The idea behind the design:
I've always liked the idea of a tablet PC but the premium just for an added pen and the fact that I prefer using a mac over a pc (no flame wars please) turned me off. Tablet screens such as the Wacom Cintiq caught my eye but those also cost an insane amount. Then I came across this: DIY Cintiq.
A few years ago I convinced myself I needed a Wacom tablet for photo retouching of friends and family and some casual drawing. I bought a Wacom Graphire tablet 6 by 8 but it was soon moved to the closet. The PowerBook Titaniums were given to me since they had problems (read: reset the heatsink with new thermal paste). After finding the DIY Cintiq log, it was just a matter of putting the two together.
It is a lot of fun to use. Everything seems faster and more natural. "Point and Click" makes that much more sense and drag and drop became a lot more fun! I really hope Apple releases a tablet because a full featured one without a half-life of battery would be much more useful.
The build took nearly 2 full days and it resulted in a functional tablet mac. However it isn't void of problems so I'll tell you about some of the problems and solutions.
Putting the tablet behind the screen didn't work so I had to take everything apart. After a few hours of fidling with the parts, I realized that the problem element was the lcd cable. For some reason, if put in front of the tablet sensor, the tablet would stop working. So long story short, I had to sandwich the tablet sensor between the lcd panel and the lcd cable, being careful to insulate open electronics.
Other big...HUGE... problem with my tablet is the fact that the tablet's sensor is only 6x8 when the PowerBook's lcd is 12.5x8.5. I had to comprimise and so the sensor functions only work in a 6x8 rectangle roughly in the middle of the screen. You can actually see in the video the cursor stop when I move the pen above the sensor in Safari. What the tablet normally does is assign the edges of the tablet to the edges of the screen so you can reach everypart of the screen. However, this would be weird on a tablet when I want to click where the pen is, not where the software says the pen is. Because of this, I set up tablet to only use a portion of the screen which is directly in front of the tablet. In this way, wherever the pen is, the mouse is too. Obviously this causes problems when trying to access windows or files that are outside the sensor area. The workaround is that the trackpad is on the back of the PowerBook, so I just reach around and use it. Only problem with that is the trackpad is upside down so I need to remember up is down and down is up... anyone know of a utility which inverses the y-axis?
The tablet pen sensing is a little funny. For some reason, if I lift the pen and want to bring it back down somewhere else, it takes a few moments for it to react or sometimes it doesn't react at all. I have to shake the pen at the bottom of the screen for the mouse to be found again. You can see that in the video.
The build isn't quite complete. As seen in the pictures and the video, the edges of the screen aren't stuck together at all. I'll probably fill it in with some bondo and more steel glue.
If I were ever to rebuild it, I'd love to build a case from scratch tailored for the parts. Without the tools or knowledge, it'll have to wait for another day.
I'm looking for a summer 2008 internship in the Bay Area or Los Angeles Area in the field of Mechanical Engineering or having something to do with "building stuff." Send me an e-mail if you're interested in a USC undergrad summer intern.
Email: fmaurer at usc dot edu