Screen Tablet malarky => Build Logs => Topic started by: ThinWhiteDuke on June 11, 2017, 11:58:33 PM

Title: Foam-tiq, son of Tecra-tiq, a more mobile M4 rendition. Success.
Post by: ThinWhiteDuke on June 11, 2017, 11:58:33 PM
My DIY Cintiq was a long time in the making. Mostly due to other things got in the way of me making it and the fact that my LCD controller board blew up. Smoke coming from your electronics is always fun.

Anyways, I used this guide ( ( to make my own. After my controller mishap though I decided to buy one of the infinitely cheaper LCD controllers that can be found on ebay/banggood/aliexpress etc. shown here: ( There are a few different types, theres the v29 that comes is programmable via onboard jumpers, v29 where you use a USB with the correct image to flash the board, and v56 that's essentially the same as the second one but you can use the USB port for other things like watching movies I think. I went with the first board. It costs a little more but I didn't have to deal with any potential headaches regarding finding the right image to flash. These boards are also better than the NJYTouch boards in that, they cost less, can be reprogrammed yourself without the need for a specialized programming board and have a lot more port choices. So you can use your LCD screen for more than only just the PC if you wanted.

I got a 5 button keypad with the prior board. It however didn't work with the v29 board (it can, potentially, but you need to be able to access the service menu and that's only possible with the remote as far as I know) so I had to buy a 7 button keypad (which came wired with an IR sensor. The 7 Button keypad doesn't really seem to work very well (I think the pin out may be incorrect on the pad itself). But hey, it's got the IR sensor, so I use that to access any of the options I need to get to. ( (

My main issue when I received the v29 board and hooked it up to the LCD was that it showed inverted colors, my screen looked like a rainbow threw up on it. I thought I had been sent a bum controller. But it turns out, after some help from the people who sold it to me, that there's an option in the service menu that allows for different color profiles. A simple switch of these and the monitor was good to go.

Wrong colors.

Per their instructions:
Please to solve the problem by followed steps:

Operate with remote control:
1.Pressing the menu till menu appear on the screen,
2 Press the number key 8896 then display a menu
3 Select SYSTEM SETTING to enter
4 Select Panel Setting 1 2 3 4 .. After normal, press the Escape key.
(Note that the code for entering the system menu on the other boards is different, but I believe the procedure is the same.)

Now I only bought an LCD screen. I didn't have the original case or anything like that... and either way it'd be impossible to fit the new controller board in
there. The biggest challenge was trying to figure out how to orient all of these cables. So that it all fit and worked in the smallest possible form factor. This coupled with the orientation of and where cables entered some of the boards made this maddening.

Cable Routing

My case went under several iterations. First it was made out of MDF board, I didn't like it, it was ugly and too heavy. I then moved from that to the foam board that you can get at a craftstore, the kind with the paper on the top and back. I coated these with Polyurethane Resin. It worked ok but it was difficult to shape edges. Over time I came across some ways that industrial designers and prop makers make one-offs using sturdy foam insulation from the hardware store. It's commonly known as "Blue" or "Pink" foam depending on which store you get it at and what the brand is. They're supposed to be about the same just different companies. I went for blue stuff since I felt it would be easier to visualize with than the pink color. Here the blue stuff is soldd by Dow. And has huge letters to that effect. And the pink is sold by Corning, I think. There was also a tab where the LCD and Wacom board screwed into, snipped it and turned the metal tab back on itself to make fitting the bezels easier.

It didn't hurt anything thankfully.

The foam is a joy to work with. It's easy to cut with an xacto knife and multiple passes and sands well (though large expanses can be difficult to sand and cause a ton of dust, wear a mask) It doesn't take drilling very well though, so making holes can be an annoyance. To get the orientation of the keypad holes to their approximate points on the foam I took an impression of them with clay then pin-pricked through the clay to mark their positions on the foam. I found a flat surface and turned the drill bit around to the ... non-drilling side and just used manual hand compression to make holes. It worked better than using the drill side but still not great unfortunately. I also had to carve out spaces for places with problem cables or parts that stuck out in the way.


I traced the controller board onto the foam and cut a rectangle out where the board would sit. I flipped the inverter onto the top of the LCD controller so that they fit in tandem with each other. The inverter and the back panel of the red wacom board are both covered with brown paper/aluminium foil/brown paper sandwiched together in the hopes of keeping interference to a minimum (as my prior build with my prior lcd controller went dead wherever the inverter was, the sandwiched aluminum helped a ton).

I hotglued the top and sides of the foam around the inverter and lcd controller making a little box. I tried screwing it into the lower piece of foam, but the foam didn't take being screwed. The boards themselves aren't secured, they're held in my the pressure of the box and the fact that they're attached to stuff.

It looks smooth and nicer now that it's done, but it was simply glued pieces of foam.

After all the base foam work was done, I did the rounding of edges with a drill press and some router bits and some sand paper. You could just use sandpaper though. And was finally coated with spackle that was sanded down. The spackle acts both a hole filler for a the pourous foam and as a barrier for the spray paint that would come next. Spray paint contains things that could melt the foam, so the barrier is needed. Though the places where I oversprayed remained fine.

Spackled and Painted

The bezels are made of wood that I made via a tablesaw. They're basically just shallow L shapes that can be screwed into from the back of the foam to hold the whole thing together. As I said the foam wouldn't take screwing so the wood has the grip to hold it all together.

Done (Now if only I didn't need to plug in 3 separate wires)

I don't know if anyone else has made a monitor out of foam, but I wanted to give back to the community with this write up, especially for those who don't have a case handy. I wanted something somewhat portable, I didn't want to have to be stuck at a desk with it if I don't have to. It's not the most portable thing in the world but it's nice not to have to have it mounted or have the parts hanging out for all to see. So I wanted to throw this up as a bit of a proof of concept.

Had I to do it over again:

-Find some magical way of making good holes on the foam for the buttons

-I probably wouldn't have spackled it, spackle is heavy (even the little bit I used) and I feel like the LCD is considerably more heavy than it was with just bare foam. It feels more rugged, but it's still susceptible to pokes marring it just like the foam was.

-Coat it with gesso or PVA glue to seal it instead of spackle then spray paint over that. It'd probly keep the weight down.

-Be more careful! I cut one side too near the screw hole and I sanded some parts of the back more shallow than the rest of it, so its a bit uneven. Same with the spackling job, it's uneven, but I didn't feel like caking it on since it's heavy stuff and I just didn't care anymore. Anyone who is invested in making it look really good though, could. For me functional is fine, it's a tool.

-Getting the Mini USB into the Teensy is annoying, I'll be adding a Mini USB extension that will just always remain in it, that way I can just plug into that.

-Round the bezels or not round the bezels, that is the question, I opted not to... for now.

-The screen exhibited some slightly wavy lines intermittenly when plugged into VGA, this didn't actually effect the pen strokes themselves however. Plugging into HDMI I haven't seen these wavy lines come back as of yet.

-Find somewhere to put that stupid inverter wire.

Shout outs:

A gent here from the community helped me way back when I started with my complete lack of soldering skills by essentially gifting me a Teensy in exchange for the one I couldn't get to work. In my pitiful soldering attempts I screwed the thing up so he was left with nothing. He knows who he is, and I'm still grateful to him. So my offer of buying him a new teensy should he need one still stands.

I caught up with thatcomicsguy who wrote the original Tecra M4 build when I was trying to get things to work. He tried to help out as well, I thank him too for his kindness and his wonderful write up. Without the two of you making my monitor would've have been possible.

Title: Re: Foam-tiq, son of Tecra-tiq, a more mobile M4 rendition. Success.
Post by: Aerendraca on July 25, 2017, 10:08:40 PM
Excellent post. It's good to see someone tackle something in a slightly different way. Nice addition of the "had to do it again" section, this kind of information is sometimes held back due to embarrassment, but I think it demonstrates a good development process, and illustrates factors that future builders may be wise to take on.

I hope you come back and take on an evolution of this project one day.

Title: Re: Foam-tiq, son of Tecra-tiq, a more mobile M4 rendition. Success.
Post by: ThinWhiteDuke on September 07, 2017, 10:28:33 PM
Hey, thanks for the kind words Aerendraca. For me there's not much to be embarrassed about (outside of my exceptionally poor soldering skills), it's not perfect but I wasn't aiming for it to be production model beautiful. But the places where I felt it could be better can inform people who may take on a similar project. It's light, it's semi-presentable so it works for me. I found a 9v wallwart to take the place of the heavier laptop-like power supply that came with the controller board it seems to work fine.

The one thing that I'd really like to do (and I have the parts to do it) is to group all the wires. Right now the wires span the entire tablet, power on one side, usb on the other, hdmi in the middle. Some day I intend to fit a mini-usb male to micro usb female converter along with a right angle converter, I also have an 360 hdmi extension and will group all the wires in a black mesh cord wrap to keep them better organized and away from hanging about all over the place. It just hasn't been a priority since I can doodle on my laptop at the moment.

I don't know how I would evolve the project outside of making it look nicer here and there, but I'm doubtful of that happening. It was never a huge priority. It seems to be as thin as I could get it, maybe not as light as I could get it since I spackled it, but it's still light. The only things off the top of my head that I can think of that would make a functional difference would be cutting the ribbon cables and resoldering them so that they're the proper length and not all folded, this could allow it to be thinner. (But it's too much trouble for me). Another would be to make the hump in the back (where the controller is stored) out of thin wood. It would again, allow it to be thinner, but I'm unsure at what cost of weight.

Title: Re: Foam-tiq, son of Tecra-tiq, a more mobile M4 rendition. Success.
Post by: bernard on January 13, 2018, 06:48:29 PM
Awesome stuff!  I just had a question about enclosing everything with foam:   What about the heat from the backlight? You left some holes for ventilation?

Title: Re: Foam-tiq, son of Tecra-tiq, a more mobile M4 rendition. Success.
Post by: ThinWhiteDuke on April 20, 2018, 08:04:28 PM
Hmm, I'd never thought about it. But I mean it does have a large gaping hole at the top where the connectors are since I didn't have a way of covering that up. In my experience it doesn't get very hot. I wouldn't think it'd need much ventilation given that it's a laptop monitor but you've more experience than I do :)

Title: Re: Foam-tiq, son of Tecra-tiq, a more mobile M4 rendition. Success.
Post by: bernard on April 24, 2018, 12:55:14 AM
Laptop monitors are thin, so the heat gets out easily through the plastic even without holes.
Foam is the best for isolation but if you have a bit of a hole somewhere (you said at the top) then it's probably enough to let the heat go gently without hurting anything.