Mini-SD And RS-232 Board For Zipit Wireless Messenger

zip it add on

Tom Walsh has been hard at work building an add on board for the Zipit Wireless Messenger “IM Device for Teens”. The board adds a mini-SD card slot, RS-232 (using a mini-USB connector) and a power supply for an EL backlight. I’m impressed that he got everything to fit inside of the case, very slick. A year ago we covered putting Linux on these devices. Have any of you readers picked up one and what fun tricks can it do? I looked around and they still cost over $90. I should probably just resurrect my Zaurus and be happy

12 thoughts on “Mini-SD And RS-232 Board For Zipit Wireless Messenger

  1. W/ some clever software, and that rs232 interface, you could use it to monitor things via instant message… First thing that comes to my mind is messaging like “myhottub” on aim and saying “temperature”, and getting a reply back w/ the temp. It would reqiure a microcontroller for the sensing, but it seems like any data you could get into an rs232 capable controller could be accessed in this manner… pretty slick.

  2. I still want a zipit, but im hesitant to sheel out $100 for one, and everyone at #hackaday makes fun of for wanting to get one; to irc on the toilet, but its where i come up with my funniest comments

  3. They really are tempting, but already having multiple laptops and a Zaurus myself, I just can’t justify buying another device to do what the others already can.

    Especially after I made the mistake of getting an IMFree…

  4. I brought my zipit yesterday to the opening of the LinuxWorld Expo — plenty of open wireless networks :)

    I bought a zipit way back when they first came out and have been participating in devel for the past year or so. At the time I purchased mine, I believe most on ebay were running in the 80-90 dollar range, but as mentioned in other comments, the prices have fallen far far below that of late.

    Regarding the use of the zipit as a device monitor, Ken McGuire (along with zipitpet, the man behind much of the initial work hacking the device and writing of drivers), has been using a zipit for several months now as a weather station. IIRC, It records data from a device over rs232 and pushes the info via wifi to a server.

    Somewhat related (and quite interesting), this page is being served off of a zipit with minihttpd. All in all, The zipit is fantastic as a tiny wireless ssh client and wifi auditing tool.

    For those who still wish to use IM, any irc client you can compile should work. With the help of naim’s author Dan Reed, I hacked naim into running nicely on the zipits screen. See the yahoo group for src and patches.

    At the moment, the zipit can be modified to have extra storage as mentioned, play audio both streaming and from storage, use irc/aim/etc clients, has ssh, wavemon, madplay, etc. The wireless chipset is amazingly strong for such a tiny device and the battery lasts a good 4-6 hours with continuous use. Recent developments include running nanoX, backlit screens, etc.

    Any interested parties should check out the following resources:
    -The Zipit devel group is an absolute must (covers hardware/software modifications both existing and ongoing. has photos, schematics, programs, sources, also has the OpenZipit distro for the zipit platform premade for anyone wishing to reflash the device):

    -The Elinux Zipit wiki (information repository and howtos for hardware/software modification, cross compiling, etc):

    -Programs and links

    -NanoX compiled and patched for zipit:

    By all means, drop me an email at if you would like more information or assistance.

  5. hmm, the commenting script seemed to dislike me for having too many URLs in the post. (which is why several of the addresses are not hyperlinks, but just prepend them with http:// and you’re all set)

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