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The LEGO Palm

without comments


This is the Palm VII that i made out of nothing but LEGO. It is shelled out from the ordinary Palm VII that was issued to me at work. I use it day in and day out as my normal handheld device.

Other people in the office are often left in a steep bogglement when they see it, especially new employees.

It actually works just like a normal Palm VII. Every button and control works except for the battery cover, but here is a list of what it features:

  • Genuine Palm VII systemboard and components embedded in LEGO.
  • The power button works, as do all of the buttons on the device in the bottom row.
  • There is a stylus which can be inserted/removed just like the regular Palm handhelds.
  • There is a fully functional retractable whip antenna.
  • The infared port works.
  • Very few Technic parts were used. About 8 of them. This was done just to see if it could be done.
  • No glue was used! The device is held together with nothing more than friction and an interlocking build design.
  • No soldering. The Palm VII was not defaced and can be reassembled in the original case if needed.

Side by side with a Palm VIIx


View from the back
So my photos are not quite 133t. Sorry. I’m a horrible photographer. It’s not the camera’s fault, really.

The Systemboard

The systemboard was fully removed from the Palm. This was an easy step. All that needs to be done is to remove the four screws in the back of the Palm VII casing and to carefully pry the entire plastic chassis loose.

A LEGO frame was then built around the board to fit the screen using black plates. The rest was just filled in, using interlocking construction wherever possible to maintain structural integrity.


A bare Palm VII systemboard


View from behind of the exposed systemboard

The Buttons

The buttons all work. They don’t use Technic, and are merely 1×2 blocks mixed with various 1×1, 1×2, and 1×3 plates.

It just happened to be that the silicone bubble spring layer that sat on top of the system board was evenly spaced out, almost matching one stud in width.

The blocks merely sit on top of the spring layer and are fully functioning. The action is quite good too, considering that they are used fairly often.


Closeup of buttons and descriptions


Closeup of studs compared to button film

The Contrast Wheel

The contrast wheel is nothing more than the mini-tyre that is sitting snugly next to the REAL Palm VII wheel. Nothing magical here, it just somehow all fit together with no alterations and works very nicely. It simply works like a gear, pushed against the original contrast wheel very tightly.

The friction caused by the tyre rubbing against the 1×1 tube piece is also great enough that the contrast wheel does not get jogged around by accident. It’s sort of a weird fit, and appears somewhat kludgey but works very well for the design.


Closeup of the contrast wheel


…and a super-closeup

The Stylus

The stylus is rather comfortable to use. It is a bunch of 1×1 cylinders stuck to blue lance parts, connected by a 1×2 solid joint.

It inserts into the case and is held in by one of those headlight parts with the hole in the front very easily.

I cheated here a bit by using little bits of paper to force the joint in the middle to hold more friction in keeping the part together. Some well-placed tissue paper is all you really need.


Stylii and pencil, shown to relative scale


It’s a comfy stylus


Down into the hole you go…


Locked in place and happy


The infared port actually works! It is merely a piece of clear Lego with the infared dongle hanging out behind it.


Infared port closeup


Beaming between Lego Palms in action

The Antenna

The antenna is the only complicated part of the whole device. It uses the flexible blue tubes that come with the TIE Interceptor model. There is a wire inside it, and at the base of the antenna the wire is exposed and wraps around the near bottom of the tube. A 1×1 nut is used to keep the wire there as well as to prevent the tube from being pulled to far out of the unit.

On the Palm systemboard there is a large conductive area which the antenna on the chassis connects to. The original Palm antenna is nothing more than this assembly connected to a small, 4 inch long metal antenna embedded in plastic.
Yes, the antenna reception actually improved!
I ended up attaching a nice long insulated wire from that conductive area, wrapped it around the screen, and hooked it up to the junction where the whip antenna slides in and out of.

Duct tape was used to keep the wires attached at this point, but used sparingly since LEGO provided most of the structural mounting.

The main drawback of my antenna design is that it only works when fully extended.

It was made with good aesthetics and design in mind while functionality suffered a bit, although the antenna DOES indeed boost the reception significantly.

Now I am aware that antennas normally have a nominal length to optimize for whatever frequency it uses, as in the fact that mindlessly adding more metal will not always make the antenna more efficient but somehow this antenna is almost equal or better in reception to other Palm VII devices. This is measured using the Diagnostics software in the handheld.


The antenna retracted into the case


Antenna, fully extended

More Pictures

Here are some more pictures of the Lego Palm in action.


Another view of the contrast wheel


A gaggle of devices


The reset button is on the back


A view up the rear end of the Lego Palm


Another side by side view with a Palm VII


Wow. i made it to the LUGNET cool site of the week! How neat 🙂

A reader from there noticed i had ‘evil lego palm’ as part of the title image here. There is a little story about that. Hopefully it will not bore you to tears.

i was at this party where some guy had to try and talk tech-foo, in a feeble attempt at charming the ladies in the process. It was quite… droll. So someone mentioned the LEGO palm and out of my bag it came. Poseur techie was silenced, and the world was saved!

Ok. i was lying. The world was not saved, but the poor flatulent pseudogeek did NOT get the girl, and the good guys got the power up and won the game. They also used ‘evil’ as an affectionate nickname for the device. Oh well.

People also wondered why this LEGO palm is named ‘Daphne’. The reason for this is that when asset tracking our handhelds i decided to give them female names as opposed to the impersonal serial numbers our workstations get.

The first LEGO palm happened to be named Daphne. The second shown here is named Natsumi. The whole fleet of handhelds at my job sounds like either a supermodel convention or a tornado naming scheme, depending on your outlook.

Well i hope you had fun with this article. If interest is great enough i will think about how to deal with these things, whether that means selling them or the kits used to make them. Some of the more experienced Lego builders may be able to reverse-engineer what is happening here on their own. Go for it.

If someone makes something cool of their own based on what’s here, please let me know about it. i’m always fond of in what interesting stuff people can come up with.

Its a wait and see attitude for me at this point. Have a nice day.

Palm and Palm VII are registered trademarks or Palm Computing, Inc.

  • LEGO is a registered trademark of the LEGO Corporation.
  • LUGNET is a registered trademark of the LEGO Users Group Network.
  • All other trademarks are property of their respective holders.
  • By the way, the thoughts and opinions expressed on this page are not necessarily those of my employer, illegitimate children, or house pets.

I take no responsibility for your actions. If you zok a perfectly working Palm device that’s your own bloody fault.

Written by Tijger Tsou

January 14th, 2001 at 6:19 pm

Posted in Gadgets,Things

Tagged with , , ,

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