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Connecting a Zip Drive and an IDE Hard Drive to Your Palmtop

Connecting a Zip Drive and an IDE Hard Drive to Your Palmtop

Exchange information between a Zip drive and the palmtop and its PCMCIA flash card directly, using DoubleSlot.

By Tom Boyles

How important is backing up your palmtop? When you lose some important data, you'll know the frustration of not having a backup.

 On the other hand, maybe you are great at taking the time to making the back up of your palmtop. But what happens when you are away from that backup archive you've made and you lose important data? You may as well not have made the back up at all! What good is a backup when it's not available to you when you need it?

 Wouldn't it be great if there was a way to make a backup of your palmtop no matter where you are? Sitting in a car, waiting in an airport, or even in your hotel room. With important data being created on your palmtop, the risk of losing that data is a risk you will no longer need to take. Completely back up everything on your palmtop (including the C: drive and any and all memory cards) in a single, very portable solution that will pay itself off in purchase dollars and set-up time.

 When you have a backup with you to recover that important data, the hardware described in this article will be as important as your palmtop itself. Even the extra few pieces of hardware you will carry with you will be worth it when the loss of data does not send you into a panic attack. It's the 1990s, and we need better solutions. Here is a solution for the existing problem of making a backup and having it available when you need it. Defy that version of Murphy's Law that would probably be something like, "When you need to restore your data, your backup files will be 1,500 miles away." Plus, this is a solution that will lower your stress level!

 This article describes the hardware, software and set-up of a few incredible computer components that together make a very impressive portable backup solution. (See sidebar on page 17 for step-by-step hardware instructions.)

 The Hardware

 The hardware you will need is simple. In fact, you may already own a parallel port Zip drive. If you don't, in addition to the flexibility the solution has to offer for use on desktops and laptops, it also works on the palmtop!

To connect the Zip drive to the palmtop you will need a parallel PCMCIA card. The card from TransDigital Corp. is excellent. Manufactured for fast parallel access, it also contains a small 128K ROM that has the necessary drivers to load on the palmtop. The manufacturer really took into consideration the concerns of the palmtop user. With the card in the palmtop slot, you can access drive A: and load the TSR (terminate and stay resident) executable program, and within moments, it is ready to run your Zip drive.

 The last piece of hardware you will need is Accurite's DoubleSlot for the HP Palmtop. This peripheral is a palmtop owner's dream come true, since it gives your palmtop two PCMCIA slots. With the DoubleSlot in the palmtop, the parallel card in the top slot of the DoubleSlot, and your regular memory card that you use in your palmtop in the bottom slot, you are ready to back it ALL up.

 The software

 The drivers needed for the above hardware come with the associated peripherals. As mentioned, the TSR driver to load the parallel card is on the card itself. The drivers to load the DoubleSlot (explained in the user guide) is on the DoubleSlot itself, in ROM. With access to the A: drive in the same way as the parallel card, the driver can be copied to your C:\ drive and loaded as a device driver at boot-up. The driver to load for the Zip drive comes on an install diskette with the Zip drive. No need to search the Web or online services for drivers - the manufacturers knew how to make it quick and easy! (Make sure and consult each manufacturer's user's guide for proper installation of the drivers associated with the product.)

 Battery pack for the Zip drive

 As an added bonus to this backup solution, there is a battery pack available for the Zip drive so that the bulky power adapter isn't needed. The battery pack is more compact and easy to carry and to charge. A fully charged battery pack provides three to four hours of Zip drive use.

 Remember: all three products described in this article are not limited to this use. The parallel card can be connected direct (or through the Zip drive) for printing. The DoubleSlot can accommodate many combinations of cards, like a modem and a memory card, or even Type III hard drives (with a separately available AC adapter from Accurite). The Zip drive, of course, can be used for desktops and laptops for backup and storage, etc. All are well worth the investment!

 Connecting an H45 Technology IDE hard drive kit

 Also as a additional hardware idea, take a look at H45 Technology's IDE hard drive kit, called "Quick Drive." This kit, which comes in an attractive box (along with the necessary hardware), allows you to connect a standard 3.5" IDE hard drive to your computer through a parallel cable!

 With the included cable, you can connect a hard drive to the Zip drive, and then load the included DOS driver to have access to an IDE hard drive on your palmtop! The IDE drive operates at a much faster read/write access time than a Zip drive, but weighs a bit more. Plus, the H45 Quick Drive kit must be powered by AC. But the ability to access a 420 Mb hard drive is incredible! (The 420 Mb is the largest I tried; I'm currently running a 120 Mb drive.) For portability, the Zip drive is the best solution, but for mass storage and around the home or office use, the H45 Quick Drive kit might be something to look at.

 Using the Zip drive and the hard drive at the same time

 For those needing access to both the Zip drive and the IDE hard drive, try this: After the H45 driver software has been installed, follow the steps in the sidebar on p. 17 to get connected to the Zip drive. Then unplug the cable from the Zip drive and plug it into the H45 Quick Drive kit cable. Then load the TSR for the Quick Drive. (There is a small conflict of drivers in this setup, but the conflict can be ignored. When the error message appears, which will include "Abort, Retry or Fail?," press F for Fail and the installation of the TSR will continue).

After the drive is located and a drive letter is assigned, unplug the TransDigital cable from the H45 cable and plug it back into the Zip drive. Now plug the H45 Quick Drive cable into the Zip drive on the printer side. You should now have access to the Zip drive and the IDE hard drive at the same time. I also noticed when looking at H45 Technology's Website that they have a parallel port CDROM drive! Quad speed even! Next for testing?... probably!

 Access an endless number of devices

 The combination of TransDigital's Trans PC parallel card and Accurite's DoubleSlot for your palmtop provides access to the parallel devices described above, as well as to others that are out there waiting to be tried out, and even to some devices that are being developed as this article was being written. The ideas are endless, and the testing "to-see-if-it-works" is lots of fun! The TransDigital Trans PC parallel card is incredible, simply because it provides full access to the hardware described above, and because it runs at about 10mA in use! The Accurite "DoubleSlot" name speaks for itself. Two slots on the palmtop! Now that's what we've been needing!

 Connecting a PCMCIA card and a battery-equipped Zip drive to your palmtop creates a very portable backup solution.

Connecting the Hardware, Step-by-Step

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