Mobile Net access for your A4By Chris Williams. Published: 13th Jan 2004, 22:46:29 | Permalink | Printable
For the real online addicts and A4 fansThe faithful A4 is a hardy, 16 grey scale A5000-in-a-laptop from the mid-Acorn era that still remains to be a popular sell on ebay and at user shows. Despite its ripe old age, the A4 can have ethernet networking and now can be hooked up to the net in a completely wireless fashion.
Dave Higton has managed this week to get 'net access to his A4 via his mobile 'phone and has the pictures to prove it. Using his mobile and a serial port interface, the A4 can send and receive email, do some light web browsing and was demonstrated at this week's Southampton Acorn Users Group meeting.
"The A4 is perfectly standard as far as I know, and must date from 1992 or thereabouts. The mobile phone is a Siemens C35e", Dave told drobe.co.uk in an email this morning. "Software used is Socketeer (an early version because it requires slightly less memory), Messenger Pro, AntiSpam, POPstar, and Browse.
"The data cable I used is a cheap non-original version, which unfortunately doesn't implement any handshake lines, so I modified a serial block driver to fake DCD. Communication between A4 and phone is at 19200 baud, and speed over the GSM network is 9600."
Screenshot of the A4 connecting via the phone and a photo of the mobile kit all wired together
Dave continued to explain, "4 MB of RAM isn't enough to have all the above applications running at the same time, so a bit of care and organisation is needed.
"For e-mail, I have to run Messenger Pro to compose any outgoing mails, then quit it once it has put them in the outgoing queue. Then I can run Socketeer and AntiSpam. Socketeer connects, then AntiSpam sends any outgoing mail and collects any incoming. After going off line, I quit Socketeer and AntiSpam, then run Messenger Pro again, which debatches any incoming e-mail and lets me read it.
"For web browsing, Socketeer and Browse will co-exist quite happily. The first web site I visited was my own, because I know that the front page is short and text only. You will no doubt be pleased to know that the second site I visited was Drobe.
"So, it all works very successfully. Just as you'd expect of RISC OS."
When we asked Dave if he'll release his modified driver, Dave said he'd be happy to if there's a chance others will find it useful. The driver is also "98 percent based on the InternalPC block driver from Hugo Fiennes", so while Dave is mildly concerned about the copyright status of the serial block driver in question, it would appear that it was released into the public domain in 1996.
If anyone has any information on the block driver copyright issue, feel free to share it.
Dave's website or contact Dave for more information on his mobile A4 project
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