I bought a Psion Revo!

Four days ago I bought a Psion Revo. No, I'm not mad! The first computer I ever could truly claim to own was a trusty Series 5 8MB.

In fact, a couple of those, and then a 5MX which sadly met a very unfortunate end, and whilst still in working order no less. I'm sure you're wondering, 'why did you buy a computer from almost a generation ago? Twenty-one years ago too be exact, and why a Revo and not a 5MX? Or maybe even a Series 7 which you can play DOOM on? The answer is actually quite simple - the usability. You see; Epoc32, similarly to SIBO which is what runs on the Series 3 offerings, is an extremely practical operating system. Reliable, and doesn't have distractions. In fact, Epoc's default software suite is far, far better than anything around today, namely Agenda. The Revo is smaller than the 5s, and it's more durable while being smaller than my current mobile phone, being an Oppo Find X2 Lite. Now don't get me wrong, Android's great as a phone OS and as a Windows 8.1/10 supplement but let's be honest, the OS is an absolute mess. A slew of swipes, a million and one taps just for the most basic of actions, an utterly absurd permissions system (games needing access to GPS, camera, microphone and contacts anyone?) And the presence that is of course, the internet. One great, big distraction from anyone trying to work.

After giving Google Calendar permission to access calendar (eh?) And after opening the main menu to select week view

After tapping Agenda with my finger. (alternatively, if you want to use the keyboard only, you can open it by selecting the desktop shortcut with arrow keys and then pressing return

Which one would you say is more understandable? I cannot imagine someone who's not versed in modern day GUI language will have a clue what anything in today's calendar applications represent to their real life counterparts. Speaking of which, there's this weird sub window menu thing in Android 11 which sometimes comes up when you swipe up from the bottom that stops anything other than the notification bar and side program bar from working, I still haven't figured out how to make it go away. Handily it is a second display of icons already displayed on the application windows though, so just in case I decide only to look at the bottom of my phone screen, I'll doubly know what programs I have open! Handy feature that!

Getting started

The first thing I did of course was plug in the dock and stick the Revo on it until the screen came on. Now, if you know Revos you'll know not to do this after a hard reset because of the sophisticated battery measuring system. I've since drained it and done the proper battery charging procedures, i.e. leave it to charge for six hours after full battery drainage as possible and a hard reset. The listing advertised that 'the hinge is a little floppy.' This is indeed extremely accurate, so I took a screwdriver to it to find that someone else has already attempted to get inside. That's fine, Psions aren't brittle, however if you take a flathead to the hinge that connects the back shroud to the display casing with the intention of brute forcing it apart, then, erm, yeah... It took all of my strength to work those horribly bent pins out!!

The one that's still in there took switch oil and a lot of convincing to come out. After straightening them in a chunky pair of plyers, they now slide freely as they should do, (All ready for when I order two new 600mAH LR03 NiMHs!) And carefully scratching off the partly solid epoxy-like glue off of the plastic with a jewellery and from the back of the Psion plate. With some bending of that to be a little more in its original shape from the last person's attempt, it fits in okay and hasn't actually fallen off. Yet. In the defence of that person though these badges are extremely thin and flimsy - they're practically impossible to get off without the specific tools and, a hair dryer to soften the glue? I forget.

The screen/keyboard slide out mechanism as it turns out, is missing the two springs which are responsible for pulling the white plastic shroud you can see in the above image to the chassis. The pulling of the two together is what causes the stiffness and springiness of the whole mechanism. Without seeing an original spring I don't know what to get as a replacement, but new springs are the least of my worries right now.



This is always the catch with twenty year old hardware, isn't it? I have the Psion CD-ROM which came with the Revo (along with an unopened carrying case!) with all of the software on it, but I need Whistler really, or Windows 2,000 to do this.

Finding PsiWin v2.3.3 is dead easy, just PsiWin's only the program that communicates between MS-DOS and Epoc, so I downloaded the Psion CD's contents as a .zip someone has handily put up for download (sorry, I don't have a link), but; catch, it won't work because it's made to run off of a disc. Aaargg! I'll be searching for a way to emulate CD-ROMs, but first off, getting USB to RS-232 drivers... and what a pain that was! I won't go into it as it was a highly boring evening, and they don't work, either, but The Revo did wake from sleep, which is a good step in the right direction!

After failing miserably to get 2,000 and 98 to work on this old Toshiba Satellite 100A-062, and indeed Whistler, I got Vista working, and later Seven which works wonderfully. I can see why people hate Vista so much now in all honesty, it really doesn't live up as a successor to XP in my opinion, at least. But now after Seven was all installed and updated, my PsiWin CD-ROM is incompatible with it, but luckily I'd previously made two partitions on the Toshiba's hard disk which of course saved me a headache, and after finding an XP release, 32-bit and not 64-bit, which I admit would be better for the Toshiba, it all installed beautifully and with the bonus of giving me a lot of nostalgia for my childhood, or too be more accurate, the years before it.

Let's go back by maybe five hours: I didn't have high hopes at the beginning as Whistler 5.1.2542.0 CR2 in VirtualBox refused to install as Cozen's system time was wrong. I tried changing Window's time but that didn't resolve the issue, so I did what all nut cases do and turned to the world wide web to find a way of sorting this problem out using my own initiative, just like a lot of people around my age do, where I came across the PowerShell script used for changing time and date parameters. Naturally, I used it without a second thought and it worked! Hehe, that upset Google, not the duck though. Quack indeed. XP however doesn't have such an issue it turns out. Maybe this is why you don't use unfinished developer packages? Who'd have thought!


Windows XP

After the installation was done and I had finished basking in the glory that is XP's sound effects, it was time to get to work on updates and drivers. is such a great place for these, if only it wasn't for the slow download speeds, but I didn't end up checking MyDigitalLife forums which really I should have done. It's kind of the go-to place for Windows stuff, plus it's where some official software developers are, most notable for me is KMS-Pico Windows activator. There are 'official' websites and forums with links to it, but unless you want a slew of viruses, be my guest to download from those sources. I'm sure maybe one or two places are genuine reuploads, but only ever get it from MyDigitalLife, and in fact that would be directly from the author. :)

Software installation

So after XP's done and dusted, time to install PsiWin from the CD! Which worked a treat unlike on Windows Seven where the program didn't load properly. Sadly though, while I did find a fellow blogger's ventures with his 5MX, Windows refuses to install the drivers which he said are the only ones he found to work. Yes, that Windows feature

I've given up with drivers. I did find some third-party ones from Prolific too which seem good, but no luck with them either. So far there's absolutely nothing in the past fifteen years on connecting Epoc to Windows, so... PsiWin's specifically designed to interface with RS-232, right? So I'll just buy an RS-232 DB9 PCI-E card for Cozen, job done! But now everything's on hold until one arrives. 4th of July update! In preparation for new cells I started stripping the Psion down properly this time, and, would you look at this? This pin's bent as well! Deary me.

This one took a spray of switch oil too, although honestly I know I should be using something else, but switch oil works... Getting this pin out's quite uncomfortable when you know that the screwdriver you're using is scratching into the battery with the same brute force! But it comes out, and now for the confusion of getting the white plastic cover off. I didn't want it removed at first since all I need is the battery out, but that's impossible with how fast the plug is in its socket, so efforts on that have to be retarded until the cover comes off which funnily it did later. Of it's own accord, it literally fell off. Maybe if I had have held it upside down and stared at it for long enough I'd never have had to have bothered with my efforts. Right, well -scratch what I said earlier, the cells are ordered! Oh, and before I forget, Happy Forth of July UK! Glad we got rid of them so easily, iii's taxes really did the trick. But where on earth is that soldering iron I need? I must reflect on this, and maybe I should run these two pieces of plastic under the tap. 🤔

I would much prefer it if the cells coming were absolutely identical, or maybe they are, to be honest I don't know. Finding information on this stuff's difficult if don't know where to look! No, okay, these are identical I'm pretty sure. Well that's dandy. Meanwhile...

Ever since the wax sealing the cells together broke it's been leaking, and was on me while I was getting the heat shrink off. I thought that it would be decidedly healthier to assume that it's trapped fluid, but now I'm not sure I want this on my desk just by looks alone. Skipping a couple of days, and the cells are here! Time to find that soldering iron. My father, deciding that this was going to be more fun than what he was currently doing, mm, wanted in on the fun.

There were a few niggles, notabally that more wire was need in order for the plug to reach the PCB, so we stole some from one of my computer fans that I've had for who only knows how long. It all went extremely well, and used electrical tape to tidy everything up, and stick the thermomiter down. I must admit though, it could be a little tidier, but it works well, and especially after soldering the cable on the right way up.

And all went well! surprisingly, however there is still the matter of what I'm going to do about the cracked plastic that's responsible for holding the hinge rod on the right of the chassis in place, and of what I'm going to do with the hinge pin that goes on the left. I've no idea why it has a ball in it, actually, could it be solder? Thinking about it? Well never mind now, let's just focus on putting everything back together.

Looks good so far! Wouldn't you say? All there is to do now is wait six hours before taking it off charge. This is a critical step, so I'm putting it aside where it can't be knocked or find itself unplugged. Now though, it's time to think more about the what I'm going to do about the broken bits. Haha! No I'm not, I'm going to grind in For Honour instead, and maybe watch some YouTube. First things first, the PCB's screw thing's broken, so what I did was stick it in with Gorilla goodness; but, yes, I'm not an idiot, I didn't use a blob, I smeared a microscopic amount off of the tip onto the ramaining side of the plastic thread thing. Next is the remaining plastic clip which it turned out had snapped when I originally took the white plastic cover off.

Well, I think that's quite evenly distrbuted... Although I knew with almost full certainty that the glue wouldn't hold while trying to get the case back on, and after waiting a little over twelve hours because I'm impatient, that was confirmed. I decided against putting the hinge pin back all the way, only as far as it wanted to go without a barrel of fuss, plus I didn't want to unintentionally stab a brand new battery!

The only side effect is that without those springs it won't close properly, but time'll sort that out of course, and in fact it pretty much already has just by leaving it over night. Now there's still the issue of getting it connected to a computer, of which I did have a small success with, as in it worked, once, and hasn't since. I think ultimately, what I'm going to do is go ahead and buy an RS-232 PCI-E and then boot XP via this laptop's hard disk. Seems the cheapest option to me right now at any rate! And with that, the is it from me for now. If I get any more progress of course I'll update the page. Please write any comments, or use them to ask questions! Also, if it's of interest, there's a dedicated Psion users Discord channel, where I also reside. Ta!