Step 7: The Digitising Heart of the MacTab

Without this step, our tablet would be nothing more than a glorified, heavy electronic picture frame (with no means of control!). So, its time to find, hack and fit our means of input: a Wacom digitiser.

Now, after you read this step, you must pay the good folks at BongoFish a visit ( http://forum.bongofish.co.uk/ ). They are the grand-masters at making these kinds of devices, and I spent a good few many hours scouring the details. What we do in this step is this:
- Find a TabletPC digitiser and appropriate pen on eBay or elsewhere.
- Once delivered, cut the motherboard connector and attach to the Macbook bluetooth cable
- Test it.
- Fit it and rejoice!

On eBay, type in "Wacom Digitiser" into the search box. Now, you want to look for digitisers which have been in a HP TX2000. You will also want them to come with a cable (these are rare, and making your own is difficult). You will also want a digitizer pen that is compatible with Penabled Tablet PC's. All of this can be found on eBay.

(Other Wacom digitisers are available, but I have neither tested these nor know if they work with USB. To be on the safe side, spend a good deal of time in the BongoFish forums!)

The TX2000 is a 12.1" sensor board. You're probably thinking "But my Macbook is a 13.1" screen! I'm missing out on a one-inch border!". It's true, at the moment, the pen is absolute to the sensor, which makes my pointer move at a ratio of just over 1.08 times further from the centre. Its annoying, but until I work out a way to make a Mac driver for it, its an annoyance you have to deal with!). Normal Wacom drivers don't work with this sensor board at the moment, but I'm working on it...

I found mine for £25 and the pen was also £25. Once delivered, i stupidly cut a tear into the bottom left corner of the digitiser. These are really fragile, so treat with care! My digitiser still works, but the pointer goes a bit nuts in the bottom left area!
Remove the cable from the digitiser baby-board, and put it to one side. Remove the Macbooks' bluetooth cable, and set it to one side. You can remove the bluetooth module too; it's useless to us now!

The Wacom board is powered by 3.3v only, so a normal USB connection (5v) will likely render it useless. Thats why we use the Bluetooth board; it is the only 3.3v USB module in the Macbook. (I tried using a voltage regulator, but the voltages were a bit suspect! At least this method is tried and tested!)

You need to cut the and solder the cables according to the diagram in this thread ( http://forum.bongofish.co.uk/index.php?topic=1894.msg13834#msg13834 ). Having been a few months since I finished soldering, there seems to be more activity on the forums regarding this digitiser now, and so I'm sure the folks there can help you out if you run into difficulties!

I cannot speak highly enough about that forum. It is a remarkable font of knowledge!

Once you've finished soldering and insulated each solder join (don't want any crossed wires!), plug it into the Wacom baby-board, and the other end into the old Bluetooth connector on the motherboard. Power on the MacTab, and using a USB Keyboard and Mouse (or if it works straight away, the Penabled pen!) to the System Profiler. Under USB Device Tree you should see a ISD-V4 with the magical word "Tablet" next to it. Your pen should also be moving the pointer around (when waved above the sensor) and you should be able to tap-click!

Congratulations, your digitiser works! Now, centre it on the back of your LCD Display, and test it. Once you're happy, tape it to the back using electrical tape. Test on the screen, and there you have it, a home-made Tablet!

<p>Hi <br>I have started following the guide with a 15 inch unibody mid 2009 core 2 duo macbook i had laying around (of course following with major compromises since there very loosely similar) <br>I am running into issues with finding a digitiser that works with my display size (assuming 12 inch is nowhere near big enough), so I was wondering if you could maybe suggest a similar model to me</p>
<p>Hello! I assume its the 15.4&quot; size, and that will be fun to tear apart! A lot of a metalwork involved, right?</p><p>At the cheap end (and probably the easiest to obtain) would be a Toshiba Tecra M4 digitiser. I believe these screens go up to 14&quot; in size, so you'd still have some calibration issues. They are Wacom though, so the Wacom drivers should work.</p><p>At the expensive and possibly very hard-to-get is the Sony Vaio FIT 15A. This has a 15.5&quot; screen, and an N-Trig digitiser. </p><p>It might be worth asking on the Bongofish forums, as they are more likely to know a decent enough digitiser! Good luck, and let me know if I can help you at any other time!</p>
Smart that so cool
<p>I like it alot you should do it to a white unibody with 8gb ram to make a more powerful one</p>
awesome I would like one!
Would this work with a new macbook pro 2013 retina edition
<p>In theory, yes, but you probably want to check iFixit to see how to take the Retina Macbook apart, and how easy it would be to modify it to accept a digitiser. </p><p>I've had a look, and it would be very very difficult to do, but not impossible. Good luck!</p><p>https://www.ifixit.com/Guide/search/2013%20macbook%20retina%20pro</p>
<p>Confused by what?</p>
<p>Apologies, I believe that this comment may have been left by my daughter (she is only 9), she loves the Instructables site and uses my log in.</p>
<p>Can i make from other laptops such as samsung , acer or etc ?</p>
<p>It should be possible to. It all depends on how the screen is fitted to the case, and whether the case is symmetrical or not!</p><p>You may also need to step down a USB supply to 3.3v too. Hope this helps!</p>
Dude make me one
I really like this idea
cool app
ihave made a version like you said but used an old ipad screen and inserted a patch for multi touch capabilities now working on screen rotation
<p>Wow! Really? Can I ask how you managed to implement multi-touch and screen rotation?</p>
Where can u get the touch screen from for the tab u made
<p>It's not a touch screen. It's a normal laptop screen with a pen digitiser behind the screen. The digitiser can be found on eBay.</p>
What type of soldering station is that? It's beautiful.
<p>It's a Weller WHS40. 'Beautiful' is exactly how I would describe it too!</p>
What about a keyboard?
See the reply to Jovino, as they asked the same question.
What about multi touch gestures and a multi touch capacitive touchscreen with on screen keyboard
There's only single-point on this device, and thats via the pen. I believe you can get a multi-touch glass overlay to go on top of the screen, but getting it to fit inside the casing might be a problem. <br>I'm also not sure about whether OSX allows multi-touch or not, and I would assume if it did, it may only be limited to mouse-gestures.
I'm working on it. Lately I have almost no time to invest. Patience.
I have been working a cuople of weeks with a similar project. <br>I have the solutions to make a macbook tablet with a calibrated touch screen. <br>I have used tx1000 and tx2000 digitizer. Both are calibrated in mac os 10.7. In a few days I'll publish the &quot;how to&quot;. <br>Thank you MrQuiffster for the inspiration!
Fantastic, I can't wait to see the finished Instructable! <br>Hopefully you will inspire more people to give this project a go!
Link for the &quot;HP TX1000 Wacom Digitiser with cable&quot;? Will the TX 2500 work? <br> <br> <br>Looks like something like this? <br> <br>1. http://www.amazon.com/HP-TouchSmart-TX2-1000-SUBSTITUTE-REPLACEMENT/dp/B003YBJDMI/ref=sr_1_fkmr1_2?s=electronics&amp;ie=UTF8&amp;qid=1380947906&amp;sr=1-2-fkmr1&amp;keywords=hp+tx1000+wacom+digitizer <br> <br>2. <br>http://www.ebay.com/itm/NEW-Full-12-1-LCD-Screen-touch-digitiser-for-HP-Pavilion-TX1000-TX2000-TX2500-/260997467748?pt=GPS_Screen_Protectors&amp;hash=item3cc4a94e64 <br> <br>3. <br>http://www.ebay.com/itm/HP-Pavilion-TX1000-Complete-LCD-Assembly-w-Digitizer-Lid-Bezel-LCD-Screen-/290973494955?pt=US_Laptop_Screens_LCD_Panels&amp;hash=item43bf5f2eab <br> <br>4. <br>http://www.ebay.com/itm/hp-pavilion-tx1000-12-1-laptop-entertainment-PC-/331037989086?pt=Laptops_Nov05&amp;hash=item4d1366d8de <br> <br>Driver for the Digitizer?
I think the TX2500 will work, provided its a Wacom digitiser. Link 2, 3 and 4 would all work, but you can get just the digitiser on eBay, and stick it to the back of the Macbook LCD. If you're going to use the HP LCD, there could be some compatibility problems. <br> <br>As for the drivers, the generic Mac OS X drivers work alright. However, these are Wacoms drivers closest to this digitiser: ftp://ftp.wacom-europe.com/pub/Mac/cons505-3_int.dmg <br> <br>Hope that helps!
Can I make it with a MacBook Pro
In theory, you should be able to with the A1211, A1226 or A1260 models because they were built with the similar processes to the Macbook I used. However, the motherboards are completely different and you would have to do some research on iFixit to see if it'll work. <br> <br>If you're trying to do it with a unibody Macbook Pro, then thats going to be MUCH harder as the screen is glued to the lid, and you would potentially have to mill out the keyboard area. <br>If you do give it a go, good luck! It's a really interesting project and you'll learn a ton about Macs in the process!
You have serious skill man
Absolutely incredible:) wow
You should make more and sell them on eBay. I know I would buy one. :)
Just engrave an Apple logo on the back. Really awesome :-)
Epic dude just epic
Very kind! Thanks!
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. <br> <br>Thanks!
Hi, sorry for the late reply! <br>If I remember right, the Bongofish forums have a fair bit of info on the UC-Logic boards, however, I'm not sure if it would be fully compatible with OSX. <br>Having said that, I wasn't sure my TX2000 digitizer would be compatible either, so have a bit of pioneering spirit and give it a go...or not! <br>Good luck!
What OSX can this run?
Its currently running 10.5, but with the chipset and motherboard, there's no reason it shouldn't run 10.6 or even 10.7 (I'm still running 10.6 on My Macbook Pro and have no experience of 10.7 Lion!)
Very creative and almost professional. Good job
You should show Apple that!
This was amazing!!
This was amazing!!
This is pretty sweet! &nbsp;Wish I knew how to do stuff like this :) &nbsp;You should enter it into the <a href="http://www.instructables.com/contest/holidaygifts2012">Holiday Gifts Contest</a>!
Thank you for the kind words! I've entered it, so we'll see how it fares..!

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Bio: Sailor in the Merchant Navy for work, hacking and modifying monkey on leave!
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