Wacom Digitizer Tablet

Hooking up my old Wacom Digitizer II Tablet to my MacBook Pro

In this post I explain what I had to do to get my old Wacom tablet to connect to my MacBook Pro.


The Wacom Tablet

I purchased this a long long time ago, in a galaxy far far away. I used it a lot with my Windows 95 PC, and then with my Windows 2000 PC, and then with my Windows XP PC, I finally ended up putting it away back in 2005. Its been lying in a box ever since.

I recently wanted to draw again on my PC, as I was thoroughly disappointed with my iPad’s drawing abilities – it wasn’t fine enough for my liking, it was also missing a stylus. I ended up purchasing a Lenovo x220 Tablet Laptop which had a stylus and it was pretty neat. But I noticed that it couldn’t detect the angle of the stylus, not to mention I had to turn off finger input and only allow stylus input (as the screen could take both, but wasn’t smart enough to ignore palm presses when using the stylus). I could have sworn that my good old wacom digitizer could. So, I went digging for it.

The Dreaded Serial Port Dilema

When I finally unearthed it from the depths of my ancient technology museum, I quickly noticed a problem; it had a 9-pin serial port! My MacBook Pro’s never heard of a serial port, its all USB nowadays. There had to be some solutions out there.

Luckily for me there are solutions a-plentiful; well, for the Serial to USB interfacing part anyway. I ended up purchasing the Trendnet TU-S9 USB – Serial Adapter from Amazon.

Where have all the Wacom drivers gone?

But I still had one more problem; getting the digitizer to work with the MacBook; where are the drivers? The Wacom website was a disaster, there was no mention of my old digitizer tablet anywhere; talk about planned obsolescence.

Open Source to the rescue!

The guys over at ThinkyHead.com have an open source driver for Wacom digitizers. Music to my ears. I really love the Open Source community, its really a passion, why else would you write something for free?

Setup and Installation

Once I received my adapter, I had to install a driver for it. I found it on the Trendnet site here. Installation was reasonably straight forward.

After installing the driver for the serial port, I installed the driver from ThinkyHead.

I then connected the wacom digitizer to the adapter (screwed it together to hold tight), plugged in the power, and then plugged the USB into my laptop.

Amazingly it all worked without a hitch. I could see that the tilt data was being picked up by the ThinkyHead driver! WooHoo!

I then installed Photoshop on my laptop to check out the tablet… <to be continued>


Penny Arcade's sketch on a Surface Pro

Sketching on a Surface Pro

Microsoft finally released their Surface Pro. Is it a tablet or is it a PC? Who knows, but I’m slowly warming up to the idea of owning one, soon.

Interesting how this article by Gabe at the Penny Arcade resonates with me, and I’m not a professional artist.

I bought my Lenovo X220 Tablet Laptop about a year and a half ago for the reasons in the article; tablet with stylus (so I can draw on the screen), and its a PC. I purchased AutoDesk SketchBook Pro for my laptop, and my iPad, had the same gripes about trying to draw with my finger and then the fat styli on my iPad, but it was a helluvalot better on my laptop with a stylus (sorry Steve).

So maybe my next toy will be a Surface Pro as an upgrade to this laptop? Who knows? I’m also trying to get my old Wacom Digitizer to work with my Mac, lets see how that pans out.

Finally, about that Adobe Cloud subscription… its pretty neat, I have it. Its a great way to have all of Adobe’s software on the cheap :)

Arthur C. Clarke

Clarke’s Three Laws

  1. When a distinguished but elderly scientist states that something is possible, he is almost certainly right. When he states that something is impossible, he is very probably wrong.
  2. The only way of discovering the limits of the possible is to venture a little way past them into the impossible.
  3. Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.

Arthur C. Clarke


Windows 8

Jensen Harris is the Director of Program Management for the Microsoft Windows 8 User Experience team. He gave a talk at UX Week 2012 conference in San Francisco in August titled The Story of Windows 8. I’ve included it below. Its definitely worth watching, as he provides insights into why Windows 8 looks the way it does. There are some nice touches in Windows 8, I did notice a couple of them.

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