I’ve been a big fan of tablet computers for years. I got a Lenovo Thinkpad 61xt back in 2007, and really tried to use it for all my note taking. Onenote was probably the best piece of software out of Microsoft in years, and I loved jotting down stuff in meetings, etc. Sadly, the computer was just a mite heavy, and the battery too small. So I eventually stopped using it, but always hoped for something to come along and live up to all that potential that the tablet always promised but never delivered.
A year ago, it was time to upgrade my cell phone and I decided to take a chance on the Galaxy Note 2. I couldn’t actually try one out anywhere, but I figured the big screen would be nice to read on. As I’d feared, there was nothing to do with the pen except for S-note (the Samsung software that came with it). That was about as useless as just writing with a Sharpie on the bottom of my shoe, so I left the pen in the Note and never touched it.
Along came Evernote, with the first app I found that made use of a pen in a meaningful way. With the handwriting release a couple of months ago, I pulled out the pen and started jotting. I was previously filling a 100 page pad about every 2 months… now I haven’t used 10 pages in the last 4 months. And, I actually refer back to my notes more than I ever did because I can find them.
The downside, though, is that the S-pen sucks for writing. After a couple days of heavy meetings, my hand was completely cramped up. I thought it was from my bike or something until I picked up the pen this morning and felt a shooting pain up my arm. Oops. During the meeting, I actually ordered some sort of S-pen holder on Amazon, but it won’t be here for another week or two. I needed a fix now.
Then I remembered the old Lenovo. I actually had a couple of extra styli for that which I’d gotten via warranty when the button broke. I pulled them out of an old bag and realized they worked great on the Galaxy Note. Now it was just a matter of making it a bit bigger to hold. I always carry around a Papermate PhD pen because they are comfy in the hand.
I pulled out an old one and tried to shove the stylus down the barrel. It was a bit big, so I headed to the garage to see what I could do.
Note: read this whole post before you follow anything I did. I describe a bunch of dumb shit that didn’t work. I would do it all differently if I were starting now. But, these pictures might help someone else trying to do something a bit different from me, so I include my mistakes.
First I tried to cut the outer case off the pen with a dremel… this works, except that if you even touch the little coil inside, you ruin the digitizer. Good thing I had couple extra pens, right…
Learning from the broken one, I tried again. This time, I cut just above the digitizer module.
Then I was able to carefully slide the business end into the barrel of the PhD pen which worked beautifully. Then I tried writing with it, which didn’t work at all. Damn. I feared this might happen; the tip of the PhD pen is metal, and, as it turns out, the barrel is metal too. The digitizer gets power from the screen through the little inductive coil at the tip, so the metal shields it and stops it from working. I did a little more comparing and realized that the barrel of the PhD (the part under the rubber grip, seen on the picture below) is the same diameter as the Lenovo stylus.
What I finally ended up doing was just pulling the rubber grip off the PhD pen… the metal barrel slips into a plastic ring, and I yanked this out. The front part of the stylus (cut as seen in the picture) slides right into this, then I pulled the rubber grip back on. This leaves
only the need for a nice looking tip. I opted to wrap it with electrical tape instead, which looks like ass, but works just fine.