Inside iPAQ
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February 27th, 2017
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Inside iPAQ

In this episode, we will be exploring what's inside a Compaq (or HP) iPAQ (the original model). We won't be totally destroying one though (since I'm not ready to part with mine just yet). There are plenty of other sites online that probably have better pictures... But anyway, mine are more fun - since I have no purpose - except for curiosity - to actually take one apart :-)

Here is our victim now:

I usually have it in this protective plastic case, so the first job is to take it off... and find some tools...

Basically the usual arrangement of screw drivers, etc. You might also notice that rubbery strap; that's to prevent my static electricity from damaging the delicate circuitry.

One tool deserves special attention (shown on right). It's Craftsman t6 45729. This is the screw driver that's needed to open up the iPAQ (it has very weird screws, and if you don't have this exact size, you'll have a VERY hard time getting it open). That is, if you're actually interested to ever closing it :-) Here's a close up:

We then proceed to unscrew the 4 screws from the back. These are the only screws that are holding this thing together.


The next (very hard) step is to pry the thing open. This is easier said than done.


Once you get it open, the whole back comes off. The battery is attached (glued) directly to the back panel. You can disconnect the battery (carefully).


Besides for a bit of circuitry, the battery section isn't particularly interesting. It's thin, and actually dies after about 30 minutes of use (this iPAQ is from Summer 2000 - just when they first came out).

Here's a closer look of what's inside:

This is probably the most cramped computer I've ever seen in my whole life. It's so cramped in fact, that if that wire is not exactly where it is, the whole thing won't close!

The circuit board on top there is the motherboard. This is where the CPU, RAM, and ROM are attached (on the other side, we'll see). Because things are so cramped, there is no place for the thing to move, and thus, it has no screws attaching it to anything! We can just lift the thing out (carefully avoiding the headphone jack, the infrared thingies, and the microphone).

Watch out for those bright colored wires (center of pic) that connect the motherboard to the LCD screen. There are two of them, side by side. I didn't risk unplugging them (the connections look flimsy, and besides, we don't really need to unplug them to get the whole thing out).

Underneath the motherboard, the LCD is being held in place by two screws. We need to unscrew those. We can shift the motherboard a bit to gain access to those screws:


After those two screws (and removing that metal band) the whole thing (LCD and all) simply detaches from the front panel. Actually, detaches is a wrong word; more like it falls or crumbles apart. 

The main button (the one that has a speaker in it) sits on top of a four button pad, to indicate direction of the press:

In fact, this little component is where the base station connects (for synchronization with the PC).

Here are the iPAQ internals (labeled, as far as I can figure it out - could be wrong):

The ROM is flashable, so that doesn't go away when power cuts out. The RAM, where all programs (besides the OS) are stored needs constant feed of the battery to stay around (so if you forget to recharge for an extended period of time, all your data is very likely gone). The CPU is a 204Mhz processor; and is powerful enough to run id Software's QuakeII at few frames per second. The LCD (the mirrory thing on top) is 256 color, made by Sony, and supposedly made up of three layers (one of which is pressure sensitive, etc.)

Also, there is no easy way to get inside the LCD to clear out all the dust that tends to accumulate there. The thing is sealed! I do sometimes wonder how my cat's hair seems to have gotten in there.

Well, that's as far as I'm willing to go (anything more and I'll seriously break it). Putting it back together is just the reverse of taking it apart :-)


If you look closer at the iPAQ screen above, you'll notice that it starts with the default program that runs when you first buy it. It teaches you how to use the stylus, how to select items, how to cut & paste things, etc. Obviously, all software and data are gone (besides for the bare OS).

Anyway, this is one destruction I'm glad didn't end in a pile of garbage :-)


Oh, sh*t! Did I void the warranty??? :-P

Until next time...

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