The LED backlight brings vibrant colors to the classic Palm PDA

In the days leading up to the massive adoption of smartphones, Palm was the market leader in PDAs. If you have one of these, you will probably remember to take notes by typing those funny “graffiti” characters and usually tapping your pen on a green monochrome screen. Some models even came with a battery-hungry backlight, but for the ultimate display experience you had to buy the Palm IIIc which comes with a backlit full-color display.

Despite being revolutionary for its time, it was hampered by the technology available: CCFL backlights took a second to start and even the screen was completely dimmed by today’s standards with full brightness. [TobleMiner] Solve these problems by designing a module to restore an LED backlight to your Palm IIIc.

A Palm IIIc displays the main menuThe new backlight consists of a long, thin PCB designed to fit exactly where the CCFL tube sits. PCBs contain twenty-one white LEDs with their current-limiting resistors to provide illumination from top to bottom. The slight MOSFET soldered to the mainboard ensures that the new backlight responds accurately to the device’s “brightness” setting. [TobleMiner] It is advisable to remove the heavy CCFL transformer from the palm mainboard to deactivate the corresponding circuitry and save some weight.

The end result is understandably harder to capture on camera, but apparently gives the screen a more vibrant color. In any case, this could be a useful hack for anyone with a broken backlight, including a Palm IIIc, although we can’t remember if this was a common problem. If you’re one of those people who still uses the original Palm device, you might want to consider this Palm-compatible Bluetooth keyboard. Don’t have a classic PDA? You can run PalmOS on modern custom hardware.

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