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Messages - skimmer

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IR Pens / Re: IDEA for a pressure sensitive IR pen
« on: March 20, 2010, 08:57:35 PM »
Not at all.  The Tide to Go pen body will fit a AAA battery quite nicely.  In fact even the tide to go mini pens will just fit a AAA.  I just think that a AA battery would be better, which doesn't fit in the pen body.

IR Pens / TSAL6100 questions
« on: December 06, 2009, 08:30:29 PM »
I'm wondering if anyone knows more information about LEDs.  I have two questions.
First, I noticed that the TSAL6400 has a radiant intensity of 40 mW/Sr.  I'm assuming that this is an indication of how bright the light is.  The TSAL6100 has a smaller dispersion angle than the 6400 (10o instead of 25o) but has a radiant intensity of 130 mW/Sr.  This should make it a lot brighter, right?  I've also read that a lot of the IR light that the wiimote picks up is reflected off the white board surface ... so again, the brighter the better, right?  All other specifications between the two seem the same.   
Secondly, if a battery starts to become underpowered because the voltage falls too low, does the LED cease to work altogether, or does it just get dimmer and dimmer like an incandescent light bulb does?  If it does get dimmer, would the 6100 with a higher radiant intensity last longer on a lower voltage than the 6400?  In other words, say the voltage hits 1.1 V (or whatever voltage is too low) and the IR signal from the 6400 is now too low to be registered by the wiimote.  Would the 6100 still be bright enough at 1.1 V because it has a higher "native" radiant intensity?  I would really love to get the most out of my 1.2 V NiMH rechargeable battery.

IR Pens / Re: simple fix for ir pens
« on: November 24, 2009, 10:34:42 PM »
This is a great idea but it also greatly complicates the construction. Guys and gals, in the term "ir pen" the word pen is a mis-momer. We are really making ir signalling wands.

I don't think ir "pen" is a misnomer.  It all depends.  With the "tide-to-go" pen and now with this ball bearing pen, I'm really trying to get "pen" functionality.  I want to be able to do more than just click buttons and move windows around.  I would like to be able to write out an entire lesson, or a full solution to a complex math problem without having to fidget with a button, or press insanely hard into the screen.  I would like the writing to feel natural, as if using an actual pen.  I think that both models do a very good job at accomplishing this. 

IR Pens / Re: simple fix for ir pens
« on: November 23, 2009, 10:35:26 PM »
So I tried the ball bearing IR pen today at school.  It works well.  The pen didn't pick up that well at times - I had a 1.2 V rechargeable in it.  When I put in a 1.5 alkaline, it seemed to work better.  With the shiny ball bearing to reflect the IR signal backwards, I wonder if it would actually be better to use a TSAL5300 or TSAL6100 - which has a smaller dispersion angle but higher intensity - what do you think?  I'll try the other diodes out.

I've included a brief clip of me writing on my board. 


IR Pens / Re: simple fix for ir pens
« on: November 21, 2009, 11:26:28 PM »
I saw this post and thought I would try out your idea.  Here's the pen.


I'm going to try the pen this week at school.  I'll let you know how it works.

IR Pens / Re: video showing pressure-tip pen in action
« on: March 28, 2009, 07:13:16 PM »
Yes, it has a spring mechanism already in it.  However, the spring is really stiff.  There are some posts already on the tide-to-go pen design.  You should have a look at earlier posts.

IR Pens / Re: video showing pressure-tip pen in action
« on: March 17, 2009, 10:52:01 PM »
I don't know of any alternatives.  The tip mechanism of the Tide-to-pen is really quite perfect: holes where needed, spaces where needed, good size, good fit.

I see all kinds of retro-fitted IR pens for sale that clearly say "EXPO dry erase marker" on it, the add banner on this page included.   

I've been toying with the idea of marketing the tide-to-go IR pen.  I was just wondering if there were any legal issues with the pen using Tide-to-Go parts for the pen.  I've noticed that other pens use parts of existing products, such as pen casings.  Is this a non-issue, or are we all waiting for some corporation to come raining down on our parade?


IR Pens / video showing pressure-tip pen in action
« on: March 13, 2009, 10:11:59 PM »
Hello everyone,

I've been meaning to post a video of the Tide-to-go pressure tip pen for quite some time now.  I've finally gotten around to it. 

When I made my first push button pen, writing was quite a challenge.  To constantly push a button was too fidgety - the strokes had to be very deliberate and the writing was very slow.  Handwriting was definitely easier than printing, since you could keep the button pressed continually, but printing, writing formulas, chemical equations, and numbers etc... was quite slow.  I went from being very excited about an interactive whiteboard to being doubtful about its usefulness to me as an actual whiteboard.  To be able to use an interactive whiteboard in the classroom on a regular basis, I needed to be able write much, much faster on it. 

The solution of course was a pressure tip pen.  After many iterations,  I finally came up with one that writes beautifully - the Tide-to-go pressure tip pen.  It feels very much like writing with a regular white board marker.

The main reason for showing these clips is so that others who have tried the wii whiteboard but found it to be more of a novelty and too impractical to write with on a regular basis can see that it is very possible with the right pen.

The first clip shows the pen's weight and how little force it takes to activate the LED.  I've read some posts of pens requiring "only" 50 or 100 g of force to activate the pen.  My pen weighs about 22 g and the tip will light up at maybe 5 g - it's hard to tell exactly by looking at the balance.  The weight of the pen itself is definitely enough to activate the pen.  Naturally, the less force the better - writing is very natural and easy feeling and there is less abrasion on the LED.

The second clip shows some actual writing.  I teach chemistry, so I've used a chemistry example.  I hope the ease of writing comes across in the clip.  I'm writing on a 1/8" wood fiber board with a melamine surface which has been taped onto a blackboard.  I find it to be a pretty good surface to write on.  I've found that if the board is too smooth or glossy (eg. plexiglass, glass, plastic, smooth painted surface like a table or wall, varnished surface) the LED rubs against it with a lot of friction (it's very noticeable if you rub the led against the surface quickly).  I think a  lightly textured surface works much better.

If you want to actually write with the wiiboard, not just doodle, or write the odd word - but write for an entire lesson : notes, examples, diagrams, etc... you need a good pressure-tip pen.  I'm still on the hunt for a pen tube (other than the tide-to-go tube) which will accommodate a AA battery but still fits the tide-to-go tip.  If anyone finds one, please let me know.


IR Pens / Re: touch-tip IR pens and friction
« on: February 24, 2009, 06:57:02 PM »
I've been using a pressure tip pen.  I haven't logged that much time with it, perhaps in total 15 hours of continual use if I add it all together.  I haven't noticed any abrasion as of yet.  50 g of force seems like a bit much.  My pen can't weigh much more than 25 g and its own weight easily activates the LED.  I've been using a 1/8" sheet of melamine surfaced fiber board taped onto a black board.  It has a slightly textured surface, which I think actually helps reduce friction. 

IR Pens / improved pressure-tip pen
« on: February 08, 2009, 09:41:13 PM »
Hello everyone,

I've improved upon the tide-to-go pressure pen.
I'm assuming that you've already read about it, so if you haven't you should have a quick glance at the post:
The old pen was a bit fiddly with the assembly - the wires would interfere with the spring mechanism.
Now the wire IS the spring mechanism.  The pen also now uses the entire tide-to-go pen and an AAA battery.
I've included some photos of the pen and a short video of the spring mechanism and the working pen.
I'll try to post a video of the pen in actual action soon, so you can get a sense of how well it writes.
I hope the video shows how sensitive the pen is - others pens that I've seen look like you have to push down really hard.

IR Pens / Re: IDEA for a pressure sensitive IR pen
« on: February 04, 2009, 08:33:51 PM »
I just saw your images - I think the main problem is the spring you are using - it looks pretty heavy duty.  To press against it in order to make the connection would require a fair bit of force (as shown in video).  I'll try to post a video of my IR pen in action - the spring is simply a very thin wire (or a few strands of wire twisted together) made into the shape of a spring.  It is such a loose spring that the weight of the pen alone will turn on the pen - you don't really have to "press" against a surface at all - very easy to write with.

IR Pens / IDEA for a pressure sensitive IR pen
« on: January 18, 2009, 03:23:05 PM »

I learned about this whole wii whiteboard idea just a little while ago and have been busy trying to make an IR pen ever since.  I first made a normal push-button pen and was excited to try it out.  I discovered that it was very difficult to write/print quickly with it (and my wife was absolutely disastrous at it).  So I tried to make a pressure sensitive pen.  The pressure sensitive pen is SO much easier to write quickly with (I am a teacher and am hoping to use this as a whiteboard in the classroom).  This pen is also very sensitive - ie. you don't have to press hard at all, and it feels very much like writing with an actual whiteboard marker on a whiteboard.

This website has been so helpful in guiding me, I thought I would contribute what I came up with.
The key to my pressure sensitive pen is a stain remover pen (Tide-To-Go) which already comes with pressure sensitive tip.  I've included a diagram with some comments.

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