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Inexpensive Modem for the HP 95LX

Inexpensive Modem for the HP 95LX

A couple of months ago, when I was visiting my local CompuAdd store, I saw the GVC Mini Modem on the display shelf. It was a small, portable, battery-powered 2400 baud modem, with a $69 price tag. My hand began to move involuntarily toward my wallet.

The modem didn't work with the 95LX right out of the box, but after experiments and a small amount of solder, I was happily racking up heavy connect charges on CompuServe.

Since that time, many HP 95LX owners have purchased this unit. Some units work right out of the box, requiring only a simple soft-ware command. Others require a slightly modified connector. Fortunately GVC seems to be a very responsive company; they have exchanged units for those who were unsuccessful with their initial purchase.

As you can tell, some experimentation is required. That is because identical looking GVC modems may contain different chip sets. Some chips sets don't work well with 95LX, because they require signals that the 95LX does not provide. Other chip sets seem to work fine with the 95LX.

Fortunately there seems to be some fairly simple cures for those with problems. The communal wisdom of several successful GVC modem users lies in GVCMOD.95*, a file residing on CompuServe's HPSYS forum, library 14. It contains tips on getting the modem to work with the 95LX.

Here is my solution:

  1. 1. Plug the cable that came with the Connectivity Pak into the 95LX.
  2. 2. Attach to the cable a 25-pin male-to-male gender changer, a 25-pin female- to-male null modem, and, finally the GVC modem.
  3. 3. Modify modem side of the gender changer. I connected pins 6 and 20 using a small wire and solder. One CompuServe message said to connect pins 4 and 20 instead.
Some people have had success without any modification. They have just sent the modem the following command;


The moral is this; if you have $69, and don't mind getting involved, you may end up with an excellent, low cost communications solution for the 95LX. I found the GVC Mini Modem at a CompuAdd Catalog Store. You can call them directly at 800-627-1967 to place an order. Ask for the GVC Mini Modem Catalog # 49581.


 Now that I had the modem working with the 95LX, I wanted to use my new setup to read messages from the CompuServe forums. Because there was no convenient way to do this, I developed some software that would permit me to download, read, and reply to messages from CompuServe.

 It took a while to write, but, now that the software is working pretty well, I have another problem - dealing with my wife's reaction to the sound of 95LX keys crunching one inch from her ear, at 3 am, while I busily send messages all over creation.

Those with a similar desire to alienate their spouse might try software called MESSAG.EXE*, and is available in library 14 of the CompuServe HPSYS forum. It is built around a Lotus 1-2-3 spreadsheet that processes messages from the CompuServe forum.

By the way, if you have not written a program using the Lotus 1-2-3 macro language for a while, or have never tried, you will probably be surprised at just how powerful it is. The macro language in 1-2-3 Version 2.2 (the version included with the 95LX) is vastly improved over earlier versions. It can be used to develop almost any small application.

I used Lotus macros to process, read and reply to the downloaded CompuServe message, and also to create the message reply upload script.

If you are thinking of moving Basic onto the 95LX for programming, give the Lotus macro language a try. Because Lotus resides in ROM, it saves valuable RAM for other things. The Lotus spreadsheet metaphor, menuing capability, and database functions make many programming tasks easier than in Basic. As an added bonus (for me), whatever developed can be shared with other 95LX owners.

For those looking to get started using the Lotus macro language, a book such as QUE corporations 1-2-3 Macro Library can be an excellent start. The information in the 95LX manual is good, but more a command reference than tutorial.

Well, Hal, I think this newsletter is a fine idea, and will open up new vistas for many 95LX users. Let me break a bottle of champagne on the side of The Palmtop Paper, and may the sailing be smooth.

Larry Lefkowitz

 Small Systems Software

 CompuServe ID [76137,155]

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