Is a $21 Palm IIIx usable for HA?


Active Member
They are selling them refurbished at $20.95 here:

Has anybody implemented any HA function using a Palm pda? It would be a cheap touchscreen display for each room. Other idea is using it for remote control. I prefer hardware buttons, but cannot beat the price.

The availability of compatible might be an issue. The site says that is uses Palm OS 4.1 but I remember that those machines used older OS. I dont know, probably they got an OS upgrade during the refurbishing.

I have color Sony CLIE getting dust since I changed to Pocket PC. My wife was supposed to use it but she only used it for about 3 weeks.. Maybe integrating it to my HA system would be a better way of using it.
It does not seem to have any type of wireless abilities such as bluetooth or wifi. I can't determine if it has IR or not. So I would say it probably wont help much with HA.
Its from around 1999-2000. I had one. It does not have wireless and I dont remember if it has SD expansion slot (most probably not). I has an IrDA port and there are several Palm programs for doing IR remote control. OmniRemote is one of the most popular one.

There are several sites in the web with specifications about the docking port pinout. Most important are the power and the RS-232 Tx and Rx pins. Given the existing tools to program it (NSBasic/Palm, ListMe, etc.) it is easier to use this to control anything with a serial port than using a microcontroller with parallel LCD and hardware buttons.

This page shows how to do serial port input/output. There are other example there on how to do other things.

I would not do an investmet in obsolete technology if there was nothing developed. I just was wondering if there was something already developed (like a HA application for the Palm) that I could capitalize by buying one of these PDAs for each room (fixed installation preferred). I could probably have a B/W touchscreen in each room for just a few bucks.
I was able to pick up a couple of my Audrey's for around that price, and they have a lot more support and options for Automation. I would save your $21...
Wait for something else, these would be far to difficult to get working, and then they would only be marginal at best.
I have an even older unit (Palm Pro) that I was looking at using years ago, but the fact is that most apps and hardware are made for the older Palms to use a sync method to transfer info. The problem is that the sync method isn;t very condusive to 1. real-tiome control and 2. connecting multiple units on a single PC.

I did find this older Winamp control app that is used when the unit is hooked to a PC:

Maybe that can be used as a starting place for further development. But the issue is that only way the older Palms can connect is thru a serial connection.

Even the Audreys have severe limitations once you get beyond looking at pretty static web pages - older Java, no DHTML, older HTML, limited RAM, RAM fragmentation issues, etc. I know, I have 4 here that I've tried just about everything HA with, short of bribing someone to go back to an old development environment and produce outdated code for them.

Look at the newer WiFi-enabled stuff, they are so much more up to date with software that they will probably work much better for you.
The fact that the older Palms have pretty straightforward serial ports does mean that you could develop touchscreen interfaces - if you want to do the developing yourself. I seem to remember seeing a couple of different projects on the web that were meant to provide customizable generic frontends through Palms - but I don't know how far they got or if they are still around.

That is something I always meant to do - but never got around to. Once my IIIx started becoming flaking (reseting whenever it felt like it) I moved on to other things.

With the appropriate software, though, I do think that it's a reasonable approach. The hardware is much cheaper than trying to build or buy something more up to date.