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

Discussion in 'The Tablet PC Life' started by Steve B, Jul 26, 2011.

  1. stoneseeker

    stoneseeker Animator and Art Director Senior Member

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    Can't wait! thanks for updating
     
  2. Shogmaster

    Shogmaster Scribbler - Standard Member Senior Member

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    Few years back, I thought about buying up all the old busted Toshi M400s on Ebay (goes for like $100) and starting a poor man's Cintiq business. I had everything going for me except for money, motivation, perseverance, ingenuity, work ethic, and knowledge.

    Glad to see that someone else had the rest of the traits. :D
     
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  3. thatcomicsguy

    thatcomicsguy Scribbler - Standard Member Senior Member

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    Okay!

    I would have posted earlier, but I ran into some difficulties.

    Tecra-tiq-beta4.jpg

    Originally, I had both screens practically touching each other. This, sadly, confused the stylus. There is enough EM signal coming off both digitizers to activate the coil in the stylus at the same time. The angle of the second screen contributed significantly to this. When both screens lie flat, the distance between them necessary to keep the stylus from getting conflicting signals is quite a lot less, and I considered maybe simply mounting both screens flat, one above the other. However, the viewing angle on these old LCD screens is *very* last decade, so I wasn't enthusiastic about going there. I decided instead to re-mount the top screen a couple of inches further up. So I built a new frame and mounting bracket. This killed the interference issue dead, but. . , now there's that big gap between screens.

    I sullenly readied myself to be disappointed by the user experience and was already working on new designs in my head when. . .

    Well, I was happily surprised to learn that the gap doesn't actually matter a whole lot. -Maybe it has to do with the psychological effect of dragging large images around in sync on both screens; the brain, (my brain, anyway), just sort of failed to care that the screens are not actually connected. Score one for human bio-feedback and perceptive fill-in. I suppose we do this all the time; the human eye can only actually provide detailed focus on a very small area at any given moment, a whole lot of what we see is in the form of generalized shapes and we make up for this with rapid eye movement and our brains filling in the gaps. Also, believe it or not, at the very center of our vision in each eye, there's actually a blind spot. -Where the hole at the back of the eye lets through the nerve cluster, there's no light receptor. A blind spot in the center of everybody's vision? Whoa. And we never even notice this. We very aptly, (and very subconsciously) fill in tons of visual information. So maybe that's why this build apparently works as well as it does.

    Who knows? -Mind you, it could also be "honeymoon" period stuff. Maybe I'll not like it a week from now, but as it stands, I'm pretty chuffed about this set-up!

    Everything works nicely, the glass and various fittings are snug and very stable. It feels good to lean on. The top screen feels comfy for menu bars and tool pallets, but it isn't quite as easy to draw on without adjusting my posture. There's always a sweet spot on any drafting board, paper-based or digital. The primary screen serves that end. But it's nice now to be able to see full pages and plan larger images than I've been used to up until now. That was largely why I wanted this build; I missed being able to plan giant full-page images without feeling cramped. I've felt lately that my work isn't quite as sweeping as it once was, so I'm hoping that this will make a real difference.

    I still have to tweak a few things, and put urethane on the new frame for the upper monitor, and I want to do something about the ugly mess of cables sprouting from the rear of the case. Also, I want to inset that split keyboard, (which looks like a very easy thing to achieve; I've had them apart and the whole bottom half of each piece is pretty much empty and redundant plastic. Should make for a nice profile).

    Also, I ordered a new CCFL bulb for the top monitor; you can't see it so much in these images, but the old bulb was wearing out and going dim. I don't blame it; the thing has basically been on for nearly four years under my use, and I don't know what kind of life it had before bought it on eBay!

    I'm not yet comfortable with the new keyboard arrangement. I learned how to touch type years ago, but it's going to take a bit of time to get it down to an intuitive thing. Shouldn't be long, though. I've always found that within a couple of days with a new controller, you forget it was even difficult at first.

    One other problem is freakin' Photoshop. . .

    PS is NOT well suited to working across dual monitors. Unless an image is larger than the screen space, it automatically anchors it in the center of the pasteboard with no ability to pan around. That's really quite frustrating; that's where the big seam between the monitors presents an issue.

    MangaStudio 5, and Mangalabo have no issue with this; the user has the ability to move the image around wherever desired regardless of the zoom level. I can see myself doing more pencil work in MS5 because of this.

    Anyhoo. . , that's where I am now. It's all still very Christmas morning for me and this build is still very fresh out of the box and un-tweaked. Heck, there are power tools, sawdust and wood cutting implements scattered dangerously around my studio/living room.

    But as of this evening, I have got, (drum roll, please), 1400 x 2100 pixels @ 125 dpi worth of poster-oriented canvas to run around in. Beat THAT, Wacom. Ha ha!

    I'll post a video once I get everything properly sorted. :)

    Tecra-tiq---beta2.jpg

    Cheers!
     
    Last edited: Mar 21, 2014
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  4. klachowski

    klachowski Pen Pal - Newbie

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    You're crazy like a fox. Bravo!
     
  5. stoneseeker

    stoneseeker Animator and Art Director Senior Member

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    I'm not sure I understand the decision to place the top screen at such a different angle. Wouldn't the 2 screens on the same angle with a little less distance be better for drawing? It just looks like it would be uncomfortable to draw on the near-vertical top screen to me. But overall the whole set-up is fantastic, and I lover the wood. I look forward to the keyboards being set and everything all polished up and finished. Quite amazing what you did here!
     
  6. thatcomicsguy

    thatcomicsguy Scribbler - Standard Member Senior Member

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    The mini-drafting board on a bigger drafting board was a flash of "seemed like a good idea at the time". And so far I think it was a pretty good call.

    I clamped the proto-screen at that position when trying out different ergonomic solutions. It takes advantage of the arc of my arm's reach and it has a sort of corrective bend kind of deal going. It's actually pretty comfortable, and easier than having to lean over to draw further up on a large image, which I never particularly liked doing anyway on paper. Tall pages are good for general planning strokes but I'd always pull a paper page down close into the 'sweet spot' for the bulk of the real drawing work. This set up allows for that.

    I also did it this way because laying the screens flat, (I tried that too), made the top screen useless because the viewing angle on that old LCD is so narrow. This way I can actually see what is on the screen. I also figured it'd be good for displaying reference pics, text docs and videos and such at something much closer to eye-level. For tool bars and such, it's pretty much perfect, as you don't have to travel your hand nearly as far to reach things you want to click. I think on a really large screen that would be an issue.

    I'm liking it a lot so far.

    I also just finished re-working the keyboard; I cut down the depth of the two halves by nearly a whole inch and they are now fixed to the wood. Though.., I must say I've been spoiled by the sheer elegance and comfort of the Apple keyboard I was using previously. But now that lives in my backpack, so working away from home looks like it'll be nicer. My micro keyboard I used for travel work was okay, but really too small for proper typing.

    But, as I said, I'm very much still in the Honeymoon period with this thing. I absolutely love it! I'm sure the little annoyances will rear their heads soon enough. And I'll deal with them when they do! Right now, I'm really kind of blown away by just how much raw screen there is. It's freakin' HUGE. It feels more like a door than a window at 11" x 17", (which is the size I drew my old analog comic pages on).

    It's not perfect, mostly due to that gap, which is workable but hardly ideal. But it also has some serious advantages over where I was before, and frankly, in terms of DPI, physical size and resolution, it beats out all Cintiq products imho. And the price was certainly right! That whole set up, not including the computer, represents about $300 in parts and shipping. The split keyboard, oddly enough, being the single most expensive piece. (Of course, none of that includes my various false starts and time investment.)

    Aheh. And I spent an hour shooting down space invaders in one of those typing tutor games to get myself up to speed on the new keyboard layout. Getting easier, but not quite there yet! I'd acquired a few bad typing habits over the years, like using my right hand for keys on the left side of the keyboard. So I'm re-training myself while defending the Earth. Seems like a good deal.

    Hey, next time you're in town, you should let me know and I'll let you test drive this build and see what you think.

    That offer is open to anybody here who finds themselves in my neck of the woods! (Nova Scotia, baby! Look it up.) :)
     
    Last edited: Mar 22, 2014
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  7. telecentricity

    telecentricity Pen Pal - Newbie

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    Hi,
    I frequently use the Microsoft Math Input Panel to enter equations and figured out a way to use the pen input on my Surface Pro to enter equations on my PC. I use Microsoft's Mouse Without Borders program to link my Surface Pro and PC, and I make sure the Share Clipboard option is checked. Then I use the pen input on the Math Input Panel on the Surface to ink an equation. I have to insert the output into MSWord on my Surface, then I can copy and paste it into my main PC. It is kind of a kludge but it is free and it works. I've only been using this for a day, if anyone else has a more elegant solution please let me know. Perhaps this method could be adapted for more general use.
    Cheers.
     
  8. thatcomicsguy

    thatcomicsguy Scribbler - Standard Member Senior Member

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    Wow. I remember posting that. It feels like a very long time ago. I guess 3 years is a long time.

    As it happens, that problem has been fairly aptly solved.

    Come to think of it, I suspect an M200 could drive a Tecra M4 screen directly, without the need for a controller board in between. Not that there's any need for that nowadays when you can get just about any Penabled screen working with any old computer.
     
  9. dream3

    dream3 Scribbler - Standard Member

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    So after-all, 3 years after the million-dolalr question has been brought up, can we use or not a tablet PC (like a surface pro for instance) as an intuos or cintiq with another notebook/desktop pc?

    I can't imagine no one still hasn't come up with a solution for that.
     
    Last edited: Apr 15, 2014
  10. thatcomicsguy

    thatcomicsguy Scribbler - Standard Member Senior Member

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    Yes, it can be done.

    It requires a degree of either software or hardware hacking. This thread has covered a couple of different directions. The hardware route is for the time being, by far the most effective of the two, resulting in perfectly workable systems. I'm using two such screens right now plugged into a modern computer.

    The software route is less refined as of this date, but it appears doable as well. It involves running Linux and hacking drivers. If a programming expert versed in driver design were to apply his or herself to the problem, I have little doubt based on the experiments we've seen already, that it could be nailed down nicely. For now, though, just pulling the screen and doing a bit of DIY with third party controller board parts, (all documented elsewhere), is the more direct way of getting an old Tablet PC screen to function as a Cintiq. It's quite an affordable solution, too.
     
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