Introduction: DIY 21" Cintiq(Intuos)

This Instructable will cover how to make your own DIY Cintiq made from a Wacom Intuos3 XL and a Dell 21" Monitor. It will also show how I integrated the finished tablet into a custom made digital drafting table(along with a few accessories.

I am submitting this Instructable in the hopes that anyone who wants a Cintiq and has an Intuos can have a clear and documented way of doing so. I love making DIY Cintiq's and it is the first of many to come.

I also am speeding up this Instructable to make it for the Full Spectrum laser contest so that I can put that laser and 3D printer(hopefully) to work making DIY Cintiqs. It would greatly help to make universal files for DIY Cintiqs of all sizes to be made with laser cut cases and fitted, tested hardware.

....Now on to the good stuff. :)

Step 1: Parts and Tools Used

The inspiration and ideas used in this instructable were started by the folks over at

There you can find compatible monitors for this project and a lot of invaluable knowledge related to DIY Cintiqs.

DIY Cintiq

Monitor Used: Dell ST2220L 21" LED Monitor

Wacom Intuos3 XL

2 X 2 Watt 4 Ohm Class D Audio Amplifier Board - PAM8803 2W(Optional)

Manhattan 161435 2600 Series Speaker System(Optional)

Screwdriver Set

IDE Cable Rainbow Colored-

Soldering Iron


Soldering Flux

Heavy Duty Aluminum Foil (the kind used for food)

Aluminum Sheets(Optional)

Thermal Paste

Copper Tape (Optional)

Wire Strippers

Electrical Tape

Hot Glue Gun and Glue

JB Weld

Double Sided Stick Tape

Duct tape

3M Carbon Fiber Vinyl (Optional)

Dremel Rotary Tool (more powerful=better)

Dremel Cutting Wheel

Dremel Drill bits

Various Metal files(If using Aluminum Casing)

Duck Plyers (If using Aluminum Casing)

Clamps(If using Aluminum Casing)

Rubber Hammer(If using Aluminum Casing)

Step 2: Parts Continued

Digital Desk Easel

(thats what I call it)

An Existing Desk


2x4(dependent on desk size)

2x2(dependent on desk size)

Closet sized Dowel (dependent on desk size)



Drill bits

Door Hinges


Table Saw (or have your wood cut at the store like I did)

Wood Stain (Optional)

Various Nuts, Bolts and Washers( dependent on wood used)

Step 3: Taking LCD Apart

Firstly, the Monitor must be dismantled. The monitor must be unplugged for this.

With the Dell ST2220L, the first step is to remove the front lcd bezel that is held on by clips around the edges as shown in the picture. When removing the clips on the bottom(where the white LED underlight is) and the side (where the touch controls are) be very careful when removing the bezel as the circuit boards are clipped on and have easily torn FCC traces soldered to them. The touch controls should be stuck to the bezel with adhesive; leave it there for now. You can unclip the LED underlight.

After the bezel is removed the lcd panel is held in with aluminum tape, simply cut it off and remove the panel. Carefully remove LVDS cable and LED FCC cable from the panel.

After the panel is out (and put somewhere safe from harm), the next step is to remove the inverter and lcd controller by removing the screws that are now visible (one is hiding under the hdmi port). You should now be able to remove all components of the LCD and set aside the back casing.

Step 4: Stripping the LCD

In order for this entire project to work the intuos tablet must read through the lcd panel to the pen and the user on the other side. As seen in the first picture the LCD panel has a steel case that structurally holds it together. The steel or any metal will also block the pen signal from reaching the tablet and must be removed. From experience this part is best done in an area with no dust.

First remove the front steel bezel that is held with clips be VERY careful when removing anything at this point as the LCD is glass and will easily crack if mishandled. Once the front steel bezel is off, you can flip over the LCD and remove the tape protecting the circuit board.

The circuit board can then be folded outward. Remove all the tiny screws in place around the LCD's edges. You should now be able to remove(with some wiggling) the aluminum and steel back. The steel back piece is simply adhered to the aluminum backplate and should now be removed. Attached to the bottom edge of the aluminum back with adhesive thermal tape is the LED strip.

Now set aside the lcd display assembly.

You must now cut the the thin Aluminum backplate as shown in the picture(ignore the black marker line), leaving about two inches from the edge. This can be done with a dremel, some sheers or really sharp scissors.

Going back to the LCD panel, you must use electrical tape to hold the various LCD layers together now that the steel casing is gone. With the LCD circuitry folded out (on top and tabs on the sides as well) you must tape the edges to sandwich the layers together while being careful not to cover the LCD's viewing area.

Step 5: Stripping LCD Continued

Now that the LCD is stripped and held together with tape you will have to reattach the LED strip and shield the LCD circuitry.

In the picture you will notice the LED backlight is now lighting the LCD backwards. This is to retain the heat dissipation of the LED's thru the remaining aluminum without the aluminum being in the active area of the Wacom tablet.

In order to turn the LED's backwards you must file down the aluminum tabs to make the surface opposite of the LED's flat. Then carefully remove the LED strip while trying not to rip the thermal adhesive backing on the LED strip(best done with a razor blade). Now reattach the strip on the other side as shown in the picture.

The LED strip will get much too hot too fast now that you have cut off most of the backplate.

To help with heat dissipation, I attached (with thermal paste and tape) a long strip of aluminum foil to the back of the LED backplate, which I folded and used thermal paste in between each fold.

Next I covered the LCD circuitry(on top and side tabs) with electrical tape to protect them from the copper tape that is applied afterwards. Make sure all circuitry is thoroughly cover with electrical tape (front and back)first to prevent shorts before using copper tape. When covering in copper tape(front and back), make sure both copper on top and side are in the same circuit (touching each other).

The purpose of the copper tape is to shield the LCD circuitry so that its signals are kept inside the copper cage and do not interfere with the Wacom's pen signal.

Step 6: Optional Testing

At this point now that your LCD panel is stripped and held together(by tape) you can optionally test out the Wacom tablet for the first time as a DIY Cintiq.

First place your newly assembled LCD panel assembly on top of your stock Wacom tablet as is and line it up with where the active area on tablet is.

Next reconnect your monitor as previously wired WITHOUT power running to it. Double check that each monitor component is connected correctly and not touching anything it is not suppose to be(anything else).


If all is well, your monitor should come on and you may also plug in your Wacom tablet to your computer and you should be able to control your pen on the monitor it just needs to be calibrated.

If the cursor is just a little jittery these problems will go away with shielding done later.

Step 7: Stripping and Preparing the Wacom Tablet

Now that you have had a taste of what the DIY Cintiq will be like we will move on to making it a finished product.

In order to increase the distance of the reading height for your Wacom Pen, we must disassemble the Wacom Tablet and cut the case.

First disassemble the case by removing the screws on the rear of the case.

When unclipping the front bezel be VERY careful when lifting up not to rip the FCC cables to the programmable buttons on the Wacom Tablet.

You can now remove the front bezel to reveal the Wacom active area circuit board, a foam layer, a metal sheet and a detachable smaller circuit board.

The foam and metal sheet are necessary components of the tablet and should not be lost. Now cover the complete surface of the TOP Wacom Active area with a large piece of paper or several small ones.

Now sandwich the metal sheet, foam, circuit board and top paper together with tape to make it one thin assembly.

Now carefully cut a hole with your Dremel in the top Wacom case as close to the active area as possible for the LCD assembly to fit in. When your hole is cut file the edges to make it smooth.

Your LCD assembly should be able to fit and be accessible from edge to edge with your Wacom pen with the monitor on. (may have to tweak the active area settings on the Wacom drivers)

Step 8: Taping Stuff Down

Now that you have the monitor correctly positioned where you want it on the active area of the tablet it is time to tape it down.

Making sure your LED strip is correctly positioned to direct light straight through the backlight, tape down the aluminum and LED assembly.

Next tape the edges of the LCD display assembly FIRMLY as shown.

When you put the top cover on you should see all of the screen and leave some room for the LCD circuitry at the top if it doesn't already fit.

Step 9: Extending Wires

You've probably already realized when testing that the LCD wires and others inside the monitor are not long enough to go where you would want them to in a final product. Next we will be extending these wires.

Decide where you will want your various components in the end product (the inverter, the LCD Controller, the LED underlight, the LCD controls).

Measure the length of Rainbow Ribbon Cable you will need for each extension, along with how many wires you will need, and cut the wire to length.

The process for each extension is the same. I will be using the LCD LVDS Cable (because it is the most complicated) as an example, but it applies to every extension.

Once you have the length of your cable you need, you will need to cut into the LVDS Cable(or any other cable).

It is best to cut the wires THREE OR LESS at a time, as you are extending the cable.

Pick three different colored wires as shown in the picture and cut them in the middle.

Now strip both sides of the wires to reveal the copper wires.

Do this to three of your ribbon cable wires as well.

Now twist each wire together with a ribbon cable wire FIRMLY on both sides to extend each wire.

Make sure each connection will not unravel as you do the rest of the wires. (we will be soldering at the end to save time and avoid a sticky fluxy mess)

Now repeat this process three wires at a time until all wires have been extended.

DO NOT CUT ALL WIRES AT ONCE it is too hard to keep track of all of the colors and will be more likely to fail in the end result.

Once all wires have been extended, we will start soldering the connections.

Dip each copper connection in soldering paste before soldering each connection. (If you dont know how to solder there are excellent videos on youtube that will show it better than I can explain)

Now you will need to isolate each wire using electrical tape or hot glue.

If using electrical tape simply wrap each connection with a little tape so they don't have anyway of touching each other. Once each wire is wrapped tape all taped wires together as flat as possible to keep the wrapped tape on each wire from sliding off.

If using hot glue, use electrical tape to stick each wire to one piece of long tape without touching each other. Then hot glue all of the wires, covering all parts of them. Once the glue has dried remove the tape and hot glue that side. Now you can tape the isolated wired to make them more aesthetically pleasing and flat.


Now that you know the know the method of extending wires you can extend the rest to desired length.

Step 10: Optional XBOX 360 RF Module

As you might have been able to tell from pictures of my final result I have an XBOX 360 RF module (syncs the wireless controllers and controls power and eject for xbox) at the top. I wanted to have a cool ring of light at the top of my DIY Cintiq and I am planning to incorporate a modified xbox to the back of the case that will be 1" thick.

Anyway, if you want to do this also you will need to remove the RF Module and the touch buttons from your XBOX 360.

Next you will need to extend the RF Module. Instructions on how to do this can be found at darkuncle33's youtube channel under extending RF Module (again, better than I can explain): Also another cool project....

Once the RF Module was extended I removed the circular ON/OFF touch button while keeping on the capacitive touch film (peel back carefully and protect until finished with tape).

Then I used the final plexyglass cover and glued(with gorilla glue or JB Weld) the touch button to a square hole I cut in the shape of the square touch button bezel.

Next I molded the square base you see out of plaster and sanded it to be more aesthetic.

Stick the eject part of the capacitive touch screen to the back of the BARE plexiglass if you want it to work on the final product like mine does. ITS REALLY COOL. You can just touch that area of the plexiglass and the disc tray will eject. :)

Step 11: Grounding and Shielding Everything

In order to reduce the electrical noise reaching the Wacom Tablet to reduce jitter everything must be shielded and grounded.

To do this you must wrap any cables that you extended with copper tape one at a time.

Once all wires are wrapped in copper tape they must all be connected to the same ground the Wacom tablet is.

To do this solder a wire from each copper shielding(on wire extensions or anything else) to the LCD's top circuit board shielding, which is then connected to the bottom ground (with copper tape) of the Wacom circuit board as shown in the second picture.

Once this is done you can insulate all copper extensions with electrical tape.

When done it should look something like the last picture(or prettier hopefully)

Step 12: Cutting and Gluing the Case

Now most of the electrical work within the Wacom is done.

As a pre-word to this section the casing did not by any means go how I wanted to and this was my first time attempting to fabricate a case. Because the quality was not what I wanted I decided to enter this contest to attempt to make a better, more exact and replicate-able case with a laser cutter.

This was how I approached making a case with readily available supplies.

First I cut the monitor bezel to take the touch screen buttons.

I cleaned up the touch screen button to a clean rectangle

Then I cut the Wacom to the shape of this rectangle and glued it in with Gorilla Glue.

I realized that the LCD assembly was not flush with the Wacom Tablet surface. This would make plexy glass bend at the change in height, making it look warped. I also wanted to use glue and tape to attach it and not screws on the top(for aesthetic reasons).

So I cut the plexy glass into different sections to create a frame around the LCD.

I needed the framed plexy glass to be higher so I used more plexy glass cut to the same shapes.

I also cut a rectangular hole for to the monitors touch strip.

I also cut a hole for the LED under light in the shape of a hackintosh symbol. :) will be refining later.

I stacked them and glued them together (sanding both surfaces to promote adhesion) with JB weld(using blue tape as a clamp).

Once the were glued together I used a Steel File to file the edges and make everything flush and pretty.

Then I sanded the top of the Wacom tablet and the bottom of the plexy stack to promote adhesion.

I then used JB weld to glue the stacks to the surface of the Wacom tablet as shown.

The best part of this method is that the plexy glass used when drawing on the DIY Cintiq is replaceable as it is not glued down only placed and taped on the edges. (even real Cintiqs will get scratched from using the pen too much over time)

Now you will need to cut a hole in the back of the case as shown to allow all of the cabling to fall to the bottom of the

back where the controller and inverter will be. This is best done with the back case completely off.

Once the hole is cut, run the cabling(touch strip, LED strip, LVDS, USB and LED underlight), adjust any connections or cables and close the case.

Screw the tablet's case back up.

Now an Aluminum Panel is need to shield the Wacom from the LCD controller and Inverter which give off alot of electrical noise.

The aluminum panel will need to be cut to size to be flush with the tablets back. This can be done with a fine toothed saw and refined with metal files.

*if you can't get aluminum that big you can get a smaller size at home depot that will cover the area of at least the LCD inverter and controller so that it can be shielded*

A hole will need to be made it the aluminum to run the wires into. This can be done with the Dremel by drilling a bunch of holes in the shape of a bigger hole. Then punching it out or drilling the remaining aluminum out.

Once the cables are run through the hole and all is flush you can use JB weld to glue the aluminum to the Wacom tablet's back.


Looking back plaster wasn't the greatest idea but it was either that or auto body filler. I was being lazy that night and didn't want to wait til the next day to mix chemicals repeatedly in the hot sun. However body filler will not crack on you like plaster does in the end. I recommend auto body filler.

This is what I did.

I mixed up a batch at a time working on only one area at a time to to make to bottom of the tablet flush with the plexy glass.

I masked off the areas I didn't want plaster on.

When I was done laying plaster down, I sanded it smooth until I was satisfied with the result.

The last two pictures show how I used the DIY Cintiq (with a proper sized plexy glass screen protector) until the Carbon Fiber Vinyl arrived.

The metal enclosure is the stock one that came with the monitor which contains the controller and inverter. It can be used as a substitute instead of making an aluminum enclosure as I do later. You can use double sided sticky tape to attach it to the back of the aluminum back to make it more permanent.

At this point the DIY Cintiq works as it should and will only be improved aesthetically.

Step 14: Wrap the Thing

Wrapping in Carbon Fiber Vinyl is a little tedious but far better looking than it was before.

Before wrapping sand all surfaces with sandpaper for better adherence.

Clean any dust off the surface, then begin wrapping.

It is best to wrap everything including the plexyglass screen (with a protector on) then cut out the area later with a razor.

Stretch the vinyl a little applying(avoiding air bubbles with proper pressure) with one hand and unraveling a little vinyl at a time with the other.

If it is particularly hard to get edges or tight corners using a blow dryer or hear gun helps to mold the vinyl.

I used two pieces. One for the back and one for the front.

When finished cut out the screen area (I left half an inch on the edges to hold the plexy glass in at all times) and remove plexy glass protector.

Step 15: Optional Built in Speakers

At this point everything else is optional to make it more aesthetic and suited to me.

You can now use double sided sticky tape to slap the stop LCD enclosure to the back of the DIY Cintiq and it would still be a good looking tablet.

Now you can just slap it on an easel and go to work if you wish. :)

This is how I wired in some speakers to make it a Cintiq I can play xbox on without using external speakers.

These speakers use the power of the LCD to work.

In the pictures I used notes to show exactly which wire goes soldered where to make it clearer.

Make sure to insulate every connection with hot glue or tape after soldering.

Step 16: Making the Aluminum Back Enclosure

The aluminum was bent using the method shown in the first two pictures.

The holes were then drilled with a dremel one at a time (a bunch of little holes) to cut out a rough estimate of the shape. Then they were filed to the desired shape which was drawn on the aluminum with permanent marker.

Once all of the holes were drilled I used a jewelers saw( you can use a fine toothed saw from hardware store) to cut divisions in aluminum as shown.

Then bent them using a rubber hammer and some duck plyers.

Once everything was bent I used JB weld to glue in the speakers and waited overnight for it to dry.

Then I used double sided sticky tape to stick down the Inverter, covered it with electrical tape, then used double sided tape again to put the audio board on top as shown.

The LCD controller is simply suspended and held in by the VGA, DVI and HDMI screws.

The extra aux cable is JB welded in.

When all was properly insulated I used double sided sticky tape to stick it to the back of the DIY Cintiq as shown.

Step 17: Finished for Now...

This is where my build has currently stood for about a month and the only thing left is to put volume buttons on the top of the tablet.

I was going to include my desk easel build into this instructable but it is already longer than I thought it would be and will do it in another. :)

As a tip, as in my desk build a Magic Trackpad helps to add pan/zoom and touch functionality to your new tablet.

I hope you enjoyed the tutorial and hopefully your new DIY Cintiq.

Go forth and make things.

Green Electronics Challenge

Grand Prize in the
Green Electronics Challenge

Gadget Hacking and Accessories Contest

Participated in the
Gadget Hacking and Accessories Contest

Full Spectrum Laser Contest

Participated in the
Full Spectrum Laser Contest