Cassiopeia-to-Mac Connectivity

(instructions last updated 5 September 1998; link to updated instructions added 26 September 1999; updated link to Aaron Bloom's's instructions added 26 March 2001)

This page describes the procedure for synchronizing an HPC (I have used it with both a Cassiopeia Windows CE machine and a Philips Velo 1) with a Power Macintosh running Virtual PC. This procedure has also been used to connect a Compaq C120 HPC to a Performa 6360 running Softwindows version 3.0 (thanks to Michael Babineau for his input). If you are using a PPC (a palm-sized CE machine such as a Cassiopeia E-100/105) you may want to check out Aaron Bloom's Cassiopeia web page, which is a version of this page tailored for the new palm-sized devices. Thanks, Aaron!

Connectix (Virtual PC), Casio (Cassiopeia), and Microsoft (Windows CE) all told me it couldn't be done, but I just synchronized my HPC (a Casio Cassiopeia Windows CE machine) with a Power Macintosh running Virtual PC. (Pardon some redundancy here, but I hope it will help miscellaneous searches to catch this page.)

Here's how I did it (there may be a simpler way, but I decided I'd better get something that works out there before I forget -- it took me many hours, many discussions with friends, and no end of trying miscellaneous cables and adapters before I came up with this solution).

I think the essential ingredients are:

First, assemble the hardware

The serial cable that comes with the Cassiopeia has a 16-pin connector on one end, and a DB9 (female) connector on the other. You will need to add to it:

  1. A serial com port adapter, DB9 (Male) to DB25 (Female) ($7.99 at Fry's).
  2. A Hayes Modem cable (NOT a null modem cable), DB25 (Male) to Mini-DIN 8 (Male) ($6.95 at Fry's). Alternatively, the cable provided with the Casio QV cameras which they supply to enable connection of their camera cable to a Mac serial port worked fine for Adel Malek, MD, PhD (thanks, Adel), and can be ordered from Casio. It makes for a very short and simple adapter (only about 5-6 inches long).
NOTE: A printer cable doesn't work -- not enough of the pins are connected. And neither does the adaptor cable that comes with the Palm Pilot Mac Pac (Michael went back and forth between it and the configuration above several times, and the adapter always failed). "Yeah, but it's DB9 to mini-DIN 8 -- it should work!". Go ahead; it's your time to waste.
If anyone finds a large-supplier source for a DB9 to Mini-DIN 8 connector that correctly does the same thing as 1 and 2 together, PLEASE let me know so I can update this page.

Put the cables together, but don't plug in either end of the assembly yet.

Next, set up the HPC

  1. Close all applications on the HPC.
  2. For safety, create an alternate connection, rather than changing the built-in one.
  3. Use your new connection.
You can now turn off your HPC for a while.

Next, set up Virtual PC on the Mac

  1. Disable AppleTalk to free your printer port.
  2. Start Virtual PC. If it complains that the printer port is in use, quit and restart the Mac, holding down the Shift key so that extensions are disabled (you can go back sometime to find out which extension uses the port, but let's get things working first).
  3. Choose which VPC ports to use.
  4. Set System port information.
Next, set up Mobile Devices (HPC Explorer under Windows CE 1.0)
  1. Launch Mobile Devices. The message "Starting communications..." should appear, followed by "Waiting for a mobile device to connect..." ("Waiting to connect to HPC..." under 1.0). If not, one of the previous steps has been performed wrong or missed -- quit and go back and check your work.
  2. Choose Mobile Devices' COM port.
Finally, put it all together
  1. Close Mobile Devices and Shut Down Virtual PC (if you're really paranoid, you can also reboot the Mac if you did before (again with extensions off) ).
  2. Start Virtual PC.
  3. Launch Mobile Devices. You should see the same messages as before.
  4. Turn on the HPC.
  5. Plug the mini-DIN 8 into the printer port.
  6. Plug the 16-pin serial connector into the HPC.
You're off and running!

If it doesn't work, try disconnecting the cables, resetting the HPC, and reconnecting, and following other troubleshooting instructions in the manuals. The Help menu on Mobile Devices can also be useful.

If you restarted with extensions off, you'll need to close Mobile Devices and shut down Virtual PC (using the Start menu) and restart your Mac with the extensions on to do much other useful work.

If you find ways to simplify these instructions, please send email to me at Please don't send any instructions that you haven't tried more than once and confirmed to work.

If you find mistakes in these instructions, or if they don't work for you, please send email to me as well. I may have miscommunicated something or left out a step. Please be sure you've followed the instructions from the beginning, and if it doesn't work, let me know exactly what error message you get, from which program, and exactly where in the process it appears. Thanks much!

Happy hacking!

Kennita Watson
Kennita's Home Page

This page last updated 4/26/2001