Alphasmart 2000, PS/2 cable, PS2 to USB adapter and so forth

So I have an AlphaSmart 2000 or two. They connect to the PS/2 port using a cable and then can act as an external keyboard for getting text off the device. And I’ve already mentioned that, strangely, the 2000 can talk to a Windows 7 install inside VirtualBox vai an IR dongle, though it does not work directly with a native Win 7 computer…

It would be nice, however, to be able to use a PS/2 to USB convertor to dump text into a wider range of machines — ones without PS/2 ports and where I don’t have the rigmarole of installing VirtualBox, etc. A typical convertor is the ATEN PS/2 to USB Adapter. To be specific: Model Name: PS/2 K/B & Mouse to USB Adapter; Model Number: UC-100KMA.

Picture0075 Picture0076 Picture0077

So here is a summary of what I tried and what happened, for what it is worth:

  1. No luck using PS/2 to USB on several machines.  Debian 6, RHEL 6, Windows 7, Windows 10, Mageia 5 inside VirtualBox.  Does it help to unplug regular keyboard? No.
  2. But, when I used a regular PS/2 keyboard via the adapter first, then switched to the 2000, the send worked fine. So it seems to be intermittent. Now, I also had a mouse plugged in to the adapter (it takes both).

So what I did was:

  1. Plugged in the regular keyboard and mouse into the adapter.
  2. Plugged the adapter into the Windows 10 netbook.
  3. Opened LibreOffice.
  4. Typed a few works using the PS/2 keyboard.  Worked.
  5. Swapped PS/2 keyboard for the AlphaSmart 2000, then hit ‘send’. And it worked.

Points to note:

When I plug the 2000 in and it does not work, the messages on the AlphaSmart screen flicker. When it does work, there is no flickering.

Upshot: If you are trying to get text off an older AlphaSmart using a PS/2 to USB keyboard adapter, it may be worth trying an external PS/2 keyboard via the adapter first, then swapping in the AlphaSmart.  If the adapter has a mouse plug as well, it may also be worth adding a mouse.

I don’t know what it is about these things that work, it may just be that the computer does not properly recognise the adapter as having a keyboard on it until it is used successfully, and that this is best done using a normal keyboard at first.

Note that the AlphaSmart ‘get utility’ that allows text to be pushed onto the device does not work through the adapter, so this is only a solution for getting files off the AlphaSmart.


I don’t even know why I bothered with the above.  Who cares?


To install ‘get’ download it from

Download and unzip

then find ‘Setup.exe’ and run it; but you might need to use a Windows compatibility mode (can right click and select ‘Trouble Shoot Compatibility’ or perhaps do it through ‘Properties’).  It installs OK in compatibility mode ‘XP SP3’.

Then run ‘get’ and find out that it does not work through the adapter.





Tags: , , , , , , ,

About Darren

I'm a scientist by training, based in Australia.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: