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August 25, 2006

Overhauling a Palm IIIc

I know the Palm IIIc is getting a bit old and obsolete. Still, it has many useful functions such as serving as a universal remote control.

Initial State

I got my palm IIIc from my brother’s uncle. When I got it, the case
was cracked, the battery was obviously dead, and the cradle, the charger and the stylus were missing.

The chargerFortunately, I’m very lucky and I found a brand new palm cradle in the garbage (along with many other power adaptors). The cradle has a serial port connection to sync the palm but no power input for charging. I went on looking for the Palm IIIc pinout and found this very useful site.

I learned that the palm IIIc has a built in charger and it only needs a 5V in pin 9 in order to charge. So I browsed through the many power adapters that I had and found a 5V DC power adaptor.

Another option is to use the 5V coming out the USB ports by using a USB cable. But that would waste one precious USB port.

I installed a connector for the power adaptor on the back of the cradle by making a square hole using a drill and a small file. If the hole is tight enough, there is no need for glue (I always try to avoid gluing).
I soldered the connector to the appropriated pins ( + to pin 9 and ground to pin 10). There are holes in the cradle PCB named E1 to E10 corresponding to each pin, so soldering was easy.

The Stylus
My brother was kind enough to make a stylus for me. He took a small wood rod slightly thinner than the standard stylus (according to the hole in the Palm), cut it to the right length, sharpened one end with a pencil sharpener, painted it black with a permanent marker, and covered it (except for the sharp end) with heat shrink. I added the tail of a cable tie between the heat shrink and the wood in order to create the little protuberance present in the original stylus.

The soft wood we used is perfect since it doesn’t scratches the screen, we got it from
a construction kit bought at the 1$ store.

The Case

Using electric tape in the inside and crazy glue in the outside I repaired the case. Since the bottom screws were missing and the screw holes were broken, I drilled trough the case (and the Cucaracha Negra PCB) where the original holes were in order to put some screws of my own.

The End Result
The Palm IIIc is now functioning and, the batteries can be easily charged, and the screws in the front are very sexy looking.

August 23, 2006

My Tools

In this post, I will list and describe my tools. Other than showing off, this entry illustrates the many tools required in the upcoming projects.

Soldering Iron
My Hakko 936 ESD Soldering Station is more than enough for soldering small electronics projects. I got it as a Christmas gift from my parents last year. Since then, I have learned how to solder (among other things).

The station allows to adjust the temperature (from 200°C to 480°C) in order to fit
your current needs (i.e. very hot for large pieces of metal or just hot enough to melt the solder on small components).

Also the iron holder is very robust and reliable, unlike the more common (springy) ones.

Desoldering Pump
There is nothing fancy about my good old desoldering pump.

The heat resistant nozzle is not so heat resistant (or I'm ver
y bad at desoldering or both) and has become shorter with time. This is why I upgraded it with a piece of plastic from a wire terminal. The plastic is not heat resistant, but it is cheap and easy to replace.

Third Hand This is a very handy artefact for holding things steady in order to work on them. Of course, it is not an essential tool since it can be easily replaced by a little brother's hand, especially for holding very hot metal while soldering. If you don't have a little brother, a girlfriend's hand will do. This device can be purchased in any electronics store for around 20$.

Wire Stripper What a beautiful name for a tool. This handy little device is essential for any electronics project. Even though it can be replaced by a knife, or even by your nails, it is much easier and clean to strip wire with a wire stripper. I got mine as a gift from my girlfriend.

Swiss Knife
This is my very reliable Victorinox Cybertool 34 (you should be salivating right now). This trusty Swiss pocket knife follows me almost everywhere and allows me to do things à la MacGyver.

A breadboard allows you to easyly and reliably set up circuits without soldering. Thus they are very handy for testing.

A multimeter is indispensable in any electronics project. Mine comes from Radioshack and is somewhat reliable and accurate.

Power Supply
A variable regulated power supply is very handy when doing electronics projects. I got mine essentially from the garbage. I will post more details on it soon since it is one of my projects.

This is by no means a complete list of the tools you need. It simply gives an idea of the many tools required.


I am Carlos Asmat, an electrical engineering undergraduate at McGill University. I have been living in Montreal (Quebec, Canada) for the past eight years but I was born in Rosario (Santa Fe, Argentina).

I have always been interested in building and modifying things. As a child, I disassembled (or broke according to some) many of my toys
in order investigate how they worked. Very often, I was not capable of assembling them back again, so I used the pieces to build some other rudimentary toys.

Since then, I have considerably evolved. As a grown and responsible man, I disassemble many pieces of hardware, ranging from computer peripherals to household appliances, in other to learn how they function and to use the parts to build rudimentary machines. Fortunately for my beloved ones, I don’t experiment on new equipment: my primary source of hardware is the garbage.

This site is diary of my creations. It serves two main goals: to organize my thoughts by making an inventory of what I have done, and to instruct an eventual reader on how to build these creations.

I apologize for my poor English, please don't hesitate in correcting me. I also welcome any comments in Spanish, French or English and I hope you will enjoy this blog.

You can contact me at