Fixing your Palm's Stylus Silo

by Ellsworth Chou

After using a Pilot (the pen company) Chameleon aftermarket stylus in my IIIx for several months, the stylus cracked (the end cap which covers the Chameleon's ball-point pen), forcing me to revert to the stock Palm metal/plastic stylus. To my dismay, the stylus was no longer retained mechanically within the Palm "silo." It'd just slide out if you tilted the Palm, or shoot out if you whipped the Palm out of its holster. I'd always been impressed at the subtle "click" which secured the factory styli in both our III and IIIx, but I'd never really looked to see what actually did the mechanical retention (though I've had both Palms open several times).

I looked inside the Palm case and found no obvious reasons for the failure of the silo. After fooling around for a few minutes (unsuccessfully) attempting to make an O-ring for the stylus by hand-cutting a large rubber band, I hit upon a simple and successful solution. The pictures below explain.

I'm still not sure why the silo failed in the first place - perhaps it was some feature of the Chameleon which abraded or broke some subtle contour of the inside of the silo. The Palm is a couple of years old, and sees a lot of use.

Peform this at your own risk. This will likely void your warranty. If it sounds scary to open the back of your Palm, then you might not be the right person to attempt it. In addition to the hazards of potential mechanical damage to your Palm, it's internals are also very vulnerable to static electricity. Play it safe and ground yourself well.

I'd highly recommend backing up your Palm's contents with a HotSync session before opening the case. You can leave the batteries in the Palm while disassembling it, and it will probably retain its data.

Opening a Palm III/IIIx is pretty simple. Remove the four small Phillips screws from the back of the case. Then, just using your fingernails (no hard tools), pry the case apart along one long side or the other, starting at a corner.

Here's the location of my fix, as marked by the yellow rectangle. The image below is an enlargement of that area.

That blue thing is a chunk of a very large rubber band, wedged between the printed circuit board and the grey plastic which actually touches the stylus when it's in the silo. Be very careful when inserting something here - you could crack the circuit board or the case if you exerted too much force. It doesn't appear to be that fragile, but consider yourself warned.

The result - the silo now provides a slightly snug fit for the last 3/8" of travel of the stylus. It's great - not too tight, and just enough to keep the stylus from just sliding out.

4/18/01