Autodesk SketchBook : the official Survey, just launched.
I wasn’t quite sure which of my blogs to put this post on, but since it involves a novel use for a steel pen-nib it may as well go here. About two years ago I visited the excellent Birmingham Pen Museum (Birmingham, England) and came away with a couple of free vintage steel pen-nibs which they press out by the hundreds. Being a digital kind of guy, the nibs went into the “might be useful one day” drawer in the kitchen. Today was the day a nib came in handy — to repair a ‘dead’ shaving tool.
About four years ago had purchased a Babyliss Cordless Rechargeable 8 In 1 shaver and trimmer set, on a half-price offer. It’s been great value and does what it claims — provided that the battery is well charged. But there comes a time comes when that rechargeable battery gets very weak over a period of about 18 months. Then it eventually will no longer take any charge. That time arrived this week.
It’s a well-sealed unit so I thought I was going to have the buy a new one. But then I looked at the back of the unit and saw some tiny deep screw-holes. I discovered that the battery can be replaced, unofficially, at least if you have the version that’s pictured above. Here’s how I did it:
1. Take a long thin cross-head screwdriver, of the sort used for fine work on PCs. Gently unloose the three screws at the back of the shaver. You may not even need to get them all the way out, in order to take off the back cover.
2. Inside is a sealed twin battery pack, of two makers’ own AAA cells. Your aim is to get that pack loose while leaving enough of its two metal connector tabs remaining connected to the board. It’s not that tricky to do, it just needs precise fingers, patience and some gentle wiggling and bending of the battery pack.
3. Then get two good AAA batteries, and connect them against the remains of those metal connector tabs, using the same fit and polarity. Obviously you can’t solder the tabs back onto the battery ends, but get the battery ends connecting by pressing against the metal tabs. Then wedge the batteries into their best possible connection with a couple of blobs of Blutack either side. You may find it easier to first strap the batteries together with a bit of tape.
4. Now the tricky part. You need to slot in another metal connector across the top of those batteries, to make the electrical circuit. For this I used an old-fashioned pure steel ink pen-nib, of the sort you can get in a little packet from any art supply shop. It was perfect in bend, size and fit. Some other pure steel or metal strip might also work. Metal conducting tape, perhaps? Or perhaps some bit of wire from an old cable you no longer need, divested of its plastic sheath.
5. Turn on the motor and ensure it works (did you fit the +/- ends of the batteries correctly?). Then carefully re-seal the case and ensure the motor keeps running all the same time. Case sealed? Give it a little shake, and see if the motor stops running. If it does, you need to try fitting and packing again. If the motor is still running, you’re good to go. I was pleased to see that the previous problems with getting the shaver heads moving were gone, now that I once again had powerful batteries running the show. It might even be possible to fit two AAA rechargables and have them charge up like the maker’s own batteries used to? But that’s just a guess.
I hope this may be useful to others in the same situation. Incidentally, a squirt of WD40 inside the cutter heads every six months can keep the heads moving freely.
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Autodesk Sketchbook Pro at half price, until Cyber Monday at midnight. Get a year’s subscription for $14.99 per year (usually $29.99). It seems you won’t get that deal at sketchbook.com. There’s nothing about it on Facebook either. The blurb is only at the blog…
“…this Black Friday 50% off offer will expire on Monday at midnight.”
It seems that you download the 15-day trial, sign up via that, then pay by Credit Card ASAP and only then do you know that you’ve actually got the half-price offer.
The excellent Ugee 1910b pen tablet monitor arrived at the weekend, with nice quick shipping from Amazon UK and an even nicer £50 discount. Installed on Windows 8.1, which offers excellent support for a dual monitor setup.
Here’s my “quickstart” advice, learned from experience:
1) uninstall all previous tablet drivers;
2) use something like the free IconRestorer to save (and later restore) your desktop layout;
3) follow the Ugee manual’s cable plug-in order and setup instructions exactly;
4) in Windows Control Panel, go: Display | Adjust Resolution. Switch the main desktop back to its normal resolution. Choose “Extend these displays” | OK;
5) launch the Ugee driver settings from its new taskbar icon. “Monitor mapping” tells the system which monitor you want the pen to work with, so set that to “Monitor 2”;
6) pick the graphics software you want to use on the Ugee (SketchUp Pro 8 is perfect), and drop a shortcut to it onto the Windows taskbar, and do the same for the Windows On-Screen Keyboard;
7) install the free Dual Monitor Tools and use it to prevent your mouse cursor slipping off the right-hand edge and onto the Ugee screen (Cursor | General | Default | Cursor Movement Between Screens Is Sticky);
8) the $7 shareware JoytoKey can turn an old videogame controller, such as a wired USB XBox controller, into a configurable mini-keyboard with keyboard shortcuts mapped to it.
9) you probably won’t need to mess with the pen tracking and colour settings setup in the hardware, they’re pretty much optimised “out of the box”.
10) you may need to ‘pass’ (slide) your target software window over to the Ugee screen, but it seems this only needs to be done once.
It takes a while to set up correctly, but the Ugee 1910d is fine and works as stated if it is set up correctly. A very nice piece of kit, considering it was only £300.
The $7 shareware JoytoKey enables Windows PC users to configure an old game controller to work like a little keyboard. It does this by binding keystrokes to the buttons and tiny joysticks. An artist with a button-less pen tablet, such as a Ugee, can thus effectively get the nice buttons on the side of an expensive $3,000 Cintiq, but in a quite literally ‘more handy’ form — actually in your hand as a cute ergonomic controller.