Instructables

Step 11: Working, but not perfect

Wipe the sweat from your brow, crack open a beer or soft drink and pat yourself on your back. If you made it this far, you have my admiration! It took me just over a month of planning and diagrams, and a month and a half of build to get to this stage, and so I know it can be a bit exhausting!

At this point, I have been using the tablet in its current form for two months. Being a sailor, my MacTab has already had to endure some tough conditions (a bumpy flight to Hong Kong and a storm in the Pacific where it got thrown about a bit), and so now we should analyse our new tablet, and see where improvements can be made.

Strengths
-Big 13.1" screen
-620gb Storage
-4 hours battery life
-Rather solid construction (i.e. feels good in the hand, and the plastic doesn't flex or deform)
-Wifi signal strength is very good
-Dual hard-drive means a rapid boot-up
-Sound quality is a lot better than expected!

Weaknesses
-No driver for the Digitiser, and so no tilt or calibration settings. I'm learning Objective C and Cocoa, so hopefully I should have something by April 2013. Info here from Wacom on developing tablets for Macs ( http://www.wacomeng.com/mac/index.html )
-Screen can't be rotated. This is a problem with this particular Macbook, and hopefully I can work around this problem in the future by upgrading the screen and inverter board. Instructions how to do this can be found under the iFixit link given earlier
-Drawing on the LCD. Its not good practice to do this, but a piece of thin clear lexan or perspex between the LCD and the pen would prevent any damage.
-Heat. It gets quite hot as all MacBooks do. I've gotten around this by making a stand for it, and you can also install software to control the CPU work rate.
-CPU fan disrupts the microphone. The microphone (even though its been sound-proofed with high-density packing foam) can still pick up the sound of the CPU fan whirring below. A better location for the mic needs to be found.

Opportunities
-Dual Boot. I'd love to try Windows 8 on this. Being a TabletPC digitiser, it should work fully from the start.
-Pen caddy. The fan grill is the perfect size for storing the pen. Just need to find a way of making it secure.
-Integrated stand and screen protector. This has been on the drawing board since before the tablet was completed. I think a stand fabricated out of aluminium and a screen protector could be attached to the back of the tablet. At the moment I have a cardboard stand which works well enough though.
-Full Photoshop capability. Without the drivers, I can't use Photoshop with pen pressure or tilt. Hopefully this problem will be solved with the custom driver.

Threats
-Always a chance my soldering will fail, but it hasn't so far.
-Pressure on the LCD. Again, have been careful, but a sturdy screen protector could solve this.
-Intrigue. Everyone I have shown it to has been interested in it! Potential for theft, maybe…


Conclusion
If you give this a go, I promise you it will be worth it. My MacTab is not fully complete (i.e. Didn't manage to install the USB hub and peripherals in time) but even so, I love tinkering with it and have learnt a lot about the hardware and construction of Macs in the process. At the moment, it is working as a trusty iTunes jukebox, film library and data archive/networked drive for my Macbook Pro and its an impressive device for less than £250.

The best bit for me is you're saving one laptop and a load of other spare parts from landfill and obsolescence. That can only be a good thing!
 
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I've been thinking about doing this for a while, though I wonder if I could do it with a UC-Logic Digitizer? I've got one and I'm trying to make just the DIY cintiq with it, once I get that working maybe I'll feel a bit more adventurous and try making my old macbook into a tablet.

Thanks!
This was amazing!!
This was amazing!!
tqbrady1 year ago
Apologies if I missed this bit, but without calibration software, how are you aligning the pen events with where they get rendered on screen? Or are you just not able to do that, yet? How much of the screen is covered by the digitizer?