Reuse That PDA As A WRT Terminal

[Michu] used his old Palm IIIc to make a serial interface for his OpenWRT router. It’s a matter of cracking open both the router and the Palm device, then connecting the TTL lines from the router to the MAX 3386e level converter chip inside the Palm. From there, Pocketterm can connect to the router’s serial terminal.

A lot of us have old electronics lying around that work perfectly well. It’s nice to find hacks that make them useful again.

[Thanks Isama]

21 thoughts on “Reuse That PDA As A WRT Terminal

  1. What I dearly wish would happen is that someone would rewrite the palm drivers for linux to allow for continuous connections and PPP over serial/USB. With those two things you could use the mature VNC clients for the palm OS’s (VNC was first ported over for the Palm Pilot!) to access a virtual frame buffer and do all sorts of things.

    I once got a reasonable distance into converting one of those Fossil Wrist PDA’s into a wearable computing terminal before running into the driver stumbling block.

  2. the cradle expects rs232 like signals by default, I am pretty sure the voltages dont matter much so maybe a simple adapter would work

    I have 2 palm VII’s that I got from a place I worked at back in 1999, one is in great condition I have a cradle and keyboard for it (both use the serial port so it sucks, need an IR one I guess) the other I cobbled back together out of a box of parts and its modded like the one in this article for ttl level serial

  3. I’ve thought often about how old Palms would be great displays to embed in another project. The problem I see with that, is that the old pre-USB models I am familiar with are just battery-backed RAM. If I lose power and the batteries run down, I’ll lose the Palm’s software. Then I will have to pull it out and reconnect to a PC to reload it. Not good for an embedded controller in something.

    I have a spare Sony Clie SJ22 with memory stick slot. I think I can put Palm apps on the memory stick to solve the battery issue, but I haven’t tried it yet. Unfortunately the Clie only has USB and not serial, which is why I haven’t tried it yet.

  4. > I must be missing something – why not just telnet into your router from your device? <

    This would be for the situation where you are experimenting, bork your config, and can't telnet in.

  5. I think The older palms (ie Palm IIIxe) had TTL serial out (with the rs232 converter hidden in the cradle), so those would be even easier to use as a terminal for … a lot of things. Hmm. Gotta connect one to my Arduino; that’s sure to be HaD worthy!

  6. @Alan:
    Search Google for PDAParts. That firm does sell cables that match everyone’s PDA. I have here (someplace) a cable for one of those gadgets.

    The biggest problem with the NSLU2 is that the serial ports are deucedly hard to find inside it. And serial via the USB ports requires an adapter that will (definitely) work with the firmware that you chose.

  7. I have used a sony clie peg-th55 to this extent, the 3.3v level serial pins were in the dock connector, so I just hacked a 3 pin connector out the side of the usb adapter (most clie’s have them, its a small dongle that you plug in which has a usb and dc power jack) to use with embedded serial stuffs. The lack of a real keyboard was annoying though…

  8. Where can you get a copy of Pocketterm? I found this article about a year ago and tried to do it with an old color Palm pilot but I could not find a copy of this program for the life of me.

  9. I have an old m505 laying around but I haven’t figured out anything worthwhile to do with it. This hack is cool, but I don’t change stuff on my router often enough to need a dedicated terminal like this.

  10. I’d love to do something like this with my old Dell Axim X5. I haven’t done anything with it in years–do you have any ideas (i.e., does anyone know if it can be used like the palm)?

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