Introduction: $2 Mini Graphics Tablet

Picture of $2 Mini Graphics Tablet

TOUCHPAD HACK - How to transform a touchpad into a useful mini graphics tablet with some simple everyday items

For a complete video please visit

Step 1: Making the Pen Step 1

Picture of Making the Pen Step 1

Get yourself a long phillips head screw. This will simulate the tablets pen. And youll also need a small 1.5 volt battery.

Step 2: Making the Pen Step 2

Picture of Making the Pen Step 2

The final item is a small ball bearing. You can find these on any dog tag chain. Just snip off one of the balls.

Step 3: Making the Pen Step 1

Picture of Making the Pen Step 1

Now place the bearing in the top part of the screw and place the battery ontop of the bearing. Make sure the battery's positive side is on the opposite side to the bearing.

Now simply tape the screw, bearing and battery together leaving only the batteries positive side exposed.

The ball bearing allows the battery to rotate and remain flush with the touchpad whilst in use

I have taped over the screws thread to make it more comfortable to hold

Step 4: Using the Pen

Picture of Using the Pen

Now that your pen is ready simply place it battery side down on your touchpad using one hand and use your other hand to depress a mouse button....and draw away.



spikemtz (author)2015-04-16

I don't know which would work better, but upon seeing this, I decided to borrow my mother's Wonder Woman stylus, for touch screens, to see if it would do the same. It worked!

dls3491 (author)2013-12-22

Is it possible to reverse the battery and use the tip of the scew or nail that has been rounded off ?

berteh (author)2011-12-15

great instructable! any idea to make this pressure sensitive? maybe using the pressure-sensitive pen of a standard tablet on the touchpad?

Thanks again!

dannkeo (author)2010-12-15

Oh, now that is creepy. That picture is my iPhone's current wallpaper.

sjoobbani (author)2010-03-07


udtst (author)2009-10-20

To give yourself a finer drawing tip you could put another ball on the positive (drawing) side also. Just make sure the tape can hold it in place and leave enough exposed to complete the circuit.

sasquatch14 (author)2008-02-04

now we just need to find a free program that's simple and you can make your own font with your own handwriting....besides that dumb fontifier that u need to pay for

Xamith (author)sasquatch142009-05-23

isn't there a hidden font creator in windows xp?

frt975 (author)Xamith2009-06-13

yep, run>"eudcedit.exe" (without quotes) it's a character creator (not font maker)
Try fontforge

jongscx (author)2007-08-31

they used to make usb or ps/2 touchpads for desktops... has anyone seen anything like that recently?

Arbitror (author)jongscx2009-05-28

Look up Wacom. I use a Wacom Bamboo Tablet.

sashadalton43 (author)jongscx2008-11-25

yes, you can get them cheap at use them for photoshop!

Xamith (author)2009-05-23

so you have to fix the dog (chain) by snipping off one of its balls? lol sorry, someone had to say it.

Arbitror (author)Xamith2009-05-28

Ha, LOL!

rasta_bhoy (author)2008-08-25

a really sweaty hankie would do the job as well. a damp one, not a wet one should work just fine. get one corner and twist it into a cone and you have a touchpad pencil. the salts in your sweat are transferring the electrical current from your body into the touchpad.

gamer (author)2007-08-22

why does a battery make it work?

dvoid_03 (author)gamer2007-08-22

The battery simulates capacitance (the body's faint electrical charge). That's why using a Q-tip or regular pencil won't work. No electrical charge. The wiki article for "Touchpad" talks a bit about this.

Spacecoyote (author)dvoid_032007-11-27

Would it be possible to forgo the battery and conduct the body's capacitance through the pen instead?

srilyk (author)2007-10-09

oranges work but they're a little big to draw with ;)

pighair47 (author)2007-09-13

Pretty nice, do you know if there is a way to make one in an actual pen shaped object?

joejoerowley (author)2007-08-22

Thats pretty cool, :)

gathem (author)joejoerowley2007-09-04

The bearings can be found at

chimplicker (author)2007-08-30

Nice idea mate; simple and it works.

A couple of obvious suggestions:

1. find the smallest battery you can for increased precision (I would have thought that the +ve side of any tiny battery e.g. for hearing aid would work).

2. fiddle about and set your touch-pad to the right level sensitivity for drawing - after all you have a pretty limited space to draw in. It will be useful to set the sensitivity really high for initial sketching, and then lower it significantly for detail work (and maybe you could have a mouse also plugged in, at normal sensitivity for moving about the graphics pad, and using functions etc.){{{


ryzellon (author)2007-08-22

The other day I had noticed that a battery on my touchpad would make the cursor move, and I was pondering what I could do to exploit this. Lo and behold: your instructable was on my front page!

tiuk (author)2007-08-22

I've often wondered if this was possible. Cool.

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