Fixing digitizer imprecision in a Palm IIIc for best Fitaly experience

Posted by Pablo Zacheo , 06/25/2003, 18:02:08 Reply   Forum

Hi,

I've come to a point where I wanted to solve my digitizer imprecision,
no matter what happened. Opened my palm, cleaned the contacts,
read as many information about the problem. Nothing helped.

I've found the way to fix or at least improoving very much) your digitizer
experience with a Palm IIIc. Noticed first with a Fitaly silk keyboard, the
problem appeared to be more common for many users. By the way my
Palm is brand new. I had it for 3 years, and never noticed the problem,
but I remember it was already there. I remember trying to draw on it,
the choppy lines, etc, etc. It seems to be a manufacturer problem.

I want that ALL people which have the same problem with their Palm
be able to enjoy a higher precision - very easy software solution,
to achieve high quality digitizer performance.

I think if you find this info useful you may add it to your website.
It wouldn't hurt... I think this will help hundreds of Palm users, which
actually what they are doing is having to spent $ to change their
screen display and digitizer. But that won't help in the most cases!
My digitizer and display are fine, I've never used my Palm a lot.
So a replacement will be just a waste of money.

So here is how to do it and an introduction...

Fix PalmIIIc digitizer problems by overclocking
===============================================

If you hate your digitizer as much as I did, and you
have a Palm IIIc or a problem with Graffiti or even
you miss buttons and options seems to toggle vertically
maybe this solution is for you. I personally hate when
things are not clear and sharp, specially if you pay for
them about 400 dollars.

Sympthoms:

A) While drawing a straight horizontal line firmly,
nothing similar to an horizontal line appears
on the screen of your drawing application, but
strange shapes like mountains appears all along
the way, making drawing with your stylus impossible.

B) While trying to draw something you only do a mess
on your screen.... No, it's not your fault, it's
something related to the touchscreen sensors, the
brightness and the clock speed of your Palm. Some
other may add that this problem is caused by static,
which I would reply with: "I've tried everything
related to isolating the static, like cleaning the
contacts, etc, and nothing worked".

Background:

When I first got my Palm IIIc I never noticed that
the digitizer was working bad right out-of-the-box.
I just played around with it and stored it for around
a year. Now I'm using it again and trying to get the
most out of it.

Downloaded Fitaly to improove my writing (Graffiti sucks
if you don't get used to it) and noticed some strange
things. As you probably now, Fitaly is like a keyboard
but it is in the silk rather than on screen. Also the
keys are arranged in such a way you will end up writing
faster than in a QWERTY. So I printed it, and put it right
on the silk. Everything was great, BUT sometimes when I
pressed a key, its vertical neighbour (upper or lower)
sometimes came out. I thought it was the digitizer's
calibration, so I calibrated it and then calibrated
Fitaly again, but the same problem came up randomly.

Pretty close:

I downloaded an excellent freeware Palm application,
(DrawIt) which allowed me to test the digitizer. Then
I realised that the problem was related to the brightness.
I did a web-search and found out some advices which I did:
clean the 4-wire connector with a pencil rubber, and other
which I won't mention because not only they are dangerous
but useless and I almost lost my Palm by trying them.

*OKAY* so to keep the story short I noticed that Palm IIIc
models have a bug related to the brightness / digitizer.
This bug is very common and I think that most users try
to live with it and others like me never noticed it or
think as it as a 'normal' Palm behaviour. Users that have
greyscale Palm models said this is not common behaviour on
a Palm model.

So after thinking, downloading, and trying several utilities,
a light came to my mind again: what if the overclocking utility
has some effect in this? it couldn't be true but... it is.

And it WORKS! An overclocking utility can make the digitizer's
poor performance even worst, BUT IT CAN FIX THE DIGITIZER TOO!!

So if you're having problems with your digitizer it's likely
that you have an overclocking utility installed and you're not
aware that it's the overclocking which is making the whole
thing worst, which can solve your problems with the digitizer
stylus and graffiti forever...

=================================
*** SO, HERE IS HOW TO FIX IT ***
=================================

TO READ FIRST:

I've tried this solution with the most common and compatible
Palm hacking tools: X-Master V 1.5, along with the latest
version of Afterburner III V 3.1.

USE ONLY AFTERBURNER III AS OTHER OVERCLOCKING
UTILITIES ARE NOT AS COMPLETE AND STABLE AS THIS ONE:

THIS FIX IS INTENDED FOR USERS WHICH HAVE NOTICED A BAD RESPONSE
FOR THEIR INPUT IN THE TOUCHSCREEN DIGITIZER OF THE PALM IIIC,
BUT MAY WORK ON OTHER MODELS WITH THE SAME PROBLEM TOO.

OVERCLOCKING IS THE PROCESS OF CHANGING YOUR CURRENT'S CPU AND SYSTEM
CLOCK, SO A BACKUP IS RECOMMENDED PRIOR TO TRYING THIS SOLUTION,
ALTHOUGH THE SOLUTION IS VERY SIMPLE AND INVOLVES THE USE OF STANDARD
STABLE AND AWARDED SOFTWARE PROVIDED BY THEIR RESPECTIVE MAKERS.

-Please note that overclocking with other configuration or
software than the one listed here will only introduce more
errors in your digitizer. So try this solution completely
first.

-Also higher brightness will introduce more errors, and less
reponse to the stylus, or very delayed response.

*BUT* If you do exactly what it says here, with the software
listed and with the configuration specified, and you have
a bit of luck you will fix your digitizer problem, having
exact touchscreen sensitivity from 0 % to 50 % brightness,
with a very high response to your inputs, taps, etc.

TIPS FOR THIS SOLUTION
======================

-The lower the brightness the smoother the response, this
is due to some strange interference within the Palm IIIc.
This problem has been reported repeteadly by many other users.

-Tip: keep your Palm's brightness in the first 1/3 or less for best
results, being the 20-33 % an excellent sensitivity/battery
performance setting. But if you love precision for your own
drawing, try putting the brightness at the minimum for the
fastest and more precise typing, drawing and graffiti
experience.

DESCRIPTION OF THE SOLUTION
===========================

Using: X-Master V 1.5, 13-Oct-2002
With: Afterburner III V 3.1

CONFIGURE AFTERBURNER III WITH THESE SETTINGS:
=============================================

'0 ws core' = ENABLED (ON)
'Fast Mpx' = ENABLED (ON)
'Fast Page' = ENABLED (ON)
'Slow Mpx' = DISABLED (OFF)

'Adjust Ticks' = ENABLED (ON)
'Default' = 16MHz (Note: 10Mhz also works but slower).
'Find' = 16Mhz (Note: 10Mhz also works but slower).
'LCD/n' = 7

'Accel' = ALWAYS
'Slow' = NEVER
'LClk/2' = NEVER

TEST RESULTS
============

Palm OS: 4.1 (but should work on 3.5 too).
Model: Palm IIIc

Brightness vs. Digitizer performance:
000 % Flying response! (OK)
025 % Excellent response! (OK)
050 % A bit interrupted response
075 % Interrupted response (X)
100 % Very slow response (X)

Precision: Perfect no matter the brightness!

Speed achieved in overclocking: 152%

I hope that this help you as much as it helped me to
eliminate that ugly digitizer error which made Graffiti
a pain in the ... and drawing or writing directly on
screen a myth... Good luck!

Best regards,

Pablo Zacheo,
HunterPro SA
Systems Analyst
www.hunterpro.com




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