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Author Topic: Macbook Pro Cintiq  (Read 13830 times)
jo-shadow
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« on: August 04, 2009, 04:41:03 AM »

Hey there,

I'm an Art/CompSci student and a year or so ago I first ran into the original DIY Cintiq and recently while gawking at it again I discovered these forums.
I have been very impressed with some of the builds on here, especially Wei's iTab.

I really like the idea of using an existing laptop with the tablet as an all-in-one device.

I own an old 1.87 Ghz first-Gen 15' Macbook Pro Wich I've had to take it apart many many times. i've replaced or upgraded: Both fans, Ram chips, HardDrive (multiple times) and even a cracked screen. Because of this a few of the screw-holds broke from the frame and though the 'book does hold together, I certainly do not feel comfortable moving it around as much as before.

I do now have a new laptop but still use my old Macbook pro as a backup computer.
I want a Cintiq 12WX or better yet an Axitron ModBook pro (*drool*) but they are far (in the case of the ModBook pro far, far, far) too expensive for my budget at the moment and so the possibility of making one for the fraction of the price, and even breathing some new life into my old laptop at the same time is a tantalizing one indeed.


So basically what I want to do is use the guts and screen of my Macbook pro, combine them with a large Wacom tablet, either a 9x12 intuos3 or a 8x12.8 intuos4, and voila, MacBook pro Tablet.

The easiest way would probably be detaching the macbook pro's screen and removing the frame around it, then placing it onto the back of the existing case.
This would leave the built-in keyboard and mouse exposed on the back of the setup, though of-course I would probably just get a wireless, probably bluetooth mouse/keyboard later. Then I would take the tablet apart and wedge the sensor board between the computer's screen and case, with copious insulation Ofcourse.


Among the many questions that I'm sure will follow, initially I am wondering:

- Since I'd rather not buy an external screen just to make it work, as the existing one really works perfectly fine, Has anyone attempted using a first-gen macbook-pro's screen for a tablet? Are there any reasons why this may or may not work? Any concerns with insulation? I'm not sure I got it correct from what i've read here, so correct me if I'm wrong, but it's mostly the cables that need insulation correct?
- From various reviews or discussions i've seen I'm sure I want either an intuos 3 9x12 or intuos 4 8x12.8. I currently use a small bamboo Fun and like its feal alot more compared to some of the older tablets i've tried in the past and so I don't think I'd like an intuos 2 or earlier, despite the probable decrease in price.
- Given the Macbook pro's dimensions the intuos4 would probably be better size-wise, however it costs about twice as much, since you can get a 9x12 intous 3 for 250$ refurbished and probably less on Ebay.
- If at all possible I'd like to not have any dead areas outside the active tablet area. I know a few people live with it (like the powerbook tablet) but I know it would drive me insane to have too much unusable space. For Reference, my mac's display (so just the screen part, without the bezel) is 32.7x21.4 cm. The active area of the intuos 3 (According to these forums) would be 30.5x23.06, so a loss of a little over 2 cm total horizontally, and the intuos 4 (based on the official values) would be 32.48x20.32, only about 1 cm in vertical loss, though maybe the true active area is a bit bigger (Which seems to be the case with the intuos3 values).
-- Given these sizes, I feel the intuos 4 would fit better, but maybe both could work. Any thoughts?
-- If I were to use an intuos 3 I think there is alot of documentation with gutting and rebuilding it for a tablet screen on these forums, but how about an intuos 4? I loved that the intuos3 in Wei's iTab used the clear cover that could provide a barrier between it and the screen and didn't require buying any additional glass or such. Could the same be done with an intuos 4 or are they constructed differently?
- I would like to somehow use the existing ExpressCard/54 slot (which i've never had a use for before) for the usb plug of the tablet so that I wouldn't loose the two existing usb ports, which I do regularly use. Has anyone attempted that before?

- This question has probably been answered previously in the forums, but has the tablet's sensing distance increased between the original 12x12 ultrapad and the intuos3 or 4, or is it still the magic 9mm? (Edit: wow, sorry, I should have seen that stickied topic. It seems intuos3 can get up to 33mm, but how about the intuos4? though in the worst case it's probably not going to be much less)

Also please feel free to express any concerns or thoughts you might have with my idea. I'd like to plan it out as much as possible before and first gather as much information as possible before buying a tablet and diving head first into the proverbial deep end of this project.

Cheers,
-Jo


« Last Edit: August 04, 2009, 05:21:27 AM by jo-shadow » Logged
bernard
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« Reply #1 on: August 04, 2009, 04:03:10 PM »

Welcome to the forum!

Here are some of my thoughts about your thing. I like reading (and writing!) long posts, so here's my chance Cool hehe.

The measurements for your LCD is really the "pixels" area, right? It does not count the little "dark" border between the bezel and the pixels - right?   Like Drew mentioned somewhere else, if the missing area is fairly small, you can remap a portion of the area to a "non 1:1" mapping so everything is still "accessible" if you know what I mean.  For example, to fill the missing 1 cm strip, you could reserve 1 cm off the tablet active area and map it to a 2cm strip (1cm + 1cm) (or do that on both side). As you move your pen closer to the edge, the mouse will reach the edge before your pen but will still "work". You could reserve that for a less important edge area.

I *think* bamboos and the smaller 4x5 tablets are not as good as the bigger (8x6+) ones. WACOM boards were pretty darn good right from the start. Drew main build is a UD-* (pre-intuos) board and he does not seem to complain at all. The thing you probably want is a USB-based one to fit your Mac. The more recent boards have the "6D" pen which sense rotation which can be quite cool for few things (I do not know how much the software supports that although, never tried it). On the other hand, the more features the board is sensing, the more you are calling for jitter. Some people had to disable some features to reduce jitter. Jitter is always a gamble with unproven parts. It might work perfectly without shielding or jitter like crazy even with tons of shielding.

Going for an intuos 4 is indeed expensive, but if you are careful I think you can leave the intuos parts intact (wacom products are typically made quite solid) and rebuild that intuos back if your build fails (and even sell it on ebay for a fair price).

Always factor in the size of the whole wacom board which will most probably be bigger than your macbook.

Laptop screens are typically pretty thin and the sensing distance is most probably OK.

You mentioned putting the screen onto the back of the mac -- I know others have done the same, but I was wondering what was the reasoning behind this?  Is it to still have access to the keyboard+mouse or because some wires going to the screen (like the FFCs type) can't be "rotated"?  Keyboards typically are a separate module connected with a small FFC cables (in laptops I have seen, mainly Dell and Compaq) - so it might be feasible to build a "drawer" for the keyboard to slip out when needed.

You will also have to watch out for the inverter board which is a source of jitter (it is typically located right next to the screen in laptops).  You might have to relocate it.

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jo-shadow
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« Reply #2 on: August 04, 2009, 07:15:29 PM »

Hey, thanks for the quick and extensive reply =)

The measurements for your LCD is really the "pixels" area, right? It does not count the little "dark" border between the bezel and the pixels - right?   Like Drew mentioned somewhere else, if the missing area is fairly small, you can remap a portion of the area to a "non 1:1" mapping so everything is still "accessible" if you know what I mean.  For example, to fill the missing 1 cm strip, you could reserve 1 cm off the tablet active area and map it to a 2cm strip (1cm + 1cm) (or do that on both side). As you move your pen closer to the edge, the mouse will reach the edge before your pen but will still "work". You could reserve that for a less important edge area.

Yup, this is just the pixel area.
You suggested having a non 1:1 mapping, like a 1cm strip to 2 cm of the screen. Is it really possible to map different sections of the tablet differently?
If this were possible I would definitely have 1:1 mapping on the center/drawing area and then use this kind of mapping for the areas that are not covered by the entire active sensor area, which would certainly be the case if I were to use an intuos3
I was not aware of this possibility before, and I don't think it's an option in the default mapping interface for the mac driver of my bamboo fun. Is there such an option for the intuos 3/4 mac drivers, or a 3rd party program that would allow this? (I remember that for older Wacom tablets that don't have an official mac driver there is a 3rd party program, the name of which eludes me right now, which allows them to work on the mac.)


I *think* bamboos and the smaller 4x5 tablets are not as good as the bigger (8x6+) ones. WACOM boards were pretty darn good right from the start. Drew main build is a UD-* (pre-intuos) board and he does not seem to complain at all. The thing you probably want is a USB-based one to fit your Mac. The more recent boards have the "6D" pen which sense rotation which can be quite cool for few things (I do not know how much the software supports that although, never tried it). On the other hand, the more features the board is sensing, the more you are calling for jitter. Some people had to disable some features to reduce jitter. Jitter is always a gamble with unproven parts. It might work perfectly without shielding or jitter like crazy even with tons of shielding.

I've had the chance to try a medium intuos 3 a bit before and I loved it. Photoshop, and the other programs I'd use with it do indeed support the tilt input, and If at all possible I would like to be able to use that, but for the sake of jitters I would be willing to give it up.
Are newer tablets less or more prone to jitters, or does it not matter?


Going for an intuos 4 is indeed expensive, but if you are careful I think you can leave the intuos parts intact (wacom products are typically made quite solid) and rebuild that intuos back if your build fails (and even sell it on ebay for a fair price).

Always factor in the size of the whole wacom board which will most probably be bigger than your macbook.


Laptop screens are typically pretty thin and the sensing distance is most probably OK.

I wasn't worried about the sensing distance; The macbook pro's screen is about 3 mm thin.
Size wise the area of the wacom board versus the mac's size also wouldn't be a problem since I'd plan on using the existing case of the tablet, or at least the front cover.

Given that custom mapping may be possible I'm probably going to go for an intuos 3, simply because of the price and the experience people have had with it so far on these forums.


You mentioned putting the screen onto the back of the mac -- I know others have done the same, but I was wondering what was the reasoning behind this?  Is it to still have access to the keyboard+mouse or because some wires going to the screen (like the FFCs type) can't be "rotated"?  Keyboards typically are a separate module connected with a small FFC cables (in laptops I have seen, mainly Dell and Compaq) - so it might be feasible to build a "drawer" for the keyboard to slip out when needed.

You will also have to watch out for the inverter board which is a source of jitter (it is typically located right next to the screen in laptops).  You might have to relocate it.

Basically I figured that the existing cables wouldn't need to be extended if the screen's hinge remains in relatively the same position. It just seems to be the easiest way to me, though I need to open it up again to take a closer look.

I think the keyboard and trackpad are integrated into the top panel of the macbook pro so detaching them for external use may be a little more difficult. again, I haven't taken the laptop apart and I will do that again soon, and look for that inverter board.

Thanks again for the quick reply. At the moment I do not have the macbook with me, but once I am home again I will take a closer look inside and see what I am dealing with. I'll be sure to post some pictures.
« Last Edit: August 04, 2009, 07:30:03 PM by jo-shadow » Logged
bernard
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« Reply #3 on: August 04, 2009, 07:36:45 PM »

Quote
(I remember that for older Wacom tablets that don't have an official mac driver there is a 3rd party program, the name of which eludes me right now, which allows them to work on the mac.)

Maybe talking about TabletMagic, but not sure.

Quote
Also Photoshop, and the other programs I'd use with it do indeed support the tilt input.

I did not mean "tilt", but "rotation" (z-rotation or orientation). Bare with me, I have zero experience with this and I haven't seen a mention in any software configuration page, I am just thinking it might be useful for calligraphy. Normally, the "pen" or "brush" orientation is either fixed or follows the direction of the "path" or "stroke". With rotation sensing, you could move and rotate the brush independently -- a bit more like a real pen. Similarly to the number of levels of pressure and pps, this is probably not important for most people. Wacom got it right from the start (at least for their bigger-end tablets).

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jo-shadow
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« Reply #4 on: August 04, 2009, 09:51:13 PM »

Maybe talking about TabletMagic, but not sure.

I think that was it.

Regardless of what it is, since you suggested it, I assumed that you have experience with mapping small portions of a tablet to a larger area of a screen, while having 1:1 mapping in most of the other parts. If you have done this, how did you do it and with what software/tablet?


Quote
I did not mean "tilt", but "rotation" (z-rotation or orientation). Bare with me, I have zero experience with this and I haven't seen a mention in any software configuration page, I am just thinking it might be useful for calligraphy. Normally, the "pen" or "brush" orientation is either fixed or follows the direction of the "path" or "stroke". With rotation sensing, you could move and rotate the brush independently -- a bit more like a real pen. Similarly to the number of levels of pressure and pps, this is probably not important for most people. Wacom got it right from the start (at least for their bigger-end tablets).

My bad, but I do believe photoshop might support it:

And yes, I would never use a tablet that's not a wacom.
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bernard
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« Reply #5 on: August 04, 2009, 10:07:51 PM »

Quote
If you have done this, how did you do it and with what software/tablet?

Not me -- but others in this forum did -- Drew often talked about it and he also mentions it in his main DIY Cintiq (see quote below). (I am still in the early stages of my build and I do not even know if my old 6x8 Graphire 3 does have that type of advanced settings).

Quote
Text taken from: http://www.bongofish.co.uk/wacom/wacom_pt15.html
The Wacom drivers allow you to section up the pad, and apply the different sections to different areas of windows desktop.   Now of course the biggest chunk of pad will map 1:1 to the LCD, BUT if you have a 3" strip of pad unused at the top you can map that onto your other screen. So you can keep photoshop menus on your main screen, leaving your pad free for just the main toolbar and the drawing.
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jo-shadow
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« Reply #6 on: August 05, 2009, 03:35:28 AM »

Quote
If you have done this, how did you do it and with what software/tablet?

Not me -- but others in this forum did -- Drew often talked about it and he also mentions it in his main DIY Cintiq (see quote below). (I am still in the early stages of my build and I do not even know if my old 6x8 Graphire 3 does have that type of advanced settings).

Quote
Text taken from: http://www.bongofish.co.uk/wacom/wacom_pt15.html
The Wacom drivers allow you to section up the pad, and apply the different sections to different areas of windows desktop.   Now of course the biggest chunk of pad will map 1:1 to the LCD, BUT if you have a 3" strip of pad unused at the top you can map that onto your other screen. So you can keep photoshop menus on your main screen, leaving your pad free for just the main toolbar and the drawing.

hmm, it seems he is talking about having different parts of the tablet applied to different screens, not different parts of the same monitor.
His tablet was larger (12x12) than his monitor (12x9) and so I think he is talking about using the 3 inches of the tablet which remain unused on another screen. my problem is the reverse of this; where I have too much screen and too little tablet, and I need to divide up the screen to match the tablet. It would be nice to hear from drew or anyone else that has attempted something similar.
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« Reply #7 on: August 05, 2009, 03:44:54 AM »

just search the forum for 1:1 ---  you'll see many mentions
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jo-shadow
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« Reply #8 on: August 05, 2009, 04:45:46 AM »

just search the forum for 1:1 ---  you'll see many mentions

Thanks. From what I've found it basically seems that it depends on the tablet's driver, so the question  is, is this possible with the intuos 3's mac driver?
« Last Edit: August 05, 2009, 04:48:43 AM by jo-shadow » Logged
bernard
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« Reply #9 on: August 05, 2009, 06:49:08 AM »

I do not own a mac nor an intuos3 myself. If you get no response from a google search or from this forum, maybe you could try installing the driver on your mac even without having the tablet -- at least for the sake of looking at the configuration?  Not sure it is possible, but, hey, maybe it is?
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jo-shadow
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« Reply #10 on: August 05, 2009, 07:01:08 AM »

I do not own a mac nor an intuos3 myself. If you get no response from a google search or from this forum, maybe you could try installing the driver on your mac even without having the tablet -- at least for the sake of looking at the configuration?  Not sure it is possible, but, hey, maybe it is?

Already did so, the configuration panel simply says that no supported device was found, but I'll keep looking online.
 
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bernard
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« Reply #11 on: August 05, 2009, 07:09:59 AM »

I just went through reading some of the online manuals for a couple of intuos.   

The intuos2 (and previous models) manual shows a full section of what they call "Advanced Mapping" where you essentially define a list of mapping rectangle (exactly what we need).  Smiley

On the other hand, for the intuos3 (and intuos4), the windows manual does not talk about that special "Advanced Mapping" (or a way to define "multiple tablet portions"). We might really have to get someone with an intuos3 (or 4) to look it up.  It only talks about some automated multi-monitor mapping, but nothing "custom". This makes me think the intuos3 and intuos4 have been "simplified" (in favor of the express keys and separate settings per-application). This is not good-looking. There might still be a "hidden" way but I could not find any info about this.  Sad

Other ideas:
1- Maybe look for people on the forum (or elsewhere) that mentions that possess a intuos3 and send them a PM. (Maybe their email address will still work even if they do not come to this site.)
2- Email wacom support for the Advanced Mapping support for the intuos3. They do respond within reasonable time. They did respond to me for a serial driver question.  You can mention as a use case that you have a non matching tablet/screen ratio (makeup a case with standard mac monitors and intuos models) and want to have a central portion of the area mapped 1:1 for drawing and the rest "distorted" to be able to access menus without requiring switching to a mouse. Maybe they still have the functionality "hidden" or some other tricks.

BTW, I saw that the intuos3 supports rotation (with what they call the "art pen").
« Last Edit: August 05, 2009, 03:01:14 PM by bernard » Logged
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« Reply #12 on: August 05, 2009, 03:02:45 PM »

If there is no solution maybe you will be stuck paying less for an intuos2.  I would personnally not want doing a build like yours with inaccessible areas. (but that's just me)  Tongue
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« Reply #13 on: August 05, 2009, 03:48:33 PM »

Just adding, my 9x12 Intuos2 is still for sale =]
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jo-shadow
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« Reply #14 on: August 06, 2009, 03:07:13 PM »

Just adding, my 9x12 Intuos2 is still for sale =]
oh excellent, since you own one you could probably answer our question concerning the mapping.
I'm not certain if the 'advanced mapping' is the kind of partial non-1:1 mapping I'm looking for. can you deny or confirm that in control panel you can set such a mapping scheme?
« Last Edit: August 06, 2009, 03:10:44 PM by jo-shadow » Logged
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