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PICList Thread
'[EE]: Faxing via modem'
2003\04\12@032137 by Kris

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Hi all.

Does anyone know how to send faxes using a faxmodem connected directly to a
PIC or similar? I would like to be able to set up some equipment to send
daily reports via fax.

I've tried to find this info, so far to no avail. I have found details in
different modem's command sets that refer to faxing but can't locate hard
info on what the fax data is.

Any help greatly appreciated.

Rgds, Kris

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2003\04\12@090634 by Alex Holden

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On Sat, 2003-04-12 at 08:06, Kris wrote:
> I've tried to find this info, so far to no avail. I have found details in
> different modem's command sets that refer to faxing but can't locate hard
> info on what the fax data is.

It's a fairly simple compressed bitmap image format commonly referred to
as G3 Fax. RFC 804 is a draft copy of CCITT T.4 (the official standard):
http://rfc.net/rfc804.html

If you download the source code for mgetty+sendfax from:
http://www.leo.org/~doering/mgetty/ and look in the g3 directory, it
contains the C source code to a pair of tools for conversion between PBM
and G3 Fax formats. PBM is just a very simple bitmap file format:
http://www.bigbiz.com/cgi-bin/manpage?5+pbm

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2003\04\12@094625 by erholm (QAC)

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But what Kris probably realy need, is some fax sending
software (for PC ?, Kris didn't specify any platform).
There is no reason to dig into the internals of the
fax protocols.

And I see no reason to try to write your own software in
this case, most standard "fax" modems also with a flppy
or CD with either a simple fax application or sometimes
a (working) "light" version of some larger application.
These applications take care of all modem commands and
fax formatting for you.

Jan-Erik Soderholm.

Alex Holden :
{Quote hidden}

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2003\04\12@095723 by Alex Holden

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On Sat, 2003-04-12 at 14:44, Jan-erik Soderholm (QAC) wrote:
> But what Kris probably realy need, is some fax sending
> software (for PC ?, Kris didn't specify any platform).
> There is no reason to dig into the internals of the
> fax protocols.

Quoting from his original message:

> Does anyone know how to send faxes using a faxmodem connected directly
> to a PIC or similar? I would like to be able to set up some equipment
> to send daily reports via fax.

It sounds like he wants to connect a fax modem directly to a PIC based
piece of equipment, not via a PC. To do that he'll need to generate the
raw fax bitmap data in the PIC.

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2003\04\12@101126 by

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Argh, missed that ! Sorry...

So, what model of a PIC can handle a graphic
fax bitmap file ? A "flavor" of TIFF, right?
And the space to store character bitmaps ?

Jan-Erik.

Alex Holden wrote :

>Quoting from his original message:
>
>> Does anyone know how to send faxes using a faxmodem connected directly
>> to a PIC or similar? I would like to be able to set up some equipment
>> to send daily reports via fax.

It sounds like he wants to connect a fax modem directly to a PIC based
piece of equipment, not via a PC. To do that he'll need to generate the
raw fax bitmap data in the PIC.

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2003\04\12@103216 by Alex Holden

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On Sat, 2003-04-12 at 15:09, Jan-erik Svderholm (QAC) wrote:
> So, what model of a PIC can handle a graphic
> fax bitmap file ? A "flavor" of TIFF, right?
> And the space to store character bitmaps ?

It shouldn't be hard to fit a small font into program memory as a lookup
table, people have already done it for printing to graphical LCDs. The
compression is performed on one scan line at a time and is a variant of
run length encoding using a list of code words (specified in the
document I mentioned earlier) corresponding to different length "runs"
of black or white dots. The encoding could easily be done on the fly as
the data is sent out. To make the compression process easier you'd
probably want to buffer one scan line at a time in advance (up to 1728
pixels but less is allowable if you're willing to accept a narrower
printout than full A4 width).

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2003\04\12@110131 by Kris

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Thanks for that info which is exactly what i needed.

I was thinking of sending plain text - nothing fancy - just to be able to
give daily reports of statistics. I'm doing this for a refrigeration unit
and i'd like to supply a list of temperatures throughout the day as a
hardcopy to the contractor.

I am suprised that i have not seen this idea before. Seems like an easy way
to keep computer illiterate types in touch with their products in the field.

Rgds, Kris.

> {Original Message removed}

2003\04\12@112925 by Herbert Graf

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Since speed isn't much of an issue (FAX is very slow) pretty much any faster
PIC out there could easily handle the process, stick on some internal memory
to store stuff (an I2C EEPROM could work). TTYL

> {Original Message removed}

2003\04\12@113640 by Olin Lathrop

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> To make the compression process easier you'd
> probably want to buffer one scan line at a time in advance (up to 1728
> pixels but less is allowable if you're willing to accept a narrower
> printout than full A4 width).

You don't need a buffer to do runlength encoding.  Just keep a count of
how many pixels have been the same color since the last color change.


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2003\04\12@115540 by

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Hm, there is nothing like "plain text" when
faxing. Faxes only "understand" bitmapped
graphic data coded according to the standards
mentioned by Alex. Your PIC has to create
the bitmap (possibly one "row" at a time, but
anyway) before sending it to the modem.

So if you'd like to send a line of text, you have to
first send the upper "dots" of each individual
character on that line. Then start at the beginning
of the same line but one "pixel" below and start over.

In a way "emulate" what the scanner part of an old-time
fax machine did.

Maybe, just *maybe*, there *could* be a reason you
havn't seen this idea before :-)

Now, everything would have been different if therer was
modems with the raster engine builtin. I havn't seen
anything like that...

Regards
Jan-Erik.


{Original Message removed}

2003\04\12@120633 by Herbert Graf

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> Hm, there is nothing like "plain text" when
> faxing. Faxes only "understand" bitmapped
> graphic data coded according to the standards
> mentioned by Alex. Your PIC has to create
> the bitmap (possibly one "row" at a time, but
> anyway) before sending it to the modem.
>
> So if you'd like to send a line of text, you have to
> first send the upper "dots" of each individual
> character on that line. Then start at the beginning
> of the same line but one "pixel" below and start over.
>
> In a way "emulate" what the scanner part of an old-time
> fax machine did.
>
> Maybe, just *maybe*, there *could* be a reason you
> havn't seen this idea before :-)

       Shouldn't be too hard to do in a pic, just store the bitmap of every
character you use in some memory (probably external), then create a function
that gets a specific row of each character, something like: line (character,
line_index). Then throw that result into your compression routine and send.
Do fax modems do the compression? If so then you might not even need to do
the compression yourself, just send the data raw to the fax modem. TTYL

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2003\04\12@130221 by erholm (QAC)

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Have you thought about these embeded cellular "phones"
(but without display, kayboard and so on) that you
can easily interface to a microcontroler. Something
like this :
http://www.wavecom.com/Products_V2/product.php?prs_id=26&prg_id=8

It's got a RS232 interface instead of the keyboard and display,
and uses a modifyed AT-command set. It even has some general
purpose digital I/O's and an A/D converter ! A PIC with a builtin
GSM phone :-)

Jan-Erik Soderholm.

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2003\04\12@131845 by Herbert Graf

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> Have you thought about these embeded cellular "phones"
> (but without display, kayboard and so on) that you
> can easily interface to a microcontroler. Something
> like this :
> http://www.wavecom.com/Products_V2/product.php?prs_id=26&prg_id=8
>
> It's got a RS232 interface instead of the keyboard and display,
> and uses a modifyed AT-command set. It even has some general
> purpose digital I/O's and an A/D converter ! A PIC with a builtin
> GSM phone :-)

       It's an interesting idea, but I'm not sure how it would help in sending a
fax? Perhaps you're referring to a cell phone's data capabilities?

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2003\04\12@133541 by

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Well, I thought that an SMS message could replace the fax
dito. You'd probably find more people carying a cellular
phone around then a fax machine.

(The GSM box on the URL *does* fax sending, but, of course,
with the same "modem-style" interface, so you still have to
raster your fax message yourself).

Jan-Erik.
PS.
The part in the URL (or a similar part from the same manufaturer)
is beeing used in an Elektor project (late 2002), where you turn
220v/110v equipment on and off with a SMS message.
DS.

{Original Message removed}

2003\04\12@134601 by Olin Lathrop

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{Quote hidden}

This really isn't hard.  I've got a 16C66 driving a bitmapped LED display at
around 37Hz.  Only the text is stored.  The pixels get generated on the fly
from the font table in right in the program memory of the PIC.  See
http://www.embedinc.com/ourportfolio.shtml#eyeball.  The required fax data
rate is a lot lower, and nothing breaks if you don't send a byte as fast as
possible.


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2003\04\12@135403 by Herbert Graf

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> Well, I thought that an SMS message could replace the fax
> dito. You'd probably find more people carying a cellular
> phone around then a fax machine.
>
> (The GSM box on the URL *does* fax sending, but, of course,
> with the same "modem-style" interface, so you still have to
> raster your fax message yourself).

       It's a good idea, however the problem with SMS is that not everyone has it.
Here in North America SMS is available on many services, but not all. We are
in many ways quite backward compared to the rest of the world when it comes
to cell phones. The beauty of the FAX idea is it's pretty much world
universal. TTYL

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2003\04\12@184625 by Jinx

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> Have you thought about these embeded cellular "phones"

http://www.wavecom.com/Products_V2/product.php?prs_id=26&prg_id=8

I'm not familiar with that one, but I've got here a Siemens MC35
development kit to work on, and they're around NZ$400, so I'm
told, which is a tad more expensive than a fax modem

http://www.pgsm.hu/kinalat/keszulekek/siemensmc35_en.html

Nicer than a fax modem to play with though ;-)

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2003\04\12@204402 by David Duffy

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Kris:
>I was thinking of sending plain text - nothing fancy - just to be able to
>give daily reports of statistics. I'm doing this for a refrigeration unit
>and i'd like to supply a list of temperatures throughout the day as a
>hardcopy to the contractor.
>
>I am suprised that i have not seen this idea before. Seems like an easy way
>to keep computer illiterate types in touch with their products in the field.

Jan-Erik:
>Hm, there is nothing like "plain text" when
>faxing. Faxes only "understand" bitmapped
>graphic data coded according to the standards
>mentioned by Alex. Your PIC has to create
>the bitmap (possibly one "row" at a time, but
>anyway) before sending it to the modem.

There is a plain text mode that faxes use actually. I used it a lot
when I wrote a DOS application that could fax orders to suppliers
via a 9600/2400 baud fax/modem. In text mode you just feed it
the text file IIRC. It was a very fast way to fax. No encoding to do,
just plain ASCII text with CR/LF, etc. If you only want to send out
messages from the PIC, that's the way to go. :-)
David...

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2003\04\12@213226 by Herbert Graf

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> There is a plain text mode that faxes use actually. I used it a lot
> when I wrote a DOS application that could fax orders to suppliers
> via a 9600/2400 baud fax/modem. In text mode you just feed it
> the text file IIRC. It was a very fast way to fax. No encoding to do,
> just plain ASCII text with CR/LF, etc. If you only want to send out
> messages from the PIC, that's the way to go. :-)

       Hmm, I guess that's how the "title" of faxes is written? The line where it
lists the telephone number and stuff like that? TTYL

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2003\04\12@231600 by David Duffy

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David:
> > There is a plain text mode that faxes use actually. I used it a lot
> > when I wrote a DOS application that could fax orders to suppliers
> > via a 9600/2400 baud fax/modem. In text mode you just feed it
> > the text file IIRC. It was a very fast way to fax. No encoding to do,
> > just plain ASCII text with CR/LF, etc. If you only want to send out
> > messages from the PIC, that's the way to go. :-)

Herbert:
>         Hmm, I guess that's how the "title" of faxes is written? The line
> where it
>lists the telephone number and stuff like that? TTYL

Good point. I did a bit of Googling earlier but couldn't find a reference that
showed how to send the plain text on a fax/modem. It's been a few years
since I used that mode and it was a small DOS command line utility that
did the work once you gave it a number to call and the text file's name.
I just found the "ssfaxer" program in an old backup directory. A Google on
that term shows a few hits. That may be the place to start.
David...

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U8, 9-11 Trade St, Cleveland 4163 Australia
Ph: +61 7 38210362   Fax: +61 7 38210281
New Web: http://www.audiovisualdevices.com.au
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2003\04\13@002407 by Jinx

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I'm intrigued now

Knowing next to nothing about AT commands, I had a look through
the MC35 AT Command Set pdf and Bitware's options

AT command sets are easy enough to find

http://www.fosh.com.au/Fosh/Support/su56/56KENG/ATcom.htm

Sure enough, my Bitware AT settings have their MC35 counterparts,
and I wonder how it is you would send an AT command from a PIC
to a piece of h/w like a modem card. Could it be done with a cheap
OTS ISA or PCI modem card ?

I had a (admittedly brief) look around the web but there were so many
hits, and the few I browsed through didn't lead where I thought they
might

Would it be possible/simpler to use another type of circuit and talk
via RS232, as you would with Hyperterminal ? I'm a little in the dark
as although an internal modem is on a COM port, I don't see pins on
either ISA or PCI that I recognise as Tx/Rx. Also, is it necessary to
use control lines like DTR, CTS etc

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2003\04\13@002959 by Kris

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> > > There is a plain text mode that faxes use actually. I used it a lot
> > > when I wrote a DOS application that could fax orders to suppliers
> > > via a 9600/2400 baud fax/modem. In text mode you just feed it
> > > the text file IIRC. It was a very fast way to fax. No encoding to do,
> Hmm, I guess that's how the "title" of faxes is
> written? The line
> > where it

Just found a program DOSFAX that does send plain text files. It seems that
it converts the text into bitmaps so i'm not so sure if there really is a
plain text faxing mode. But it doesn't seem like it's something too hard to
do anyway.

The program with pascal source can be obtained from
http://www.simtel.net/pub/pd/25384.html

Rgds, Kris.

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2003\04\13@031541 by David Duffy

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At 02:24 PM 13/04/2003, you wrote:
> > > > There is a plain text mode that faxes use actually. I used it a lot
> > > > when I wrote a DOS application that could fax orders to suppliers
> > > > via a 9600/2400 baud fax/modem. In text mode you just feed it
> > > > the text file IIRC. It was a very fast way to fax. No encoding to do,
> > Hmm, I guess that's how the "title" of faxes is
> > written? The line
> > > where it

Kris:
>Just found a program DOSFAX that does send plain text files. It seems that
>it converts the text into bitmaps so i'm not so sure if there really is a
>plain text faxing mode. But it doesn't seem like it's something too hard to
>do anyway.

Hmmm... I think you may be right. Curiosity got the better of me and I did
some more Googling but can't seem to find anything about a "native" text
mode for fax/modems. I thought the DOS one was just a simple interface
to the modem but maybe it converts lines of text to stripes of graphics to
give the illusion of it being text mode. I guess you could always email the
guy from Simple Simon (http://www.ssfaxer.com) and ask him how he did it.
Let us know how you get on. I don't have an application for it (yet) but it
would be handy to know what's possible. :-)
David...

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U8, 9-11 Trade St, Cleveland 4163 Australia
Ph: +61 7 38210362   Fax: +61 7 38210281
New Web: http://www.audiovisualdevices.com.au
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2003\04\13@080245 by Olin Lathrop

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> I'm a little in the dark
> as although an internal modem is on a COM port, I don't see pins on
> either ISA or PCI that I recognise as Tx/Rx.

Of course not.  RX and TX are on the RS-232 end of a COM port.  The point of
COM port hardware is to make them accessible via a bus interface, like ISA
or PCI.  A modem emulating a COM port on the bus isn't going to have an RX
or TX line anywhere, except perhaps at TTL levels connected to the modem
chip on old modems.  Newer modems have the bus interface and modem all
rolled into one chip, and don't necessarily simulate a standard COM port on
the bus.

> Also, is it necessary to
> use control lines like DTR, CTS etc

When you're controlling a modem via RS-232, DTR is usually used, and CTS
depends on the kind of flow control.


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2003\04\13@210125 by Ashley Roll

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Hi Kris,

Just a thought, but perhaps it would be just as easy to render a graph
"down" the page.. Each scan line in the fax is just a start part to draw the
axis, then some blank spaces, then the pixel shifted to the right spot.

You could do a simple "header" which draws the start of the graph with the
ticks and values at the top. This wouldn't need to change, so you could
precomputed it and store it in EEPROM..

Then you just output scan lines until you run out of data.. Can't be too
hard to compute the compressed data for the graphs. Also not the "left" side
of the graph could probably also be precomputed. You may want two versions
of the left axis so you can put in tick marks..

Having said that, rendering the text shouldn't be too hard from a stored
bitmap font..

Nice idea by the way :)

Cheers,
Ash.

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> {Original Message removed}

2003\04\14@050641 by Alan B. Pearce

face picon face
> Well, I thought that an SMS message could replace the fax
> dito. You'd probably find more people carying a cellular
> phone around then a fax machine.
>
> (The GSM box on the URL *does* fax sending, but, of course,
> with the same "modem-style" interface, so you still have to
> raster your fax message yourself).

>        It's a good idea, however the problem with SMS is that
>not everyone has it. Here in North America SMS is available ....

Also the data he is wanting to send is not really amenable to SMS. It is the
sort of data where you are likely to want to file a printout for audit
purposes (just what was the temperature when we shipped that lot that had
salmonella???)

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2003\04\14@080216 by Olin Lathrop

face picon face
> Just a thought, but perhaps it would be just as easy to render a graph
> "down" the page.. Each scan line in the fax is just a start part to
> draw the axis, then some blank spaces, then the pixel shifted to the
> right spot.
>
> You could do a simple "header" which draws the start of the graph with
> the ticks and values at the top. This wouldn't need to change, so you
> could precomputed it and store it in EEPROM..
>
> Then you just output scan lines until you run out of data.. Can't be too
> hard to compute the compressed data for the graphs. Also not the "left"
> side of the graph could probably also be precomputed. You may want two
> versions of the left axis so you can put in tick marks..
>
> Having said that, rendering the text shouldn't be too hard from a stored
> bitmap font..

Have you considered sending an email message instead of a fax?  Since
you're willing to make a phone call, it could just as well be to an ISP or
a customer's machine running an SMTP server.  The SMTP client protocol is
rather easy to implement.  See RFC 821.  I think there are even email to
fax gateways.


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2003\04\14@181446 by Barry Gershenfeld

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The most important piece of compressed data--the plain blank line--
could be a hard coded frame.  Probably reduce the page size by
half just by doing that.

Barry

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2003\04\14@220833 by Ashley Roll

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Hi Olin,

> -----Original Message-----
> From: pic microcontroller discussion list
> [spam_OUTPICLISTTakeThisOuTspamMITVMA.MIT.EDU]On Behalf Of Olin Lathrop
> Sent: Monday, 14 April 2003 10:02 PM
> To: .....PICLISTKILLspamspam@spam@MITVMA.MIT.EDU
> Subject: Re: [EE]: Faxing via modem
>
> Have you considered sending an email message instead of a fax?  Since
> you're willing to make a phone call, it could just as well be
> to an ISP or a customer's machine running an SMTP server.
> The SMTP client protocol is rather easy to implement.  See RFC 821.
> I think there are even email to fax gateways.

Unfortunately, this would be much more complex.. Because to talk SMTP you
first need to be able to talk TCP/IP, and to get to TCP/IP through a modem
(at a standard ISP) you would need to talk something like PPP.. Not to
mention all the fun of keeping usernames and passwords up to date :)

Effectively you would need to implement 3 layers of protocols, Where as with
a fax, you just need to be able to dial the modem and send the compressed
data.

Having said that, I would rather an email then a fax, but the original
poster was talking about non-technical people :)

Cheers,
Ash.

---
Ashley Roll
Digital Nemesis Pty Ltd
http://www.digitalnemesis.com
Mobile: +61 (0)417 705 718

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2003\04\15@010331 by PicDude

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If alternate options are being considered, don't forget
alphanumeric pagers (or cellphones w/text messaging).
These should be accessible with just a modem as well.

Cheers,
-Neil.



Ashley Roll mumbled:
>
> Hi Olin,
>
> > {Original Message removed}

2003\04\15@012134 by Russell C. Hay

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face
Yup, and if you look at http://www.digitprocom.com/ , They sell a pager unit
that is easily interfaced to a picchip (the Ambient Orb I think uses this
device)

{Original Message removed}

2003\04\15@033345 by Antony Wuth

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Ashley Roll (ashspamKILLspamDIGITALNEMESIS.COM) wrote:

> > Have you considered sending an email message instead of a fax?  Since
> > you're willing to make a phone call, it could just as well be
> > to an ISP or a customer's machine running an SMTP server.
> > The SMTP client protocol is rather easy to implement.  See RFC 821.
> > I think there are even email to fax gateways.
>
> Unfortunately, this would be much more complex.. Because to talk SMTP you
> first need to be able to talk TCP/IP, and to get to TCP/IP through a modem
> (at a standard ISP) you would need to talk something like PPP.. Not to
> mention all the fun of keeping usernames and passwords up to date :)

You could directly implemnt SMTP over a serial line (or UUCP (which is
getting older than me)) SMTP is nice & plain text - really easy to do in
a PIC :)

Of course you could impliment TCP but thats going to get really fun :)

Antony Wuth

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2003\04\15@045057 by Ashley Roll

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Well.. Yes if you had a machine with a modem directly plugged into a serial
port and could set it up, but the original poster's (I think) need was for
something that he could plug in anywhere..

I don't know any ISPs that give you that kind off access unless you drop a
machine into their hosting space.. Not that they don't exist, but I'm sure
you'd pay a premium :)

All the ISPs I've seen (and I've actually set one up) have digital modem
banks that manage all the PPP <-> TCP/IP gatewaying themselves, they then
use some access control system to query a local database about
username/password etc..

So to use a "generic" ISP, you'd need to implement PPP (or similar), TCP/IP,
and SMTP.. Not my idea of fun :) (and this is coming from someone that
implemented from scratch an entire SMTP / POP3 system for that ISP running
on Win2000 with an MS SQL Server backend - yes, there were some very good
reasons..)

Cheers,
Ash.

---
Ashley Roll
Digital Nemesis Pty Ltd
http://www.digitalnemesis.com
Mobile: +61 (0)417 705 718




> {Original Message removed}

2003\04\15@084055 by Olin Lathrop

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Ashley Roll wrote:
> Unfortunately, this would be much more complex.. Because to talk SMTP
> you first need to be able to talk TCP/IP, and to get to TCP/IP through
> a modem (at a standard ISP) you would need to talk something like PPP..

Yeah, you're right.  Microchip's TCP/IP stack probably doesn't support PPP
via USART, probably only the RealTech MAC-Phi chip for ethernet (although
I haven't checked).


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