Frequently Asked Questions about Casio Digital Diary Communications

This FAQ is maintained by IMSL Software
Updated Jan 20, 2010

General Information

What Do I Need To Communicate Between My Casio Digital Diary And My PC?
Which Diaries/Cables/Software Are Compatible?
What Communications Packages Are Available For the Casio Digital Diary?
Can I Buy A Cable Separately?
Can I Wire My Own Cable?
Are All the Casio Cables Compatible?
Are Casio Communications Programs Available For Mac, Unix Etc?
How Do I Do A Complete Backup Of My Digital Diary?
How Is Duplicate Data Handled?
How Do I Exchange Data With Other PC Programs?
Can I Synchronize My data With a PC Organizer/Database program?
How Do I Exchange Data With Other Electronic Organizers?
What Setting Should I Use For the new models like the SF-4985ER, SF-4700C etc?
Can the Serial Port Be Used For General-Purpose Communications?
My new PC doesn't have a serial port. How can I plug in my Casio diary cable?

Technical Information

Is the Casio Communications Port A Standard RS232 Serial Interface?
What Is the Communications Protocol Of The Digital Diary?
Can PC Software Manage Data in the Casio Diary Through the Serial Link?
Is There Any Way To Speed Up Communications?
Is There Any Way To Load New Applications Into the Casio Diary?

Solving Problems

Communications Doesn't Work! / I Get "Transmit Error"/"Send Error"
Why Doesn't It Work With Com2/3/4?
Why Can I Receive Data From the Diary, But Not Transmit To It?
Why Isn't My SF-5x80/5x90/6x00/7x00 Model Compatible?
Why Isn't My SF-Ax0 Model Compatible?

Got a question not answered here? Ask IMSL Software.

What do I need to communicate between my Casio digital diary and my PC?

Most Casio Digital Diary models have a small 2.5mm serial port built into the side of the unit. It can be used to communicate between two Casio Digital Diary units, or with another serial device such as a PC (or a serial printer on some older models).

To connect between two compatible Digital Diary units, you need only a 3-lead crossover cable with a 2.5mm plug on each end, such as Casio's SB-60 or SB-62 cable. You can buy these cables from a Casio accessory supplier such as Windows Link.

To connect to a standard 9 or 25-pin RS232 PC serial port, you need a special Casio-specific adapter cable (more information below). The Casio diary uses its own unique communications protocol, and requires a Casio diary backup program on the PC. You can build your own cable or buy one by mail order, and use it with shareware software such as XLink/Win, or you can buy a kit complete with cable and software such as those sold by Casio or Windows Link

For more information on serial cables, see Cables. For more information on software and kits see What communications packages are available for the Casio digital diary?

Communications doesn't work! / I get "Transmit Error" (or "Send Error" )

The message "Transmit Error" or "Send Error" on the diary simply means that communications cannot be established - it doesn't tell you much about why. There are many possible reasons for communications between the Casio diary and the PC backup program to fail to work, such as:

The best advice on this topic is to download CASIF/Win and read the Help file section on Communications Troubleshooting. Go through it carefully and systematically, and if you still have problems then contact IMSL Software for advice. But go through the troubleshooting guide first!

Is the external interface port of the Casio digital diary a standard RS232 serial interface?

The external interface port on the side of the Digital Diary is almost a standard serial interface, with the following differences:

Note: The SF-5x90SY and SF-6x00SY use a different cable with a larger 3.5mm plug at the diary end. These cables operate at 12 volts, and are NOT compatible with the older cables or diaries.

WARNING: Don't try to connect your Digital Diary directly to a serial port without the proper adapter, or you'll probably burn out the Diary interface!

Can the serial port be used for general-purpose communications?

No. You can Print directly from some Digital Diary models to serial printer, but there is no general-purpose communications program built into the Casio Digital Diary - it recognizes only its own unique communications protocol for exchanging data. You must have a Casio-specific communications program like CASIF/Win to communicate with it.

What communications packages are available for the Casio digital diary?

Casio originally distributed a package called the FA-100, consisting of a battery-powered serial adapter box to connect between the diary and a standard RS-232C serial port, and a DOS program called SFDTOOL. This is still sold in some parts of the world.

Travelling Software introduced the first alternative, a package consisting of a cable with a built-in adapter powered from the serial port and a DOS program originally called BOSS. The software was later updated to PCLink, and Casio USA distributed this product widely in the USA as the FA-120. Note that the PCLink cable design was changed in Version 2, and earlier cables are incompatible with later software and vice-versa. Casio and Travelling Software terminated their distribution relationship years ago, and PCLink has not been updated since V3.5d. There was never a Windows version. PCLink is still available from Travelling Software, but does not support the latest Casio models, and may not run on fast Pentium machines.

Casio was until 1995 distributing a package called the FA-126 consisting of the Travelling Software-type cable and a Windows program called Windows Link from Polaris Software. Windows Link was originally based on the Polaris Packrat PIM program, combined with Casio interface software licensed from Intellilink. Windows Link Inc. is now an independent company, and continues to sell and upgrade this package. The latest version 2 of WinLink uses communications software licensed from IMSL Software, and there supports all Casio diary models.

Intellilink is a commercial data link program which supports many different palmtops (including the Casio Digital Diary) and many different PIMs, databases, and organizer programs. Intellicorp was acquired by Puma, the company which produces link software for the Palm PDA, so their commitment to other organizers has decreased.

Casio introduced a new FA-127 package at the end of 1996. The FA-127 package includes a new 32-bit Windows program developed by Yellow Computing. Yellow Computing has distributed their own cable and a DOS program called Data Link in Europe for several years. Their cable is incompatible with PCLink and vice-versa.

The new SF-5x90SY models come with an updated version of the FA-127 package called the FA-128. It supports the new Sync capability of these models.

You can find information on those packages which are still available under Other Sources. CASIF/Win and XLink/Win are compatible with all the cables mentioned here.

Which diaries/cables/software are compatible?

Casio Diary Models:

There are 4 different Casio SF Digital Diary families:

  1. The SF-A10, SF-A20, SF-A30 and C-300 belong to the "SF-Axx" family.
  2. The SF-5x80, SF-5x90SY, and SF-6x00SY belong to the "SF-5x80" family
  3. All the other SF models belong to the standard "SF-series", including all the CSF and NX models, the SF-M10, SF-R10/R20, and the SF-4x00 models
  4. The new BN-10/20/30 Business Note models and PV-100/200 Pocket Viewer pen models

Within each family all the models can communicate with each other in a compatible data format, although there are minor differences in the exact data types and variations supported. Models from different families cannot communicate with each other directly, only through PC backup software which allows conversion from the format of one family to the other.

The PV and BN models are generally not compatible with the SF models, except that the PV models have a special mode for receiving some data types from the standard "SF-series" models.

Casio Diary Cables:

All the older Casio diaries which have an external serial port use the same standard 2.5mm 3-contact plug. All the advanced Casio calculators and digital cameras also use the same 2.5mm plug for their serial port and can use the same serial cables as the Casio diaries. The exception is that the new SF-5x90SY and SF-6x00SY diary models use a larger 3.5mm plug. This difference is deliberate because they operate at a different voltage on their serial port. Do not attempt to use a 2.5mm-3.5mm plug adapter on your cable with these models.

The cable for use between two Casio diaries (such as the Casio SB-60/62 cable) is a straight-through 3-wire connector between the two 2.5mm plugs, with Send and Receive crossed over. Diary models in the same family can communicate directly with each other using this cable. Diary models from different families may both be physically compatible with the same cable, but use different incompatible communications protocols.

The serial cable to connect a Casio diary with a PC serial port has a standard 9 or 25-pin serial connector at the PC end, but it is not a straight-through connection to Send and Receive on the PC serial port. The Casio diary uses a lower voltage than a standard RS-232 serial port, so a voltage buffer is required in the cable. This voltage buffer is an electronic component which may be packaged in a separate box (like the FA-100), but is usually built into the cable. The electronic component in the cable requires power, which may come from a separate battery pack (as with the FA-100), but more commonly from the serial port pins on the PC. There are four different design variations possible for cables which draw their power from the PC serial port pins, so you must ensure that your PC backup software is matched to the cable and sets the serial port pins correctly (CASIF/Win can be adjusted to all 4 variations, but most software sold together with a cable supports only that cable).

The BN and PV models are sold with a docking cradle and serial connection for a PC (no Mac option at present).

Casio Diary Backup Software:

All Casio backup software packages support the communications protocol and data format of the standard "SF-series", which is the oldest diary family. Software which has not been updated lately, such as PCLink or CasioTalk for the Mac, will not support the later data types and variations such as ToDo and Expense. Old DOS packages such as PCLink or FA-100 may not work on newer fast PCs because of timing problems. Users of these packages should upgrade to CASIF/Win. CASIF/Win runs on all versions of Windows, including WinNT, WinOS2 and Mac-based Windows emulators. There are no up-to-date shareware software packages or upgrades available at this time for Mac users, but Windows Link has developed a new commercial product. The only other Mac option at this time is to use Windows emulator software with CASIF/Win.

Older software packages will not support the newer "SF-5x80" diary family, but any new software or version update introduced since the beginning of 1997 should. This includes CASIF/Win since V1.9d, Windows Link since V1.2, and Casio's FA-127/128 package. Updates are available for CASIF/Win and Windows Link. Users of any older Casio software package who already have a cable and need a software upgrade should upgrade to CASIF/Win, as Casio does not provide upgrades. The newer SF-5x90SY and SF-6x00SY models also have a Sync protocol which is supported by the Casio FA-128 software and CASIF/Win, but not by most other software packages. The SF-6x00SY models have some differences in their standard communications protocol which makes them incompatible with software designed only for the SF-5x80/5x90 models.

The only software available to support the "SF-Axx" family is CASIF/Win since V1.9e (and Windows Link since version 2 since it uses the same code as CASIF/Win). Casio never provided any backup software for the SF-Axx family.

The new Casio BN and PV models share a new and different communications protocol which is only supported by Casio's PC Sync and RandSoft Harmony software at present.

Can I wire my own cable?

If you don't already have Casio-PC interface cable/adapter, you can make your own (or have someone else do it for you). You need a 2.5mm 3-contact plug at the Casio end, a 9 or 25 pin serial plug at the PC end, and a MAX233a chip or equivalent (about $7) to handle voltage-level conversion. You can find wiring diagrams and instructions at the sites listed under Where to Get a Cable and Other Sources.

Note that some models of Digital Diary seem to have slightly off-size jacks larger than 2.5mm, causing a loose plug fit. Also, the plug requires a narrow barrel to fit into the side of many Digital Diary models.

Also the newest SF-5x90SY and SF-6x00SY models use a different and incompatible cable design with a 3.5mm plug. Do not attempt to use a 2.5mm to 3.5mm adapter - the two different cable designs use different voltages.

My new PC doesn't have a serial port

Many new PCs do not have traditional serial ports. They assume that you will buy a USB-serial adapter if you need one. These devices plug into a standard USB connector, providing a tranditional serial port connector for external devices, and appearing as a virtual COM port in Windows. Usually they need to have a special driver installed, which comes with the adapter. If the virtual COM port number is greater than COM4, you cannot select it in XLink/Win's Port Settings - you must instead edit the Xlinkw.ini file with a text editor and change the COM port number manually on the line COMPORT=COMn:9600,N,8 (for example), where n is the COM port number.

This USB-serial adapter is a common type (Prolific PL2303 chipset)   which has been tested to work with XLink/Win and all Casio or Sharp cables. It works with WinXP, Vista/Win7 (with the correct driver), Win98, and MacOS, and it costs less than $5 delivered by mail order: Can't find a driver that works with Windows Vista 32/64 or Win7? Try this one: .

What is the communications protocol of the Casio digital diary?
Is it documented anywhere?
Is it the same for all models?

The protocol is unique to Casio, and is used only for sending and receiving Digital Diary data. It is not officially documented.

There have been very minor changes in the protocol from earlier to later models in the SF-series, aside from the new data types. Most models can exchange any compatible data types, including the CSF-series and the NX-series. The SF-Axx models and the SF-5x80/5x90SY/6x00SY models are exceptions - they belong to two different families which each use their own unique protocol. CASIF/Win supports them all.

The PV and BN models share a common protocol, but are different from the SF models and are not currently supported by CASIF/Win or XLink/Win.

Are Casio communications programs available for other platforms such as Mac or Unix?

Yes. An older Mac package is available from Casio, and there is a Mac shareware program called CasioTalk. However, both are long out of date, and there are no plans to update either one (see Sources). Windows Link Inc. has a more recent Mac program. You can run CASIF/Win or XLink/Win on Mac-based Windows emulators such SoftWin or VirtualPC.

There are several simple freeware Unix communications programs around (see Sources). None of these programs support all of the latest Casio models and data types. You can CASIF/Win or XLink/Win on the Wine Windows emulator for Unix, including Linux

An old AmigaDOS program is also available (see Sources).

Can PC software directly manage data on the Casio digital diary through the serial link?

Not on the standard SF models. The Casio communications interface does not include any remote command capability. PC software like CASIF/Win cannot change the contents of the Digital Diary in any way, other than to load new data items. It cannot delete or edit items in the Digital Diary memory. It cannot mark or unmark data items in the Digital Diary. It cannot switch between different memory areas. It cannot read or write the letter memories, the Secret password, Home or World time, Daylight Savings Time settings, changes to default field names, or System settings.

The newer SY models which support a Synch function do allow the PC to update and delete data items on the diary. Refer to Synchronizing Data.

When receiving new data, how does the Casio digital diary handle duplicate data items?

Unless you have an SF-M10/R10/R20 model, or an SF-5x80/5x90SY/6x00SY/7x00SY, it doesn't. Redundant duplicate entries are created. The only duplication prevented in most models is two schedule entries with the same alarm time.

To avoid duplication on uploads, you must erase the entire contents of the Digital Diary first, or use the data synchronization capability of PC software like CASIF/Win to filter the data.

How do I do a complete backup of my Casio digital diary?

To include all data from the standard SF models, you must transmit:

Each of these separate data sets must be transmitted individually from the Digital Diary.

There is no way to back up Home Time/World Time settings, Letter Memory, Expense/Payment categories, Date format setting, Telephone/Business Card Free Field names, or other Diary settings.

If you have a model which supports multiple files within a data type (such as the SF-5x80/5x90/6x00/7x00SY series), you must be sure to transmit all files.

Is there any way to speed up communications?

Serial communications with the standard Casio Digital Diary models is fastest at 9600 baud, 7 bits, no parity.

The communications protocol used by the standard Digital Diary models is not very efficient, typically less than 40% of the maximum possible data rate. All data characters are encoded as two hex ASCII digits so that they can be transmitted in 7-bit mode, even if you are using 8-bit mode. In addition, every record and every data field has a lengthy header and/or trailer added to provide additional information and error checking.

For older SF models with a Print function CASIF/Win supports faster data transfer to the PC using Print mode for types of data. When data is Printed from the Digital Diary instead of Transmitted, the data is sent as formatted 8-bit ASCII text with no handshaking protocol or redundant information added.

The communications protocols used by the Casio SF-5x80/5x90SY/6x00SY/7x00SY models and by the SF-Axx models are actually more efficient than the standard protocol, since they send most data as unencoded single-byte ASCII characters. You can't adjust the baud rate or databits on these models.

Is there any way to update the software in the Casio digital diary?

No. The Casio diary operates from a fixed program in ROM. There is no way to update the internal operating system or applications software.

Some older Casio diary models accept plug-in program cards to add applications (see Tips).

The recently-introduced PV-250X/450X models are the first designed to allow software updates. No update software has been released by Casio yet.

Are all the different Casio cables compatible?

No, there are two different types, one with a 2.5mm plug and one with a 3.5mm plug. The one with the 2.5mm plug incorporates a voltage converter which connects a diary port operating at 6 volts to a PC serial port operating at 12 volts. The one with the 3.5mm passes 12 volts from the PC serial port straight through to the diary - so don't try to use a plug size adapter to make the wrong cable fit your diary!

There are a variety of different designs for the voltage converter in the 2.5mm cable (see Compatibility)- the important difference is that the cables which need to draw power from the serial port don't always agree on which pins should be +12v and which pins should be -12v. In particular, the Travelling Software cable and the Yellow Computing cable require the reverse voltages on RTS and DTR. The voltages on these pins have to be set by software, so the software has to know which type of cable you are using to be compatible with all cables. Most software packages assume a Travelling Software type of cable.

XLink/Win will allow you to experiment with the 4 possible combinations (RTS/DTR on/off) if you aren't sure which to use with a particular cable.

Can I buy a cable separately?

Yes. See Where to Get a Cable

Why isn't my SF-5x80/5x90/6x00/7x00 model compatible?

The SF-5x80/5x90SY/6x00SY/7x00SY series (SF-5580, SF-5780, SF-5980, SF-5590SY, SF-5790SY, SF-5990SY, SF-6500SY, SF-6700SY, SF-6900SY, SF-7100SY, SF-7200SY) uses a different communications protocol from the other Casio diaries. The 2.5mm serial port on the SF-5x80 models is compatible with standard SF cables, but different software is needed. CASIF/Win since V1.9d is compatible with these models. Earlier versions of CASIF/Win (and most other Casio diary communications software packages dated before 1997) are not.

The SF-5x80/5x90SY/6x00SY/7x00SY models can communicate with each other, but not with other Casio diary models in the standard SF/CSF/NX series or the SF-Axx series.

The SF-6x00/7x00SY models have some differences in communications protocol from the SF-5x80/5x90SY models. Make sure that you have selected the correct model number. If you have problems using an older model setting in an existing software package, you may have to update your software.

Why isn't my SF-Axx model compatible?

The SF-Axx series (SF-A10, SF-A20, SF-A30, C-300) uses a different communications protocol from the other Casio diaries. The serial port is compatible with standard 2.5mm cables, but different software is needed. The SF-Axx series diaries can communicate with each other, but not with other Casio diary models.

CASIF/Win since version 1.9e supports these models, but earlier versions do not. Casio does not have any software available to support these models.

What setting should I use for the SF-4600/4700/4900L/C or SF-4980/4985ER etc?

In general all of these models are compatible with the SF-4600B or the nearest equivalent you can find in the list of models supported by your software. The most significant difference you will encounter is that some support optional ToDo and Expense data types, while others do not.

If an older software package will not communicate with a newer model, and you are sure you have selected a compatible model number, it may mean that there is a communications timing problem. The Casio electronic diaries are notoriously sensitive to exact communications timing, and older programs are frequently incompatible with the timing requirements of new diary models and faster PCs. You can either try your program on an older and slower PC, or update your software.

Why doesn't it work with com2/3/4?

COM1 is normally present and correctly set up on most PCs, but you may run into various problems with higher-numbered COM ports:

The last problem occurs frequently when people leave a "gap" in their COM port numbers in an attempt to avoid an IRQ conflict. If you leave COM3 undefined and attempt to define your spare port as COM4, the BIOS on many motherboards will automatically renumber this port as COM3, causing a disagreement with Windows which renders the port unusable in Windows. This bug exists on all of the recent Asus motherboards.

If possible, you should use this COM port setup:

Don't leave any gaps in your COM port numbers!

CASIF/Win since Version 1.9e has a "Test" button in the COM Port Settings window which will tell you the status of your COM ports according to Windows. This is vital information in the event of a problem.

Why can I receive data from the diary, but not transmit to it?

If you can receive data, then your serial communications is working in both directions, since the Casio diary needs to synchronize with the receiver initially and then "handshake" after every record. There is one exception to this: the SF-5x80/5x90SY/6x00SY models always send the first record without any startup synchronization, then wait for a "handshake" at the end of the first record. If your serial communications is not working, or is working in only one direction, these diary models may appear to send the first record successfully and then stop.

The most common communications problem when you can receive from the diary to the PC, but not transmit back to the diary, is a timing problem. The Casio diaries are not robust serial devices. They extremely sensitive to the timing with which data is sent to them. Any time you move to a faster PC, there is a good chance that it will disrupt this sensitive timing with existing software; this is why PCLink will no longer work on Pentium processors. The exact degree of sensitivity to timing depends on the specific diary model, the type of data you are sending, and the maximum length of the records. You may succeed in sending one type of data, but not another. Or it may work for all but the longest individual records. In general this problem does occur when receiving data from the diary to the PC, because in that case the diary itself is controlling most of the timing.

Sometimes it will help to switch to a lower baud rate. If your diary model supports it, try reducing the baud rate (at both ends) one step at a time and retry the send operation to see if it has slowed things down enough to work. If this doesn't work, then you must adjust the timing in the software. If your software does not allow adjustment of timing, there is not much you can do about this other than to switch to a lower processor speed or a different PC with a slower processor.

How do I exchange data with other PC programs?

The most common way to exchange data between PC programs is in CSV text file format. CSV stands for "Comma separated values", meaning that the file consists of text fields separated by commas, with one record per line. Usually the text fields are enclosed in quotes in case they contain separators like commas. You will find that most PC database, spreadsheet, word processor and organizer programs support importing and exporting this format. Unfortunately when you are trying to exchange data between a Casio diary backup program and a PC organizer program such as Microsoft Outlook or Lotus Organizer there is one major problem: the fields supported by the Casio diary may not agree with the fields supported by the organizer program. For example, the Casio diary uses a single Name field, while most organizer programs have First Name and Last Name. Or the Casio diary uses a specific time of day as the Alarm Time for a Schedule item, while most organizer programs set the alarm time as an interval of minutes or hours before the appointment. See Tips for more information on exchanging data with specific organizer programs in CSV text file format.

XLink/Win and some of the organizer programs have functions for combining/splitting fields or translating some of the field differences. To find out what specific capabilities your organizer program has, read the documentation. For XLink/Win or CASIF/Win, check the Help file under Importing and Exporting. You can also review an example of Importing Schedule+ Contacts.

CASIF/Win can link directly to existing databases in most formats supported Microsoft's Jet database engine, ODBC, or 32-bit DAO with the addition of optional components. See the Help file under External Databases.

Can I synchronize data with a PC Organizer/Database program?

Casio models which do not have a Synch function do not support true data synchronization with the PC, since records are not uniquely identified in any way and there is no way for the PC to directly update records in the diary. You can exchange data with the PC, and filter New, Duplicated, and Modified records on the PC with a suitable program such as XLink/Win, but the only way to fully synchronize the data without a lot of manual editing on the diary is to erase the diary contents completely and reload it from the PC. See the XLink/Win or CASIF/Win Help file under the topic Data Synchronization for more information.

If you have a Synch model (SF-5x90SY/6x00SY/7x00SY), these models do support true data synchronization with the PC. Unfortunately the only software which supports this is Casio's FA-128 program, and it uses a proprietary database format which does not integrate with any commonly-used PC organizer or database program. XLink/Win and CASIF/Win partly support the Synch protocol to exchange only changed data items, but the complete protocol is very complex and not fully implemented.

How do I exchange data with other electronic organizers?

If both organizer models are supported by the same backup program, such as XLink/Win or CASIF/Win, you can exchange data by simply changing models in the program. XLink/Win supports a wide range of Casio and Sharp models, but most programs are specific to a few models. With XLink/Win you must store the data in text file format, and re-convert it to the destination organizer format (CAS file or YOL file) each time you change models.

If the other organizer is not supported by the same backup program, but does have a PC backup program which supports CSV text file import/export (e.g. Palm Desktop or PC Sync for the Casio PV/BN models) you can exchange data by importing and exporting in CSV text format. You may have to re-map the specific fields in the CSV text file to be compatible, for example to change the order of fields or to combine or split apart fields (e.g. Name < = > First Name, Last Name or Date, Time < = > Date+time). Read the Help file sections on Importing and Exporting to understand the field re-mapping features supported by XLink/Win and CASIF/Win for this purpose. You may also find that the other program also supports similar or complementary re-mapping features which can help.

This FAQ is maintained by IMSL Software
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