19 August 2013

The FM256 Problem

A while back, I attempted to write an import for the Geoscan FM256 in Snuffler based on the documentation alone, as I didn't have a machine to test with. Unfortunately, I had a number of my users reporting that the import didn't work. Despite extensive testing with a number of them, for which I am very grateful for their time, I couldn't resolve the problem. An opportunity arose recently to borrow a machine from the Surrey Archaeological Society (many thanks to them), so I was able to do some testing with a physical machine. I tried the download myself and all appeared fine. I couldn't work out what the problem was. I then realised that I do something slightly different to most people. I use a PCI serial port card rather than a USB to serial converter. I tried a couple of these converters and the results came out as garbage. It wasn't just Snuffler either, it looked like junk in Hyperterminal. What I can't understand is how people are using Geoplot and getting it to work with this data. It is a mystery which I have little inclination to solve. The upshot of all this is that if you want to download from an FM256, get rid of the USB to serial converter and get a PCI serial card. That would be no use to you if you have a laptop of course. You would either need to buy a tower computer, or better yet, a Bartington.

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