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Author Topic: Pictorial - Building a DIY Cintiq in 4 days  (Read 30493 times)
japasul
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« on: December 26, 2008, 04:26:54 AM »

Hey guys,

first of all, let me introduce myself:
I am a 22 years old architecture student from southern Brazil. I love music and arts and love building and tweaking with things. Things I've built include guitars, effect pedals and a tube amplifier. The main reason I build things is because I believe this extremely industrialized world we live in suffocates the personality of each person - so I like things customized as to reflect the uniqueness of each individual. Well, enough about me and on to what matters on this forum!

I recently came across this forum when searching for info about how to build my own cintiq like tablet and now just finished my very own build!

I decided to do a pictorial from my build, and this is why: several people come here to the forum looking for a step-by-step guide to build their own Sim-tiqs. There are a lot of tech junkies and electronic diy'ers here but there are also a lot of people that never built anything before, but would really like to get into the Sim-tiq world.

These people had Drew's log, which has a lot of pics and is great, specially since he found such a great match of monitor plus tablet.
But now I believe I have had even more luck than Drew! My build was done, from first disassembly of tablet and monitor to end of assembly of the simtiq in only 4 days! I have to give Lady Luck her merit, because it was just that, luck! I have a lot of electronic experience and knowledge, but really nothing that could help me here!

I could say the models I used for this build were simply made for each other, and this is why I decided to make the pictorial. This build can be pretty straightforward, no big issues to resolve making it iideal for a beginner to have his shot! Ok, on to it!

Materials used:

Wacom UD1212R from eBay - 27 dollars plus 45 dollars shipping - still cheaper than a crappy tablet here in Brazil

A wacom is totally worth it. I have a Genius tablet and there is no comparison. The wacom is sturdy and precise, plus it has a great driver software. It would be hell to map this thing on the Genius driver.


LG L1553S bought new - about 140 dollars in local store
This monitor was actually the only 15" 4:3 ratio I could find in my town! The stores carry only widescreen models now, except for this one, from which they had just a few left. But it still looked really promising: really thin monitor with external power source. After I bought it I found out it even runs on the same voltage as the tablet! Only one power source needed!


8 inches of CCFL cable (4 inches for each polarity)
This must have at least 2kV insulation, 3kV to be sure (the voltage peak on a common CCFL can be of about 1.8kV!)

12"x9" piece of clear acrylic sheet, 2mm thick
2mm is thick enough as to better distribute the pressure on the screen and still not too thick as to become a problem on parallax. But if you are not too afraid as I to damage your screen, you could go less, I think... But 2mm is the thickness so that the acrylic later leves to the rest of the tablet

And of course electrical tape, pliers, screwdrivers, knives... A soldering iron is really recommended for the extension of the backlight cable. And a dremel really makes the job easier!

Ok, I'll gather the first pictures and be back in a bit with the first part of the pictorial!

Cheers
André Ripoll



« Last Edit: December 28, 2008, 05:12:10 AM by japasul » Logged
japasul
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« Reply #1 on: December 26, 2008, 07:05:26 PM »

Ok, I'm gonna start with the pictorial per say, and post some pictures now!

OBS 1: I actually don't have a lot of pictures from the cutting and soldering or even the disassembly of the monitor, but rather focused on the assembly pictures. The monitor is really easy to take apart and there is no mystery to it, and there is plenty of info on the web. I'll focus on the details specific to this build.

OBS 2: The pictures were taken with a cell phone, because my camera was at the repair shop. But I promise to take better pictures of some details once I open up my build for some extra stuff I want to get in there.

I built my Sim-tiq into the case of my Wacom, because, as you'll be able to see, the monitor parts fit really well into the Wacom case. I divided the build in two parts. I assembled some parts to the backplate of the case and some of the parts to the front plate of the case, and then I just had to close it up, sandwiching everything in between.

This is how I assembled the front elements, which consists of the following: front plate of wacom case, LCD screen, monitor frame (holds both the LCD screen and the backlight), LCD backlight, Wacom sensor board and wacom controller.

First, I cut a window on the wacom case, the size of the screen I wanted. The position of this window is about the middle of the height of the tablet. I ended up dividing the remaining part of the tablet, rendering them virtually useless, but I decided to do this for internal desin purposes, as I'll explain later.



I also had to cut out some of the reinforcing ribs to make them level to the rest of the plate, so the LCD frame could rest there. I also glued some cardboard spacers around the window to prevent the LCD frame from slidin around.



I then did a test fit of the LCD frame with just the backlight attached to it, to prevent scratches to the screen. I actually had to invert the lights of the backlight, switch one with another, so that the CCFL cables came out of the right and not the left. I had to cut some slots on the plastic frame so that the backlight would still fit.



And here are the CCFL cables. They were the same length, but I extended the bottom one about 4 inches. This is because on the monitor original assembly the driver board was around the middle of the screen, and on my build it will be more towards the top.




to be continued....
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japasul
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« Reply #2 on: December 27, 2008, 05:30:00 PM »

Everything looking good, I assembled the LCD screen into the plastic frame and then placed the frame on the wacom case. The LCD screen is attached to the controller by a series of FFC like strips. They are very fragile so extra care is needed. As you can see on my previous post, I glued the cardboard spacers as to be in between the LCD controller strips.



The size of the controller is why I placed the LCD screen around the middle of the wacom case. I needed the connector on the controller board to be at the top of the case so I wouldn't have to extend the cable from the controller board to the driver board.



On an early test assembly, I found that the controller board caused some interference onthe wacom sensor, causing a dead column of about 1 inch wide towards the left of the screen. By making a shield out of aluminum foil and wrappin that in some paper for insulation, this was quickly resolved!



I then grounded this aluminum shield and the aluminum pieces that hold the backlight CCFLs (red wire on the picture below). The ground wire goes to the ground point on the back of the case, as I'll show below.



Some quick extra info on grounding:
When working with audio circuits, there is a really important concept which is star-grounding. This means all grounds should run to the same point and then be shunt to the wall or case ground. There should be no "loops" or "hoops" in the circuit, because these work as antennas that can pickup hum from nearby circuits (like the CCFL circuit) and pass this hum to circuits that these wires should originally ground.

I don't know if this could make that much difference in a cintiq build, but I think the jitter conpletely went away once I grounded my parts this way!

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japasul
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« Reply #3 on: December 27, 2008, 06:15:33 PM »

I then placed the wacom board on top of the screen assembly...



...and then the wacom controller board.





On to the back plate of the case:

This is the monitor driver board, with the inverter circuit and all. It comes in this metal casing which is nice for shielding. The two cables coming out of it are the LED cable (three wires, grey and blue) and the cable to the LCD screen. There are also connectors for the two CCFLs and comin in from the VGA signal cable. The metal casing also connects to the VGA cable for grounding.


Now for the REALLY LUCKY part of this build. Check out how it fits in the wacom case!



Just had to cut off some of the reinforcing internal rib...



...drill some holes for the buttons and take some of the external part of the case off...



...and, after a little bendin of the driver board metal casing, voilá!



This is how it looks, from the outside, with access to the buttons on the driver board.



I used a dremel to cut out some of the casing. I still have to remove the pen marks and clean up the cuts a bit, but it works great!
« Last Edit: December 27, 2008, 06:19:56 PM by japasul » Logged
japasul
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« Reply #4 on: December 27, 2008, 06:31:25 PM »

This is the VGA signal cable. It also brings in the Voltage from the external power brick. It has a plastic connector that goes into the driver board and a metal connector for grounding the shield.



So I had to drill the wacom case for this cabe and also the LCD screen cable, from the driver to the controller.



This is how the LCD cable goes to the controller board. It sticks out then back in. I did this because there wasn't much room in the case, and this proved to work well in the end.



I then placed both case halves side by side and started connecing the cables from the front plate (CCFL cables and ground cable) and also connect the VGA signal cable.



The ground wire goes to this point, where I used the clamp that comes with the monitor to hold the VGA cable in place. I had to drill a hole on the case and use a screw and a nut for this.



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japasul
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« Reply #5 on: December 27, 2008, 06:59:34 PM »

I taped every cable to the case, sometimes cutting some plastic to fit the cables. This will prevent them from sliding around during final assembly.



I drilled some holes in the middle of the back of the case so I could use the monitor stand on the cintiq.



And then I used some cardboard as a spacer to lift the hole thing about 2mm, which gave me the space I needed for some screwheads, cables, etc.



Then I attached the monitor stand to the back of the case (actually just the stand without the base for now, so that I could still work with the case).



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japasul
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« Reply #6 on: December 27, 2008, 07:17:06 PM »

This part now was really tricky, connecting the LCD cable to the controller board while trying to close the case. But with some care and patience, and perhaps the help from a second person, this can be done easily. As you can see, I couldn't even take the picture of it! But I was alone, so...



With everything connected, I closed the case. I screwed in the screws just enough that they would excerce some pressure on the whole sandwich of components, because the cardboard spacer plus the LCD screen and frame add about 5mm to the assembly. Some longer screws miht be necessary.

I then finished assembling the monitor stand.



Turned the whole thing around and turned on. Working!



Then I had some acrilyc cut to shape and placed it on the LCD screen.



I also placed some 0,4mm plastic sheet on top of the acrilyc. This can easily and cheaply be changed once it is too scratched up. I taped this sheet with some clear tape on top and on the bottom.

And the build is done!




It works great, but there are still a couple of things I want to implement into the build:

1. The monitor driver board and the CCFL lights heat up a lot. I don't think it is anything unusual, but I'd like to add a computer fan to the back of the case to cool the driver board a bit, after all this case is a lot more close than the monitor case, which had some more vents and metal to better dissipate the heat.

2. I have yet to figure out the input voltage wires on the driver board and do some extensions so that the wacom can run on the same power input as the monitor. I'm still using two power bricks.

3. I still want to properly install the monitor LED.

4. This thin is really precise. No jitter, no dead spots. EXCEPT! for the region really close to the CCFLs (about 3-4mm close). The pen just goes a little wacky on the vertical coordinate there, but still no jitter. It like, stops workin in a linear way. This doesn't bug me because it's a rea minor flaw that in no way compromises my use of the tablet. All the points on the screen are still accessible. I think this can be due to the shielding of the CCFLs that goes under the backlight into the region of the screen a bit. If I have time I'll look into this, but it really doesn't bother me.


I think that's it! I'll come back with some updates on these "to-dos" I have...

I hope I helped someone out there, because this forum was a great help to me!

Thank you all that helped make this place what it is, and special thanks to Drewid, Tannassi and Ambidextrose for some of the info that was crucial for my build!

Cheers,
André



« Last Edit: December 27, 2008, 07:22:55 PM by japasul » Logged
theotocopulitos
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« Reply #7 on: July 29, 2009, 11:56:09 AM »

Thanks man,

this is really a great look up point for newbies and ignorant people like me!
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My build log and other stuff... at http://idlemindworkshop.wordpress.com
Patterick
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« Reply #8 on: July 29, 2009, 10:10:18 PM »

Wow, that was really awesome to look at.

Was that a Wacom of the first generation? Else I can't comprehend how you'd get one for 27$ !

I'm waiting right now for my FCC cables to go on with my build. My pair matches up pretty well too, but I guess the Driver problem will be a harsh one for me since I can't adjust the working area that easily (Or so I think, I might find a solution to that when having chances to test it ^^)

But that'll be another post.

Yours is awesome.

Thanks
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raceme914
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« Reply #9 on: April 24, 2010, 01:53:08 PM »

Hi Guys,

I have a Wacom 1212R but it does not work so you can use it to cut it apart and build one yourself, i am giving it away so if you want it just pay the shipping and handling, if you are in the U.S. I will ship it to you for free, if you are outside of the us you will have to pay the fee just find out how much it is and how to ship it and i will do it after i get the money, paypal only. if you are interested let me know my e-mail is papichulo914@yahoo.com
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bernard
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« Reply #10 on: April 24, 2010, 04:21:52 PM »

Is there a pen and/or cables with it?
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myhairisspikey
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« Reply #11 on: July 16, 2012, 09:58:20 PM »

Thank you so much for this!  I just bought a monoprice tablet, and saw something about tabletmod and made my way to this site.  I was trying to figure out if this is something feasible to do, and I think I will be trying to make one very soon.
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