Thursday, September 15, 2005

Sharp ZQ-6300M

Long time ago, in a tech world far away, I bought a Sharp Electronic Organizer. (Turns out it doesn't organize your life automatically, you actually have to have some discipline to use it!) When I got married back in 1999 I gained a more intelligent organizer, my wife.

I had almost all the gadgets, a PC-Link, external battery pack, all of which cost dearly at the time. The battery pack I only purchased because the CR2032 batteries were so expensive ($7-9 each times 4). It could use AA batteries, of which I had plenty rechargables. The PC-Link uses so much power to transfer it shortens battery life, so thinking it would help that's when I bought the battery pack.

I found out the hard way that when there isn't enough power for the main batteries, the battery pack is useless. I tucked away the organizer, pack and cables and sort of forgot about them for a while. Fast forward to five years later, I stumble across them and set about to see what, if anything, was left on it.
Read more
After cleaning out the corroded alkaline batteries in the external battery pack, I put in some fresh ones, tested the voltage, and plugged it in. I hit the On button and ... nothing. I fiddled with the batteries, checked the output voltage, which only needed to be 6.4 volts. You would think that 6 AA batteries X 1.5 volts = 9 volts would be more than enough. Even if some were the 1.25 volt rechargeables, that would still be 7.5 volts. But, no, no power. I nearly damaged the On button trying to coax some life out of the organizer. I hooked up a universal DC adapter to the external battery pack so I knew for sure there was enough power, but still no life.

Remember what I said about the main power? I checked the voltage on the nickel batteries in the organizer, and some were negative, which couldn't be good! Some were still up there close to the 3 volts needed. I have some old computers lying around so I stole a few CR2032 batteries from those to change out the worst of the batteries, and amazingly enough, when I tried the On button, the organizer greeted me with my old address. There was still data in this sucker! (This was before memory cards) The life of the memory battery was supposed to be around 5 years, but the latest entry was from 1998, and this was now 2005.

My first step was to look up the combination for a lock that I had forgotten. (I spent a couple hours one time trying numbers that I had known in different sequences). It worked! My next step was to immediately back up all the data to a computer. First I had to reinstall the DOS only software on a computer. The backup was successful, but then I realized I hadn't turned off the Secret Mode so it was not a complete backup. So I did that and then realized that the backup could only be used to restore to the organizer. So, next I did a download of the data so I could look at it off-line. I spent a few minutes reminiscing through the data to see what was there, then finally turned off the unit.

I returned the batteries back to the computer and a remote control I had pilfered, and bought $1 pack at the dollar store (for three batteries!) I noticed that the electronics store still sold them for $4-5 each but I'm sure those would last longer. I just needed enough to power up the unit enough to switch to the external battery.

So, now I just have to see if it is worth actually using again. It's nothing like a Palm, with only 128K RAM and no user loadable software, but it's something. I should at least get the $400-500 out of it that I paid for!