i need help w/ setting up a palm pilot for dashboard

ok, here’s the deal. i need some help finding a dashboard program to put on a palmOne “Zire31” palm pilot. also, i can only use one kind of cable end to connect it to the port, so i need a usb converter or somthing. if you can tell me where to get an adaptor, or can give me a diagram to make one, that would be great.

the end i need to plug into my palm pilot is in the pic

thank you!

-Will Crabtree
WBI–Team 461



Find a male to male, USB Mini to USB cable. That’s what that connector is, btw – USB Mini. I have no idea where to find one, though.

So far as I know, the Zire 31 doesn’t have a serial port you can get to. It’s strictly a USB peripheral device. An older serial-connected Palm (III series, for example) would work, as would one of the newish ones with a “universal” connector (e.g. Zire 71), but I don’t think what you have can do what you want it to.

You can buy or even make a Serial to USB converter. While I don’t have a link on hand, I’m sure a quick Google search would show you all you need to know.

Not the kind young William needs.

A USB to Serial converter is not a problem, but what’s required here is a converter in the other direction. The Zire 31 is not a USB master.

i have the cable, i just need a program and adaptor. would the chicklet work, or is it illegal to put the chicklet on the dashboard port?

Suitably programmed, the Chicklet hardware could at least connect to and communicate with the Zire. However, it doesn’t have any way of connecting to the OI’s Dashboard port.

You’ve chosen a particular handheld device that is just not suitable for the application. Depending on how urgent your need is, you might consider buying a used Palm III and serial cable, or just going with a small laptop PC.

ok, so i found a diagram to convert a usb cable to a 9-pin connector: http://pinouts.ru/Converters/usb_serial_adapter_pinout.shtml

if anyone knows where i can get a program for my palm pilot, you would be one of the most awesome people in the world. but if no one knows where i can find one, i’ll just bug my team’s programmers to make one :smiley:


Even if you could build that cable the Zire31 would not be able to use it. You need to find a device that has native serial support.

i’ve been able to trick a few devices into thinking that they’re getting data from something they’re supposed to get data from, so who knows how this one will work. i’m sure that there is/our programmers can cook something up that will make the palm read off data from the O/I

I don’t want to step on your dreams, but let me try to reiterate what Alan was trying to say. Apparently (I’ll trust the engineer on this one) the device you’re using is a USB client, not a USB host. You can read up on how USB works on Wikipedia, but I’ll try to explain anyway. Computers are USB hosts… they can accept USB devices, and communicate with them. USB clients (like printers and Flash drives) can also communicate, but they require the presence of a USB host to do so. It’s not uncommon for a computing device to not act as a host… the Gumstix mini computer does the same. So, before you spend a lot of money and time on this project, you might want to do some research to see if your device can host USB peripherals (such as a USB to serial adapter), because Alan seems to think that it won’t. If that’s the case, it is a limitation of the hardware that programmers won’t be able to overcome.

Such an endeavor would require very low-level programming though, as any program written for the Palm would look for USB data through the port by calling up the Palm API for USB communication. You would have to specifically write a dashboard program that undermines the Palm OS and gains direct access to what bits/packets are being passed through the 9 pins. At this point, many devices fit the application much better for the amount of programming required.

We have several Palm III’s lying around that we used to use for pit scouting, and they have serial interfaces (we use them to control winamp through such), and have tried using them as dashboards, but never felt like doing the programming when we could just use a laptop. As Alan said, it is much easier to just use a laptop or an older Palm model for a dashboard application, and considering the rules against interacting with your dashboard, it actually makes more sense to use a laptop that has a much larger screen so information is visible.

That page describes something which lets a USB host talk to an RS-232 serial device. The Zire 31 does not, and can not, act as a USB host. You’re trying to do the equivalent of using a table lamp to run a portable CD player. With the proper wiring you can connect them, but since the lamp does not supply power it won’t work. In your case, since the Zire does not provide USB bus mastering, it won’t work.

Many other Palm devices can talk to a serial port without putting another computer in the loop, but the Zire 31 cannot.

If you want a long-term project, you might have fun making a little box with RS-232 on one side, a simple processor in the middle, and IRDA/IRCOMM on the other. Then any Palm with infrared (that’s basically all of them), and many Pocket PC devices, should be able to talk with the dashboard port through it. But I stress that it’ll be a long-term project, not suitable for this year’s competition season.