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Many Uses for PC Parallel Port Card

Many Uses for PC Parallel Port Card

New software driver for parallel port card speeds up data transfer.

By Toshiki Sasabe

The article by Craig Payne in The HP Palmtop Paper (May/June 1996), about Quatech's SPP-100 parallel interface card, aroused a great deal of attention and enthusiasm in the Japanese Palmtop user community. A lot of people reported success in using the Quatech card to connect to various peripherals. Japanese user Hiro (Hiroyuki Sekiya) did extensive experiments with this card, and successfully connected to the following devices:

IOMEGA ZIP drive (parallel) ZIP drive is a removable disk drive using 100 Mb low-cost cartridges. If your floppy disk (1.44 Mb) is too small to contain your data, the larger capacity of a ZIP drive may help you. Two versions of the ZIP drive are available one with a SCSI interface and another with a parallel interface. The parallel interface drive was tested with the card.

Hard disk drive A parallel/ IDE adapter MD2 with IDE 260MB Hard Disk Drive (HDD). The MD2 (Mobile DIsk 2 from Datafab Systems) is a small drive with IDE interface, which can be connected to the parallel port of your PC.

Parallel-to-SCSI adapter Bridge 777EP and Mini SCSI Plus. This adapter was then used to connect the Palmtop to the following devices:

CD-ROM drive

7-slot CD-ROM drive (Nakamichi).

Magneto-Optical (MO) drive

If the 100 MB capacity of the ZIP drive in not enough for you, you would probably want to use this Magneto-Optical (MO) disk drive, which supports up to 640 MB.

PCMCIA card drive with SCSI interface (PCD500)

You can "daisy-chain" devices with SCSI interfaces. For example, you can connect the MO drive to the Palmtop and this PC Card drive to the MO drive. Then you can back up your Flash card directly to the MO drive.

Parallel/Ethernet adapters (Pocket Ethernet Adapter II Xircom). By this, you can connect to LAN with TCP/IP, Netware, Win95, or other methods. Connection to Windows 95 was reported.

The previous article discussed how to use the Accton Ethernet adapter card to connect a Palmtop to a LAN. It is also possible to do this using the parallel port adapter and a pocket Ethernet adapter with parallel interface. The following is based on the report on the FHPPC forum (a large part comes from Hiro). I skipped the parts which are already reported by Craig in his article.

Connecting to an Ethernet LAN using a parallel port adapter and pocket Ethernet adapter

A pocket-sized Ethernet adapter (of unknown manufacturer) and Xircom's Pocket Ethernet Adapter II were both used with success. Both could run only in the bi-directional mode (non-EPP mode). The Transfer rate, calculated from file copy operations, was around 130 KB/sec. Unfortunately Xircom's Pocket Ethernet Adapter III (supporting EPP mode) was not available. (For more an the EPP mode, see sidebar titled "What is EPP mode?" on this page.)

The DOS client driver of Windows for Workgroups runs on the 200LX, enabling a connection between the 200LX and Windows 95 over Ethernet. The network driver used on the 200LX is from the archive MSWGCN.EXE = found on the FTP site of Microsoft. The set-up procedure was already explained by NORI in his article about LAN Card (see page 49). The only differences are the following two items.

1. During the set-up, use the Xircom driver instead of the one from Accton.

2. Add a command line for the parallel card device driver SP100.EXE in CONFIG.SYS (not in AUTOEXEC.BAT) as the first device driver. (Exception: If you have the clock speed upgrade, its driver should be first.) The sidebar on the next page shows an example of CONFIG.SYS.

SPP100.EXE = is a new driver

SPP100.EXE, used in CONFIG.SYS, is a new driver created by Hiroyuki Sekiya. It has the following advantages over the original driver that shipped with the Quatech card:

1. This driver can be loaded in two ways as a device driver and as a DOS TSR program. As a device driver, you can load it within CONFIG.SYS. As a TSR program, you can load it within AUTOEXEC .BAT or other batch file. Having this flexibility is very useful. For example, if you wanted to use the SCSI adapter mentioned above, you would have to load SPP100 first in CONFIG.SYS because the SCSI adapter's driver expects to be able to find a parallel port. On the other hand, if you were just going to use the parallel port card to connect to a printer, you could load it as a TSR from the AUTOEXEC.BAT file.

2. Hiro's driver can set the register of the SPP-100 card to "EPP mode." This makes some (but not all) adapters run in the faster EPP mode (see sidebar for description of EPP mode). The parallel SCSI adapters Bridge 777EP and 888 run in EPP mode.

What is EPP mode?

Sample CONFIG.SYS file.

Shareware/freeware mentioned in this article

iPhone Life magazine


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