Make your own Newton-to-PC Connection Cable

Connecting a Newton MessagePad to your desktop computer can be tricky without the Newton Connection Kit. The kit includes a serial cable and software.

For me, the Newton Connection Kit is indispensable for installing packages and synchronising data between my Newton and Mac. It's possible to get by without the Newton Connection software, but you really can't do without a serial cable.

Some commercial software, distributed on floppy disks, come bundled with Apple's Newton Package Installer software. Packages, such as Figgles' Typomatica or NS BASIC, allow you to type information directly into your Newton via a terminal emulator. All you need is a serial cable.

If you are a Mac user, connecting your Newton MessagePad to a Mac is simple. Buy yourself a standard LocalTalk cable. It's readily available at most Macintosh resellers or electronics stores.

If you are a PC user, getting a suitable serial cable is not so easy. I wanted a Newton-to-PC cable for my laptop computer, but I didn't really want to buy the Windows version of the Newton Connection Kit. So I made my own cable.

You can do the same. Or ask a friend who's handy with a soldering iron to help you.


You will need the following materials:

Wiring a male mini DIN-8 connector may be difficult, so you might consider getting a LocalTalk cable and cutting off the connector at one end. If you know someone else who needs a cable, cut the cable in half. That way you can make two cables.

You will also need soldering equipment and a circuit testing device, such as a multimeter. If you don't have one, a battery, a light bulb and two short lengths of wire will work.


1. Remove about 2 cm of the outer protective jacket and peel away the shielding foil to expose the individual insulated wires. The insulation around each wire is colour-coded for easy identification.

2. Carefully remove the insulation from the end of each wire. A few millimetres is sufficient. Do the same for both ends of the short length of wire.

3. Match the wires to the connector pins using the multimeter. If you intend to use both halves of the cable, you will need to identify the pins at both ends as they are wired in a slightly different way.

4. Solder the wires to the connector pins according to the information in the table. The pin assignments, illustrated in the diagram, are numbered as viewed with you looking head-on at the connectors.

For example, if you're making a DB-9F cable, solder the wire connected to pin 1 of the mini DIN-8M and one end of the short piece of insulated wire to pin 1 of the DB-9F connector. Solder the other end of the short wire to pin 6 of the DB-9F connector.

mini DIN-8M DB-9F DB-25F
Pin Name Pin Pin Name
1HSKo1 & 66 & 8DSR & DCD
2 & 7HSKi & GPi420DTR
4 & 8Gnd & RxD+57Gnd
5. Cut off any remaining unused wires.

6. Test the wiring connections before you fit the connector into the casing.


That's all there is to making your own Newton-to-PC connection cable.

The Newton Connection Kit is a must for any serious Newton owner. But for me, an extra cable gives me more flexibility.

Stephen Wong

Stephen works at Skilled Solutions as a technical writer and training consultant.
E-mail: wongs© Ph: (02) 212 5100, Fax: (02) 212 1708

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Last modified: April 1, 1995
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