Psion Series 5 FAQ V2.0
PSION SERIES 5 FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS (FAQ)
Date: December 1999
Author: Jonathan Littlewood
Welcome to the FAQ for the comp.sys.psion.* Usenet hierarchy. This FAQ includes information about all EPOC devices, of which the Series 5 was the first. The devices covered include, in order of launching:
- Psion Series 5
- GeoFox One
- Oregon Scientific Osaris HPC
- Psion Series 5MX
- Psion Series 5MX Pro
- Ericsson MC218
- Psion Revo
- Psion Series 7
- Psion netBook
Answers in this FAQ are relevant to all EPOC machines unless stated otherwise.
Questions and constructive comments are welcome.
IMPORTANT NOTE: this article does not contain any information about Psion (the company), previous machines or any other general Psion information (such as retailer lists, repair centres and so on). If you are interested in that information please get hold of the Series 3x FAQ available from the same source as this article. Alternatively send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line: “send usenet/news.answers/palmtops/psion/series3x/*”.
1 - GENERAL
1.1 - What is EPOC?
1.2 - Where can I find out about the different EPOC machines?
1.3 - How do the machines compare?
1.4 - Is all EPOC software compatible with all EPOC machines?
1.5 - How can I change a de-activated password if I can’t remember it?
1.6 - The machine won’t accept my password, what’s wrong?
1.7 - The machine won’t switch on, does it need repairing?
1.8 - How do I kill a task that doesn’t respond to Ctrl-E?
1.9 - How do I grab a screen image?
1.10 - How can I convert images from/to BMP?
1.11 - How do I set up File Associations?
1.12 - Is there an EPOC IMAP4 e-mail client?
2 - PSION REVO
3.1 - How do I change the default settings in Word?
3.2 - How do I stop the Series 5MX claiming it cannot open the Web program?
3.3 - My stylus is jammed, what can I do?
3.4 - Can I use the external buttons when the S5 is password protected?
3.5 - Can I browse the Series 5 ROM?
3.6 - Why don’t I get the full capacity out of the Series 5’s batteries?
3.7 - Why is the battery monitor reporting very high or negative currents?
3.8 - Where can I find further help with using the Series 5?
3.9 - Can I use the Series 5’s CF card in a digital camera?
3.10 - Does the Series 5 have an equivalent to the Series 3 Jotter?
3.11 - What is the difference between the 5MX and 5MX Pro?
This article is provided “as is” without any express or implied warranties. While every effort has been taken to ensure the accuracy of the information contained in this article, neither the authors, the maintainers or the contributors will assume responsibility for errors or omissions, or for damage resulting from the use of the information contained herein.
This FAQ is not sponsored or endorsed by Psion PLC or any subsidary companies they may own in any way.
This FAQ is NOT intended as a replacement of the User Guide which comes with each EPOC device Be sure to read the manual, the machines’s online help and this FAQ before posting any questions to the comp.sys.psion.* hierarchy!
Jonathan Littlewood asserts copyright on this document. You are encouraged to distribute it widely, but only in its complete and original form and not for profit.
1.1 What is EPOC?
EPOC is the software architecture originally used by the Psion Series 5. It now powers a wide range of machines.
EPOC is an operating system, application framework, application suite and synchronization software designed for wireless information devices and handheld computers. It includes a kernel, file system, graphics, applications, Java runtime, wireless communications protocols and applications, and Software DevelopmentKits.
Originally developed by Psion, EPOC is now promoted and developed by Symbian, owned by Ericsson, Matsushita, Motorola, Nokia and Psion.
For further information see http://www.symbian.com
1.2 Where can I find out about the different EPOC machines?
The manufacturers have specifications and other details of their machines at the following sites on the web:
- Ericsson MC218: http://mobile.ericsson.com/mc218/
- GeoFox One: http://www.foxpop.ndirect.co.uk (Although the GeoFox company no longer exists the FoxPop web-site has all their old web pages, many articles and reviews and a GeoFox-specific FAQ.)
- Oregon Scientific Osaris HPC: http://www.oregonscientific.com/osaris.html
- Psion netBook: http://www.enterprise.psion.com/public/netbook/netbook.htm
- Psion Revo: http://www.psion.com/revo/index.html
- Psion Series 5: http://www.psion.com/series5/index.html
- Psion Series 5MX: http://www.series5mx.com
- Psion Series 7: http://www.psion.com/series7/
1.3 How do the machines compare?
The following tables compare the main features of all EPOC devices released to date. Details can change so check with the manufacturer before purchase.
|Machine||CPU||MHz||RAM Mb||ROM Mb|
|Series 5||ARM 7100||18.432||4 or 8||6|
|Series 5MX||ARM 710T||36||16||10|
|5MX Pro||ARM 710T||36||24||0|
|Series 7||ARM SA-1100||133||16 or 32|
|netBook||ARM SA-1100||190||32 or 64|
|GeoFox||ARM-7110||18.432||4 or 16||8|
|Osaris HPC||4, 8, 16||8|
|Series 5||1x Type I||None|
|Series 5MX||1x Type I||None|
|5MX Pro||1x Type I||None|
|Series 7||1x Type I/II||1x Type I/II|
|netBook||1x Type I/II||1x Type I/II|
|MC218||1x Type I||None|
|GeoFox||None||1x Type I/II|
|Osaris HPC||1x Type I||None|
netBooks have hot swapping of CF and PC cards.
|Revo||480 x 160||16 grey levels||Yes||No|
|Series 5||640 x 240||16 grey levels||135 x 50||Yes||Yes|
|Series 5MX||640 x 240||16 grey levels||135 x 50||Yes||Yes|
|5MX Pro||640 x 240||16 grey levels||135 x 50||Yes||Yes|
|Series 7||640 x 480||STN Colour||195 diag||Yes||Yes|
|netBook||640 x 480||STN Colour||195 diag||Yes||Yes|
|MC218||640 x 240||16 grey levels||135 x 50||Yes||Yes|
|GeoFox||640 x 320||16 grey levels||173 diag||No||Yes|
|Osaris HPC||320 x 200||16 grey levels||Yes|
The GeoFox used a separate touch-pad rather than a touch-sensitive display.
|Machine||Main Batts||Typical Life||Recharge||Backup|
|Revo||Embedded NiMH||14 hrs||Trickle|
|Series 5||2x AA||35 hrs||CR2032|
|Series 5MX||2x AA||35 hrs||CR2032|
|5MX Pro||2x AA||35 hrs||CR2032|
|Series 7||Li-Ion Pack||8.5 hrs||2.5 hrs||CR2032|
|netBook||Li-Ion Pack||8.5 hrs||2.5 hrs||CR2032|
|MC218||2x AA||35 hrs||CR2032|
|GeoFox||2x AA||20 hrs||CR2032|
|Osaris HPC||2x AA||CR2032|
|Machine||Size mm||Weight g|
|Revo||157 x 79 x 18||200 g|
|Series 5||170 x 90 x 23||354 g|
|Series 5MX||170 x 90 x 23||354 g|
|5MX Pro||170 x 90 x 23||354 g|
|Series 7||235 x 182 x 37||1150 g|
|netBook||235 x 182 x 37||1150 g|
|MC218||170 x 90 x 23||354 g|
|GeoFox||187 x 120 x 20||390 g|
Weights include batteries. All machines have IrDA and RS-232 ports.
1.4 Is all EPOC software compatible with all EPOC machines?
Unfortunately not - but most EPOC software is compatible with most machines. Well written software should adapt itself for different screen sizes but this is not always possible, especially with smaller screens. In practice the release of machines with smaller screens, for example the Revo, has rapidly been followed by the release of upgraded freeware and shareware where needed.
The one exception to the rule is Ericsson’s custom software for their MC 218. Ericsson have protected their investment in their custom applications, such as their WAP browser, by keying them to the MC 218 hardware. They will not work on any other EPOC device.
1.5 How can I change a de-activated password if I can’t remember it?
If a password has previously been set and then de-activated subsequently changing the password requires the old password to be typed in. If the old password has been de-activated for some time it often cannot be remembered.
There is no simple solution to this. It’s necessary to backup all data and applications from the machine’s C:\ drive, do a hard reset and then restore the data and applications.
1.6 The machine won’t accept my password, what’s wrong?
Passwords are case-sensitive and unfortunately there is no indication of Caps Lock on the Password screen. Make sure that you are entering the password with the correct case. If it fails press Fn-Caps and try again.
1.7 The machine won’t switch on, does it need repairing?
Before sending the machine back for repair try the following steps in order until the machine restarts:
- If it won’t switch on after changing the batteries, check that the new batteries work,
- Try it on the mains adapter, if available,
- Try a soft reset,
- Try a hard reset,
- Remove all batteries, including the backup battery and leave for an hour. Re-insert the batteries and try again. Note this will lose all your data and applications from the C:/ drive!
If all the above fail then there is likely to be hardware fault and the machine will need repairing.
1.8 How do I kill a task that doesn’t respond to Ctrl-E?
If an errant task does not respond to Ctrl-E when you attempt to close
it switch to the ‘Open files/programs’ task list (
the task and press
Shift+Ctrl+E. This will display a warning that this
option is for ‘Emergency use only’. Clicking on the ‘Yes’ button should
kill the task. In addition some OPL programs can be killed with
If the above fails and the ask continues to run, switch to the task’s
screen and press
Fn+Shift+Ctrl+K. This should kill anything. Note that
using this key sequence while displaying the main screen will cause a
soft reboot of the EIKON shell. Do not try this without closing all
running applications (and preferably backing up to CompactFlash or a
desktop computer.) This will lead to loss of your screen settings (zoom
level, title bar position, information displayed with icons) but should
not lose any data apart from the previous battery usage. Occasionally
the system time will be lost. However it is common to find that a
significant amount of memory is freed up by a soft reboot.
1.9 How do I grab a screen image?
Set up the screen you wish to grab and press
dialogue will be displayed prompting for a filename and grey scale or
monochrome. Once saved, start a new document in Sketch and “Merge in…”
as ‘EPOC Picture’.
1.10 How can I convert images from/to BMP?
Psion provided BMCONV.EXE on the PsiWin 2.x CD-ROM in the Extras directory. Apparently this is not in included in the version of PsiWin provided with the Series 5MX, however it can be downloaded as part of the EPOC Software Developer’s Kit (SDK) from http://www.symbian.com or from the 3-Lib OPL/32 Programming page at http://3lib.ukonline.co.uk/.
This is a DOS-based program, but must be launched from a DOS session
within Windows. At the DOS prompt, just type
BMCONV and you will see a
short list of instructions. Basically, this tool allows you to either
merge multiple BMP files into one Psion MBM (Multi BitMap) file or the
other way around.
BMCONV is commonly used to convert PC graphics in the BMP format to EPOC sketch files so that they can be included in series 5 documents.
First use BMCONV to convert the .BMP file to a .MBM file (containing a single bitmap). Then in Sketch select the ‘File’ menu and click on ‘More’. In the sub-menu select ‘Merge in…’ and in the file selector dialogue change the file type to ‘EPOC picture’ and select the .MBM file. Finally select ‘More’ from the ‘File’ menu again and then select ‘Save as’ to save the image as a Sketch document.
Remember that existing sketches cannot be directly included in other documents but you can include a new sketch in a document and then merge in an existing graphic in the way described above.
1.11 How do I set up File Associations?
Unfortunately you cannot. Some operating systems, for example Windows, can associate the extension of a file name with the application that should be used to open it. However EPOC doesn’t use file extensions to control this mapping, instead it uses identification bits at the start of each file’s contents. These bits cannot be embedded in files of standard formats, such as HTML, GIF or JPEG without corrupting the contents.
1.12 Is there an EPOC IMAP4 e-mail client?
The IMAP4 e-mail protocal is supported by the Ericsson MC218, Psion Series 7 and netBook. Support is likely to be made available for the 5MX in the future.
2. PSION REVO
2.1 Is it possible to program OPL on the Revo?
The Revo has no ‘Program’ icon and indeed the OPL Editor is not included in its ROM. However the OPL translator and run-time are included in the ROM and can be used if a third party OPL editor is installed. Shareware OPL editors are available.
3. PSION SERIES 5/5MX
3.1 How do I change the default settings in Word?
Word takes its default font and printer settings from a template and ignores the settings in the Control Panel. To change the defaults create a new Word document and select the printer, font etc. that you want as the default. Save this document as a file called ‘Normal’ to the path:
C:\System\Templates\Word\ (Series 5MX)
C:\System\Apps\Word\ (Series 5)
Subsequently creating new documents will take the settings in the ‘Normal’ document as a template. Incidently if you set a password when you save the ‘Normal’ template that password will apply to all your new Word documents.
3.2 How do I stop the Series 5MX claiming it cannot open the Web program?
A small number of Series 5MX machines display the error message: “Cannot open the Web program. Web is not designed to run on this machine” when attempting to run earlier versions of the Psion Web browser. This problem can be solved by downloading the latest version of the “Series 5mx Web Version 2.00 Update” from:
3.3 My stylus is jammed, what can I do?
It appears that some styli may become jammed in the lock-in mechanism. You can unlatch this mechanism yourself by opening the RS-232 port at the back of the machine and gently pulling the lower half of the casing just below the RS-232 inscription.
3.4 Can I use the external buttons when the S5 is password protected?
If the Series 5 has been password protected, or Owner Information has been set to be displayed at switch on, then by default Voice Memos cannot be kicked off by the external buttons.
To use Voice Memos under these conditions do the following. Before closing down press the external record button until the machine beeps. The Record application is launched but is labelled as ‘Voice notes’. Now switch off. The machine will still respond to the external buttons to make recordings even with password protection or Owner Information enabled.
3.5 Can I browse the Series 5 ROM?
Yes. First check your system preferences and ensure that “Show hidden
files” and “Show ‘System’ folder” are both checked. Then from the system
screen bring up the Browse window by pressing
Ctrl-Tab, instead of
Tab. When the file browser is displayed click on the drive letter
and select ‘Z’. You can then browse the machine’s ROM. Returning from
the file browser will leave the system screen showing the ROM drive.
3.6 Why don’t I get the full capacity out of the Series 5’s batteries?
The Series 5’s battery monitor ignores the current drawn when the machine is switched off. Typically the Series 5 draws about 1.5 mA when switched off - to maintain the memory, power its clock etc. This means that about 35mAh per day is consumed when the Series 5 is off but this figure is not taken into account by the battery monitor.
Alkaline AA’s contain about 2200 mAh but at 35 mAh per day an unused Series 5 will sap the batteries in about 2 months and the battery monitor will show 0 mAh used.
The Series 5MX is slightly more efficient, consuming about 25 mAh per day when unused.
3.7 Why is the battery monitor reporting very high or negative currents?
Very occasionally the Series 5 battey monitor will report very high (>500 mA) or negative battery currents. These are sometimes caused by a dropped IR link and seem to be due to the battery monitor losing its ‘zero’ setting. Powering the Series 5 from the PC Card adaptor can also cause strange battery readings.
To fix close all applications, back-up and poke the end of a paper-clip into the reset hole beside the backup battery. You will lose the battery statistics but the monitor will be restored to its normal accuracy.
3.8 Where can I find further help with using the Series 5?
In addition to the comp.sys.psion hierarchy there is an excellent “Unofficial Psion Series 5 Listserver”. This is an unmoderated discussion list covering the Psion Series 5 family.
To subscribe either use the automated form at:
or send an email to
email@example.com with the message
in the first line of the body of your email.
There is also an excellent Series 5 Tips page maintained at:
3.9 Can I use the Series 5’s CF card in a digital camera?
Some digital cameras, for example models from Kodak and Canon, use CF cards in a manner compatible with the Series 5. In some cases the camera can store the images in JPG format, which allows them to be displayed by MessageSuite.
3.10 Does the Series 5 have an equivalent to the Series 3 Jotter?
The Series 3 Jotter application can be emulated using Data on the Series 5. Psiwin will automatically translate Jotter files from earlier machines into Data files.
To set up a Jotter file using Data, create a new file and ‘Change labels…’ to:
Title (type 'Text', length 50) Date (type date) Notes (Type 'Memo', length unlimited)
The Date field will default to the current date when records are added, automatically date stamping the records.
3.11 What is the difference between the 5MX and 5MX Pro?
To the average user there is very little difference between the two machines.
In most markets the Series 5MX ships with 16 Mbytes of RAM but in Germany Psion ship the Series 5MX Pro with 24 Mbytes of RAM. However the 5MX Pro doesn’t have any extra available RAM since the extra 8 Mbytes are used to hold the operating system and applications.
The 5MX has its operating system and applications in ROM. When the Series 5MX Pro is first switched on it doesn’t contain an operating system, just a boot-strap loader. This attempts to load EPOC and the standard applications from the Compact Flash card. Once loaded, the 10 Mbytes of RAM consumed is switched to read-only. The Compact Flash card can then be removed and the machine used like any other Series 5. In the event of total loss of battery power the machine needs to be rebooted from the CF card - but this will be a relatively rare event.