Broken Pen

Posted 2010.09.14 21.13 in Computers/Internet/Technology by Stephanie

Now this time, it’s totally not what you think! I didn’t break it — I took it apart to fix it.


See, I have this Wacom Bamboo Tablet for doing drawing on the computer. I’ve only just started playing with it a couple weeks ago. But I don’t have enough desk space to keep it out all the time, so when it’s not in use, I store it in a ‘cubbyhole’ in the hutch on my desk. So far, so good.

The tablet has a pen. The special pen that makes the tablet go. The pen is all full of delicate electronics, but it’s very lightweight, and rolls easily, and is not attached in any way to any thing…

So it was in the cubby hole next to the tablet. Then I go to get the tablet to do some drawing. From the cubbyhole. In the hutch. Above my desk. Only, I also have a fishtank on my desk. Small, only 5 gal. But I had taken the lid off because of the heat wave… Grabbed the tablet ok, but the pen went PLOOK into the tank, and then simply vanished.

I literally had to fish around before finding it. I dried it off, but the pen side didn’t work any more. The eraser side still worked, so I just turned it over and did my drawing that way. No worries. Then the next night, I went to get the tablet out of the cubbyhole. This time I was careful – I had put the lid on the fish tank.

Once again, the pen got away from me, and like a pen-shaped plastic mouse trying to escape capture, it leapt out of the cubbyhole, and hit the lid of the fishtank. It skittered around the lid in a little panicy dance until it found the one small hole through which the fish get fed, and PLOOK in it went again.

And this time when I fished it out, neither the pen side or the eraser side worked any more.

So my new tablet, only used a handful of times over the span of about 2 weeks, was now fairly useless. Having nothing to lose at this point, I pulled the pen apart and dug out the juicy surprise inside.

The pen works with magnetism – there are ferrite-wound coils at either end which interact with the tablet in order to provide power to the pen, and to allow the tablet to know where the pen is. There are pressure-sensors under the pen tip and under the eraser tip, which let the pen signal when it is touching the tablet.

None of these things function well when they are full of water.

Luckilly it was an easy fix – the water was pure (as in, not salty) and there was no fish-poop wedged in there anywhere. All I had to do was blow out all the visible water then let any remaining moisture evaporate overnight. Now it seems to be happy again.

And I no longer store the pen in the cubbyhole above the fishtank. I leave it safely nestled among the tangle of cables and scattering of detrius on my desk beneath the computer screens.

One Comment

  1. I think that might be a good idea from now on…..

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