"
line of serial communication (ex: -p2 for COM2).
3> Now you can access remote directory and files by using the Psion browser (System screen then
Tab key). The remote files are designed as REM:: instead of LOC:: (press Tab key twice and change the
LOC:: to REM::).

4.2 Infrared Connection

If you have a laptop with an infrared port on COM1 port (or if
you can configure it to COM1) you can use it to connect with your Siena
or Series 3c. You have to do the following:

1> Enable your Infrared port on your laptop (this is done via your bios setup, or
via some utilities supplied by your laptop manufacturer) and set it to COM1.
2> Reboot your computer in dos mode and launch the Siena emulator.
Enable infrared communication.
3> Now using Ctrl+Alt+Shift+A or B you can simulate the IR send and receive keys
from your Siena.

5 PsiWin 2

5.1 Normal Serial Connection

PsiWin 2 is the new version of Psion’s communication package under Windows 95 with
the Series 5. It can work well with the Siena and the Series 3a/3c, but all the files
conversion features won’t work at all. In theory you could convert a Siena file to
Series 5 version and then to Word 95 but I never managed to do this with either the
French or the English version of PsiWin 2.01.

Still, the backup/restore and file browser (like a Windows 95 directory) works well
with the Siena/Series 3, and the advantage of
PsiWin 2 is that you can get it
for free on Psion site (shhh, not too loud lest Psion change their mind 8-)). You’ll need a Psion
serial cable to connect your Psion to the PC, and I found that on my desktop it only works when
automatic scanning is enabled.

There is previous version of PsiWin
working with Siena/Series 3 and doing file conversion under Windows 3.1 or Windows 95 as well as a
Mac version of PsiWin, but they are
not free and you can purchase them with the serial cable or as a standalone product.

5.2 Infrared Connection

If you have a laptop with an integrated infrared port, you can use it to connect
under PsiWin with your Siena or Series 3c organiser. You just have to follow
these steps:

1> Enable your Infrared port on your laptop (this is done via your bios setup,
or via some utilities supplied by your laptop manufacturer). Turn off
your computer, turn it on and make sure Windows 95 detects the new com port
(at least as a com port).
2> Download PsiWin 2 and install it, in \"Connections Options\" in \"Properties\" choose at
least the new physical com port.
3> On your Siena enable the serial communications and in the line \"Extra parameters\"
add the following \"-sTTY:I\". That makes the Siena use Infrared for serial connection.
4> Try to connect from Psi Win 2. It mostly only works the third or fourth try but once
the link up it is reliable.
5> Note that it didn’t work on my laptop when I enabled at the same time the IR drivers
from Windows 95 (disable it in the infrared control panel). Sometimes you have to restart
PsiWin too. It seems to work better on my setup with automatic searching on all ports
enabled, sometimes after moving my Siena slighty at a right angle (looks like black
magic to me 8-)).

If it works on your setup, you can do without the costly serial cable.

6 Pure Infrared Connection

Jim Pollock has written a number of applications that communicate directly with the
infrared port of the Siena provided you have a computer with an infrared device. All
the basic copy and backup functions can be done with his shareware apps. Some demos
version are available but are somewhat crippled (2ko file limit), just check
Jim Pollock’s Web Page
for more information.

7 Canon BJC-80 infrared portable printer

I’ve just bought a new Canon BJC-80 portable printer. You can read a mini-review of
it on my Laptops Mini-Reviews Web page. This printer
has an infrared port and I was wondering if it was possible to use it with my Siena
infrared port.

The answer is yes. Just download the Siena IR printers drivers from Psion site
and install them. Then select in printer configuration \"Epson LQ\" model and Infrared connection
and that’s it (it didn’t work with \"BJ-30\" driver, don’t know why).

If you want a better configuration you can:

1> Download the optimised BJ-30 LQ drivers
from Mark A.V. Chapman and install
them on your Siena.
2> Install bjsetup (supplied with your Bjc-80 printer) on your PC, run it. Configure the printer
to use \"Mode LQ\" (Epson) emulation, and in advanced settings make sure it use the \"USA\" International
charset, Page Code \"437\".
3> Choose \"BJ-30 (LQ)\" instead of \"Epson LQ\" on the Siena.

The Bjc-80 is a great printer for the Siena; it’s the only portable printer with integrated
infrared and so doesn’t need the costly parallel cable to work with it.

8 Siena Term It

SnTermIt is a freeware program
which emulates a VT100 terminal which can for example connect to a BBS via a modem (or to an Unix shell
account so you can after read your mail and browse the Web with Lynx). It works well, the only trick is
to connect the modem to your serial cable you can need up to three adaptors. Basically you need a null modem
adaptor (as the Psion cable is a null-modem cable you have to de-nullify it with such an adaptor), and the
adaptors to connect the end of the Psion serial cable to the connector of your modem.

9 Files Converters

Rich Text Format

The Rtf converter pack
allows the Word application on your Psion to save and load files in the RTF format (which keeps
track of stuff like bold or underline and is a fairly widespread). For the database
application, the integrated CSV format is often enough as well as the Lotus format of the
Spreadsheet application.

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