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Breathing new life into my TM2 with a Windows 8 compliant sensor fusion package. (Pictures!)

Discussion in 'HP TouchSmart TM2 (Wacom)' started by Maloo, Jan 28, 2013.

  1. Maloo

    Maloo Pen Pal - Newbie

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    For you picturebook tl;dr types: Pictures start below

    So, here's an account of my project.

    My first generation TM2t-1000 was purchased just before they switched over to the second generation 2000 series, and had the performance options for the CPU and Graphics card. This means switchable graphics with a ATi Radeon HD 4550m and a Core 2 Duo U9600 @1.60Ghz. It's held up remarkably well as a laptop, considering I got it not as a desktop replacement (I've already got a nice gaming rig,) but as a TABLET replacement. One with a pen, keyboard, and the ability to run windows software and games. Back in the Win 7 days, the touchscreen and pen support was admirable, but the overall experience was lacking. This was not the simple to use tablet experience I was looking to trounce. It was mostly just Windows 7 with touch support, and I'm sure most of you here are familiar with that.

    Remember, the iPad had just come out, and when Apple likes to claim they have something revolutionary, I like to remind people that there's usually many innovators that come before them. Just because people like to make assumptions, nothing against their truly excellent products.

    So, a few months back, shortly after the release of Windows 8, I installed it on my HP TM2-1000t. Finally, a polished touchscreen OS for windows. And, major conveyance issues aside (I'm still learning how to use it, and often make use of the internet to help me along,) I feel like it's the OS that this tablet should have shipped with. Tablet-style interfaces and apps for the touchscreen, and a classic windows experience for the laptop side of this convertible. Drivers were an issue, for sure. Switchable graphics from that generation really, really got left out in the cold. The only person actively developing drivers for switchable graphics laptops seems not to care for 1st generation TM2s. So getting something resembling decent drivers running was a challenge, but a surmountable one.

    In the end, I got everything installed, updated, and running quite well. Save for one thing.

    That rotation button on the side of the screen? The automatic rotation when you flipped the lid down over the keyboard? Useless. Pressing the button, and then having the screen turn 5 minutes later if HP's software felt like it? Not acceptable. :|

    So this put me on a train of thought that eventually arrived at this: Surely someone out there in the vast lands of the internet has tried to retrofit one of these old tablet pcs with something resembling a modern tablet's sensors. Windows 8 has support for all of these things built in, you just need the hardware for it.

    I didn't find someone else who had done it, persay. But I did find that the company Freescale, which specializes in microcontrollers and sensors, had developed, as a piece of reference hardware USB plug and play Windows 8 "12 axis" sensor fusion board. 3 Axis Gyro, 3 Axis Accelerometer, 3 Axis Compass, Temperature, Pressure, and Light. Details here: 12-axis Xtrinsic Sensor Reference Platform for Windows 8® Product Summary Page

    This is a Windows 8 logo certified piece of hardware. If you don't want to tinker with the microcontroller's code, it just works. No drivers, no hassle. It was undoubtedly expensive, but it's not a piece of consumer hardware. It's meant for companies in the business of making Windows 8 devices to have an example of how to use their sensors in their designs. Advertisement. But, to my knowledge and research, nobody else had made something so perfect for a retrofit.

    So, I bought it after a little bit of hesitation. So then began the work of trying to figure out how to fit it into the TM2's tight case. I was immediately drawn to one of the unpopulated areas in my TM2. I had ordered it without the optional WLAN card. So, there was an unused mini-PCIe connector, and the space for a full-length card. After measuring the picture and using some known sizes for scale, I worked out that it would fit, at least in the x and y dimensions. This quickly led into the other important problem: Connecting the card's mini-usb connection to a usb header somewhere in the interior of the laptop.

    Here, I had three options.

    1. I could solder some wires directly to the inside of one of the external USB ports, and steal its connection for the sensors. I discarded that since the TM2 only has three external USB ports, and losing any one of them would suck.
    2. I could find the unused header for the thumbprint reader, another option I didn't get. This involved soldering directly to the motherboard on a discontinued laptop when my surface mount soldering skills were non-existant. Make a mistake and cost myself hundreds of dollars. So that was out too.
    3. Right in the same area as I was planning to put the card, there's that unused mini-PCIe header. I had remembered hearing that the specification included a single USB lane, and after a bit of research, I found out that there's cards out there that break this connection out into an actual USB port. In this case, I'd still be soldering jumper wires, since the space is so tight, but a mistake here would only cost $20, instead of much more.

    [​IMG]

    So I went with the third choice. The first to arrive was the USB header card. I opened up the doors on the bottom of my laptop, slotted it in, plugged in my Logitech wireless mouse's tiny little dongle, screwed down the card, and booted the laptop. Or not. Many modern laptop manufacturers don't like you putting things into mini-PCIe slots that they don't approve of. My TM2 has a whitelist of approved WLAN cards coded into the BIOS firmware. One google search and a hacked bios later, and the card worked just fine.

    WP_20130120_005.jpg

    The sensor board arrived after months of waiting. I had purchased it before they were even manufacturing them, and even then, it came towards the end of the month they said they were making it. It came in an excellent little box, packaged very professionally. I had expected to just get a board in an anti-static bag, but it's obvious that Freescale puts work into sales. This immediately led me to discovering a problem: on the board are some standard jumper header pins, for programming the microcontroller on the board. They stuck up a good quarter inch, and given how cramped the space I was planning on slotting the board into was, they had to go.

    WP_20130128_006.jpg
    WP_20130128_005.jpg

    So, some adventures in desoldering later, (do it inside. A cold garage when all you have is a $10 soldering iron that can't put out enough heat to overcome 20F ambient is an exercise in patience,) I had the pins desoldered, and the board still operating just fine.

    Next came the real test for me. I had to work out how to wire the USB header card I had purchased to a mini-USB connector that I could plug into the board. There was no way I was doing any sort of fine soldering on the sensor board, given its cost. Some work with a knife later, I had cut away all the insulation on the end of a mini-USB cable, leaving the individual wires and the plug itself exposed. The wires were fine enough, and the plug short enough to actually get everything wedged in.

    WP_20130120_003.jpg

    So then the challenge was fitting in the board in the direction matching the orientation of the laptop, so Windows would rotate the screen the right way. Before I did any of that, I unplugged the laptop and popped out the battery. No need to risk shorting something before laying down the electrical tape. The solution I found involved pointing the USB connector towards the battery, out of easy reach. So I plugged the connector in first and with a bit of inventive twisting, got it to slide under the external frame and fit beautifully.

    [​IMG]

    The fine wires also made soldering them to the fine pins of the connector much easier. For some bizarre reason, the plug was a USB 3.0 connector, complete with 9 pins, despite the connection being USB 2.0. This meant I had to be very careful about solder bridges, not knowing if the pins were actually connected to anything, and also to keep two bridges from connecting signal wires to power ones, which would have ended badly, I was sure. I managed to wire it up and test it, and huzzah! Worked first try.

    WP_20130120_009.jpg

    So here I made my first, and thankfully only mistake. A couple leads had broken off their connections because I hadn't done a good job tacking them down onto the pins. At some point while resoldering them, the USB header board died. I tried just about everything I could think of to test it, including plugging devices into the USB port, and trying it in a buddy's laptop, no joy. So after hours of frustration, I simply purchased a new card, which arrived a week later. Being much more careful with my soldering this time, I successfully recreated my first success.

    [​IMG]

    So, plenty of carefully applied electrical tape later, I had my soldered wires insulated from each other, the magnesium alloy case of the laptop, and the metal shield on the still in-place USB connector. Some more electrical tape shielded the laptop and card from eachother, and with some careful wedging, I repeated the earlier positioning. Before closing it up, I flipped the screen around so I could test the laptop with its guts open. Turned it on, no magic smoke! The laptop registered the sensors! A little bit more electrical tape to secure the sensor board in place, and I closed it up. The fit is so tight that I don't worry about it rattling around at all, but it closed up just fine.

    [​IMG]

    I had to disable automatic light adjustment, since the light sensor is now buried in the laptop, but the rotation works beautifully. Apps that use the orientation sensor also work great. No more goddamn slow rotation button. Now, I feel like I've finally got that proper tablet.

    Tell me what you all think! This has been months in the making. I'd be happy to answer any questions about the steps I took or the decisions I made, or even tips on how to pull this off yourselves.
  2. Maloo

    Maloo Pen Pal - Newbie

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    Also put a video up on youtube of this in action:

    [video]www.youtube.com/watch?v=fTJPndaKVvg[/video]
  3. FaultyYogurt

    FaultyYogurt Pen Pal - Newbie

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    Logged in just to say this is awesome work!
  4. SDreamer

    SDreamer Scribbler - Standard Member

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    That really is something. If the sensor wasn't 200$ I'd give it a try. Where did you get the usb header card?
  5. Maloo

    Maloo Pen Pal - Newbie

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  6. ltuff1

    ltuff1 Pen Pal - Newbie

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    Wow nice work, may definitely consider this myself. Once I get the switchable graphics working. I too have a Tm2t-1000 with older first gen Intel graphics and the ATI HD Mobility 4550 but after upgrading from Win7 to Win8 can only get the Intel graphics working. How did you get the graphics drivers (ATI and Intel) working and which ones did you use?
  7. Genjinaro

    Genjinaro Wireless Addict

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    Cool, if I had the funds & trust of myself & soldering skills. I'd copy.


    Too easy, get your google window open for the file-name.exe
    #1 will get it going, #2 will stabilize the system. Everything else is extra.





    Sent from my iPod Touch 5
  8. __-_-_-__

    __-_-_-__ Pen Pal - Newbie

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    those mini pci-e to usb cards are so handy. you have very inexpensive usb2.0 ones. and there's also 2xusb3.0 ones. I use it to connect an usb gps, a spectrum analyser and a dvb-t tuner. never thought of using it to connect those sensors. but imo 199$ is insanely expensive for such a board. great implementation on a tablet. kudos.
  9. SDreamer

    SDreamer Scribbler - Standard Member

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    Using that USB PCI-e card, does it tend to use up more power or is power management enabled for it so Windows can conserve some power? I'm thinking about putting either my Arc Mouse receiver or my Logitech wireless keyboard in there, or even maybe a Bluetooth dongle. I generally use em when I'm plugged to an outlet, so it isn't a bother, but if I'm going to take a hit when I go mobile, that might be something.
  10. neeleshk21

    neeleshk21 Pen Pal - Newbie

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    Hi ! Maloo,
    I am a tm2 fan & own 2nd gen -i3, 2102tu.
    1. I would like to fit a USB pcie connector
    2. fit the sensors.
    Can u do this?
    Thnx
    :)
    Last edited: Feb 19, 2013
  11. georgedavidson

    georgedavidson Pen Pal - Newbie

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    My salute to you, Maloo!
  12. georgeslanglois

    georgeslanglois G. Langlois

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    In a first moment, I thought I would find the final solution for the rotation problem when I started reading this topic. Then I got a little bit disappointed about your unsuccessful research for it. And then, I got simply amazed with your experiment. Congratulations! But I wish the card was cheaper..

    I'd like to ask something regarding your windows 8 installation. You said you've installed
    1. HP ATI package sp50254.exe
    2. Intel ICH9 Chipset Driver for Microsoft Windows 7 sp46869.exe

    Was it all? Did you install only windows 8 and those two packages?


    How you managed to do that?
  13. Greenlaw

    Greenlaw I like pie.

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    I just happened to stumble on this thread today and--wow!--I'm very impressed with your accomplishment.

    I'm a longtime tm2 user myself and this device still serves me well. I use mine everyday for writing, creating storyboards, drawing comics, and even working on cgi films. I'd love to try what you did for my tm2 but I don't trust myself to pull it off.

    Nice work and thanks for sharing! :thumbsup:

    G.
    Last edited: Aug 26, 2013
  14. Maloo

    Maloo Pen Pal - Newbie

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    Ultimately, I ended up doing a direct upgrade from Windows 7 using the original factory installation. This ensured that a lot of the OEM specific configuration HP did on that image stayed in place.

    In my experience, if some graphical glitches don't bother you, just use the last graphics driver HP has up on their website. If you're picky like me, it's been an extremely difficult job working out good drivers to get this thing running properly. I can't even remember what I have installed now, to be honest. It doesn't always switch well, I had to set the switching software in compatibility mode for it to even start, and HDMI doesn't seem to work on the intel mode. But at least I can play borderlands on minimum graphics. :p

    Greenlaw: Great to see someone still using these. I use mine for art as well, and switching between laptop and tablet modes without a hassle is a great plus for doing that.

    Everyone else: Thanks for your interest and kind words. As for those of you wishing for me to help you install this into your laptop, I'm afraid I'm not comfortable doing that, since I can't cover the cost if I burn out one of those sensor boards! Not when my day job is tech support for a rather well known tech company.

    I encourage everyone to keep experimenting. My next project will likely be putting in a 5Ghz wifi card, courtesy of the bios whitelist removal.

    And, since someone asked me about the whitelisting, for those of you who aren't versed in the ways of Google-Fu, go check out bios-mods.com
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