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Author Topic: success ** Samtiq II ** amazing images on page 6  (Read 59374 times)
Rumi
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« on: December 31, 2006, 04:48:33 AM »

Hi all,

I have started on my home-made Cintiq project which I am calling the Samtiq    Grin

My aim is to have a finished product which looks like this


Since I want to build the Samtiq into an animation desk I have decided that a 15" display size is the most suitable size. Any bigger and I will lose the functionality of being able to turn the animation disk to work at different angles. For a time I was considering a 12×18 tablet which was going cheap but that is just too big and would have been impractical for my purposes. So I have decided that 9×12 is the size that I will go with and a 15" LCD screen.

After much searching through LCDs on ebay, I have purchased the following LCD:

It is a 15″ Samsung SyncMaster 152T, which was the top of the range of the 15" Samsung monitors when it came out about 4 years ago. It only does 1024×768 which might be a problem but it will be good enough to start with. I have a Sharp UXGA 15" which can do atleast (1280×1024) but that needs to have a controller purchased for it so I am starting with the Samsung and if the project is useable I will look into getting the controller for the Sharp panel. This Samsung monitor does have FFC issues, I will find out how bad when I get it. The good thing is that it has an external power supply. The monitor should arrive next week, unfortunately it doesn’t have a power supply ( 14V 3 Amp ) so I will have to find that before I can get started.

On the tablet side of things I am looking for a 9×12, in the Wacom range the Intuos3 9×12 goes for AU$500-700, so I am considering different options, one of which is the following: http://www.uc-logic.com/products/products_pf1209.htm
This tablet has the same specs as the Intuos3 at a fraction of the price although I don't think the drivers will be as good as Wacom’s
There is a seller on ebay that’s selling this item, it is in the states and the shipping charges to OZ are a bit annoying but I might go that way if there is no other way.

On the topic of resolution what are the DIY-Cintiq graduates running at? 1024x768 or 1280x1024? How does that go with usability?

I am also posting my findings and my progress on my blog under the category "DIY Cintiq" if anyone is interested.

Wish me luck! And all the best to all the other DIYers.

« Last Edit: November 30, 2007, 10:23:01 AM by Drewid » Logged

Drewid
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« Reply #1 on: December 31, 2006, 03:05:02 PM »

1024 x 768 here.   

Probably worth getting a power supply with more amps, just in case.
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Rumi
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« Reply #2 on: December 31, 2006, 11:57:15 PM »

In case I want to convert it to LEDs later?
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Drewid
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« Reply #3 on: January 01, 2007, 02:50:37 PM »

or to run the tablet from the same source (assuming it's not USB)
or to wire in a fan if you need it.
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Rumi
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« Reply #4 on: January 13, 2007, 04:03:09 AM »

I've been really busy lately, in order to support my DIY Cintiq habit I've had to take on some freelance work. But the game is finished now ( Happy Feet ) and I can get back to more important things.

The 14V power supply for the monitor arrived yesterday and I tested the monitor, it’s working fine so I started the task of stripping it. This monitor is a bit tricky to open up, I had to look for hidden screws and then pry open the plastic cover by sliding a flat-head screw driver around the case. Here is the monitor with the face removed:


This monitor has an external power supply and a base which has the connectors for 14V DC input, VGA and DVI. These inputs are carried through the base and the stand and fed to the main monitor case. Again it was a matter of finding the screws to undo and prying open some plastic face coverings. All the above signals are fed to the monitor through one single connector which I had to carefully pry out. Once that was done the plastic back of the monitor was released.

There is some shielding which is easily removed via a couple of screws, once the shielding is off we are left with just the LCD, controller and inverter boards:

All the connectors on this monitor had a big dab of glue on them, once the glue was scrapped off the connectors could be removed and couple of screws undone to separate the LCD from the controller and inverter boards:

This is a close up of the controller and inverter boards:

After removing the above circuit boards, things started getting a bit dicey. The LCD has a metal backing which I guess acts as the shielding but the wacom tablet cannot sense the pen through this shield so it had to go. The problem is that this metal shielding also hold things in place so I need to find some way of holding things together if I want to have a usable unit.

It took a while to strip the LCD, there are lots of metal tape and I had be careful with the LCD row/column circuit boards. I removed the backlight lamps by undoing the tiny screws on ones side and then sliding them out. That frees up some other parts but the plastic casing hang onto other parts with little tabs which need to be carefully pried open. I don’t like this prying open of plastic parts, it’s much nicer when there are screws that can be undone and the thing comes apart. Anyway this stage of the strip was pretty scary too easy to damage things. I was concentrating hard so I didnt take too many photos but here is what the LCD sheet looks like with the backlight module removed:

As you can see in the image, there is a FFC (Flat Flexible Cable) connecting the Column driver circuit board to the Row driver circuit board. I counted the tiny connections a couple of times (and I mean TINY!) there are 20 of them and the pitch (which is the distance from one gap to the next) is 0.5mm. This is standard FFC but unfortunately the only place in Australia selling the components for making up an extension is RS and they have a minimum order of 5 or 10. So I am looking at getting this part from Lumenlab or DIY-Beamer.

So that’s where I am with the Samtiq, I will post more info as I get the parts.
« Last Edit: January 13, 2007, 04:05:00 AM by Rumi » Logged

Drewid
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« Reply #5 on: January 13, 2007, 12:44:37 PM »

 Grin
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« Reply #6 on: January 15, 2007, 02:57:07 AM »

Rumi, I have the almost identical screen, mine was 152s, which is the VGA only model. Yet to open it, I think it will more or less look-a-like.
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Rumi
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« Reply #7 on: January 15, 2007, 05:00:52 AM »

Hello Wei,

When you go to strip it, it might save you some time to know that there is a little plastic face covering on the back of the monitor where the stand meets the monitor. Put a flat head screwdriver around it and pry it open. There you will see some screws and a cable going to a connector. You have to undo the screws and pull out the connector and that will free the monitor from stand.

Getting the controller and the inverter off is not too bad. I recommend you strip as far as the LCD, find out what FFC you will need and order that. Don't strip the backlight unit, it will just get dirty and collect dust while you are waiting for the FFC extension.

Good luck with it, I will keep an eye on your build log.
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wei803
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« Reply #8 on: January 15, 2007, 05:33:09 AM »

 Grin thanks for the advice!
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Rumi
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« Reply #9 on: January 25, 2007, 05:45:28 AM »

After stripping the monitor as discussed in the last DIY Cintiq post, I ordered the FFC extension cable from DIY-Beamer and it arrived yesterday which was pretty quick considering DIY-Beamer is in Austria and I am in Australia. Smiley

I was a bit worried that I may have counted the tiny pins on the FFC incorrectly but it was ok, here are some photos of the FFC extension cable:



I tested the stripped monitor with its original cable to make sure it still worked after all my fiddling around, and it was fine. I plugged in the new FFC extension and turned the monitor on.

Nothing.

I had marked the cable to make sure that I put it in the right way so I unplugged everything and double checked and then went to put the cable into the ZIF socket on the circuit board again when the tiny door of the ZIF socket flipped out. Arghhh.... they are called Zero Insertion Force because you need Zero force to break them! The problem is that the FFC extension cable has a plastic backing so that it is easier to insert, unfortunately this makes the cable a bit too thick and puts pressure on the ZIF door, hence the door popping out, it is not completely broken but it is a bit damaged.

So I started very gently separating the FFC from it's backing material using a very sharp scalpel. This went ok and now the cable fits very easily in the ZIF connector and with the door closed I get a good connection and monitor works with the new FFC extension put in.

Next problem involved a lot more time and patience. The cable connecting the controller board to the column driver circuit board was a very short bit of ribbon cable with two coils around it and some more shielding and lots of grounding. I need to extend the cable so that the LCD controller can sit behind the shielding for the wacom board hence minimizing interference.

So off I went to the local Dick Smith store for some cables, the rainbow ribbon cable seemed to be the closest thing to what I was looking for so I spent a couple of bucks on that and got started on soldering each one of the 40 odd tiny connectors. Here is a work in progress photo of the controller extension cable:


And the finished version:




There is no shielding around my extension cable and I have a feeling this is going to haunt me later on, but we'll see how it goes, I can add it later if there is a need.

After testing the cable pins a couple of times with a logic meter, I connected everything up to see if it worked. Again nothing happened after the first attempt but turning off and fiddling with the FFC connector fixed the problem. Here are some shots of the test:








Now the wait begins for the arrival of the tablet ...
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« Reply #10 on: January 25, 2007, 07:05:43 AM »

Yeah, those little flippy ZIF things are easy to break. I managed to break a big one on my controller board, so it comes off every time I un-clip it Tongue

I just ordered a 16-pin/0.5mm FFC extension from DIY-beamer to extend the same L-shaped FFC on mine. Besides your clumsiness with the ZIF thing, there weren't any other difficulties with it, were there?
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Rumi
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« Reply #11 on: January 25, 2007, 01:38:43 PM »

Quote
Besides your clumsiness with the ZIF thing, there weren't any other difficulties with it, were there?

Wasn't so much clumsiness but the fact that the FFC extension cable from DIY-Beamer  has a bit of plastic(the blue part on the cable just before the socket in the first photo of my last post) at the end of it which makes it thicker and gives it more support (you will see what I mean when you get your kit in the mail). This is designed more for the sockets where you PULL out the door, insert the cable and then PUSH the door close. While the socket on my LCD is a FLIP open type where you place the cable and then flip the socket door close. The flip type socket on my LCD is designed for a pretty thin cable so the extra bit of plastic on the back of the FFC extension was too big for it and when I tried to close this FLIP type door one of the legs popped out of its place.

So that is why I had to use a scalpel to separate the bit of plastic backing from the cable, and now the FFC extension cable fits correctly in the FLIP type ZIF. I also had to put some tape at the back of the LCD FFC so that it was thicker and would fit better in the PULL type socket of the FFC extension.

Hope that's more clear now.

Other than that there were not many major problems. I tried putting my 6x8 wacom (still in the case) underneath this setup and it worked but it would lose the pen sometimes and would take a little bit of time to find it again. Also there was some funky jittering going on which is a bit of a worry but I will wait till the bigger tablet arrives so I can put the LCD straight onto the tablet circuit board before deciding if the jittering seriously affects usability.
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« Reply #12 on: January 29, 2007, 11:14:04 PM »

After a long wait the UC-Logic 1209 has arrived:



The first impressions of the tablet are that it is well made, not as nicely manufactured as the Wacom tablet but it is not super cheaply made either. The pen uses batteries inside it which I thought might make the pen feel strange but it actually makes the pen feel substantial and good to use. The tablet comes with Adobe Elements and trial versions of Photoshop and Painter plus the drivers and this is where the trouble starts.

The tablet is advertised as Mac compatible but the Mac drivers supplied with the tablet are too old and would not work on OS X 10.4.8. So I searched on the net and found some newer drivers but unfortunately these don't work 100% either. In Photoshop the tablet works and there is pressure sensitivity but randomly the  system stops responding and the CPU usage goes to 100% for 2 or 3 secs before the system catches up and the lines are drawn in Photoshop.  This is very disappointing. Sad

To make sure the tablet actually works I tried it on a PC running Win XP. Again the drivers supplied in the box were too old and did weird things to the system but installing the new drivers from the net fixed that problem and the tablet works fine in Windows.
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Drewid
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« Reply #13 on: January 30, 2007, 08:52:51 AM »

I like how their pen stand is identical to one of the older Wacom stands.  Cheeky.

 Grin

Have you tried "Bhrazz's opening gambit" yet?
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Rumi
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« Reply #14 on: January 31, 2007, 12:37:00 PM »

Oh yes, Bhrazz's opening gambit.... I'm getting checked already! 

I have had a little bit of time to do some tests and there have been some interesting things happening but I need time to do more tests to double check things.

First of all this tablet has a pen reading height of 25 mm above the tablet case. The sensor doesn't sit as deeply into the case as the Wacom but still that is an impressive reading.

Now the bad news is that the tablet gets a bad case of jitters when the operating LCD is placed on top of it. It starts randomly doing right and left click and other funky stuff. First I thought it must be the inverter so I tried various positions, having the controller/invert boards on a different plane did seem to help but in this configuration I still get jittering and random clicking/moving. So I started unplugging things to see what was causing the problem:

- disconnecting back lights had no effect
- disconnecting inverter board from main controller had no effect
- putting the controller about a meter away from the LCD/Tablet had no effect
- Rotating the row column drivers perpendicular didn't have very significant effect but could look into this some more
- unifying the grounds on the controller -> inverter -> column drivers -> row drivers didn't have any effect
- some shielding material with plastic backing came with the monitor, I tried putting this between the tablet and the column drivers, no effect
- removing the whole backlight slab/unit and letting the LCD sit on the sensor(with paper in between for insulation) made it worse!

It seems the actual LCD  is interfering with my tablet and not the backlight unit (or maybe that interferes as well but not as much). So I put the sensor back in its case and that actually helped a bit. All this time I was worried about things getting too thick but actually having the LCD too close to the sensor seems to cause some problems. Please note that these results are only for my tablet and my LCD, I think Wacoms use a different technology so I don't think we can uniformly apply rules between different tablets or even LCDs.

After this I thought maybe increasing the distance between the LCD and sensor might help even more but it wasn't to be... it helps a little but I still get the random clicking problem.

So now I am trying different monitor frequencies, resolutions, colour depths, so far without success. I have tried 60, 70, 72 and 75Hz, I will get the specs for this monitor so see what the range is and test them all.

A tip for other people doing tests, it's handy to have a second monitor connected and have the stripped LCD sitting on the tablet, then you can move and disconnect things and still assess the result by drawing and seeing the result on the second monitor.
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