Posts tagged “DIY”.

Installing a 2 GB hard drive into a Newton

April 21st, 2010

Courtesy of Riccardo Mori

Riccardo Mori over at System Folder (which gets better with every post) tried a fun experiment: installing a 2 GB PCMCIA Toshiba hard drive in his MP2100:

I don’t think I’ll ever need 2 gigabytes with my Newtons — my biggest flash card is 32 MB, and it’s more than enough for my needs — nevertheless I wanted to try a little experiment to see to what extent such PCMCIA hard drive is actually usable.

A few ATA drivers and a fresh set of batteries, and what do you know – it worked. Mori is experiencing some battery drain and slower read/write speeds.

“The only way to make good use of this PCMCIA hard drive, I guess, is by putting a rechargeable battery pack and leaving the Newton connected to the AC adapter,” Mori says.

eMate as wall clock

January 22nd, 2010

eMate wall clock

Genius: a Newton eMate serving as a light-up wall clock, using BigCountdown, naked as the day the screen was born.

Check out the photo gallery to see the nitty-gritty.

[Via The Unofficial Apple Weblog.]

Notepods: the best HWR…kinda

October 19th, 2009


Take the iPhone form factor, marry it to the Newton’s stellar handwriting recognition, and you have the latest in PDA technology.

Well, kinda.

Above is a Notepod – a simple notepad shaped like an iPhone. For $18, you get three pocket-perfect notepads shipped from Australia. On the outside, you get a blank iPod Touch-like page, while the inside pages have grid-style paper for notes, doodles, or iPhone app ideas.

Maybe best of all, it recognizes your handwriting no matter how drunk you get – even if you don’t.

Or you can simply make your own with the Hipster PDA templates over at Active Voice. Whichever.

Via DIY Planner.

NewtVid: Take apart your Newton

September 17th, 2009

PowerbookMedic takes apart a Newton MessagePad:

If the iPhone 3GS had parents, its father would be the iPhone 3G, and its mother would be the 1st Gen iPhone. If it had a Grandma, that would unequivocally have to be the Apple Newton. We’ve done teardown videos on all of the iPhone models, and so it seemed only logical (and respectful) to give the Newton the same honor.

A few things struck me about this video: the infomercial music, the rate of unscrewing screws (what, no fast forward?), and the brave use of a soldering iron. Maybe it’s early, but taking a red-hot poker to my Newton is a bit too advanced for me.

Anyway, a good how-to if you feel like getting your hands dirty.

[Via NewtonTalk.]

How to: Install a new Newton eMate battery pack

April 13th, 2009

Newton eMate 300 - materials

The Newton eMate 300 is a great machine. Small, portable, rugged – a sort of proto-netbook that lets you type on the go. And the battery life is great if you have a working, rechargeable battery with plenty of juice.

When my eMate came, I found out right away that the battery pack was probably the original. It held a charge for about three minutes. So while it’s handy to pop a few fresh AA batteries into a MessagePad and be back up and running, the eMate relies on its single battery pack. If it goes, you’re stuck with replacing it, building a new one from scratch, or keeping your eMate plugged in at all times.

I opted for the simplest solution: buy a new battery pack on eBay and installing it myself.

To start, I grabbed a new eMate battery pack from PowerBook Guy, a Torx wrench (I actually took my eMate into the hardware store to get the perfect-sized wrench), my eMate, and some starting instructions from Frank.

Newton eMate 300 - take this off

The first step is to flip your eMate over. See that half-circle hatch near the handle (above)? That’s what you’re taking off.

Newton eMate 300 - unscrew

There are just two screws to remove on the cover, and they’re both at the top.

Newton eMate 300 - take off the cover

I left the screws in their slots as I lifted the cover off so I wouldn’t lose them. Now you see the good stuff: a few memory slots and the battery.

Newton eMate 300 - battery resting spot

The battery pack isn’t bolted to the eMate; it simply rests in a little trench, with a wire attached to the circuit board.

Newton eMate 300 - disconnect

This is the most delicate of the steps: pulling the battery connection cable away from the circuit board. Be careful, and use something (I used my fingernail) to wedge the connector away from the plug-in.

Newton eMate 300 - put in the battery pack

From here, pull the battery pack out of the eMate. The actually battery pack fits snugly inside the holster, but slides right out.

Newton eMate 300 - battery pack tray

Here’s what the empty battery tray looks like inside the eMate. The soft pads keep the battery pack case from sliding around inside the Newton.

Newton eMate 300 - battery pack inside casing

Slide your new battery back inside the protective casing, with the connection wire sticking out of the right-hand side.

Newton eMate 300 - plug in

Now carefully slide the connection wire into the circuit board until it snaps tight. A little push on the white part will be plenty.

Place the battery case inside the eMate, replace the cover, and tighten your screws. That’s all.

I plugged my eMate in and let it charge a whole day, and now it’s like I have a whole new eMate. A fully-charged battery pack should last you for days, even with heavy usage.

The battery pack cost me about $20 (plus shipping) on eBay. There are some DIY die-hards who are all about making their own battery pack, but the soldering made me nervous. Maybe someday I’ll give it a try. This solution, however, worked fine for me.

Now my eMate is truly portable because I don’t have to worry about keeping it plugged in at all times. Replacing the battery pack was a cinch, too, and took all of about five minutes.

Introducing: first OMP backlight

April 9th, 2009


Frank Gruendel has done it again. Last time, it was a dual-screen Newton. This time, he’s hot-wired a proto backlight into a Newton MessagePad 100 (or OMP).

Check out Frank’s Pda-Soft site for a fun photo tour of the project. It’s just a preview, but already Frank has started a buzz on the NewtonTalk list.

OMPs, and any MessagePad pre-MP130, lacked backlighting, making it hard to noodle with Newtons in dark or low-light conditions. It wasn’t until the MP130 that Apple got smart enough to include it.

But now? Sky’s the limit. Congrats, Frank!

How to do stuff with your Newton

March 26th, 2009

Looking through the Newton Poetry archives, I realize that there are quite a few articles about how to do stuff – fax, connect with OS X, reset – that may have been lost in the shuffle.

Those articles are some of my favorites, because I’m learning how to do them at the same time you are. That’s what I like about writing Newton Poetry: getting my hands dirty with little projects. It’s a blast.

Connect your Newton with Mac OS X
One of the more popular features, this article explains how to use NCX to sync your 2.x Newton with a modern Mac running OS X. You can also learn how to connect with Escale and with NewTen.

Send a fax with your Newton
Faxing with your Newton is old school. The fax seems like an ancient technology, but with a 1.x or 2.x Newton and a simple modem, you can send faxes through the phone line.

Reset your Newton
Let’s say the worst happens, and your Newton somehow locks up or is frozen by a software error. There are different levels of restarting your Newton, and this post explains them all.

Take screenshots on your Newton
Recently, I learned how to take screenshots of my eMate using the Newton Toolkit. There are other, more complicated ways, but this one was the most immediately useful for my needs.

Install packages on your Newton
The Newton is kind of like the iPhone in that you can take it out of the box and it’s immediately useful and usable. But the fun part of owning one is installing cool apps that make it even more useful. That’s where installing .pkg files comes in handy.

Power your Newton with rechargeable batteries
This is more of a tip I learned when using my MP110. Instead of relying on my long-dead Apple battery pack, I bought some Eneloop batteries and used the heck out of them. Soon, I’ll be exploring more energy options with my eMate 300.

Read Newton eBooks
Not only is your Newton a pre-Amazon Kindle eBook reader, but there’s a plugin for Firefox that lets you read Newton eBooks in your web browser.

About me

March 16th, 2009

Talk to the hand.

Since you all were nice enough to share a little bit about yourselves last week, it’s my turn.

My name is Dave Lawrence. I’m a 27-year-old communications specialist for a local credit union in my hometown of Jackson, MI – a smallish city along the I-94 corridor about an hour and a half west of Detroit.

I graduated with a degree in English/journalism from Adrian College and came back home to find my job.

Back in blue.

While I worked with Macs at the campus newspaper, I didn’t get serious about them until the winter of 2005, when I bought my first computer – and first Mac: an iBook G4. Since then, I haven’t looked back. My collection has grown to include an iBook G3 clamshell, an iMac G3, two Mac SEs, a PowerMac G4, an iMac G4, and – most recently – a PowerMac G3.

My first Newton came in December 2006, and was more or less something to mess around with. I felt you can’t have a truly righteous Apple collection without a Newton, so I bought a MessagePad 110. Later, in the fall of 2007, I launched Newton Poetry. I also have an eMate.

Route 66 - 66 @ 25

Besides Macs and Newtons, I love to travel, read, watch “The Office,” head out on the town with friends, and get involved in my community. I’m in a local Rotary club, am on the board for a recycling non-profit, and get involved in politics whenever I can.

I’ve made several life-changing trips in the past few years, including driving down Route 66 from Chicago to Santa Monica, taking the northern route from Michigan to Seattle, and exploring Revolutionary War sites in New England. This summer, my big trip will include a cross-Canada drive to Vancouver for the Worldwide Newton Conference.


I do Newton Poetry because the Newton community fascinates me, and the device is so much fun to use. There’s still an audience out there who craves information about the Newton – how to make it work, how to connect it with modern Macs, where the Newton ideal will take us in the years ahead.

Also, I love to fiddle with computers and projects, and Newton Poetry gives me an outlet to write about those projects. What I found was that people who, say, want to install an Airport card in their iBook, like to have help as they do it. As a result, that post is one of my most popular.

There’s tons more about me, of course, so feel free to browse my personal blog, follow me on Twitter, or hang on and see where else Newton Poetry takes us.

Dual-screen FrankenNewton

February 26th, 2009

Check that out.

Frank Gruendel from has created a multi-display FrankenNewt. Scribble on one screen, and the results show up on the other.

Frank has always been a source of great hardware fixes and DIY projects. Now if only someone could get an actual dual-screen Newton going…

[Via Newtontalk.]

Use an iMac for a jukebox? You bet

December 3rd, 2008


I love this post from John Hatchett over at Low End Mac:

I was in the middle of recording my vinyl Steely Dan albums to iTunes when it hit me: Why not turn the iMac into a digital jukebox? I could hook it up to my home stereo with a stereo mini-jack-to-RCA cable and have any song in my collection available to listen to. I could even use the iTunes database to customize song selection. And, of course, there is always shuffle.

How fantastic is that? I can imagine a visitor coming over: “Hey, what’s that iMac doing hooked up to your stereo?”

“Oh, that? That’s my jukebox.”

Totally geeky, and totally fitting with his theme of using old-school Macs in these weird times.