Palm TX Power Switch Repair


Introduction: Palm TX Power Switch Repair

About: I was electrical engineer for 22+ years, then went back to school for 6 years and became a dentist.

The Palm TX PDA is a great product, but mine and many others made as recently as 2006 have one, major flaw. The power switch quits working after a few months. The unit still works fine in every other way, but since the power switch doesn't work, you have to turn it on using one of the other buttons, which takes you to whatever application is assigned to that button. Then you have to go through the menus to get back to the app you were previously using. This is annoying.,

I finally got fed up with it and decided to open it up and find out what was going on. This instructable explains how I "fixed" the power switch on my TX.

The root cause of the problem is the cheesy switch that was used. It allows dirt from your pocket or bag to get inside and interfere with the switch contact. The fix described here is to clean it up and put it back together. A proper fix would be to replace the switch with a better one, but I haven't found a suitable part yet.

You'll need a soldering iron, some small hand tools, and sufficient cajones to open up your TX. It is also a good idea to have a grounded work surface and grounded wrist strap. A little alcohol and a Q tip will also be useful. A bright light and magnifier will help you see what you're doing.

Step 1: Open It Up

No mystery here. There are 4 screws in the corners on the back of the unit - none are hidden. Just unscrew them using a teeny-tiny hex wrench.

After the screws are out, put them in a dish or stick them to a magnet so you don't lose them.

Now you have to pry the case apart. Work you fingernails into the slot between the front bezel and back cover on the left side of the device and pull them apart. It will take some force, but be careful because the power/computer connector protrudes through the bottom cover that is attached to the back cover. The top cover and power switch cover can come off easily, so don't lose them.

Step 2: Remove the Switch

Now that you have it apart, all you have to do is unsolder the switch from the PCB. Use a small tip, and high temperature. Take the switch off the PCB.

Step 3: "Fix" the Switch

After removing the switch, pry the metal tabs apart until the whole thing falls apart. You'll see two metal domes used to provide spring force and tactile feedback when the power button is pushed. Check the body of the switch- it is probably dirty. This is what causes the switch to fail, and why it fails intermittently before it finally quits working completely. Clean it out with some alcohol on a Q-tip, then clean the domes and put it back together. Solder it back on the PCB and reassemble the case.

Reassembly is opposite the disassembly procedure, only much easier.

That's it! Now it should work again for several months.



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    13 Discussions

    keep going posting this kind type of article for new gadgets

    Thanx for this excellent view of how to deal with a problem that should never have been a problem. I stumbled on a completely different workaround that takes advantage of the fact that when you request a sync from the TX itself, the unit turns itself on.

    Assuming you can the get the unit turned on, you assign Hotsync to one (or more) of the four buttons on the front below the screen. Do this under System-> Prefs-> Buttons. Then when you press that button, the unit turns on and goes to the Hotsync screen.

    Without question this is inconvenient, but it means being able to ignore the power switch problem completely and still use your TX. You can't turn it off, but the unit will do that automatically.

    Good luck.

    My Palm TX also developed the on off dirty contact issue. At age 70, my eyesight and hand eye coordination are getting a bit sloppy so I was hoping there was an EZ fix for the Palm Tx with as little part maneuvering and removal as possible. I appreciate all the info on this site to help solve the problem and I read what ramsdenb did and also modifed the method to use Radio Shack electronic contact cleaner and then let the unit sit a while and then took my air compressor nozzle and did my best to air blow any dirt particles out of the switch area.

    It worked perfectly!
    Thank you all for your help with just a bothersome issue on my Palm TX.

    Now if there was only a driver to expand use of larger than 2 gig SD cards!!!!

    I had the same problem with the power button. However, I wasn't prepared to open up my TX, to sort out the fiddly power button. What I did worked, at least for me. I put a very small drop of WD40 onto the power button. I waited a couple of days, and turned on power button. It worked! That was 18 months ago, and I have not a problem using the power button. To ensure that the problem does not come back again, I placed a piece of sticky tape over the power button. This procedure may not work for anyone, so this is my disclaimer, repair at your own risk.

    what if the switch doesn't even click? i haven't taken it apart, but the power button doesn't even click. it doesn't respond either

    1 reply

     Mine doesn't click either.  Clicking doesn't matter, as long as it makes electrical contact.


    When I tried to bend one of the prongs back after taking the switch apart, the prong broke off. So this didn't work for me and now the switch can't be reconnected. Just be warned. These parts are also *extremely* tiny. Though my switch wasn't working before, I think maybe leaving the switch intact and just spraying some air in there to remove loose dirt might be tried first. Then if that doesn't work, try bending the prongs back and taking the switch parts for cleaning.

    Thanks! You can actually take the switch apart and clean it without removing it from the PCB. Just bend the tabs away from the switch body and the button and domes will fall out. Clean them up and put it all back together.

    1 reply

    Hi Tyler: I did it without removing the switch. Just bending the tabs a little, and cleaned the whole thing. It works. Thank you very much. Andre Quasion

    Good repair job. And excellent documentation, with good close-up photos. After reading your article, I ordered the Palm aluminum case, just to make sure this still-valuable baby lasts. I bought it about 5 years ago and am amazed at its functionality and technological stability, in an ever-changing gadgets market.

    What a great tip! I tried this today and it worked wonderfully. I didn't even have to remove the switch per the comment from one of the posters. I completed the whole thing in about 20 minutes and it worked! I am so excited. My button has been broke for a couple of years. Thanks to the folks that posted this tip......

    Just posting to report that my palm tx also suffers from this power button malfeasance. Beau Pasadena, CA

    Great tip!.. I got my friend's Palm TX today, and fixed the power button following your instructions, thanks!.. I didn't disassemble the button unit completely, I just dropped some WD40 in it, it helped a bit. I need solder wick to remove it, I don't want to burn the circuitboard with over trying. Such a shame they used an inferior part. Cheers, K.