Palm Tungsten T3 Biopsy

How to open up your Tungsten T3 for battery or screen replacement, and how to put it all back together, again.


Disassembly Steps

Assembly Steps

Required Tools Here are the tools that you will require to take apart your Tungsten T3 (or other closely related Palm or palmOne PDA - Tungsten T or T2, for example). These instructions require a general understanding of electronics and some technical abilities. If you are not sure that you can install the battery and return your Palm to its original condition, I recommend that you ask for help from someone who can.
  • The main tool is the small Phillips screwdriver (that's the star shaped one for you less technical folk).
  • The flathead screwdriver is used for prying open the case and, gently, for lifting the cable connectors, if your fingers are too big.
  • The paperclip is used to release the springs that keep the sliders in their tracks.
  • The needle-nose pliers are handy for popping off the battery connector.
It is a good idea to keep the little screws and the screw plate in a shallow container beside your work area so that you do not lose anything. You might like to work on a soft cloth to avoid scratching your PDA.
Resco Backup for Palm OS

Step 1

Backup your Palm, unless you really do want to return it to "new" after the battery installation. The Palm Tungsten T3 memory depends on battery power to keep the information in its databases; as you are about to disconnect the battery in order to put in a newer one, all that is in the PDA's memory will be lost. I used Resco Backup v1.40.7 to move my data onto a SD card (of the appropriate size).

Step 15

Unless you are returning your Palm to its factory default "new" settings after the battery installation, now is the time to restore the backup that you made in Step 1. If you used Resco Backup to move your data onto a SD card, all you need to do (after the preliminary setup steps) is to insert the card, run RscBackup from the launcher and restore your backup. After the data is restored, the software will prompt you to "Reset" the PDA, and you should be in business!
Side Screws

Step 2

Using the Phillips screwdriver (possibly included with your replacement battery, if you are lucky), remove the four screws (two per side) from the slider (lower part) of the T3. These screws are tiny and easy to lose; so, I recommend keeping them in a small container (such as the little plastic cover from the battery package) that is not likely to spill during the operation.

The T3 is particularly prone to losing these screws. Apparently, US Palm customers might be able to convince Palm to send them some new ones for free, but you can also buy a package from this fellow, who has a few extra.

Step 14

After putting the slider back on and checking that all is well, put in the four screws (two per side). If you have lost any of them, or started out with less than four, you can buy replacement ones at a nominal price.
Top Screws

Step 3

Remove the two longer screws from the top of the unit, and place them safely with the four you removed from the slider.

Step 13

Replace the two longer screws that you removed from the unit in Step 3.
Bottom Section Sliders

Step 4

Open the slider; if your Palm turns on, turn it off. Using the paperclip, press down on the slider spring catches through the two small holes in both bottom corners of the serial number sticker indent while gently pulling the slider down a little farther than normal. This pops the slider out of the tracks. See the next image for more detail.

You might need more than one try to disengage both tracks at the same time; you have to rock the slider slightly to the side on which you are working as you slide it down, and then release the other side's spring catch while you simultaneously move the slider down on that side to release the guide from the second rail.

Step 12

Position the slider so that the track guides are ready to grab the rails on the main body of the unit. You may have to use the paperclip to push down on the spring catches as you push the slider into its rails. Once clipped in, the slider should move smoothly up and down as it did, before.
Close Up of a Bottom Section Slider

Detail for Step 4

This photo shows a close up of the guide and rail. Here, the guide is sitting above the rail; it is under the rail before unclipping the spring catches from the guides on each side.

Although I did not try it, I am told that you can also use a pick (a plastic toothpick or probe tip, perhaps) to release the spring catches, sliding the pick(s) under the slider, in the track(s), thereby pushing the spring catch down.

Detail for Step 11

This photo shows a close up of the guide and rail. In the next step, you will slip the guides into the rails and re-engage the spring catches.
Bottom Section Ribbon Cable - Back

Step 5

With the slider detached from the guide rails, gently slide it down. The back of the slider will push against the back of the unit a bit, but the side rails will also provide a little flex. Note the ribbon cable, which you will detach in a few steps.

Step 11

Gently slide the bottom slider onto the main unit. Stop when the top of the slider is at the beginning of the guide rails and proceed to the next step.
Bottom Section Ribbon Cable - Front

Detail for Step 5

In this photo, you can see the ribbon cable as the slider is moved down past its normal stop point. The ribbon cable allows the slider to move while the components in the slider stay connected to the unit; take care not to bend, kink or tear the cable!

Step 10

With both side rails snapped in place, gently slide the bottom slider onto the unit, taking care not to bend, kink or tear the ribbon cable.
Bottom Section Removal

Step 6

The side rails have some flex to them. With the bottom slider separated from the main unit but not so far that the ribbon cable is stretched, yet, gently twist the slider to remove the left side rail from its recessed track. The right side rail can then be removed by moving the bottom slider to the right. Again, take care to not bend, kink or tear the ribbon cable!

Step 9

Align the slider with the main unit and insert the right rail into its recessed guide track / groove. The side rails have a little bit of flex so that you can snap the left side rail into its track by pulling the slider to the left just enough to get it in position without damaging the right side rail.
Bottom Screws

Step 7

Remove the two screws from the bottom of the unit, exposed now that the slider has been removed. The slider is held away from the main unit to allow access to the screws, but be careful of the ribbon cable, again, because the cable is glued to the back of the main unit and there is no reason to remove it unless you have other plans beyond battery or screen replacement. Once the two screws are removed, a silver screw plate will fall off the unit (detail in the next photo); put the screws and the plate with the other screws.

Make a note of which screws are which: you should have four short screws from the sides of the slider, two long screws from the top of the unit and two medium length screws from the bottom of the unit.

Step 8

With the plate in position, insert the two screws (medium length relative to the side and top screws) into the holes in the bottom of the main unit. Ensure that you secure the screw plate with both screws.

This does take some dexterity, as you must hold the main unit, loose slider and screw plate while you get at least one of the medium length (still tiny!) screws seated. Hopefully, your screwdriver is magnetized.

Bottom Screw Plate

Detail for Step 7

This photo shows the screw plate from which the two bottom screws are removed.

Step 7

Position the screw plate on the bottom front of the main body of the unit, ready to receive the screws that you removed in Step 7 of the disassembly.
Ribbon Cables Close-Up

Step 8

With the slider and all screws removed, locate the opening on the main unit, at the back, through which the ribbon cable connects. You can see the battery connector, here, too, but you first must disconnect the ribbon cable so that you can open the unit to get at the battery (and other components).

Step 6

Gently push down on the ribbon connector with your fingers in order to make a firm connection to the main unit.
Bottom Ribbon Cable

Step 9

Very carefully use the flathead screwdriver to lift up the ribbon cable by prying gently at the top left and right sides to loosen it from the connector on the main unit. You may also need to go in from the sides at the bottom to get the connector up; have I mentioned yet that you should take care not to bend, kink or tear the ribbon cable?

Step 5

Position the ribbon cable connectors for easy mating.
Bottom Ribbon Cable - Glued

Detail for Step 9

Unless you are up to something with the cable, leave it glued to the body of the main unit for subsequent steps; take care not to bend, kink or tear the ribbon cable as you move the slider out of the way.

Step 4

With the main unit clicked back together, prepare to reattach the ribbon cable. The slider can lie on the unit while you perform the next steps; take care not to bend, kink or tear the ribbon cable.
Left Pop Points

Step 10

To remove the back of the main unit, use the flathead screwdriver to pry up the case at the snap points. Start on the left side of the unit with the point above (toward the top of the unit - to the right side, in this picture) the Voice Record button and earphone jack. You may need to pry up around the Voice Record button and use your fingernail to hold the case open a bit while you locate the lower snap point and click the case open there, too.

Step 3

Ensuring that the components along the top and side of the case are aligned, gently snap the back of the main unit back onto the front. Look for a smooth fit all along the seams.
Right Pop Points

Step 11

Pry up the case on the right side at the snap points at the top and bottom of the seam. It may help to gently twist the back, now that you have the other side off its snaps.

Step 2

Ensuring that the components along the top of the case are aligned, gently snap the back of the main unit back onto the front, starting with the right side. Look for a smooth fit all along the seam.
Battery Connector

Step 12

Rotate the back of the case and the slider away from the main unit, exposing the battery connection. The main board will be loose at this point; so, take care as you disconnect the battery cable from the motherboard.

Carefully use the needle nose pliers to grip the battery cable plug and pull up gently from the motherboard, using a finger on the ribbon cable connector to hold the motherboard down. The back of the unit is now free from the front!

Step 1

Position the battery cable connector over the plug on the motherboard and push gently but firmly with one finger to seat it positively. Your Palm may turn on at this point and start the digitizer / configuration process; turn it off while you reassemble it.

Now that you have your Palm apart, you can replace whatever components you were after.

If it is the battery that you are changing out, be aware that it is glued in with a delicate but strong double-sided tape. If you are careful prying it off the case, you will be able to peel the tape from the old battery in order to use it to secure the new battery. Securing the new battery is essential unless you want your Palm to rattle...

A word of warning about prying off the battery, though: the tape is very strong and your Palm will make unpleasant noises as you work the battery loose. Do not over do it; take your time and work the flathead screwdriver around different areas of the battery in order to work it off the case.

Now, I found that the battery was securely enough attached to the case that I could not remove it with my fingers (which, as you can see, are not that delicate, any way) nor with my fingernails. I am assured, however, that those with stronger fingernails can lift the battery without resorting to the use of a prying tool such as the screwdriver. Obviously, this is the safer way to go, from your Palm's perspective, if you can.

Copyright 2006 Peter E. Humphries.
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