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Overview of technical details known about the MailStation 120?

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  • jondkirwan
    I picked up a couple of MailStation 120 s when they were $9/each, a while back (three years or more?) Sitting on a shelf, so far. I m interested in using the
    Message 1 of 15 , Oct 3, 2009
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      I picked up a couple of MailStation 120's when they were $9/each, a while back (three years or more?) Sitting on a shelf, so far. I'm interested in using the LCD display, keyboard, power system (battery or wall wart) and case, of course, as part of a new homebrew device that will use a new CPU (desolder the old one, replace it.)

      I didn't even know this group existed, until today. Certainly sounds like a start was made here, though there hasn't been much traffic in about a year, now. I just looked over some of the documentation and did find something on the LCD (in .DOC form) here. (Probably applies to the 120, but I'm not sure yet.) A 320x128 graphics LCD is fine for my use, if that's what it is.

      What I'm looking for is the more accurate information on schematics, processor pinout and mother board signal assignments to it, etc., that might relate or help in working out a daughterboard I can use to replace the CPU unit, together with functional pin descriptions so that I can make reasoned assignments for the new drop-in CPU. I don't need to know what the old CPU actually was, unless it relates to adapting a new one. I just need to know the Vcc supply voltage and current compliance and any special considerations other than that.

      My board apparently uses a Conexant RC224ATL modem/fax chip inside, but for now I don't plan on using it much. I may, later on, want to use it in conjunction with PCI modem boards I still own for PC desktop computers. But not for now. I may instead set up a USB based custom adapter that attaches to the printer port for PC communications. Assuming there is enough information available at this point to do much, at all. If not, I've got enough work ahead that it will have to wait for Christmas time.

      I am decidedly NOT interested in just adapting this for dialup access to existing services, using the existing software on the unit. That is of no interest, at all. I'll do the O/S and application software for it.

      Can anyone give me a boost up on this? Or has very little really been worked out for these, as yet?

      Sorry to disturb the lull, but I'm kind of curious about the possibilities and hopeful that there may be others who can help me skip over some difficulties and who may also be interested in results I gather over time. If it's all dead now, that's fine. I'll just take my time and see where it takes me.

      Thanks very much to all,
      Jon
    • cyranojones_lalp
      ... If you mean when Officemax blew them out, that was about 4.5 years ago now. Wow, time flies, huh? :-) ... That doc is kinda old now, it has not been
      Message 2 of 15 , Oct 4, 2009
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        --- In mailstation@yahoogroups.com, "jondkirwan" <jonk@...> wrote:
        >
        > I picked up a couple of MailStation 120's when they were $9/each,
        > a while back (three years or more?)

        If you mean when Officemax blew them out, that was about
        4.5 years ago now. Wow, time flies, huh? :-)

        > I just looked over some of the documentation and did
        > find something on the LCD (in .DOC form) here.
        > (Probably applies to the 120, but I'm not sure yet.)

        That doc is kinda old now, it has not been updated
        regarding the LCD in the "new 120" & "new 150".
        The original 120 was in a purple case, and has LCD
        as described in that doc. The "new 120" is in a dark
        grey case and has a different LCD.

        > What I'm looking for is the more accurate information on
        > schematics, processor pinout and mother board signal

        Did you see
        http://tech.groups.yahoo.com/group/mailstation/files/part files/RSDRD_3SI176_0A.txt

        (There is supposed to be a space in "part files", in case
        yahoo mangles the url and you need to paste it back together.)

        > I just need to know the Vcc supply voltage and current
        > compliance and any special considerations other than that.

        As far as I remember, it is 5 volt. I dunno about current,
        "low" is my guess. :-)

        > My board apparently uses a Conexant RC224ATL modem/fax chip

        I think that is the modem in the "new 120", and only
        2400 baud, versus 33k in the "older" models.

        > Can anyone give me a boost up on this? Or has very little
        > really been worked out for these, as yet?

        I'd say quite a bit has been worked out, as far as documenting
        the hardware (and software). It's the "new development"
        department that is kinda lacking! :-) :-)

        > Sorry to disturb the lull

        I've been meaning to create a new account, and try to post, 'coz
        I was getting pretty sure the group was broked! Now I
        don't have to! Thanks!!!

        CJ
      • Jon Kirwan
        ... Yeah. I had picked up two on the off-chance that I might someday want to modify them for some other use. In no way, at the time, did I want them for what
        Message 3 of 15 , Oct 4, 2009
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          On Sun, 04 Oct 2009 12:36:29 -0000, CJ wrote:

          >--- In mailstation@yahoogroups.com, "jondkirwan" <jonk@...> wrote:
          >>
          >> I picked up a couple of MailStation 120's when they were $9/each,
          >> a while back (three years or more?)
          >
          >If you mean when Officemax blew them out, that was about
          >4.5 years ago now. Wow, time flies, huh? :-)

          Yeah. I had picked up two on the off-chance that I might someday want
          to modify them for some other use. In no way, at the time, did I want
          them for what they were designed for. What appealed to me about them
          was the case, battery section, keyboard, display, and D25 connector in
          the back. It's all there, convenient. Also, I might have considered
          scavaging the power supply circuits. Mainly, I knew up front I wanted
          to replace the CPU with something having a fair bit of flash and some
          ram, yet capable of very low power operation (tens of microamps for
          average duty.)

          >> I just looked over some of the documentation and did
          >> find something on the LCD (in .DOC form) here.
          >> (Probably applies to the 120, but I'm not sure yet.)
          >
          >That doc is kinda old now, it has not been updated
          >regarding the LCD in the "new 120" & "new 150".
          >The original 120 was in a purple case, and has LCD
          >as described in that doc. The "new 120" is in a dark
          >grey case and has a different LCD.

          Looks like you got my two nailed. Thanks for the clue.

          >> What I'm looking for is the more accurate information on
          >> schematics, processor pinout and mother board signal
          >
          >Did you see
          >http://tech.groups.yahoo.com/group/mailstation/files/part files/RSDRD_3SI176_0A.txt

          Yes, I hit on that one a few hours ago. It wasn't clear whether it
          applied in my case.

          >(There is supposed to be a space in "part files", in case
          >yahoo mangles the url and you need to paste it back together.)
          >
          >> I just need to know the Vcc supply voltage and current
          >> compliance and any special considerations other than that.
          >
          >As far as I remember, it is 5 volt. I dunno about current,
          >"low" is my guess. :-)

          I'd guess low, too.

          >> My board apparently uses a Conexant RC224ATL modem/fax chip
          >
          >I think that is the modem in the "new 120", and only
          >2400 baud, versus 33k in the "older" models.

          Yes, it's 2400 limited. So the earlier ones used the trellis style
          modems. Nice. I designed a 2400 bps, years (nah, decades) ago. Never
          tried my hand at the fancy trellis stuff, though.

          >> Can anyone give me a boost up on this? Or has very little
          >> really been worked out for these, as yet?
          >
          >I'd say quite a bit has been worked out, as far as documenting
          >the hardware (and software). It's the "new development"
          >department that is kinda lacking! :-) :-)

          Nothing new happening?

          I'd like to get complete specs on the various peripheral components
          that exist surrounding the micro. I'd like to get the datasheet on
          the micro, itself, so that I can see what internal peripheral support
          it has and how it is attached to the rest. I'd like to get the
          protocols used for the LCD (does it have it's own controllers? if so,
          which? if not, what are the details for the LCD in terms of timing
          diagrams and the like?) Etc.

          Here's what I want eventually to do. I've two things in mind (one is
          a BASIC interpreter and using the printer port for an I/O bus for
          extender boards.) Both depend on getting a decent, modern development
          setup for it, though. So for now, the main thing is to design a
          daughter board to replace the existing cpu. Or else get some
          convincing evidence that I should just keep it there.

          It might be smarter for me to first use SDCC with the existing system
          until I gain enough experience with it. But right now, I'm not sure
          how to proceed there. I gather already that the CPU core is Z80-like,
          but that doesn't tell me a great deal by itself. (I used to do a lot
          of 8080 and 8085 programming before the Z80 even existed and got my
          hands on Z80 assembly work with the TRS-80, memory serving.) I have
          SDCC loaded, already, and integrated into the SiLabs IDE for
          compilation, right now. I can use it with a DOS box, though. Anyway,
          how does compiled output (hex files, perhaps?) get burned into the
          system? Is there a mechanism that's been worked out and works well?
          What hardware tools are involved in that? Etc.

          If I do this way first, it will allow me a 'slow ramp' into
          understanding the hardware details more intimately, before deciding if
          I should jump off the cliff and place another CPU in there. An
          extremely low power one would be the MSP430 (has extremely good start
          up from sleep times) or some of the newer PICs or even the SiLab parts
          (one I'm using now is about the only thing going for a decent 1MHz
          16-bit SAR ADC no matter what family you want to talk about.) Atmel
          has some interesting parts, as well. And there are many, many ARM
          choices -- though most suck a little too much power for my taste. I
          like things under 2mA on the CPU when it is running full out and under
          10uA with a decent timer or two plus brown-out and a comparator
          running. So that drops ARMs out, mostly. But I love the parts
          because of the great compiler support from gcc.

          Anyway, I started to read today. I suppose I can slog through on my
          own, if you assure me a lot is out there to read. But if you can
          point me faster, I'd sure appreciate that a lot. The faster I figure
          out the barriers, the faster I can get going.

          Also, do you know where one can pick up more of these new 120's? Or
          new 150's? Cheap! I picked up two at $5 and I just found another I
          can get at the same price, still in the box. But if I do this, I
          might want to make 100 or so. (School stuff, teaching tool of sorts.)
          Since I'd give them away, they need to be cheap. If you know of any
          nice stockpile of them that hasn't been ground into powder already and
          where the owner might consider getting at least 'something' rather
          than having to pay for garbage disposal to get back the shelf space,
          I'd like to know about it.

          Thanks for the quick response!

          Jon

          >> Sorry to disturb the lull
          >
          >I've been meaning to create a new account, and try to post, 'coz
          >I was getting pretty sure the group was broked! Now I
          >don't have to! Thanks!!!
        • Donald H
          ... Hi Jon, Great to see new blood on this project. Replacing a 100 LQFP processor is not for the faint of heart. Unless you are going to build a 100 LQFP
          Message 4 of 15 , Oct 4, 2009
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            --- In mailstation@yahoogroups.com, "jondkirwan" <jonk@...> wrote:
            >
            > I picked up a couple of MailStation 120's when they were $9/each, a while back (three years or more?) Sitting on a shelf, so far. I'm interested in using the LCD display, keyboard, power system (battery or wall wart) and case, of course, as part of a new homebrew device that will use a new CPU (desolder the old one, replace it.)
            >
            > I didn't even know this group existed, until today. Certainly sounds like a start was made here, though there hasn't been much traffic in about a year, now. I just looked over some of the documentation and did find something on the LCD (in .DOC form) here. (Probably applies to the 120, but I'm not sure yet.) A 320x128 graphics LCD is fine for my use, if that's what it is.
            >
            > What I'm looking for is the more accurate information on schematics, processor pinout and mother board signal assignments to it, etc., that might relate or help in working out a daughterboard I can use to replace the CPU unit, together with functional pin descriptions so that I can make reasoned assignments for the new drop-in CPU. I don't need to know what the old CPU actually was, unless it relates to adapting a new one. I just need to know the Vcc supply voltage and current compliance and any special considerations other than that.
            >
            > My board apparently uses a Conexant RC224ATL modem/fax chip inside, but for now I don't plan on using it much. I may, later on, want to use it in conjunction with PCI modem boards I still own for PC desktop computers. But not for now. I may instead set up a USB based custom adapter that attaches to the printer port for PC communications. Assuming there is enough information available at this point to do much, at all. If not, I've got enough work ahead that it will have to wait for Christmas time.
            >
            > I am decidedly NOT interested in just adapting this for dialup access to existing services, using the existing software on the unit. That is of no interest, at all. I'll do the O/S and application software for it.
            >
            > Can anyone give me a boost up on this? Or has very little really been worked out for these, as yet?
            >
            > Sorry to disturb the lull, but I'm kind of curious about the possibilities and hopeful that there may be others who can help me skip over some difficulties and who may also be interested in results I gather over time. If it's all dead now, that's fine. I'll just take my time and see where it takes me.
            >
            > Thanks very much to all,
            > Jon
            >


            Hi Jon,

            Great to see new blood on this project.

            Replacing a 100 LQFP processor is not for the faint of heart.
            Unless you are going to build a 100 LQFP adaptor, this will be very difficult.

            good luck,

            many will be watching.

            don
          • Neil Morrison
            The general view is that it is much easier and rewarding to flash it into what you want. That s certainly how I feel - it could replace the Radio Shack Model
            Message 5 of 15 , Oct 4, 2009
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              The general view is that it is much easier and rewarding to flash it
              into what you want. That's certainly how I feel - it could replace the
              Radio Shack Model 100 computer.

              Neil

              On Sat, Oct 3, 2009 at 11:48 PM, jondkirwan <jonk@...> wrote:

              > I picked up a couple of MailStation 120's when they were $9/each, a while back (three years or more?) Sitting on a shelf, so far. I'm interested in using the LCD display, keyboard, power system (battery or wall wart) and case, of course, as part of a new homebrew device that will use a new CPU (desolder the old one, replace it.)
            • Jon Kirwan
              ... 100 pins isn t that scary. It would be the spacing that might bother me more. If it were a BGA, that would be a problem, and I d definitely have to hire
              Message 6 of 15 , Oct 4, 2009
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                On Sun, 04 Oct 2009 16:16:55 -0000, you wrote:

                >Hi Jon,
                >
                >Great to see new blood on this project.
                >
                >Replacing a 100 LQFP processor is not for the faint of heart.

                100 pins isn't that scary. It would be the spacing that might bother
                me more. If it were a BGA, that would be a problem, and I'd
                definitely have to hire it out. But it's not.

                100 pins, eh?

                >Unless you are going to build a 100 LQFP adaptor, this will be very difficult.

                I was thinking about having a small board built for the purpose that
                would align with the existing footprint.

                Of course, I'm also interested in just learning the board peripherals,
                first. It's probably smarter to start there. May turn out that I'm
                fine with that, alone.

                Thanks,
                Jon
              • Jon Kirwan
                ... That sounds like a sane approach. As I earlier wrote, It might be smarter for me to first use SDCC with the existing system until I gain enough
                Message 7 of 15 , Oct 4, 2009
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                  On Sun, 4 Oct 2009 10:15:03 -0700, Neil wrote:

                  >The general view is that it is much easier and rewarding to flash it
                  >into what you want. That's certainly how I feel - it could replace the
                  >Radio Shack Model 100 computer.

                  That sounds like a sane approach. As I earlier wrote, "It might be
                  smarter for me to first use SDCC with the existing system until I gain
                  enough experience with it." So I guess that's your advice, too.

                  Thanks. And thanks, all.
                  Jon

                  P.S. Still looking for responses on some of the other questions I
                  asked.
                • cyranojones_lalp
                  ... Which are they? ... Yes. ... Someone was working on getting CP/M going, but as you noted, there has been no traffic on list in last year. And it s been
                  Message 8 of 15 , Oct 5, 2009
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                    --- In mailstation@yahoogroups.com, Jon Kirwan <jonk@...> wrote:

                    > Looks like you got my two nailed. Thanks for the clue.

                    Which are they?

                    > >http://tech.groups.yahoo.com/group/mailstation/files/part%20files/RSDRD_3SI176_0A.txt
                    >
                    > Yes, I hit on that one a few hours ago. It wasn't clear whether it
                    > applied in my case.

                    Yes.

                    > Nothing new happening?

                    Someone was working on getting CP/M going, but as you noted,
                    there has been no traffic on list in last year.

                    And it's been over a year since I did anything on this project.

                    I was working up a c header to use the mailstation rom
                    functions that I had figured out (and I figured out
                    quite a bit, if I do say so myself!) :-)

                    It's in file section, under "Mailstation Toolkit".

                    I have some stuff I didn't upload, in particular a
                    perl script I was working on, to convert resource strings
                    & graphics into format that works with the mailstation
                    lib functions. You just link the resource data with
                    your c code, using sdcc.

                    And I was working on a makefile to compile mailstation
                    apps with sdcc.

                    > I'd like to get complete specs on the various
                    > peripheral components
                    > ...

                    I am pretty sure that everything known about the hardware is
                    in the file area, in particular the "part files" folder.

                    Also, there is a list of known models in the group's database
                    section, where some of the differences are documented.

                    There are manufacturer datasheets for representative codeflash,
                    dataflash, and ram chips, and a few on some of the modems.
                    There are notes on the cpu, lcd, and keyboard, where we never
                    found actual datasheets. AFAICT, they are good enough, and
                    not having actual datasheets is not holding anything back.

                    I suppose the main thing lacking is data on the blue LCD.

                    The mailstation models are all quite similar (except 350).
                    The differences I can think of off hand are:
                    Various manufacturers of memory chips.
                    Ergonomic models have a slightly different keyboard matrix.
                    120 & 150 both were made with two kinds of LCD.
                    Caller ID chip only in white/cream colored units.
                    Various modem chips (diff speeds)
                    250 has cordless phone chipset.
                    Probably at least 20 different firmware versions.

                    The similarities (except 350, and diff noted above):
                    One Megabyte codeflash.
                    512 KByte dataflash.
                    128 KByte ram.
                    All have same cpu (z80 inst set).
                    Port & Memory Maps are all the same.
                    320 x 128 monochrome LCD (but 2 diff types exist).
                    Parallel port.

                    I'm just going from memory, and it has been a few years.
                    Perhaps I remember it wrong in some cases???

                    > Here's what I want eventually to do. I've two things in mind (one is
                    > a BASIC interpreter and using the printer port for an I/O bus for
                    > extender boards.) Both depend on getting a decent, modern development
                    > setup for it, though. So for now, the main thing is to design a
                    > daughter board to replace the existing cpu. Or else get some
                    > convincing evidence that I should just keep it there.

                    My feeling is that it would be quite hard to replace the cpu,
                    and if you did, you would have a powerful cpu with a tiny monochrome
                    LCD (not even grayscale). Perhaps you could program the ms as a
                    terminal for more powerful processor? Bear in mind what you
                    can buy a netbook, or used notebook for.

                    By the way, the cpu is 128 pins, and small enough to hide under a dime.
                    I can't think of an easy (and good, and cheap) way to connect a
                    sub-board. But you could put new cpu inside case, and still connect
                    it as a terminal (fewer wires).

                    > It might be smarter for me to first use SDCC with the existing system
                    > until I gain enough experience with it. But right now, I'm not sure
                    > how to proceed there. I gather already that the CPU core is Z80-like,
                    > but that doesn't tell me a great deal by itself. (I used to do a lot
                    > of 8080 and 8085 programming before the Z80 even existed and got my
                    > hands on Z80 assembly work with the TRS-80, memory serving.) I have
                    > SDCC loaded, already, and integrated into the SiLabs IDE for
                    > compilation, right now. I can use it with a DOS box, though. Anyway,
                    > how does compiled output (hex files, perhaps?) get burned into the
                    > system? Is there a mechanism that's been worked out and works well?
                    > What hardware tools are involved in that? Etc.

                    The most recent method I used involved poking a few bytes into
                    dataflash with ms built-in hex-editor, and loading a larger
                    block of code into the ms splash-screen file with "mailbug", a
                    debugger for ms that I wrote (in file section). The code entered
                    via hex-editor is in location ms uses for "loadable apps", and
                    when you run that short "app", it jumps to the larger block in the
                    splash-screen area of the dataflash.

                    I'm a little fuzzy on exactly the steps, but I used the code in
                    splash-screen to load another app into the app area of the
                    dataflash. This one shows up with an icon in the ms menu,
                    and it interfaces with mailbug to load other apps.
                    Since it is in dataflash, it is persistent (I didn't
                    have to go thru this whole procedure every time I loaded
                    a new program.)

                    So, then I could click on this "bootloader" icon in ms menu,
                    and then load hex files over a laplink cable, using
                    mailbug on the PC end.

                    I didn't write a bootloader to load directly to dataflash.
                    I was loading apps into ms ram with mailbug, executing them,
                    then a small piece of code included in app copied the app
                    from ram to another empty app slot in dataflash. Whew!
                    But it worked!!! :-)

                    Oh yeah, I executed at a special entrypoint to run the
                    "install" code, which would call ms firmware to copy the
                    ram image to the dataflash. After it had been copied
                    to dataflash, when running the loaded app from the ms menu,
                    app would start from the normal entrypoint (iow, the first byte).

                    Earlier methods involved overwriting the codeflash with
                    similar bootloader, but that killed the ms for normal
                    operation as a mailstation.

                    The process is documented somewhere in file section, or
                    possibly in a message post (almost 2 yrs ago, aprrox).
                    I'll see if I can find it, if I ever finish reading/responding
                    to this message. ;-)

                    One thing on my todo list (that I did not do yet) was to make
                    a simpler command-line loader that could run from the
                    makefile, when you did "make program", so I could compile
                    and load from ide, without needing separate mailbug prog.

                    When I was working under windows, I used the winavr IDE.
                    Lately I am using Ubuntu, where at first I used
                    "gedit" as IDE, but recently I found "geany" which I
                    really like. It is somewhat similar to winavr's
                    "programmers notepad", in that it is based on same
                    editor engine. But it seems like a more polished
                    program, with more features (better find command,
                    for one).

                    > If I do this way first, it will allow me a 'slow ramp' into
                    > understanding the hardware details more intimately, before deciding if
                    > I should jump off the cliff and place another CPU in there. An
                    > extremely low power one would be the MSP430 (has extremely good start
                    > up from sleep times) or some of the newer PICs or even the SiLab parts
                    > (one I'm using now is about the only thing going for a decent 1MHz
                    > 16-bit SAR ADC no matter what family you want to talk about.) Atmel
                    > has some interesting parts, as well. And there are many, many ARM
                    > choices -- though most suck a little too much power for my taste. I
                    > like things under 2mA on the CPU when it is running full out and
                    > under
                    > 10uA with a decent timer or two plus brown-out and a comparator
                    > running. So that drops ARMs out, mostly. But I love the parts
                    > because of the great compiler support from gcc.

                    Perhaps the reason the ARM sucks up more power running full speed
                    is because full speed on ARM is a lot faster than the others???

                    I don't know much about MSP430 other than it is a popular choice.
                    I like AVRs, mostly because I am comfortable with avr-gcc.
                    I have an itch to learn more about ARM, but so far have not
                    used any of them. PICs are popular, but I can't figure out
                    just why. I have been avoiding PICs, and intend to continue
                    avoiding.

                    > Anyway, I started to read today. I suppose I can slog through on my
                    > own, if you assure me a lot is out there to read. But if you can
                    > point me faster, I'd sure appreciate that a lot. The faster I figure
                    > out the barriers, the faster I can get going.

                    Gosh, I can't assure you there's "a lot". My feeling is there is
                    a lot of crud to wade through! And by "crud", I mean a lot of
                    yammering about using the mailstation for email. ;^)

                    If you notice any outright spam still there, jot down the msg#.
                    The file sections I mentioned probably have higher signal-to-noise
                    ratio than most of the message archive.
                    There probably is some code in the message archive that is not
                    in the files, but whether it is important, I dunno.

                    I don't think fyberoptic put his stuff in yahoo group files, so
                    you might look for his url. Or google [fyberoptic mailstation].
                    His stuff was oriented towards running code from ram, more like a
                    desktop computer (and without ms code), while my stuff was aimed
                    at running from flash, like an embedded-system (and running
                    under mailstations "OS").

                    > Also, do you know where one can pick up more of these new 120's? Or
                    > new 150's? Cheap! I picked up two at $5 and I just found another I
                    > can get at the same price, still in the box.

                    That's the best deal I've heard of. They are on ebay regularly, but
                    usually at least $10 with shipping. I imagine you could get several
                    per week for under $20. But not for $5, and not 100 at a time.

                    > But if I do this, I
                    > might want to make 100 or so. (School stuff, teaching tool of sorts.)
                    > Since I'd give them away, they need to be cheap. If you know of any
                    > nice stockpile of them that hasn't been ground into powder already and
                    > where the owner might consider getting at least 'something' rather
                    > than having to pay for garbage disposal to get back the shelf space,
                    > I'd like to know about it.

                    I have a closet full, but I am not looking to dump them. My
                    girlfriend likes to tease me about them... Hey!!! You're not
                    really her playing a joke, are you??? :-)

                    > Thanks for the quick response!

                    No problem.

                    I set the group to "new users moderated" several months ago,
                    and you are the first (besides a couple spammers) to post
                    under that setting. I thought it was supposed to automatically
                    turn moderation off when first post was approved, but for
                    some reason your messages this morning (uh, yesterday morn now)
                    still went into mod folder. I'll see if I can change it
                    manually if any more go there.

                    CJ
                  • Neil Morrison
                    From my point of view, two things would be ideal: 1) Some sort of set up where an email could be sent to the MS which would unlock any model from EarthLink
                    Message 9 of 15 , Oct 5, 2009
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                      From my point of view, two things would be ideal:

                      1) Some sort of set up where an email could be sent to the MS which
                      would 'unlock' any model from EarthLink and let you use any dial up
                      ISP.

                      2) A hardware system which would let you flash the ROM to add or alter
                      functionality and make any model much more useful.

                      My concern now, having been through this before, is that EarthLink
                      will junk all of the documentation etc for these and it will be lost
                      forever. They still do support these but for how much longer?

                      http://kb.earthlink.net/case.asp?article=10041

                      Neil

                      On Mon, Oct 5, 2009 at 6:26 AM, cyranojones_lalp
                      <cyranojones_lalp@...> wrote:
                      >
                      > > Nothing new happening?
                      >
                      > Someone was working on getting CP/M going, but as you noted,
                      > there has been no traffic on list in last year.
                      >
                      > And it's been over a year since I did anything on this project.
                    • Jon Kirwan
                      ... That already exists for my model, the new 120. I used some instructions I found and they worked perfectly on my unit. (Well, to be honest, I dropped my
                      Message 10 of 15 , Oct 5, 2009
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                        On Mon, 5 Oct 2009 10:02:08 -0700, you wrote:

                        >From my point of view, two things would be ideal:
                        >
                        >1) Some sort of set up where an email could be sent to the MS which
                        >would 'unlock' any model from EarthLink and let you use any dial up
                        >ISP.

                        That already exists for my model, the 'new' 120. I used some
                        instructions I found and they worked perfectly on my unit. (Well, to
                        be honest, I dropped my dial-up service back in 2005 and don't now
                        have a site where I can test it, but all the fields are available for
                        editing on my unit right now. So it does appear I can set things up.)
                        I had to follow some 'wierd' instructions that forced me to flip out
                        my batteries at an exact moment, but it worked great to reset the
                        device and get it into a totally new boot mode.

                        >2) A hardware system which would let you flash the ROM to add or alter
                        >functionality and make any model much more useful.

                        Yes. That's something I would expect as a first step. I take it,
                        that hasn't been done, yet.

                        >My concern now, having been through this before, is that EarthLink
                        >will junk all of the documentation etc for these and it will be lost
                        >forever. They still do support these but for how much longer?
                        >
                        >http://kb.earthlink.net/case.asp?article=10041

                        I'm not much interested in using these with Earthlink or any other
                        dial-up service. Too much pain/cost there. Dialup is likely to go
                        away, completely, anyway. It costs a lot to maintain the phone banks,
                        modems, etc., and people are moving towards cell phones as their
                        primary phone service, as well. How many more years it will last, I
                        don't know. But there is a lot of financial pressure, I bet, to dump
                        it entirely.

                        I would like to support a USB connection to the computer for file
                        exchange (make it appear like a FAT-file memory stick to the PC.) And
                        set up a bootstrap that would allow me to specify boot parameters for
                        loading specific files from the flash file system on startup.
                        Something akin to the CONFIG.SYS and AUTOEXEC.BAT of DOS days, I
                        suppose. That would be convenient enough that anyone could use it.
                        The other option, as you mention, is hardware for flashing directly.
                        Start there, work towards the USB solution, I suppose.

                        So nothing much has been done along these lines, I gather.

                        Jon
                      • Donald H
                        ... Hi Jon, The Mail Station is just a toy that has been fun, but now is obsoleted by 32 bit Wireless devices. The amount of work is not really a problem. Its
                        Message 11 of 15 , Oct 5, 2009
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                          >
                          > So nothing much has been done along these lines, I gather.
                          >
                          > Jon
                          >

                          Hi Jon,

                          The Mail Station is just a toy that has been fun, but now is obsoleted by 32 bit Wireless devices.

                          The amount of work is not really a problem.

                          Its the amount of return.

                          I have looked at replacing the main board with something else.

                          I measured out the main board in one of my wrecked machines to use the LCD, keyboard and power supply connections.

                          I figured it would cost about $200-400 just to get something running.

                          For less than $100 I got a ZipIt wireless device.
                          That killed the Mail Station for me.
                          http://tech.groups.yahoo.com/group/zipitwireless/

                          So, I am sorry if I spoiled your fun.

                          don
                        • Jon Kirwan
                          ... Actually, that s a great reference and not a problem, at all. I m glad you mentioned it. I still would like to play around with the 120 some more (and I
                          Message 12 of 15 , Oct 5, 2009
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                            On Tue, 06 Oct 2009 01:29:04 -0000, you wrote:

                            >> So nothing much has been done along these lines, I gather.
                            >>
                            >> Jon
                            >
                            >Hi Jon,
                            >
                            >The Mail Station is just a toy that has been fun, but now is obsoleted by 32 bit Wireless devices.
                            >
                            >The amount of work is not really a problem.
                            >
                            >Its the amount of return.
                            >
                            >I have looked at replacing the main board with something else.
                            >
                            >I measured out the main board in one of my wrecked machines to use the LCD, keyboard and power supply connections.
                            >
                            >I figured it would cost about $200-400 just to get something running.
                            >
                            >For less than $100 I got a ZipIt wireless device.
                            >That killed the Mail Station for me.
                            >http://tech.groups.yahoo.com/group/zipitwireless/
                            >
                            >So, I am sorry if I spoiled your fun.
                            >
                            >don

                            Actually, that's a great reference and not a problem, at all. I'm
                            glad you mentioned it.

                            I still would like to play around with the 120 some more (and I will,
                            I think, if I can get sufficiently educated to do something sensible
                            with it.)

                            Thanks,
                            Jon
                          • Jon Kirwan
                            ... Oh, my. A full-sized keyboard is pretty much a requirement in my case. Are these as tiny as they look?? And they seem to use backlit color screens,
                            Message 13 of 15 , Oct 5, 2009
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                              On Tue, 06 Oct 2009 01:29:04 -0000, you wrote:

                              ><snip>
                              >For less than $100 I got a ZipIt wireless device.
                              >That killed the Mail Station for me.
                              ><snip>

                              Oh, my. A full-sized keyboard is pretty much a requirement in my
                              case. Are these as tiny as they look?? And they seem to use backlit
                              color screens, nowadays. Power consumption is probably off the charts
                              for me. Interesting, though.

                              Jon
                            • Neil Morrison
                              Can you type a novel on a ZipIt for 20 hours while flying over the Pacific? With a pocket full of AA cells you re good to go with a modified Mailstation. Neil
                              Message 14 of 15 , Oct 6, 2009
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                                Can you type a novel on a ZipIt for 20 hours while flying over the Pacific? With a pocket full of AA cells you're good to go with a modified Mailstation.

                                Neil
                                 


                                From: Donald H

                                Hi Jon,

                                The Mail Station is just a toy that has been fun, but now is obsoleted by 32 bit Wireless devices.

                                The amount of work is not really a problem.

                                Its the amount of return.

                                I have looked at replacing the main board with something else.

                                I measured out the main board in one of my wrecked machines to use the LCD, keyboard and power supply connections.

                                I figured it would cost about $200-400 just to get something running.

                                For less than $100 I got a ZipIt wireless device.
                                That killed the Mail Station for me.
                                http://tech.groups.yahoo.com/group/zipitwireless/

                                So, I am sorry if I spoiled your fun.

                                don
                              • Donald H
                                ... You are correct, I wanted a email machine. You need a novel keeper. don
                                Message 15 of 15 , Oct 6, 2009
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                                  --- In mailstation@yahoogroups.com, "Neil Morrison" <neilsmorr@...> wrote:
                                  >
                                  > Can you type a novel on a ZipIt for 20 hours while flying over the Pacific? With a pocket full of AA cells you're good to go with a modified Mailstation.

                                  You are correct, I wanted a email machine.

                                  You need a novel keeper.


                                  don
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