USB to Serial to ancient pda…

June 12, 2007 at 7:56 pm (d3v, open source)

I just thought I’d put this up as it could help someone. It concerns the transfer of data over a USB to serial port adapter (I believe using this Prolific chipset and was bought from Maplin) to an ancient PDA, the Olivetti Davinci – version 3 ( when running Linux on your computer.

Anyway, to transfer programs to the homebrewed extended Davinci OS ( you need to transfer the data using the xmodem protocol ( – and I found this to be a problem to do. Anyway, eventually I found a way that worked:

  1. Have your DaVinci switched on and plugged into the docking cradle, make sure you’re ready by going to the Launcher part through menu>app.>Launcher
  2. Type the following command into the command line (you might have to install the sz programs – I can’t remember)
    sz -X App_15.dv3 > /dev/ttyUSB0 < /dev/ttyUSB0
    Here ‘App_15.dv3’ should be replaced with whatever the file you disire to send is called. And the path ‘/dev/ttyUSB0’ should be to whatever file in the /dev directory that seems to be where your serial port adaptor is appearing at (a way to find this out is to go to the Gnome Device Manager, by going to the Administration menu and looking for the serial port listed in there, if it’s this one it’ll show as PL2303 Serial Port, then click that and then on the Advanced tab at the side pane with the information on – and there you’ll hopefully see a row with ‘linux.device_file’ and the /dev file at the end)
  3. After pressing enter, you’ll likely see something like this:
    Sending hexwidget.cpp, 90 blocks: Give your local XMODEM receive command now.
    At this point you can tap the tools button and then on ‘New Record’ from that menu. And hopefully you’ll see the terminal jump into action and starting counting how much data it’s sent – until it’s done!

Anyway, hope that might help someone, somewhere. For those interested in adding progams into the miniOS bit of the homebrew moded DaVinci OS thingy, I was able to do that using gtkterm, I think – just setting it to use the right serial port /dev file and setting the speed to 19200, and the making sure that the parity was none, bits were 8, stop bits were 1 and flow control was none.

Also! For those interested in developing stuff for the DaVinci v3, take a look at – although they haven’t released any files, you can loginto the CVS system and take a copy of the source code, then type ‘make’ in the main directory of the 4 sub parts, and it should compile them all (although I do have a ton of development libraries, headers and general stuff on my computer – so, you’ll need some of those things, and there’s no configure script so I’m not sure how much help you’ll get from it in terms of telling you what you need) – anyway, the stuff there seems pretty cool, I haven’t really done anything with it though – and I’m unable to figure out how to get the emulator to load a state yet (or find a state it’ll load).

Anyway, that’s that.

Chris Hayes / cbhworld


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