University of Houston

Mathematics Department

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Installing and Using a Tablet

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The Math Department currently uses and supports several electronic writing or graphics tablets from Wacom.  Tablets are very useful in classroom instruction and for grading homework submitted in electronic format.  This webpage was created to help tablet users setup tablets on their privately owned computers or fix problems when the tablet stops working.

Tablets are connected to a computer by a USB cable or wirelessly, usually through Bluetooth.

Writing Tablets

The department mostly uses Wacom tablets.  We use the original Bamboo tablet as well as the Bamboo Pen, Bamboo Fun and Bamboo Create tablets.  As of September 2013, Wacom has dropped the Bamboo line of tablets and we are starting to get the Intuos line of tablets.

Using the Bamboo tablet with a PDF annotation software, like PDF Annotator, a grader can take homework submitted in PDF (or other) formats and "write" on the document.

Tablets are usually issued with laptops provided by the Math Department and are setup with the required software and should be ready to use.  Sometimes, tablets are issued for use on privately owned PC's.   The instructions here can help users setup the tablet on their private computers.

Drivers

First determine which tablet model you have.  Look at the bottom of the tablet.  It will either say Bamboo or Intuos.

You can download the drivers for both Windows and Mac that work for both the Bamboo or Intuos line of tablets from the official Wacom Download site.  Look for the section "Latest Drivers for Bamboo Tablets" or "Latest Driver for Intuos".
We do not have any Intuos Pro tablet, so avoid those drivers.

If you have one of the few Mimio Wireless Pen tablet, you can get drivers from here.

Official Manuals

The official manual for the Bamboo is here, the Bamboo Fun/Touch/Pen is here, the Bamboo Create is here and the Mimio Wireless Pen tablet is here.

To check if the Wacom drivers are installed for the Tablet

1. From the Start Menu, open up the Control Panel.  If you see either the Pen Tablet Properties, Bamboo or Wacom Tablet Properties Control Panel, then the drivers are installed and you can skip to Step # 3 TabletPanel   TabletPanel   TabletPanel
2. If the drivers are not installed, download the latest drivers from the links above in the Drivers section.

Once you install the drivers, it might be best to reboot your PC.  After you login, wait until all startup items are finished, should take 30 seconds to 1 minute.
 

Connecting the Tablet to the PC

The Bamboo or Intuos tablet should start working as soon as you plug it in to the USB port on your PC.  One or more lights on the tablet should light up to indicate it is operational.  However, the first time you plug the Bamboo into a different USB port, Windows may see it as a new device and should automatically re-install drivers for it.  If this happens, you will see little popup notifications about a new device found, installing drivers and such and the tablet indicator light(s) may start blinking on and off.  You must allow this to happen and it can take several seconds.  Once the tablet is ready, the indicator light(s) should remain on and not blink.

Important Do not unplug the Bamboo while the drivers are installing as it may cause the tablet to not function properly.  Sometimes, it can take a minute or more for all associated drivers to install after it is plugged in, so be sure to wait several seconds after plugging in the tablet before unplugging it.

Using a tablet can take some time to get used to depending on whether you use the tablet in Pen (the default) or Mouse mode.  In Pen mode, the stylus moves the on-screen cursor according to where the pen is in relation to the monitor(s).  If you move the pen to the lower right of the tablet and lift up the pen and place it back down in the upper left corner, the cursor will jump from the lower right of the screen to the upper left.  In Mouse mode, the stylus just continues moving the cursor around on-screen no matter where you place it on the tablet.

Recommended Software to use with the Tablet

  1. PDF Annotator is being used to electronically grade student PDF papers.  PDF Annotator allows you to load a PDF and "write" on it like it was a piece of paper.  It is available for download from the official site and will run for 30 days for free, afterwhich a license key must be purchased.  The Department will provide license keys for private PC installations.  See this page for help in unlocking PDF Annotator.
  2. Microsoft OneNote is an Office program for use with writing tablets or tablet laptops (laptops where the screen is touch-sensitive and you can "write" directly on the screen.)  It's main strength is compatibility and integration with other Office programs like Excel, Word or PowerPoint.
  3. Foxit Reader is a free PDF viewer that includes a lot of functionality similar to the full Adobe Acrobat software, including annotations.  
  4. Jarnal is the open-source cross-platform application which PDF Annotator is based on, but written using Java.  It is not as polished looking as PDF Annotator, but it is free.
  5. Xournal is another open-source application used mainly on Linux PCs, althought there is a Windows version, that is still in development.  It is installed on deparment Linx PCs by default.

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Copyright Dave Branda 2005.
Last revised: September 8, 2014 20:01