Adding a serial port to the Zipit

[Geordy] added a serial port to his Zipit. It uses a 3.5mm jack as the connector. He managed to include an RS232 level converter inside the case. Both components were hard to fit into the cramped quarters but he did it and he kept the hacker-friendly device looking nice too.


  1. OuchMyFingers says:

    Cripes, that makes my hand cramp just looking at it. with the comparison to the serial connector, my thumb would cover a third of the keyboard.

    Nice clean job though. Always like seeing clean, seamless work.

  2. osgeld says:

    yea I almost went out and bought one of these after seeing it, but the place I found free shipping on also had pictures of someone holding it, looks about the size of a game boy ad-sp

    312mhz and 32mb of ram with a keyboard for 50$ is not bad, then you see its super tiny and has a “transmissive” screen, I dunno maybe I can see one up close first

  3. Geordy says:

    You won’t be touch typing on it but it’s not much different than a Blackberry. The battery life is pretty good. I’ve gotten 4 hours or so out of mine. The screen isn’t nice like an iPod Touch but it’s not terrible either. Overall it’s a really good deal for the price.

  4. Paul Potter says:

    Nicely done.

    I really want one of these little devices.

  5. rkdavis says:

    If you are running IZ2S or one of the two variants on the Zipit you can get upto 14hours of battery life under real world conditions of small 20 to 30 minute bursts with periods of inactivity. and typing is pretty good on the zipit no matter what distro and kernel you are running. i type better on it than on my cellphone qwerty keyboard.

  6. svofski says:

    Hmm so you can easily linuxify this little thingy?

  7. Geordy says:

    It already comes with Linux on it but it’s skinned to make it easy to use for IM, etc. Rkdavis has a shell called ez2s that you can put on an SD card that will unlock the potential of it but I went a step further and re-flashed the kernel on mine. I have ubuntu on one SD card and side-track linux(made by Irongeek) on another SD card. I can just reboot to switch between the two distributions.

  8. jones says:

    For anyone with the knowhow; would it be possible at all to somehow add a usb port to the zipit?

  9. Osgeld says:

    it was covered in one of the linked HAD threads, no

  10. Osgeld says:

    well flat out not no, one could hook up a usb host mcu to the serial port and whip up some drivers

  11. rkdavis says:


    however it isn’t ready for the general public yet as it does require a hardware mod, obtaining a read expansion port connector and a bootloader upgrade, all of which are potentially dangerous although no one who has followed the instructions has bricked or killed their zipit

  12. bobbarker says:

    There is a big connector in the back of the Zipit that has loads of connections broken out from the CPU– one of them being USB port capable of being host.

    I linked to the MFG’s wiki. You have to join the wiki to see the pinouts but it’s all there.

  13. mcavity says:

    Cool1 glad to see its finaly working.
    I have been a bit busy lately dealing with some other stuff but this looks like it could be fun.

  14. Paul says:

    would be useful as a serial communications device I suppose. Can it do TLL?

  15. cantido says:


    The RX/TX lines on the board are probably 3.3v logic.. he’s then added a maxim level convertor that shifts up/down to/from rs232 levels (or close enough, read the datasheet). You should be able to drive RS232 hardware with this, but you don’t have any control lines. If there is some spare GPIO pins around you could use those for that though.

  16. omg.... says:

    OMG! thats a tight spot then a small device to make it worse then its pro work I WANT A ZIPIT!! its SOOOO hackable D: but its so small my hand would cover the hole thing when closed …

  17. Gert says:


  18. Geordy says:

    I’d love to have control lines but I’d also have to use a larger level shifter chip and it might be harder to fit. Also would have to fit a different type of plug with more than 3 conductors. Not sure where the other GPIO lines are located either…

  19. rkdavis says:

    You could probably subvert a few lines from the rear connector that aren’t being used (maybe the camera lines?) but it would require some creative cable making (dual header — rear connector plus your serial mod) and some convoluted s/w

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