Review: iMate ADB-USB converter
Company: Griffin Technology
(required with dongles and devices that need special drivers)
Requirements: A USB-capable computer (iMac, G3, G4, bronze PB or older Mac with USB card—though those probably have ADB anyway)
USB (Universal Serial Bus, the standard on all new Macs) might be a great technology, but it doesn’t do you any good if you are stuck with lots of legacy devices that you cannot connect to your new computer. ADB, or Apple Desktop Bus, the interface standard Apple employed before USB came along, was used to connect mice, trackballs, trackpads, keyboards, graphics tablets, joysticks, game pads, AppleVision displays, and dongles to older Macs. If you needed to use any of those older devices on a new Mac without ADB, you were left high and dry—until Griffin Technologies released the iMate.
The iMate is an ADB-USB converter, meaning it allows your older ADB devices to talk to the new USB interface. Sometimes it might just be convenient to use your nice old 3-button mouse, but in some cases it is even essential because you use a piece of software that is copy protected by a dongle. A dongle is a little piece of hardware that usually connects through the ADB port and allows you to run software when it is connected that otherwise would refuse to run. This method was used to deter illegal copying of very rare and expensive software. Unfortunately, this means you cannot run that software on a newer Mac, unless you use the iMate.
The iMate itself is a small piece of hardware in stylish translucent bondi-blue that connects to your USB port and features a single ADB port for your legacy equipment. The iMate comes with no software, and you won’t need any additional drivers to connect a simple mouse or keyboard. The Mac can handle those with no problem. If you want to connect a device that needs its own driver or a dongle, you need to get the iMate USB driver from Griffin’s Web site.
The iMate sports an activity LED that lets you see what’s going on. Griffin also offers the iMate Fiddler (at same location mentioned above), a program that lets you play with the iMate driver settings, like ADB polling speeds. Those settings shouldn’t be messed with unless you are experiencing problems and know what you’re doing.
While the iMate is not very exciting in itself, it provides an invaluable service to those that need to connect older ADB devices for various reasons. One iMate supports multiple ADB devices (if you chain them together). It also supports keyboard soft power on and off (i.e. using the power key on the ADB keyboards). In contrast to many converters, the iMate is small and not intrusive. It is a must for everyone who needs to protect an extensive investment in ADB technology.
Reader Comments (68)
For what it's worth, USB-Shop has a two-port mini-ADB adapter for only $35 that lets you toggle between two ADB devices into one USB port.
new USB keyboards? It says it supports soft power on
and off, but where is the Eject key mapped to on my
Extended Keyboard II?
Target system is a dual 1.25GHz G4 running OS 9.2.2 and OS
X 10.2. The keyboard is a Extended Keyboard II.
I bought a USB to serial cable, but it doesn't have the drivers for Mac. Do you know where I can get this driver?
However if you either wish to avoid spending the money or, by chance, have a Palm Pilot that is so old that there is no USB cradle, you can buy the Palm USB connectivity kit, which includes both a USB to serial adapter and drivers for the Macintosh.
KeySpan also makes a PDA adapter with drivers for the Macintosh.
I do not know whose serial adapter you currently have. There are several out there which do not offer Macintosh drivers, but if you provide the name, I may be able to locate drivers for you on the web.
Belkin also makes an adapter.
You're thinking of a USB-to-serial adapter, such as Keyspan's. We're not 100% sure but it should work if you have OS X 10.2 (Jaguar) or better. We're thinking new versions have the printer drivers for your Imagewriter.
Previous OS X versions will probably require a full installation of Gimp-print. You can use it for 10.2 and 10.3, too, if an Imagewriter driver does not avail itself.
There was no installer CD. Plugged in in DIRECT TO USB PORT and it ran at once in 9.2.2 and in Panther. The Power Key actually turns the Book on and off.
By the way, OWC still has some Extended boards for $7.00.
Tell us what you're needing to do and we can help direct you to the right cable. My first guess is that you my have been outputting a laptop's S-Video signal to the video input of the projector, in which case you simply need an S-Video cable. Those can be picked up at any Radio Shack, CompUSA, Best Buy, etc.
While I expect this is probably the biggest reason why anyone would actually want one -- a new keyboard, mouse, etc. costs less -- this configuration is not supported by either Griffin Technology nor Wacom.
Worse (from my perspective), Griffon only boths to tell you that it doesn't work if/when you go to download a driver for your iMate -- as if anyone would think to download a driver for an adapter:
"There are no third party ADB drivers so devices that require a driver to operate such as drawing tablets will not work with PCs. "
Of course, by the time you read this, you've already opened the package and discovered it won't work without a driver.
Then you try to return the device and the manufacturer tells you they won't take returns on opened packages.
Very bad business.
If you've got one of these iMates and it won't work for you and you'd be interested in selling it, pls. contact me at the email@example.com.
I am about to bid on Ebay for a Wacom Graphics tablet (intuos A4) and i have been informed that the iMate will make it work on my G4 Laptop (powerbook) system 10.2. I also have a G4 tower 450 GHz. Will i have any problems using it on either of these machines? Anyone got any good stories to tell about this potential interface?
i have a Wacom Intuos 6x8 ADB tablet i'd sell to you. I've long since upgraded to Macs without ADB [my beige G3 is running linux as a server, so i don't use it with that].
e-mail me at atpm [AT] videodocumentary [DOT] org if you're interested. i'm in philly.
So I wanted to connect a (new) USB keyboard to the (built-in) ADB port of my old Mac that I keep as a server. Would the iMate work that way? Any other thought?
I hope of to have been clear.
Thanks for the answer.
...or am I screwed? :(
Can you help or advise please.
I have an imac with usb connections and was wondering if there was any way of pairing it up with my old mac laser writer 4/600 ps printer which has an eight pin round serial connection. It is driving me mad.
My printer is a an old work horse and it would be a shame for it to be binned.
Check the posts at the bottom of the thread for starters on where to look for ideas
I'm not one to follow this thread cause I'm not active here as much. Beyond that I'm not really a Mac guy though I do have a few at the house which I use to connect to my Newtons.
To answer your question to the best of my knowledge:
1) you can use a Keyspan USB to Serial MiniDIN 8 (single or double) - I would lean to think that you are on OSX vs. OS9
Part #: USA-28X (this is the new version)
2) now there other options besides a USB to Serial Adapter, and that would be an Asante Adapter which acts as a Print Server which has a Network Jack and converts it to a Serial MiniDIN 8 which I actually have one at my disposal here in NYC/US which unfortunately is a bit far across the pond as they say...
the Hung Family
So they won't support the ADB tablet, I got that, they haven't ever supported it under OSX.
I can however, use the tablet as a substitute input device - no pressure support but the tablet does seem to map to my screen. I can paint with it with a continuous width line in Photoshop.
Is this behaviour unexpected? It would be nice to have the pressure support but I can see the tablet being useful as an input device even without it. Lasso selection for example is much easier with a stylus than with the track pad. I had a couple of old tablets lying around. maybe I'll try using them this way for a while.
Wacom ADB tablets will not work with OSX or a PC. If you do have a legacy machine with ADB connection and you are running OSX, there is a solution.
I have an old G3, I installed OS 9, then installed OSX. To use the ADB tablet you have to change startup disk to OS 9 and restart, but it does allow you to use your ADB.
You may run into issues with OSX though, my old G3 will only support up to 10.2.8 . I have been told that I can upgrade my processor to a G4 and run 10.3+, but hardly seems worth the time.
Good luck, but there are just too few of the legacy machines that are capable of running OSX of any flavor for Apple or Wacom to worry with working out drivers. Especially since these machines are so dated.
Thanks for the answer.
If I don't install the iMate driver, the keyboard works fine and the trackball performs basic (1-click) functions, but I can't get the Kensington's custom button settings (e.g. double click) to work.
If I do install the iMate driver, I achieve full functionality for the trackball, but the keyboard doesn't work at all.
Any help or suggestions appreciated!
Will this adapter allow me to use a new printer that has a USB port?
Imate adb to usb adapter. The mouse works
but only as a two button.
I assume I would
need mouse software for it work as it should ?
Does anyone know if I can use this adapter with Linux?
If you do, please could you email me on firstname.lastname@example.org
The iMate did work with graphics tablets in early versions of OSX, but tablets were never supported on PCs and current versions of OSX don't have appropriate drivers.
If you're looking to get an ADB graphics tablet going on a newer machine do some other searching in Google, you'll find plans to make an adapter using a microcontroller.
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