How to Build a Tagtool Suitcase

CraftArt by





Introduction: How to Build a Tagtool Suitcase

What is a Tagtool?

The Tagtool is a live performance instrument for drawing and animation. It's similar to a music instrument, only it plugs into a projector instead of the sound system. It is operated collaboratively by an artist drawing the pictures and an animator adding movement to the artwork with a gamepad.

What is a Tagtool Suitcase?

This version integrates the controls and the drawing area into a flight-case, but still needs an external computer.

What else do I need to run a Tagtool Suitcace?

You need a Windows PC with the open-source software Nodekit which can be downloaded here.

How to use the Tagtool

The Tagtool works best with a projector, although any monitor will suffice for playing around with it. Usually it is controlled by two people - an illustrator (who draws and uses the Tagtool controls) and an animator (using the gamepad to move the drawings around).

The Tagtool controls consist of 6 faders and a pushbutton. The pushbutton releases a drawing so the animator can move them with the gamepad. There are detailed instructions on how to use the controls here.

To find out more about the Tagtool project, visit

Step 1: Materials

Graphics tablet
Wacom Intuos3 A4 Oversize
Cost: 535 EUR
This is a good size, but different dimensions should work as well.
This guide assumes that you use an A4 Oversize.
Wacom boards are highly recommended.

eg: from Thomann
Measures according to the schematic - the fourth image (the top panel should be about 63x45cm).
Cost: 80 - 180 EUR
For heavy use a good quality case is recommended.

Plywood board
Measures according to the size of the suitcase.
Any hardware store
Cost: ca. 15 EUR

6 Potentiometers
Sliders 10K, 100mm linear mono (or stereo)
Electronics store, eg. Conrad
Cost: about 7 EUR per slider
High quality faders recommended.

Slider Knobs
Electronics store
Cost: 1 or 2 EUR per button

Piece of Plywood
Measure according to the Arduino board.

1,5m x 5cm x 5cm
Any hardware store
Cost: around 5 EUR

10mm x 3mm, 10mm x 5mm
Any hardware store
Cost: 5 EUR

4 Spacers
3mm + fitting screws
Any hardware or computer store.
Cost: 2 EUR

NG plus USB
eg. Segor
other sources are listed on
Cost: under 30 EUR

eg. Conrad
Cost: about 2 EUR for 100 pieces

Mushroom Operator
eg. Allen Bradley 800FM-MM44 + 2 Part Contact Block 800F-PX10
eg. RS Components
Cost: 5,40 EUR
A fairly big button. It is used quite heavily so make sure it has a nice feel.

Stranded wire
eg. Conrad
Cost: 3 EUR

Ribbon cable
min. 6 wires
Any computer store
Cost: 2 EUR

USB wire Typ A - B
Any computer store
Cost: 5 EUR

eg. Logitech
Cost: 19,50 EUR
Any gamepad with 8 buttons and 2 joysticks.
Wireless gamepads are also fine but we have found them to be less reliable.

Soldering tools and materials
Soldering gun, ribbon cable, shrink tubes, plyers, ...

Step 2: Preparation of Suitcase, Top Panel and Controls

Preparation of the flightcase
The top panel is supported by 6 pieces of a latch, but you could also use aluminium profiles along the sides. 4 of the pieces need to have indentations, in order to accomodate for the graphics tablet. Glue all 6 pieces to the flightcase according to the picture below. (clamps recommended).

Preparation of the top panel
Use the schematic below (images 2 and 3) to cut out holes for faders, pushbutton and USB wires.The graphics tablet works through the plywood board, so it's not strictly necessary to cut out a square for the drawing surface - although it is highly recommended in the interest of drawing accuracy.

Preparation of the controls
Screw on the potentiometers and fix the pushbutton with the contact block to the top panel.

Step 3: Preparation of the Graphics Tablet, Arduino and Wires

Preparation of the graphics tablet
Open the graphics tablet (screws at each corner) and drill four holes at each corner of the top panel of the tablet (see picture). Attach the other parts of the graphics tablet to it's top panel, after you fixed it to the top panel of the Tagtool with screws and nuts.

Preparation of the Arduino
Replace the contact covers of the Arduino and screw it to the piece of plywood.

Preparation of the wires
Fix connectors to 6 wires of the ribbon cable and bring the shrink tubes into position. Cut 4 large pieces (ca. 25 cm) and 10 small pieces (ca. 13 cm) of the stranded wire and connect them in this order: 1 long, 5 short, 1 long (use the shrink tubes).
Then repeat this so you end up with 2 connected wires like in image 3.

Step 4: Interconnection

1) Solder the six wires of the ribbon cable to the Arduino Analog Ins (use shrink tubes).

2) Solder the two prepared strings of stranded wire to the potentiometers and the Arduino.

3) Solder Ground, Voltage 5V and Digital Input #7 to the Arduino.

5) attach Resistor at the 5V wire between Arduino and contact block.

6) Attach the 5V, the Digital In 7 and the Ground to the Contact block.

Step 5: Tagtool Mini

Congratulations, you finished your Tagtool Suitcase. Next you will need to install the Nodekit software on your Computer.

If you need things to be more compact, or if you don't want to open up your graphics tablet, the Tagtool Mini will be a good alternative. For this you can use any case that has enough space to hold the Arduino, the faders and the pushbutton . You just have to connect the graphics tablet externally.

Emjoy and visit the for updates on the development of the Tagtool project!



  • Sew Warm Contest 2018

    Sew Warm Contest 2018
  • Paper Contest 2018

    Paper Contest 2018
  • First Time Author Contest 2018

    First Time Author Contest 2018

We have a be nice policy.
Please be positive and constructive.




hi, im from venezuela. i wanna build a tagtool. i order the arduino, but i wanna order the potentiometers. you know any store in usa with exactly model? thanks

Sorry to double post but what type of switch is that mushroom switch? Latching? How many poles and throws does it have?

More questions. Can you just use a mouse with the tagtool or do you have to use a graphics tablet?

Mouse as Drawing Device is quite complicated to install! Sorry!

No prob.I'm sure you've been more help to me than i have to you.Going to order my stuff for this tonight (except the arduino-i'll have to get that from another site at a different time cos iv'e spent all my money on christmas)

Thanks alot!That was a really quick responce!

We use , Single pole, single throw buttons.