Andrew Craig from South Africa is a true time freak – here’s his first article. it takes a detailed look at recycling old handhelds as alarm clocks… . BTW: Andrew is new here – so please let us know how he can improve!
Tam Hanna

I tried using my Treo 650 as an alarm clock but I kept on leaving the ringer switch off or even sometimes leaving the phone elsewhere. I managed to get an old Zire21 from a friend and I found it makes the best alarm clock ever! Most of this is basic Palm stuff but I found it all so easy to setup.

Varying wake ups?
Create a repeat schedule for Monday to Fridays. Delete the public holidays! Never get woken up on a public holiday again. Change tomorrows wake-up without changing the entire schedule.
 Using vintage handhelds as alarm clocks

Accurate time
Install TimeCopy and sync once a month to set the time. My zire21 loses a second every 20 hours which is about 40s a month which is not bad. Palm also takes care of daylight saving issues.
 Using vintage handhelds as alarm clocks

Battery powered
A zire21 will run for weeks on a single charge if it is being used an a alarm clock. Leave it plugged in and never worry about power issues again. Use Profeo SystemAlarms to warn if the battery is getting low way before the dreaded battery warning in case it get unplugged.
 Using vintage handhelds as alarm clocks

Funky alarms
Install geeksounds (,7.html) to wake up to the Star Wars theme…..
 Using vintage handhelds as alarm clocks

Keeping the data safe
Use SyncAll – Backs up the entire memory including preferences. Any issues, just reset and hotsync.

Set this all up on a desktop in a couple of minutes and never worry about waking up late again.

Related posts:

  1. Synchronize vintage handhelds with the latest Palm Desktop
  2. Update on WristPDA Alarm sound loss
  3. An unfair comparison? TX vs. iPod (part 2)
  4. Palm on Windows Vista compatibility for Palm OS handhelds
  5. The State of Palm Desktop in Vista Beta 2

8 Responses to “Using vintage handhelds as alarm clocks”

  1. Is this really a vintage timepiece? New technology is great I suppose. But what ever happened to the appreciation folks once had for the nostalgia and rich artistry found in one of the old-world handcrafted mechanical clocks. Truly masterpieces. I suppose people are just too busy to appreciate the finer, simpler things in life these days. Rather unfortunate, don’t you think?

  2. Doug,

    I own a Swatch Oscillation which is a transparent automatic watch. I can watch the mechanism for ages. One of my favourite books is Longitude by Dava Sobel which shows the race for an accurate clock to assist in sea navigation. Another great book is Time Lord by Clark Blaise which is about the setting up of times zones. I am a bit crazy about time in general. I would love to own a watch with atourbillon escapement

    I wrote the article after getting frustrated with clock radios which can’t be told to only go for mon-fri and exclude public holidays. I have an old Palm and so I made the best alarm clock ever (in my view).


  3. Andrew,

    I sympathise with your issue with alarm clocks — not being able to select a default for weekday alarm only. And I certainly do not dismiss your innovation in adapting a timepiece so it will better suit your needs.
    I just feel that there is nothing like the genius of a mechanical movement. And to survey the evolution of the mechanisms of time, well its just absolutly fasinating…until electricity came into the picture that is.

    You know, you can still find authentically handmade German cuckoo clocks that have enough sense not to sound their cuckoo or music later than eight p.m. each night. They know enough when to start back up again in the morning as well. I’m with you. Seems like a modern electric clock should be at least smart enough not to sound during one’s off days.

    Doug C.

  4. “not being able to select a default for weekday alarm only” ha cell phone will do this for you… and its totally portable.

  5. I tried a cellphone as a alarm clock but it failed many times. I need to:
    1)Make sure it is next to my bed every night.
    2)Make sure it is not on silent.

    Many people read on their phone at night and make the phone silent. You would need to remember to switch it back on again before sleeping.

    An old Palm is much better as an alarm clock. It hasn’t failed me yet.

  6. Why only use an old PDA as your alarm clock? I use my current PDA (Palm TX) as my alarm. I use the very excellent Palmary Clock program and have multiple repeating (an non repeating) alarms set up to cope with varying awake up times.

    However, I do like your idea above. If I had a spare PDA I’d probably try to find something that would disply a clock on the screen all the time so that I could see it in the dark. Right now I still have to use my watch for that. Might be handy if I could just half open an eye (and nothing else) to see the time if I wake up at night.

    TimeCopy is an essential application to have. I can’t beleive that PDAs don’t ship with something like that. PDAs tend to be woefully accurate.



  7. i just got a palm about a month ago and i dont really have any idea how to use it so thaks for the help

  8. I have been using an old Treo 280 as a extra calendar in my kitchen. I have it set to always display the calendar and always stays on with some AlwaysOn app. I leave it plugged in so power is not an option. Every so often I beam my datebook database from my Treo 680 to the 280. I have it mounted on the side of my fridge right by the door so I always see it as I come and go. Makes a handy backup for those times I don’t check my Treo 680 before leaving the house. Also, keeps my wife up to date as she has a huge datebook database and we choose not to sync.

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