Can you use a tablet as a cintiq-like device?

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Thread: Can you use a tablet as a cintiq-like device?

  1. #1
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    Default Can you use a tablet as a cintiq-like device?

    So, still on my meandering quest to out-fox Wacom and still get a more powerfully run wacom experience with a bigger onscreen painting area.

    I've seen that the M4's are these gigantic 14.1" 4:3 screens- basically the size of the entire body of my sweet little 12.1" x200t!! Not HUGE, but the screen dimensions look to be just as big as a normal 8.5 x 11. A nice improvement. Plus, the res is pretty good-- 1400 x 1050. !! Cool, ok, but (IMO) the cpu and fan is cr*p- or atleast very tempermental. I was thinking, is there a relatively easy way to just get one of these and use it basically ONLY as the screen/wacom input-- letting a more powerful desktop with a better fan run the unit?

    The M4's come pretty cheap (200-300$ on ebay), and perhaps even cheaper if it had no cpu or battery, etc. I could probably cobble together a Frankenstein desktop from parts a computer-geek friend of mine has for less than 100$. I've got a relatively nice 22" lcd for a second monitor, etc. I guess I can't leave good enough alone, and keep pondering if I could have an "office" setup with a more powerful computer, 2nd screen for palettes and reference material, bigger wacom tablet, etc. and my awesomely mobile x200t for when I'm in the field or can't retire to the office to work.

    Can this be done? I've read a little about DIY Cintiqs, and it seemed (frankly) perhaps more work than it was worth. It seemed like it might be easier to do this kind of mod if you've basically already got the wacom digitizer and lcd screen together the way you do on a tablet pc? I'm really looking for the potential of more power (as I'm working on bigger canvases), and a bigger drawing area. Better pressure sensitivity would be cool, but as I've never experienced it, I'm not sure it's a luxury I'm willing to pay for yet. So, for now, 500 levels is fine, until having more somehow becomes a viable option that I haven't figured out yet.

    Looking for some input from those who have tread this water before.

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    Default Re: Can you use a tablet as a cintiq-like device?

    I've thought up such a DIY scenario several years back when the first gen TPCs were going for less than $200 on eBay (Toshiba 3505, Viewsonic whatever the heck 10 incher) where one would take the screen off and then frankenstein a Cintiq monitor out of it. Never had enough spare time and know how to try it.

    The biggest hurdle would be the driver IMO. To make the Wacom driver recognize it, you have to retain the UART serial connection, but how does one manage that? I don't even know how you UART connected on a laptop or desktop externally. We would need a UART to USB adapter that would fool the Wacom driver.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Can you use a tablet as a cintiq-like device?

    This question seems to come up every few months.

    In fact, my very first interaction with this forum, (or near to it), started with that same question. I was hoping to drive an M4 screen with an M200. I figured that they might have almost the same pin outs and such, being so close in model type. I never went ahead with the project, though.

    I did some research into what it would take just to drive a rescued flat screen from an old laptop with a desktop PC. It's possible, but people just don't do it very often. The reason is that once you buy the necessary controller board, (apparently, it's too hard to rescue the one from a laptop), and various small electronics needed, you've already spent more on a 'free' flat screen than you would on a brand new monitor twice the size. But some people have nonetheless put some effort into collecting knowledge on that front. . .

    The DIY Cintiq "Tabletmod" scene is small but vibrant, and there are pre-made kits you can get with controllers and screens and everything you need. Not super-cheap, but available. They've worked out a lot of the kinks.

    www.TabletMod.com DIY Cintiq

    But the trick there is that they don't even touch the whole issue of driving rescued Wacom boards from Tablet PCs. They just, as I'm sure you know, use pre-existing full Intuos tablets and drop their screens right over top of them.

    By contrast, what you're talking about is driving the Tablet PC Wacom component through a hardware hack. If you can work out how to do that, then you're onto something pretty special!

    It MUST be possible, and once you can do that, then things get interesting. But nobody I know or have read about has ever tried this before. Things might have changed, of course, since I last scoured the web looking for info on the subject, and I wonder if the new Arduino community could help. . ?

    Anyway, I think the way to solve this problem is to just jump in, get the hardware, and start hacking and solving, beating your head against the wall until it gives. After a month of that, you'd be the world-wide hobby expert on the matter and we would all celebrate, because there are lots of people who would probably want to follow in your footsteps. Me included!

    I've not wanted to take on that project myself, though, because it does look like a demanding job and my needs are met well enough with the M4 as it stands, but it would be awesome if somebody could solve it. Once there are instructions and a beaten path, it would open up so many options!

    (My favorite DIY Cintiq project is so cool it hurts; you end up with a 15" 1600 x 1200 dpi screen. Costs about $500 in parts, including the Intuos Wacom tablet. I came close to going that route but couldn't justify the time and money cost when I already had a functioning system which works well enough. But still. . , if I were to jump into another DIY project, that would be the one I'd pick. I'd want to make it portable, too.)

    Anyway. . , what I'd do is send the Tabletmod folks an email with your question and see what they have to say. I'd bet they've thought of it before and would be able to offer some insights.

    Cheers!
    Last edited by thatcomicsguy; 07-26-2011 at 12:28 PM.
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    Default Re: Can you use a tablet as a cintiq-like device?

    Someone here in the forums has made a thread about his conversion.
    The problem is not the serial or USB connection of the digitizer, but the DVI/VGA to LVDS conversion.
    Normally external displays are connected via VGA, DVI, Displayport, HDMI or such. Internally they use LVDS, which is quite different in some aspects and converting this is not easy, as you have to handle a high frequency signal. If you're asking if such a thing is possible, you need a ready to use device for conversion and afaik they're not super cheap.

    Maybe Agent9 comes along and if doesn't have already researched this a bit for his own projects, he might be able to point you to the thread I mentioned.

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    D'uh! I'm a little on the slow side today...
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    Default Re: Can you use a tablet as a cintiq-like device?

    Yeah, I was looking at tabletmod.com, and that's where I began to ponder. It sounds like it's a terrible pain in the ass though. ::sigh:: I'm curious about the project in general, it all sounds a bit fun, but I have ... oh... zero experience in this sort of thing.

    First I thought "Hey, I've got a pretty good 21" lcd, perhaps I could use that, buy a Extra Large Intuos 4, and whammo, with some blood, guts, and tears I could have a mod-cintiq for 500$ or some such." Then I found out that you need to have the power source be external for the screen-- implying that the transformer needs to be outside of the body of the screen, right? And then...

    Well, then I recognized this was a bigger deal than I thought, and more expensive, if you have to buy the correct type of monitor, plus the Intuos, etc. And I began to wonder if I could just be patient and get an older Cintiq on ebay for about 1000-1250$, and save myself the hassle. Does anyone have any experience with the older 21ux? The 5 year old models? I have some fear, I think I read it somewhere, that there were issues with the color and the screen being crap??? That's where I began to wonder if there was value in doing a mod, because I could use an actually good screen. I have to say, I think I've been pampered by this Superbright Outdoor screen-- great color, very bright and vibrant, awesome angles, etc.

    Anyways, I know this is wandering away from the discussion about converting a tablet, but you guys seem to know something about it all, so I'm just sort of picking your brains. !! I'm up for a technological adventure, that's not the issue, but I want to get something that works if I'm going to go through the trouble of exploding my brain and putting it back together, ya know?

    I think my main issue is that I'm also working with real media, and it's difficult to not compare the experience of painting on a 12 x 18 watercolor sheet, or a 30 x 24 sheet!! (dreamy!), versus doing it on the my laptop-- zoom, paint, shrink, zoom, paint, shrink, zoom, pan, paint, shrink, etc. Other than that I've been pretty cool with my x200t. Utterly awesome screen, silent as a dream, pretty fast all in all, good battery life, runs cool too, etc. I thought there might be some value in having a desktop setup as well though. I have wondered if it's worth trying the 2ndary screen for the laptop-- then atleast I could check out what I was doing on a larger scale. Perhaps that would be helpful (as discussed in the thread I had earlier in July).

    Sorry for the rambling. Your input is appreciated guys. If you've got more to say, or other thoughts, I'm happy to hear them.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Can you use a tablet as a cintiq-like device?

    Seems this could be accomplished similarly to this paralleled topic thread.

    Originally posted here: Can a slate PC be used by a standard desktop PC as a touch / pen input device?

    Not sure if this helps, but it seems that you could accomplish more or less what I saw in the uTube video with a Win-7 Dual Touch (finger touch screen and/or pen touch) TabletPC and/or a Slate (TabletPC without keyboard) by just running the device using extended desktop and a secondary monitor with no need for a secondary PC. Two examples as follows:
    1. Run TabletPC (or SlatePC) with secondary monitor in “extended desktop” mode (TabletPC display being selected as “primary” display). This would function pretty much just like the video. The Tablet would accept finger and/or pen based input, while the “extended” desktop (secondary monitor) would display any other program windows simultaneously.
    2. Run TabletPC (or SlatePC) with secondary monitor in “extended desktop” mode (secondary display being selected as “primary” monitor). When I run in this configuration, the pen based input on the Tablet works very much like an auxiliary digitizer (when pen is used on Tablet PC screen, the input point is displayed on the larger monitor). Any window open on larger monitor accepts the pen input (so Tablet is used as digitizer and drawing is displayed on window that is open on larger monitor).
    I just sent daughter off to college with Win-7 TabletPC (Wacom Pen based) and 21” widescreen TV/Monitor hooked up via docking station with axillary wireless keyboard/mouse combo and a sound system with option for both of the above scenarios (she just needs to choose which display is primary to allow TabletPC functionality as a TabletPC with secondary monitor, or function as a digitizer for larger auxiliary monitor when she wants to draw like using a Wacom digitizer). One cord connection for the dock connects all peripherals, and provides charging supply to TabletPC. A quick simple portable and great desktop solution inclusive cable connection to TV/Monitor along with wireless remote control.

    Hope this helps give another option/perspective solution.

    Regards,

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Can you use a tablet as a cintiq-like device?

    Waking up an old thread I know.

    I have a solution that uses an old under powered pen tablet (can be got cheap on ebay). A lot of these have pressure sensitive digitizers so you share the serial port over the network and then send the image back over VNC. Works suprisingly well. Video and how to Turn an old Pen Tablet into a 'Cintiq' style digitizer - kinggeek.co.uk.

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    Default Re: Can you use a tablet as a cintiq-like device?

    Kinggeek- this sounds neat. I'm curious.

    I see from the video that you're using the tablet pc to draw on and visual is on an external monitor. But the art program is actually running on and being powered by the desktop pc? Can you explain a bit more how you're sending the software info from the desktop to your tablet pc? And how you are then sending only the tablet pc's pen input back to the desktop? How are you bypassing the tablet pc's cpu and using only the digitizer? Also, what kind of lag is there between the two? Sounds cool. It's something that has been much discussed before.

    Your version runs on Linux though, right? Is there a way to do it in Windows?
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    Default Re: Can you use a tablet as a cintiq-like device?

    Genius stuff!

    Imagine being able to have the power of a desktop on a portable tablet wherever you went as long as you had a network connection! crazy. A company could really market a more streamlined version of something like this. A two part computer system: A power house type docking station desktop PC, and a take away tablet that both functions on its own, and can drive the desktop when connected to the internet. Seems many would find use for that.

    I feel there must be a slight lag in a remote desktop setup like that though.
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    Default Re: Can you use a tablet as a cintiq-like device?

    Steve B:-

    Yes, the art program (GIMP in this case but could be anything) is running on Windows (on a quad core PC with 12Gigs of RAM). The tablet is running a very lightweight version of linux which I built and can be downloaded from the website, instructions are there too (see my previous post).

    Basically you give over the tablet to running the lightweight linux which then turns the tablet into a sort of 'dumb terminal' to the windows PC. The windows PC has a virtual serial port which is connected over the network to the tablet. The PC then uses VNC software to connect back to the tablet. Latency is very good. It can very occasionally glitch a tiny bit over wireless but only on updating the tablet display, and not on the pen stroke. If that is a concern you can use it over a wired LAN or get a faster WiFi setup. It's nice to be wireless though!

    The actual full linux install comes in at under 35Mb, so you could quite easily dual boot the tablet if you did not want to dedicate is solely as a digitizer.

    All the software involved is either free to use or fully open source. Once it's all properly installed (which is a little long winded) a couple of clicks on the desktop gets you rolling.

 

 

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