iBook + Wacom?

Posted by: WurdBendur

iBook + Wacom? - 03/31/05 10:43 AM

Okay, I've had the idea to integrate a Wacom tablet into the screen of an iBook. I'm sure you can imagine why I'd want an iBook with a touch-screen.
The resistive touch-screens, which are just about all that I could find, are just unsatisfactory, and I don't think they're worth the money. Mouse-click emulation is not what I want for my hard-earned US$659.00
But I thought that since the Wacom pen stylii will work up to 1/4 inch off the tablet, that should allow plenty of room for a monitor. I could then add a sheet of plexiglas (a thin one, if necessary) in front of the monitor for a hard surface on which to use the pen. I have two questions about this:

1. Will the tablet even work with the screen in the way? It doesn't seem to work through metal.

2. How much space is available inside the case of a clamshell iBook (single USB w/ colors)? I don't mind removing support with my Dremel, or cutting away the case of the tablet, as long as everything fits and is functional.

I don't have the iBook or the tablet yet, but I've been looking around eBay for them. I'm open to other suggestions, though.
Posted by: maestro

Re:iBook + Wacom? - 03/31/05 11:31 AM

What a cool idea. Thing is, it will be a tough one. From what you say, I think you are going to pu
the waucon behing the screen cause it will recieve input from 1/4". Well that is probably not
with an lcd in the way. I doubt that would work. There probably is not enough room for it in
the case anyway. What about making a custom plexi case with the waucon in place of the
keyboard. Come to think of it...what about removing the keyboard and cutting the case for
the waucom. Now if that could be done...
:evil: :side:
Posted by: WurdBendur

Re:iBook + Wacom? - 03/31/05 12:10 PM

If you hadn't guessed it already, I'm turning it into a tablet, which means the keyboard is going. The Wacom will sit where the keyboard used to, which will create some extra room. Then I'll just have to cut a whole in the lid, attach it all, and hope it closes well. But like I said, I can always chew out part of the case with my Dremel.

The thickness shouldn't be a problem, I don't think. How thick is the LCD on that iBook? I've been looking for measurements all over... I may have to actually touch the screen (well, the plexiglas) for it to read the pen, but that's fine. It won't read as a click unless I press it down.

Edit: Oh, and just to clarify, I did mean to put it behind the LCD. Sorry if I confused. I just don't know if it will work. I've been testing my tablet with the few metallic objects I have available. The stainless-steel ruler stops it, but coins do not (most aren't magnetic). I've also been told that higher-grade stainless steel is not supposed to be magnetic. I guess the ruler is a lower grade or something.
A friend tested with two rulers, both magnetic, and one stopped it while the other didn't. The only thing I can guess is that the alloys are different and one is more dense than the other. Anybody else?

Post edited by: WurdBendur, at: 2005/03/31 20:19
Posted by: maestro

Re:iBook + Wacom? - 03/31/05 01:47 PM

Its your lucky day....I just happen to have modded my iBook clamsell into an oak music server.
If you can wait until this weekend I will do some measurements for you.
Posted by: WurdBendur

Re:iBook + Wacom? - 04/01/05 01:55 AM

Thanks very much! I'm not in a hurry since I don't have any of the parts yet.
Posted by: WurdBendur

Re:iBook + Wacom? - 04/02/05 03:11 PM

Sorry for the double post, but I have another question. Does Ink work with tablets not made by Wacom? Ink would definitely be a very nice thing to have after I remove the keyboard, but I could save a lot of money by going with a different brand. I looked at Apple's page on it, and it just referred to graphics tablets without specifying any brands.
I guess I should also point out that the machine in question is running OS 10.2.8, but that may change since I don't actually have it yet.
Thanks in advance.
Posted by: krusher117

Re:iBook + Wacom? - 04/02/05 03:52 PM

yes inkwell works with most tablets. HOWEVER, wacom is one of a few, maybe the only, who actually supports os x wit drivers that actually do stuff sick
Posted by: krusher117

Re:iBook + Wacom? - 04/02/05 04:15 PM

well here I sit running some tests on my wacom tablet. After reading about your idea, I was skeptical about the distance from the actual tablet that you can be for it to recognize the stylus. I was surprised to actually get about 1/4 inch,but with noticeable decline in smoothness. I currently have a cardboard sheet from the back of a picture frame, a piece of glass from the front of the frame, one DVD out of case (Van Wilder), and one iLife 05 in a paper sleeve. These are staked on top of one another in that order. This is 1/4 inch from the surface of the tablet which also has a 2 centimeter removeable plastic cover on it.

Test #2 involved just a 1/16" WOODEN ruler and It did pick up

Test #3 involed a pair of scissors. 1/8". It did not pick up through the scissors closed, but did pick up when I tested the scissors open, so about 1/16".

Its worth noting, that neither the ruler nor the scissors worked when stacked on top of the cardboard and glass.

These tests are pretty useless so take them with a grain of salt :blink:. I would say that an LCD will have much different materials that will do a much better job at blocking the RF signals. :pinch:

On the bright side, removing the tablet internals and mounting them directly behind and LCD mean that you'll get another 4 centimeters closer (the case and the clear cover). Also, you can shave another 1-2 centimeters off by modifying the stylus or creating your own. You have absolutely no need for the pressure sensitive tip on the stylus unless you plan on using it for graphic work.

I'd do a little research into the Sony pen-based computers. They have several out there on the market and its worth seeing how they do it. In fact, its also worth a call to a sony service dept to see if they'll sell you parts for it.

Good luck. I love this idea.

Post edited by: krusher117, at: 2005/04/03 00:18
Posted by: WurdBendur

Re:iBook + Wacom? - 04/02/05 04:43 PM

Thanks! I did some similar tests, but I didn't have much to work with. I noticed it wasn't as smooth at a distance (through a 1/4 in notebook--the paper kind =]), but I think it's okay.

But before I buy a very expensive tablet, I think I'm going to do a test using the screen from the iBook I'm bidding on now (If I win it) and the smaller tablet I've already got. If that works, then it's good to go. If not, I'll at least have a nice iBook.

I really wasn't optimistic about it working through glass, but I was planning on using plexiglas or lexan anyway. Still, it's a little encouraging. I just hope the LCD works.

And actually, I was hoping to keep the pressure-sensitive tip. I'm a fine art major, and I do a lot of digital art, so it would be nice. But if I can really cut down 4cm (or did you mean mm?) by removing the case of the tablet, that will leave plenty of distance available--about 1.6 in (4 cm) from the screen. Adding the thickness of the plexiglas/lexan and the length of the pen tip should be just fine. It would still have a greater distance than the tablet alone! Of course, I could always shorten the tip without removing it entirely, if necessary.

If only this works... :unsure:

Post edited by: WurdBendur, at: 2005/04/03 00:45

Post edited by: WurdBendur, at: 2005/04/03 01:21
Posted by: WurdBendur

Re:iBook + Wacom? - 04/08/05 04:15 PM

Well, I finally bought an iBook a couple days ago. It's not especially nice, and it needs some more ram, but it should do the trick. Now to wait for the USPS to get it here.

And as I'm waiting, I'm beginning to fear that my crazy ideas and my compulsion to build things are going to cost me a lot of money. More ideas keep coming. Firstly, there's the issue of only having one USB port, which will be necessary for the tablet. So, I thought I might try to find a very small USB hub that would fit inside the case. That would be helpful, but maybe not necessary. The only reason I'd really need the USB is to move files to my flash drive, and I can just transfer them over ethernet. So that's an option if it doesn't look like a hub will fit.

Aside from that, I thought there are a few keys that would be nice to have on hand, without having to use an on-screen keyboard. Specifically, the return and escape keys would be very useful, and the F keys would be nice as well. Would it be possible to move some of the keys to the lid beside the display?

But this got me thinking that I could simply stick a few keys there (in whatever configuration fits) and make a sort of a reduced keyboard. To save space I could create a layout with which common characters could be typed with a single keystroke, and less common characters with combinations, similar to a stenotype machine (sort of...). This would only require about 8 keys and could be used with one hand while the other holds the iBook. I don't know how I'd do this, but it's one more idea. My brother suggested just getting a FrogPad. Easier, but not as cool.

Does any of this sound feasible, or am I too crazy for my own good?
Posted by: dead13

Re:iBook + Wacom? - 04/08/05 05:21 PM

Wurd ! don't loose heart now man ANYTHING is poossible it's just that some require more patience and ingenuity than others. I for one would love to see this and i am sure there are others so give it a shot!!
Posted by: burtman

Re:iBook + Wacom? - 04/09/05 01:56 AM

this sounds like a great little mod if you can get it to work, have you had anyluck trying to use your wacom tablet though you ibook screen yet?
Posted by: WurdBendur

Re:iBook + Wacom? - 04/09/05 07:47 AM

Thanks for the encouragement. :cheer:
But since I don't have the iBook yet, I haven't been able to test the screen. I tried using my little Graphire tablet through the lid of my PowerBook, but there's a lot of titanium in the way—and I really don't want to take this one apart to find out if it works.
I'll try it when the iBook arrives, and I'll let everybody know about the results.

Edit: Does anybody know of a program that would provide the functionality of a chording keyboard? I'd like to try it and decide on a workable layout before messing with hardware. It would also make my mod much easier (assuming it all comes together the right way). I'm having a hard time finding anything on my mind-numbingly slow dial-up.

Post edited by: WurdBendur, at: 2005/04/10 01:58
Posted by: WurdBendur

Re:iBook + Wacom? - 04/15/05 06:42 PM

Well, here I am on my new iBook. I didn't realize just how nice they are. smile I got a graphite iBook SE, with the standard 466MHz and 64MB onboard RAM. I've installed OS X 10.0.3, which runs quite nicely though it says it requires 265MB of RAM. As soon as I get access to a faster internet connection, I'm going to be downloadingsome updates, and a ram upgrade is the next thing on my list.
Unfortunately, I'm currently unable to disassemble the iBook to test the screen—every screwdriver I've found that I thought would fit is just a bit too big. So, I'll have to search out something smaller. I'll post again when I've got something.
Posted by: oojacoboo

Re:iBook + Wacom? - 04/16/05 01:14 PM

great, can't wait to hear about this.
Posted by: WurdBendur

Re:iBook + Wacom? - 04/21/05 02:05 PM

Great news! It works! :woohoo: And now for the long version:
After removing many screws, including at least a couple that could have stayed, I removed the lid and found my way inside it. Seperating the case was similar to removing a tire, but it went back on easily. The inside was a bit intimidating, and I didn't actually take the display out. It looks like it's going to take some work. So I just lifted it and slid the tablet underneath. But the point is that it works!
I've got my iBook back in one piece, no extra screws, and everything is working, so it's on to the next step. smile Now to find a tablet...

Post edited by: wurdbendur, at: 2005/04/21 21:14

Post edited by: wurdbendur, at: 2005/04/22 12:17
Posted by: whitlock

Re:iBook + Wacom? - 04/21/05 02:58 PM

Damn! That's great it works. Congrats!!!
Posted by: WurdBendur

Re:iBook + Wacom? - 04/22/05 02:09 AM

Actually, I've found that my DVD-ROM drive won't open properly now. I wonder if I put the cover back on wrong. I'll go have a look right now...

On another note, I've continued searching unsuccessfully for software that would give me chording capability. I'm not very good at coding myself... about the best I can do is REALbasic, wich really isn't what I need. But I tried it anyway. There was a problem, though: for some reason, REALbasic doesn't handle text consistently. I attempted to make the chording work on top of my normal layout without changing it. To do this, I had the keydown event insert the desired character, which surprisingly went before the key that was pressed. Then I had it select the last character (the actual key that was pressed) so that I could remove it, and it started inserting them the other way around. I think REALbasic was created to annoy me.
And I didn't even get to the chording part... I think I just need to read up on Objective-C or find a hardware solution. I've found a few chording mods out there, but I don't know how to apply that to the 12-key layout I've got in mind. I guess I could change that, though.

Edit: I was right. The tab at the back of the drive cover that's supposed to go inside was instead sitting on top. I don't know how I missed that, but everything is okay now.

Post edited by: wurdbendur, at: 2005/04/22 12:16
Posted by: Waragainstsleep

Re:iBook + Wacom? - 04/30/05 08:35 AM

You should put a burner in there while you're tinkering.
Posted by: macDeviant

Re:iBook + Wacom? - 05/01/05 04:53 AM

damn i love this website... just when i'm starting to lose faith in the imagination of man, i log in, read posts like these and BAM! reconfirmation. I am in awe of what you are trying to do good luck to you on this mod. :woohoo:

I did have a thought in mind.... if you go with a different tablet you might get different results, that 1/4 inch you are counting on might change with brand, and model.... but you probably thought of that already
Posted by: WurdBendur

Re:iBook + Wacom? - 05/04/05 09:06 AM

Yes, that worried me a bit, but Wacom says that all their tablets are the same. I don't know about the others, and specs are hard to find, so I'll probably stick with Wacom. The only problem now is finding another $300 for the right one.

I won't be needing a burner, though. I already have one in my TiBook. And I'll probably be carrying the tablet more often than I'll be letting it sit and burn.
Posted by: xbetterforworsex

Re:iBook + Wacom? - 12/09/05 06:41 AM

WurdBendur wrote:
Yes, that worried me a bit, but Wacom says that all their tablets are the same. I don't know about the others, and specs are hard to find, so I'll probably stick with Wacom. The only problem now is finding another $300 for the right one.

I won't be needing a burner, though. I already have one in my TiBook. And I'll probably be carrying the tablet more often than I'll be letting it sit and burn.

How is this going? IS it working out? Did you get the $300 for the wacom? UPDATE!! smile
Posted by: soundmann18

Re:iBook + Wacom? - 12/09/05 07:11 AM

I want to do this as well, but probably not until my warranty ends, or I stumble across a random iBook lying around. Is there a wacom with the proper dimension? All I could ever find were eitehr significantly larger than the 7.5 x 10 screen i"ve got.
Posted by: xbetterforworsex

Re:iBook + Wacom? - 12/09/05 07:14 AM

I know wacom is working on something right now [ul]http://www.trolltouch.com/slipcover.html[/ul] but it's not available yet I guess? It looks like you could just remove the outside and slip it under (possibly BEHIND?!) teh screen and there you go?
Posted by: mordaskyt

Re:iBook + Wacom? - 12/09/05 10:41 AM

I run my iBook converted jukebox with no keyboard and instead use virtualkeyboard which is a great little program and should work well for you!


$12, not bad
Posted by: RiccD

In the words of the Guiness Guys... Brilliant! - 02/01/06 12:46 PM

I have an old non-working Pismo or three lying around. I think I'll try to mod my Wacom Graphire into the area below the keyboard. If I move the touchpad and button to the left I bet I can fit it no problem. Time to break out the Dremel and the Methelene Chloride!!
Posted by: mordaskyt

iBook + Wacom? - 02/20/06 05:57 PM

This idea takes the tablet mac concept to the next level. Tablet PCs don't usea touchscreen, they use a real Wacom tablet behind the LCD. The challange is that the external tablets are either too small or too large to fit iniside the laptop case. Check out this link to wacom's site:


These are the INTERNAL tablets, the controller section has details on the connections, its basically a serial port. While the site does not offer units for sale our good pal ebay does. However connecting the serial controller is a little out of my league. This is the product we need to make this a reality.