I1 Using a 125mm graphics tablet instead of a mouse

Get the feel of drawing on CAD software in a natural pen grip position using an Acecat 3, Graphics Tablet for example.

Allan Johanson

A small graphics tablet can be used in the following modes:

As a general graphics tool

Draw directly into the CAD software or trace in graphic work or other (copyright free) artwork. Manufacturers claim it can also trace over up to an 8 mm thick object. It may be addictive and you (or the kids) will want to use it with other software i.e. Microsoft Paint.

As a mouse replacement

Tracking across the tablet is relative to the cursor position on the screen.

It can alleviate RMCS (Repetitive Mouse Clicking Strain) as all you need to do to select an AutoCAD tool is to point at its position with the end of the pen tip (while looking at the screen). The tablet configures as the full 125 mm x 125 mm size use or to screen proportions use. i.e. to get a convenient "tracking area" size for using the tablet as a mouse replacement you can make the active area say an approx. 45 x 30 mm portion at the top of the tablet giving good cursor control with minimal wrist movement. The tip equates with the left mouse button, the lower button on the pen equates to the right mouse button and instead of the mouses’ "left double clicks" you place the pen tip on the icon, software shortcut or directory and click the higher button on the pen barrel.

As a pointer

It can be hooked up so that both mouse and tablet are connected, so that either can be readily used.

In discussions with another consultant (or client) next to you you’ll both have screen pointing ability (alternately), without the finger smudges on the screen from thoughtless people.

The minus side and cautions!

Desk space is required to hold the pad, and in an ergonomically sound height and position.

May not be able to be used on some computers with particular serial/COM port set ups if a modem is permanently installed.

Make sure you have a spare serial port, or get an extra one installed by a good technician.

People may actually have "fun" using it which just wouldn’t do now would it!

CADphobics may be seduced into working with CAD by the lure of a pen style interface!!


Acecat 3 available from Dick Smith Electronics for $199.00 (Australian) or try your usual CAD supplier.


Copyright 1998 Allan E Johanson