Instructables

Replace the Touch Screen (Digitizer) on a Palm TX

Picture of Replace the Touch Screen (Digitizer) on a Palm TX
When the touch screen on a handheld device goes out, you're in big trouble. It pretty much turns your expensive electronic toy into a paperweight. Fortunately, with twenty bucks and about half an hour of your time, you can fix one of these yourself. I'm not sure what the insides of other handheld models look like, but the Palm TX was a very simple fix.

Just a quick disclaimer: I am not responsible for any damage you do to your device or warranty. There are plenty of little fiddly bits inside one of these things that can be easily damaged through carelessness or accident. Also, I'm pretty sure if you open one of these yourself you invalidate the warranty. You have been warned.

***UPDATE 8/4/09:
I forgot to mention, you should probably try PhilB's instructable on the crazy digitizer problem first--you may not need a new digitizer at all! It didn't work for me, but after I'd installed the new touch screen, the DigiFix program was better at calibrating the new screen than the basic software.

***UPDATE 5/4/10:  If you've repaired your Palm using my instructable, go into the Notepad and write, "Thanks depotdevoid!" or something along those lines.  Take a picture of it and post it to the comments below, and I'll send you a DIY patch!***

 
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Step 1: Get a replacement digitzer

Picture of Get a replacement digitzer
Ebay was the best place I found. It took me a few minutes to figure it out, but apparently a "Touch Screen" is actually known as a "Digitizer." I found mine with a search for: digitzer+palm+tx. There were several different options, but being the cheapskate that I am, I bought the one that ships direct from Hong Kong for $19.99, shipping included. That meant I had to wait a couple of weeks for it, but I can be patient if I have to be.

The digitizer actually came in a kit that included a couple of screwdrivers and plastic prybars. I didn't need the screwdrivers, but the prybars certainly came in handy.
Many thanks! I had given up on my Palm TX until I saw your instructable. My model had only one difference; the flex cable connector clamp was hinged in the opposite direction (hard to see at my age!). But everything else went exactly as you described, so now I'm happily back in business.
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depotdevoid (author)  rogerinjapan1 year ago
Great news Roger, thanks! Digital patch is on the way!
Thank you, thank you, thank you! I ordered a replacement digitizer when mine started cutting out on me after 5 years, but it didn't come with instructions. Yours are clear, concise, and easy to follow. I expect to get another 5 years out of it, easy!
depotdevoid (author)  Tripp Hazzard1 year ago
Fantastic, It's always gratifying to hear that this 'ible is still helping people out!
Thanks, Depotdevoid. I ordered a digitizer via eBay and followed your instructions to install it. Instantly fixed the problem. Peter
depotdevoid (author)  Angry Gnome1 year ago
Awesome, I'm glad to hear it worked! Post a picture if you can!
Thank you for the instructable!
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depotdevoid (author)  TheBlueRoseKnight2 years ago
No problem, glad I could help!
cliveoboe2 years ago
Thanx for a great instructable. My TX is humming like new except for the power button which has been long since dead. Luckily using one of the shortcut buttons to start Hotsync will turn the unit on. Used very small screwdriver to get case apart.
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depotdevoid (author)  cliveoboe2 years ago
Thanks for letting me know, a digital patch is on the way!
jott_12 years ago
Your instructions were easy to follow. Worked great! Under the gray tape I had clear tape to peal back also. The digitizer I had plastic protecting the adhesive plus a piece of plastic covering the whole screen(one on each side). The minor differences didn't cause any problems.
depotdevoid (author)  jott_12 years ago
Thanks a lot jott! I'm glad it worked out!
Thanks for your help, it worked great. I wouldn't have dared try this without your instructions and photos. It now works better than it did before. I'm one happy bunny.
depotdevoid (author)  Heywood-west2 years ago
Fantastic, it's great to know this little 'ible is still helping people out!
AlaskaMark2 years ago
A BIG Thanks to you depotdeviod. That was easy and got me back up and running for only $8.00!
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depotdevoid (author)  AlaskaMark2 years ago
Excellent, I'm glad it worked out for you!
FlavioLima2 years ago
That was really helpful. Thank you :)
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depotdevoid (author)  FlavioLima2 years ago
Awesome, one patch coming right up!
Greengas2 years ago
Would like to second cc1868's comments - I just successfully breathed new life into my TX for the total sum of $7.98 for the digitizer off Ebay. Only two comments -I had a bear of a time figuring out where to put a small screwdriver so I could unlatch the digitizer connector (the black connector/clamp under the clear tape and the silver top tape) - I finally got it open when I came down from the TOP of the Palm, with my screwdriver pointing down to the bottom of the digitizer - and gently lifted the black clamp up and rotating it perpendicular to the LCD. There's just enough room under it to slide the new connector in and then latch it down. After that, I found that if you put the TOP section of the TX on the circuit board, after the lcd display is sitting properly in the front of the case, the assembly goes a lot easier and it keeps the power button in place while you lower the circuity board and the TX top into the front case. After that, the back has to be put on bottom first, then rotated into position, and pressure has to be firmly applied at 4 different points, two on one side and two on the other, between the screws - until you hear the "click" of the back latching in.
Other than that, it was painless. Thanks much for posting this information and the great photos!
benstone2 years ago
thank you! great walk-through. a small note you may want to add in step 5: my device came with conductive tape all around the digitizer to lcd edges. no problem cutting it with the pry tool.
depotdevoid (author)  benstone2 years ago
Thanks Benstone, I'm glad to hear I helped you out!
Shadow13!3 years ago
This was a Big Help!
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depotdevoid (author)  Shadow13!3 years ago
Glad I could help, patch is on the way!
cvsoft3 years ago

This instructable was helpful for my m500-series Palms. Both look good and work great! 
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depotdevoid (author)  cvsoft3 years ago
Fantastic, I'm surprised how many of these old palms are still in use! I'm happy to have helped, thanks for sharing pictures, your patch is on the way!
Thanks for the patch!
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hk443 years ago
thanks, it was easy. I may have to mess with the alignment...we'll see.
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depotdevoid (author)  hk443 years ago
Glad I could help, digital patch on the way!
siemensj4 years ago
I really appreciate the instructable. My Palm Tx works great now!
thanks.jpg
depotdevoid (author)  siemensj4 years ago
Totally awesome, I'm really glad to hear that my little instructable helped out! Thanks for posting the picture, it definitely brought a smile to my face, and I'll be sending along a patch shortly.
Thank you for a detailed and very helpful guide. I just replaced my digitizer but have a problem. The left side of the screen does not react to the stylus, so horizontal lines drawn in note pad only fill up the right hand side.. However, I can sometimes press buttons and activate objects on the left side using my finger. There seems to be a problem of resolution (ie the fine stylus point fails but a think finger works..) I tried disassembling again, removing all the connectors but leaving the digitizer in place. I noticed on install that the connecting flat cable was a little longer than the original and, so some pressure has to be applied to close the case. Otherwise, the install was as per you’re the description. Can suggest something to try? Many thanks!
depotdevoid (author)  palmuser3 years ago
I've noticed a similar problem with mine. It only happens when I flip the screen 90 degrees, and then I just can't access the first 1/4" of the right side, which is normally the bottom of the screen. When it's back in the usual position, that section of the screen works fine. I'm thinking these issues may either be a software issue, or be a deeper hardware issue than I know how to take care of!

If you do learn anything about what causes this or how to fix it, please let me know and I'll add it to the instructable so anyone who comes here in the future is aware of it.
My problem seems different as when I rotate the screen, the dead zone remains the same. What I have noticed is that the active zone is actually the upper right quarter when the palm is vertical with the joystick at the base. Any ideas how the digitizer works? My guess is that its capacitive but i have read on google that some people speak of contact with the LCD.
depotdevoid (author)  palmuser3 years ago
I'm not really hip to the science, but my understanding is that older devices like the TX use a resistive touchscreen, where as newer things like the iPhone use a capacitive touchscreen. I believe the capacitive screens allow multitouch usage, where as the older resistive screens are single touch.

Either way, contact with the LCD shouldn't matter, as the flexible top layer of the digitizer is designed to make contact with the bottom layer, closing the gap between them and activating it. If it's not an issue with your software, that leaves only three options I can think of:
  1. A problem with the Palm's other hardware
  2. Damaged/defective digitizer
  3. Faulty installation
If it's #1, there's probably nothing you can do about it. I doubt it's #3 as you've gone back over everything. If it's #2, you'll have to get a new one and try again.

None of these sound good. Go back over all the connections one more time. If that doesn't work, you'll basically have to make a decision whether you want to spend more money on a maybe by buying another digitizer. Unless you can convince whoever sold you the original one that it was defective (which is actually my guess as to the problem).

Good luck and keep me posted!
Hi, I dissembled once more but no cigar.

It's probably #2 as basically there is an issue with sensitivity, ie fingers are detected but not the find stylus point.

Something new: If I open notepad, I can draw with the stylus on the right side only, BUT if I use my finger I can draw anywhere on the screen, just not very precisely..
depotdevoid (author)  palmuser3 years ago
How bizarre! It really does sound like an issue with the digitizer. Have you tried contacting whoever sold you this one and asking for a replacement?
finally got a replacement digitizer but the problem is the same. I guess there is a HW problem.. well, I knew one day my TX would die, its just a pity everything else works fine..
depotdevoid (author)  palmuser3 years ago
I'm really sorry to hear that palmuser. I wish I had another option for you, but this is as far as my knowledge of the issue goes! Thanks for sharing your story with everyone here!
I had trouble with my calibration after replacing both my wife's and mine. I tried the Palm program, and on mine could not even get it to go to the next screen. It kept going back to the calibration screen. I also have Digifix and PowerDigi. Digifix did not work well either, on mine or my wife's. I then tried the PowerDigi. It worked very well. It has three different levels of calibration, with the higest being "Accurate" with 70 touch points of the screen. This program is not free, but you can try a trial version for free for 15 days. Try that and if it works you can purchase it for about $15. I have four days left on mine, then I will try the Palm and the DigiFix on more time. If these do not work, I will purchase PowerDigi.
JOHNDWARD13 years ago
First of all I want to say that the instrutions are great. I just replaced the digitizer on both mine and my wife's TX. I replaced my wife's first as per the instructions. When I replaced mine, there was not a little black connector piece for the digitizer. After looking at it closely for a few minutes, I found that there is a connector that pops up, it just wasn't black.

After replacing, on both units I had trouble getting the Palm touchscreen program to calibrate exactly. I also have Digifix and a trial version of PowerDigi. The Digifix did not seem to calibrate it accurately either, so I tried the PowerDigi. This one worked a lot better. I have 4 days left on my trial version. When it expires I am going to try the calibration again with both the Palm program and the Digifix. If either one of these do not work I will purchase the PowerDigi.
depotdevoid (author)  JOHNDWARD13 years ago
Thanks John, I'm really glad to hear that my instructions helped! I'll put a note in the instructable about the color of the connector, and also about PowerDigi. Since you took the time to sign up to instructables and leave you comments to help out other users, I'll send you a DIY patch!
I just replaced my digitizer for the first time ever. Very scary, but works perfectly. Good notes and good pictures. Thanks.
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depotdevoid (author)  bainvillewendy3 years ago
Fantastic! It is pretty scary digging into something like that for the first time. Thanks for letting me know I was able to help out, the patch is on the way!
chumpy13 years ago
FANTASTIC !!! Easy to follow step-by-step instructions worked flawlessly. Great pictures make the job even easier. My Palm Tungsten TX works better than it ever has. I Highly recommend doing it yourself. It only took 10 minutes and I even applied a new Fellows WriteRIGHT to protect my new touchscreen investment even longer. THANKS…
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depotdevoid (author)  chumpy13 years ago
Awesome, I'm so glad this helped you out . . . digital patch is on the way!
maddoxej4 years ago
Thank you. I got a new digitizer cheap from dealextreme and replaced it myself. I was worried when it wouldn't power on after the procedure. It turned out the battery was dead. Everything is working.
PalmTXDigConnector.JPG
depotdevoid (author)  maddoxej3 years ago
Weird, I missed your comment somehow! I'm glad to hear I helped you out, and thanks for posting a picture!
moonsaba4 years ago
This was SO easy thanks to your step by step pictures and narrative, and the several helpful addendums.  If I hadn't found this I wouldn't have had the guts to replace my digitizer. 

Only one comment:  if you installed a glass digitizer your OEM stylus may now feel sticky or drag.  I installed a high quality screen protector and it now works perfectly. 

My TX is better than new.  Thanks again.
depotdevoid (author)  moonsaba4 years ago
Fantastic, I'm glad it worked out so well for you!  I hadn't noticed any difference with the stylus and the new digitizer, but my stylus may not be OEM.

Thanks for commenting!
JimW584 years ago
Thanks for your great instructions.  I followed them but after replacing the digitizer the TX is dead.  I have checked the connections of the flat connectors and still nothing.  Do you have any idea what may be wrong?

Thanks again for your clear instructions.
depotdevoid (author)  JimW584 years ago
Hmmm . . . that's strange.  Do you mean dead like it won't turn on, or dead like the new digitizer doesn't work? 

Either way, I'd recommend just going back through, disconnecting everything, reconnecting everything, and see if that does it.  Sometimes these things just have some little connection that needs to be jogged back into place.  

If THAT doesn't work, it might just be time to cut your losses and call it a brick.  You may have accidentally damaged the new digitizer during installation.  These things are very fragile.  However, it may be that there is something more deeply wrong with the palm, something beyond my sphere of knowledge.  The only way to find out for sure (that I can think of) would be to get another digitizer and see if that fixes the problem.  Personally, I wouldn't blow another $20 on a maybe.

Thank you for the kind comment Jim, and I'm sorry this didn't work out for you.  Hopefully you'll be able to find the problem eventually!
Thanks for your quick reply.

Dead like it won't turn on.  I assume that if it was the digitizer, it would turn on but I wouldn't be able to do anything from the screen.  I therefore conclude that it is one or both of the flat connectors.  I have carefully removed and reconnected a number of times with no sign of life.

Do you know of anything else that it could be?  (other than the connectors).

Even though I was careful, it could have been zapped with static electricity.

Thanks for your help.
zack247 JimW584 years ago
if you still have it it may be the battery. the battery in my zire worked one day, and didn't the next. try a new battery, that very well may be your problem
depotdevoid (author)  JimW584 years ago
No, sorry Jim.  I don't know what it could be.  You might try looking through some tech help forums, I've had some luck with electronics repairs doing that.  Google is my main resource.

The whole static electricity thing is very possible.  I open a lot of little electronic devices, and every now and then one will stop working for no apparent reason.  I usually chock that up to static.

Sorry I can't be more help!  Best of luck with your palm.
harold_tr4 years ago
Dear friends, I wanna thank you too, for your instructable... I could repair my palm... I think it received a hit or it was a lot of time at sun.... And now It`s OK.

I just had a trouble with Step 4, for getting out the connector... until I "rotate" the black handle around its axis to be able extracting the wire connector...


I also had some troubles because my native language is spanish...and there`re some technical words that I didn`t know...

Thanks...
depotdevoid (author)  harold_tr4 years ago
Great Harold, I'm glad it helped!  Gracias para el comentario.  I hope that's right, it's been many years since I've used any Spanish.
stefpalmtx4 years ago
Warning, I had recalibrated before the replacement, and my digitizer was really broken.
I found out that a hard reset was obligatory so that I can perform the calibration anew (before the hard reset, taps were not reconized at all)
depotdevoid (author)  stefpalmtx4 years ago
Interesting, I'll make note of this in my final step!
cc18684 years ago
Wow these instructions are great. Very helpful, wish I had found them last night. I ruined a new digitizer trying to install the new wires, didn't realize the clamp pulled up and I broke the new wires trying to shove them in. The rest of the take down and install was really easy. Will try again once I get a new digitizer.
depotdevoid (author)  cc18684 years ago
Thanks cc1868, too bad you didn't find this earlier!  Good luck next time around!
FM92954 years ago
Thanks-this really was a lifesaver in swapping mine for a glass digitizer.  Nobody else on the web had good step-by-step pics with a description.

Just a couple of suggestions/clarifications that might help somebody else out:

1.  The black plastic "top" (where the power button resides) also has to comes away at some point in step 3 (or at least doing so seemed to make it easier for me).

2.  My plastic digitizer (the one being removed) actually was in 2 layers.  I probably could have removed the whole thing in one step, but took off a very thin plastic layer first.  (This layer included the thin ribbon cable). 

Then I realized there was a second, thicker plastic layer beneath it.  Wasn't sure it was supposed to come off, but I took it off anyway.  I found that the LCD itself actually has a metal edge (aluminum colored) the whole way around and the thicker layer of plastic was actually adhering to it.  So when you are removing the digitizer from the LCD, if you are getting all the way to the metal edge, you will be able to remove the entire digitizer in one step.

3.  Found that after replacing everything, it helped to delete a 3rd party app that I had previously been using to try to make my ailing digitizer work.  After removing this software and doing a reset, I then used the TX's native calibration tool in "Preferences" and everything was better than when my TX was new!
depotdevoid (author)  FM92954 years ago
Thanks FM, I'm glad this was useful to you.  When I went to find instructions on how to do this, I couldn't find anything either, which is exactly why I made this instructable. 

I actually did mention the top coming off, but it was kind of unclear from my wording.  I've gone ahead and fixed that in step 3.  Also, for some reason all my paragraphs disappeared at some point, so the text was kind of crammed together.  I've gone back now and fixed my formatting as well.

My digitizer came off pretty easy, and all in one piece.  I wonder if it was like yours?  I'll go and check later on.

Also, that's weird about the 3rd party app.  I think there's something wrong with my palm, as the native calibration tool doesn't work at all, and I had to use a third party application.

Thanks for the positive feedback, it's always great to hear when one of my instructables helped someone out!
JCO724 years ago
I could have used this a couple of years ago.  I busted the LCD screen on my Tungsten E.  It ended up being cheaper buying the lcd with the digitizer attached, so now I have a spare digitizer... somewhere.
DebH574 years ago
What a great I'ble Depot, maybe I can salvage my Clie now! Thanks. 5
depotdevoid (author)  DebH574 years ago
Thanks Deb, I hope this lets you bring your Clie back from the dead!
It works! It works! (*doing the happy pee pee dance here) Thanks Depot!
depotdevoid (author)  DebH574 years ago
The guy in the next cubicle is giving me funny looks, since I laughed out loud when I read your comment! I'm glad to hear it works, but watch out. Since you've raised that Clie from the dead, it could be a zombie, so make sure it doesn't bite you! It's always nice to hear when one of your instructables has helped someone out!
Phil B4 years ago
I have used Palm OS devices for almost ten years, and have not yet migrated to an all-in-one phone device. I have seen the insides of a Handspring Visor and of a Sony Clie'. They are all very similar to your TX. I have not replaced a digitizer, yet. Thanks for sharing.
depotdevoid (author)  Phil B4 years ago
Thanks for the info, Phil. I'm glad you liked the instructable, and I'll put this about the Clie and the Visor into the final step!
Ikearat4 years ago
Thank you for this. My Palm TX has about become useless on account of the digitizer failing. I really like my TX and I'm really sorry the Palm products have gone by the wayside... it's a shame. The end of a great line of useful tools. Very good Instructable, clear, and without frivolous commentary (unlike my comment :) Great images as well. Again, thank you. Ikearat
depotdevoid (author)  Ikearat4 years ago
Awesome, I'm glad you found it useful! I wasn't sure how many people would actually need this type of instructable, but I figured that if even one person was able to make use of it, it was worth the time. Thanks for the positive feedback!