Problem and solution: the Ugee pen can no longer ‘double tap’, behaves strangely

Problem: The Ugee pen can no longer ‘double tap’, behaves strangely.

Possible solution: The pen’s battery is very weak, but still functioning. Charge the pen’s battery, or switch to the supplied second pen (if it has a charged-up battery). Update: see the foot of this blog post for more suggestions, one of which partly worked.


I went to my Ugee pen monitor today and found that the pen was behaving unusually. It had worked fine for six months or so.

* When the pen tip hovers over a tab, it will instantly “magnetise it”, automatically pick it up and rip it out of the UI as you move the nib. It does the same for Windows Taskbar icons, Photoshop Tool presets and similar.

* “Double-tap to open” no longer works at all. Tapping ‘X’ or ‘_’ to close or minimize a Window no longer works.

* A ‘bottom-click’ press with the pen button is needed in order to select, which was not needed before. It makes no difference if you select ‘None’ in the Driver settings for this button, it still acts as an activating click.

* Typing on the On-screen Keyboard and Notepad is near-impossible, because the Window focus is not synced and a single pen-button key-press causes multiple repeating letters to appear in Notepad.

None of these things had happened before, and I had made no changes. I assumed the problem was due to a Microsoft update, which had messed up the pen tablet settings in Windows. But nothing in the Control Panel’s ‘Ease of Access’ center could help, and nor could ‘Pen and Touch’ or ‘Mouse’ or the Monitor drivers or settings or similar. There was no Windows Tablet service running that would conflict with my Pen driver. Cables were all seated well, and a switch of the USB cable socket had no effect. Screen calibration was fine, and the pen drew well in its Driver’s small test window. Nothing on the Pen’s own driver settings window helped return the pen to the proper normal double-tap behaviour.

I tried changing the pen nib, with no result. I rebooted the PC, again with no result. I hard-booted everything, again with no result.

Then I dug out the second pen that comes with the Ugee, and suddenly everything was working as normal. The problem seems to have been that the battery charge had finally run out on the first pen. Which shows how long a charge lasts — about six months, it seems.


Update: this was only a temporary fix, regrettably. It worked but the same problems have returned, with both pens and even when they are well-charged.


Update: Breakthrough No. 1 — I found that the old double-tap functions are still there, just positioned somewhat above the screen rather than at the screen surface! If I behave with my pen as if the screen is ‘up in the air’, about half an inch or more above where it actually is, then I get a great deal of the old functionality back again. A hardware Factory Reset of the Ugee Pen Tablet monitor does not fix this proximity problem. Menus and Windows can at least be used by hovering and gesturing with the pen, with care, but the use of brushes and pens is problematic unless one can paint onto the surface of a screen.


Update: Breakthrough No. 2 — The best suggestion found so far is from the Ugee Help FAQ:

* The pen draws even while hovering.

It could be the nib in the pen is stuck in depressed (clicked) mode. The nibs are replaceable. Pull it out with a pair of tweezers or needle nose pliers (gently so you can re-use the nib) and let the pen sit on its side for a few hours, e.g. overnight, and see if it the pressure sensor will reset itself.

It seems strange that this should be the case with both pens, but that does seem to be the most logical explanation (all other possibilities having seemingly been tried) and would also neatly explain why the double-tap is not working when other functions are. I also read that the pens should not be stored horizontally, and my second pen was stored that way for six months — that may perhaps explain why the ‘second pen trick’ (see above) was only a temporary fix?

If the “remove nib / lie pen on its side” suggestion doesn’t cure the problem with either pen, the next step seems to try for a replacement pen (the P50S) — which in the UK ships for about £15-£20.


Update: Breakthrough No. 3 — Ugee’s suggestion partly worked. After leaving both pens nib-less and on their sides for 18 hours or so, the older and more-used pen is much improved. Not enough to give me back my lovely double-tap, but enough to ink and paint perfectly. It’s now in its vertical pen-holder and it’ll be interesting to see how it is after a night like that. Further improved, hopefully.

The newer less-used pen is the same as before. But at least the clear difference between the behaviour of the two pens shows that the problem is in the pens rather than the software or the monitor. I can live with awkward menu-opening for a while, via the pen buttons, so long as I can draw a clean pressure-sensitive line — but it now looks like I’ll be getting two new P50S pens when I can next afford it.

I’ll also now be giving the newer pen another 18 hours of nib-less lay-down, in the slim hope that it’ll reset somewhat. If it doesn’t improve I might disassemble it, as it’ll be useless otherwise. Perhaps my leaving it horizontal in storage for six months didn’t help matters, and contributed to it working perfectly for 30 minutes and then abruptly ceasing to work properly.

Update: Breakthrough No. 4

I ordered a new pen, a branded Ugee P50S, and it arrived new and boxed today. On charging and testing it worked fine. Problems all solved, albeit at the cost of taking a £15 chunk out of my PayPal. Once I have the funds I’ll be ordering another two of the pens as backups.

I’m not sure what to do with the two older pens. One is obviously kaput, and the other is meh. I might try disassembling the kaput one, as a trial run on trying to repair the meh one.

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How to pan and zoom the canvas in Sketchbook Pro

For total newcomers to Sketchbook, here are the absolute basic steps on enabling the option of moving the canvas around in Sketchbook Pro:

1. You need to go to the Lagoon in the corner of your screen and find a way to the Puck.

(If the Puck is not visible it can cause newcomers to become very frustrated, as they have no idea where it is or how to turn it on or even that it exists. If you’re a Photoshop user, you naturally go to the top Menu drop-downs to open a window for panning and zooming or navigating — but there’s nothing there).

2. The Puck is actually activated by clicking on the deeply un-intuitive icon of the Hammer, which is in the rainbow-shaped Lagoon…

3. Click and hold the Hammer icon, then slide your mouse cursor over to the Magnifying Glass icon.

4. This will make the Puck appear, and the Puck is how you can pan and zoom around in your picture. The Puck can be easily re-positioned.

How to fix Corel Painter 2017’s “Please reinstall Painter from original source” problem

Here’s how to solve the Corel Painter 2017 bug, which prevents Painter from launching, with a Windows Error Message: “Please reinstall Painter from original source”. (Probably this is happening after you’ve not used it for a while, and in the meantime have perhaps used an over-zealous Registry Cleaner software). It’s no use re-installing. What you need to do is…

1. Go to your Windows Start menu and type in: services then click on the Services programme to start it up.

2. In the list found inside Services, scroll down to find both instances of ‘Corel Licence Validation Service’. Right-click on each of these and then select Properties (NOT ‘Restart’).

3. Switch the service’s Startup type to “Automatic”, then click to ‘Start’ up the service. Click Apply, OK. Then do the same for the other instance of the ‘Corel Licence Validation Service’.

Painter should now launch.

Novel uses for old drawing technology – use it to repair your Babyliss men’s shaver

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.

nibs

About four years ago I 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.

baymen

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.

Installing the Ugee 1910b – a 10-step quickstart guide

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, after which a Windows Explorer search for anything with the word ‘wacom’ in may throw up some left-overs;

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. Also look at the free standalone RadialMenu.

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. (Though Photoshop CC and later all have a persistent un-fixed bug where Photoshop ‘forgets’ which monitor it is supposed to launch on. This can be cured with a work-around — by not having a full-screen window for Photoshop on your pen monitor, but rather a ‘very nearly’ full-screen window that is still free-floating).

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.

untitled

A note on the pens: it’s important set up the pen-pressure in your software so that you don’t need to press on too hard with the pens. The pens are precision instruments, not pile-drivers. After a while too much very firm pressure or jabbing may cause the tiny magnetic-ceramic bead that the nib tip moves up and down (inside a magnetic coil, up inside the pen) to get stuck up in ‘clicked’ mode. [Symptoms and partial solution here]. The same problem may arise after dropping them, especially if they go tip-downward onto a hard floor. If they’re likely to be dropped or knocked out of their holder, try to keep the pen holder behind the monitor. Personally, I made a simple pen leash for mine.

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