Repairing The Power Button On A Palm TX PDA
I've been a fan of Palm PDAs for years, starting with a Handspring Visor, Palm Treo 300 phone, and most recently, a Palm TX. The TX is a great device but it has one major flaw. The power button fails within months of purchasing the device. Take a look around forums and blogs all over the internet and you'll discover that it is a universal problem. Palm really dropped the ball on this one. They installed a cheesy switch and left customers dangling. I bought mine used so I didn't get a warranty and the button was working fine when I got the unit, but sure enough, after a few months of daily use the power button failed.
It isn't a catastrophic failure- you can use any other button to turn the device on, but it then switches to whichever app is associated with that button so you have to bounce through the menu system to get back to where you were the last time you used the PDA.
I sort of fixed the switch on my PDA by taking it off the circuit board, disassembling the switch, cleaning it, reassembling it and remounting it on the board. It should last a few months while I hunt for a better replacement.
You'll need a teeny-tiny hex wrench, or you can do what I did- use a teeny-tiny + screw driver. Ordinarily I like to use the correct tool, but of the dozens of tiny hex wrenches I have, none were small enough. If you can find a small enough hex wrench, by all means, use it.
It's a good idea to do this work on a grounded work surface and use a grounded wrist strap.
Remove the four screws from the back of the unit.
Slip your finger nails into the slot between the top and bottom of the case on the left side and pry it apart. It will take some force, so be bold, but careful.
The cover along the top edge of the unit will easily come out along with a piece that covers the power switch.
Next pry off the keyboard and display connectors- they come off easily- just hook a fingernail under them and pop them off.
I had read on some forums that the power button breaks off the PCB which sounds reasonable since it is a surface mount part and force is applied to it at a right angle. I suspected that there was some other problem because my button failed intermittently. I have read the same about other peoples' TX failures. I took some pictures to show all this stuff:
Here's the whole thing disassembled
Here is the back of the case and PCB
Here is the front bezel/keypad and display
Here is the offending power switch
Here is the power switch from behind. As you can see, the switch remains firmly attached to the PCB. The problem isn't the switch breaking loose.
Here is the switch disassembled. I apologize for the poor lighting. Notice the switch has two metal "domes" that provide the spring force and tactile feedback when the button is pushed. When I opened it up I found some crud on the center contact in the black part of the switch body at the top of the picture. This explains why the switch was intermittent before it failed completely. It's a piece of crap! How did Palm allow this thing into a product? Their QC people were asleep at the switch, literally!
Reassembly is just the opposite of disassembly. It goes back together much easier than it comes apart.
I cleaned off the metal domes and the contacts on the switch body and reassembled the it. I'll be shopping for a replacement and if I find one I'll post the info here after I install it in my PDA.