The Haus

Transferring Visor ROM with a USB Cradle

July 11, 2000 -- by A.T. Hun

Last Updated: October 2, 2002

In an effort to get screenshots for PalmOS reviews and to test some apps I hope to write, I wanted to get the PalmOS emulator running on my computer. The only problem is that in order to get the emulator running, you need to transfer the ROM from your PalmOS device. Unfortunately, the emulator assumes that you are using a serial cradle and does not have the ability to transfer via the Handspring Visor's USB cradle. Fortunately, after much investigation, I found a way to transfer ROMs both in Windows and Linux.

In Windows

I found this solution on the Usenet newsgroup comp.sys.palmtops.pilot, submitted by Jay Frase. These are his instructions as they were posted, with only minor editing for clarity. Unfortunately, he couldn't remember the source of this information, so I can't give credit where it is due. Whoever you are, thanks! Following his instructions, I got my ROM downloaded and the emulator running.

  1. Download and install the Handspring SDK.
  2. It never hurts to sync your Visor first. Better safe than sorry.
  3. Disable all hacks on your Visor. Some have reported conflicts with certain hacks preventing you from putting the Visor into debug mode.
  4. Launch Palm Debugger "Handspring\PalmTools\bin\palm-debugger.exe"
  5. In the Connections menu select USB.
  6. Put the Visor in its cradle.
  7. Graffiti Shortcut SymbolLaunch Memo Pad and write "shortcut - dot - dot - 1" (In other words the shortcut symbol, two dots to make a period, and a 1) [Ed. note: the shortcut symbol is pictured at the right] This puts the visor into debug mode, through which it can communicate with the debugger.
  8. Now, in Palm Debugger's "Debugger" window type one of the following (and press enter):

    If you have a standard Visor or Visor Deluxe type:
    save "visor.rom" 10c00000 200000
    If you have a Visor Prism, Platinum (thanks for the tip, Graham!), or Edge type:
    save "visor_prism.rom" 10000000 200000

    A percentage counter should appear - when this reaches 100 it should print the following:

    #2097152 bytes saved from address $10C00000 to file "visor.rom"

  9. If you get this far you have now saved the Visor's ROM to a file on your computer. Look for it in "Handspring\PalmTools\bin\Device\".
  10. But wait! The Visor is still in debug mode and will likely kill your batteries if you don't get it out. So simply perform a soft reset or even simpler, type "reset" and press enter in the Debugger window.
  11. Launch the PalmOS Emulator and develop some cool Visor apps! N.B. It is reported that the Visor Platinum ROM works better with the PalmOS Emulator than the Prism.

If all of this just doesn't want to work for you, check out this thread on Visor Central for solutions to common problems with downloading your Visor's ROM in Windows.

In Linux

Actually, it's even easier to download ROMs in Linux than it is in Windows, thanks to the very cool pilot-link tools. This assumes that you have USB support properly installed on your system. My Red Hat 7.1 installation configured everything automagically for me. For more information on Linux, USB, and the Visor, check out

  1. Download and compile the pilot-link tools. RPMs come with a number of popular Linux distributions too. For example, pilot-link-0.9.5-2.i386.rpm is on the Red Hat 7.1 Disc #1.
  2. It never hurts to sync your Visor first. Better safe than sorry.
  3. Put the Visor in its cradle, hit the hotsync button, and issue this command:
    pi-getrom -p /dev/ttyUSB1 visor.rom
  4. Once the transfer is complete, launch the PalmOS Emulator and develop some cool Visor apps!