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Author Topic: Supporting non-USB Wacom in Windows 7?  (Read 16737 times)
bernard
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« on: April 20, 2010, 10:28:31 AM »

I am looking at ways to make the older tablets (i.e. serial and maybe even ADB) work with more recent (windows) OSes.

With the advent of Windows 7 and in particular the recent push to multi-touch and Tablet PC Ink stuff, that area of Windows has been revamped and the pen input stuff has been shaken too. Which sounds like a very good thing.

Wacom pen drivers tradionnally implemented the WinTab interface -- a non-Microsoft interface that is quite complex to implement. It dealt with keeping track of all opened windows and "mixing" multiple pens at the same time was not that nice. This interface is "closed" (as in you have to pay big bucks to access the specification).

Microsoft decided to start fresh and did their "HID" class thingy (based on the USB HID Class stuff). This includes the notion of HID minidrivers. Minidrivers are the smallest piece of driver that merely needs to talk to your device. The rest of the stuff would be done by Microsoft. Look at this MSDN article:  http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ff543360(v=VS.85).aspx

Although the term "HID" comes from USB, Microsoft also has support for HID devices not exclusively going through USB (like the old gameports) -- which is what we need here.

What does that all mean?  Potentially a path to revive serial/ADB tablets to work under Windows 7 (64 bits). Given the work done on the Linux side to drive serial Wacoms, all the information is available without the need to actually talk to Wacom. Also it would pave the way to do custom mapping. (i.e. like the 2:1 edge mapping trick to support screens that are just a little bit bigger than the digitizer sensor).

I am not sure, but I hope Photoshop (and other paint tools like ArtRage, Painter, zBrush, etc) can work with the Microsoft HID pen device or the so called Tablet PC API. If they work only with WinTab, this solution is a no go. I would think that it would not be very wise for a software vendors to "ignore" the new ways of doing things in Windows, so I suspect application software will slowly support HID. That remains to be checked.

In all, I think it is a path that should work for the future in Windows.

For this to work, one would have to buy a serial port to USB converter of course. For ADB-based boards, either we find a way to drive the popular iMate in Windows (how can we send/receive ADB packets?) and/or we find a way to build a dirt cheap DIY ADB converter.

This is all nice talking but it is still quite some work to figure out how to actually build an HID minidriver and also how to connect that to another piece of code that would read from a serial port and talk to the Wacom.

Alternatively, I am still looking if it is possible to use the wacom-provided penabled drivers in Windows 7 (64 bits) to drive Ultrapads?

Windows HID pen minidriver, seems to supports every (important) Wacom feature that I can think of:

Namely:
- Pen position (incl. hovering)
- Pen switch & pressure
- Barrel button
- Eraser
- X/Y Tilt
- Z Rotation

- for the other "buttons" there is another driver that I think you have to implement.
« Last Edit: April 20, 2010, 03:34:49 PM by bernard » Logged
bernard
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« Reply #1 on: April 20, 2010, 03:36:04 PM »

I see references to TabletPC wacom "minidrivers" -- I do not know if those work with a serial-based device. If so, maybe it would be possible to "tweak" some obscure config file to make it work with Ultrapads?
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Drewid
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« Reply #2 on: April 20, 2010, 10:27:14 PM »

I'm pretty sure I had my Wacom Graphire (GTE) working under Vista at one point using the vanilla HID rather than an actual wacom driver. I can try it again tomorrow.  I can't remember what functionality it had though,
I was in the middle of trying a bunch of stuff.

Don't Wacom already do a minidriver package of some kind? Did I read that somewhere?
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« Reply #3 on: April 20, 2010, 11:14:29 PM »

    I really wish I could find the quote, but when I was reading Wacom's info on their application development kit a while back; they said something like the following, "You should only use the official Wacom drivers provided to you via email.  Do not attempt to communicate directly with the digitizer board, it will break, I do not know how or when but eventually the implementation will fail.  We have seen many cases...etc., yada yada yada." 
    Now they weren't saying that the board itself would break, just the code used to pull information from the board.  I remember it really well, because this quote broke from the dry professionalism of the rest of the adk document, almost jarringly so.  Now we shouldn't let this scare us, afterall the linux guys did it, I'm just saying, this quote kind of intimidated me, and I wasn't even considering messing with the code.

~Will
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random-jimmy
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« Reply #4 on: April 21, 2010, 01:03:10 PM »

Rules were made to be broken  Roll Eyes

I wouldn't think there would be any chance of breaking the tablet itself - especially if you did this the right way i.e. monitor the packets sent in/out, etc.
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bernard
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« Reply #5 on: April 21, 2010, 04:13:40 PM »

@drew:  your graphire -- was that serial?  Did it report pen pressure? Does it work with Photoshop/ArtRage/others?

Yes, there are HID minidrivers floating around. I do not know what they do, etc. Like I just mentioned (in the wrong thread) - there is even a microsoft sample for a ... Wacom serial HID minidriver(!)

http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ff553742(v=VS.85).aspx 
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Drewid
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« Reply #6 on: April 21, 2010, 05:54:55 PM »

No the graphire is USB.  It appears as a HID device, the pressure wasn't working though, at least photoshop didn't recognise the pressure input as existing, (may not be the same thing.)

The UD only works with drivers.

I can't see how you could break a tablet just from reading packets coming out.  Packets going in 'could' be dodgy if they inadvertently changed a setting in the bios.   
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bernard
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« Reply #7 on: April 22, 2010, 03:41:05 AM »

HID:  for USB I believe it might be different:  Typically USB tablets can report being a "Standard USB Mouse" -- so no driver required -- I mean, all USB-compliant OSes recognize the "HID class mouse". So maybe this is what you are experiencing?  This would not be the "Wacom HID minidriver" though.  The word "HID" is a bit confusing since it refer to two things here.

Risk: I think what Drew is talking about is good and it should be somewhat "safe". On the other hand (I vaguelly recall something when I was reading about the linux driver) when you talk to the tablet, you can ask that it changes to a new protocol (like "Protocol IV" -- Wacom seems to like using "roman" numbers for their protocol version). So, it is not 100% "reporting blindly". There is some sort of handshake.

Maybe we could ask the current linux wacom project maintainer...
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Dragon
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« Reply #8 on: December 23, 2010, 08:19:50 PM »

I'd love to get my serial Intuos 1 working in Win7 64bit and I sometimes think about writing my own driver and then I think about how I don't have time to do that...  http://www.vtablet.com/ has a Win7 64bit driver for Wacom serial tablets, so it's obviously possible to do.  I think the guys at Wacom just don't want anyone creating drivers for old tablets so they can sell new ones.  The problem is the vtablet driver costs a lot.

Someone might check if the vtablet driver is implemented as WinTab or HID.  Even if Wintab is necessary, I think the spec can probably be found on the vast internets.  I did a google search for WinTab and http://www.sonycsl.co.jp/projects/ar/restricted/wintabl.html seems to describe the 1.1 specification.
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bernard
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« Reply #9 on: December 23, 2010, 08:54:06 PM »

Once in the past tried to make a driver and essentially you are stuck of doing a WinTab driver if you want to use Adobe Products and most of the other great products out there. WinTab is really a pain to implement. Not counting all the licensing issue just getting the specifications for *latest version*.

So I am currently working on an alternate solution -- one that uses a piece of hardware to emulate the USB device from a serial or ADB version of the product.  The base device costs 18$US (+ 5$ shipping) but you need to do a bit of soldering to put the connectors and maybe other stuff (depending on how what you are interfacing).

This enables you to use the most recent and up to date Wacom USB drivers.

Can you solder (or find a friend that can do it)?


http://forum.bongofish.co.uk/index.php?topic=1738.msg12320#msg12320
http://forum.bongofish.co.uk/index.php?topic=1738.msg12398#msg12398
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Dragon
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« Reply #10 on: December 23, 2010, 09:50:46 PM »

I can solder, though I seem to have more than my fair share of connections that break over time even after reading various guides on how to do it correctly...  I think not using flux is probably my biggest problem.

It's awesome you're working on a relatively inexpensive solution.  Did you ask about my soldering ability so I can do some testing?

Also, why do you say you need to find the latest version of Wintab?  Adobe products won't work with older versions?
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bernard
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« Reply #11 on: December 24, 2010, 03:15:34 PM »

Flux is always better but for "normal" soldering (not super-high-pitch or special soldering) typically there is enough flux "inside" standard soldering wires.

So the answer is essentially "yes".

I am asking for soldering skills to help find you a solution that suits you. Because if you were to ask me to assemble a board for you then the price would not be the same. Grin

WinTab: Actually, I am not so sure about the WinTab version thingy (I read that somewhere, can't remember where) -- everything around Wintab is always a bit of a mystery it seems. (not counting the already-been-sued licensing part). Enough that I decided to stay away unless someone starts paying me about it:  I have a life too. Smiley

Note that if you decide to develop a driver or anything that can help the DIY screen tablet community, I will support you anyway I can. Smiley
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Dragon
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« Reply #12 on: December 27, 2010, 04:06:03 AM »

I'd definitely be interested in putting together the hardware and buying your code if it all turned out to be cheaper than the vtablet driver ($75).

I was also reading in your other thread about trying to get debug output from USB and then I saw http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/bushing/openvizsla-open-source-usb-protocol-analyzer which sounded like it might fulfill the same goal (although it's not ready for public purchase yet).
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bernard
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« Reply #13 on: December 27, 2010, 10:14:22 PM »

You will never have to "pay" for my code since it is fully open source.  Wink (http://code.google.com/p/waxbee/ -- ok there is nothing there as of this writing, but as soon as I get something working, I'll post it)  Tongue

The hardware you buy yourself and you assemble (solder) yourself.

The only reason why I would receive a penny would be because you ask me to pre-assemble something for you (or you ask me to do specialized work not meant to support this community).

I purposely choose one of the cheapest piece of hardware that I could find that a normal "DIYer" could handle (no need to create PCBs or solder 0.5mm pitch ICs). I also try to work with spare parts that are easy to find - they might even already be in your house for free. (mini-usb cable, S-Video cable, etc).

Can it fit under 75$? It depends on your skillset and what you intend to do and how fast you want your parts to be shipped. One thing for sure, you are not tied to a cpu-license and "upgrades" are free since they are the standard Wacom drivers.

USB: it was not always easy at first, but I got enough USB tracing to do what I needed. Now I can emulate my USB Wacom Graphire3, and the others shouldn't be too hard to do either. So I do not need another USB protocol analyzer, really.
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