DistoX tablet question

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DistoX tablet question

Postby caver.adam » Jan 22, 2014 9:47 am

I'm wondering whether anyone has used a DistoX with a Windows laptop or tablet. I see software for the Android and old windows PDA, but haven't seen much about using it with a windows 8 tablet.
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Re: DistoX tablet question

Postby Extremeophile » Jan 22, 2014 10:50 am

caver.adam wrote:I'm wondering whether anyone has used a DistoX with a Windows laptop or tablet. I see software for the Android and old windows PDA, but haven't seen much about using it with a windows 8 tablet.

Yes. I have used it with a Lenovo Thinkpad Tablet 2 running PocketTopo. The PocketTopo software is written to run on Microsoft .NET Compact Framework 2.0 or later, and will run on Windows 7 or 8 in addition to the Windows Mobile OS. It would also be possible to run Auriga on a Palm emulator. As with any digital device, one of the challenges is making it cave-proof, or at least cave-resistant. There's a new Windows tablet (Asus Vivotab Note 8) that was just announced at CES that has a Wacom digitizer and will only cost $299, but is not yet available. This would make a great DistoX companion if someone would make a rugged case for it.

One advantage of using a Windows tablet over a Pocket PC, Palm or Android device is the ability to run Compass, Walls and Illustrator. PocketTopo is very nice for interfacing with the DistoX and is a good simple digital sketch tool, but the data collection is only designed to work with TopoRobot. For those who prefer to use Compass or Walls, you can input the data directly as you survey. most mobile devices have the ability to store and display PDF files, so you can carry digital copies of existing sketch notes to help with navigation, locating leads, tie-ins, etc.
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Re: DistoX tablet question

Postby Extremeophile » Jan 22, 2014 10:53 am

This link has a photo of a Windows tablet running PocketTopo
http://forums.caves.org/viewtopic.php?f=26&t=14816&start=15#p132028
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Re: DistoX tablet question

Postby lleblanc » Jan 22, 2014 1:57 pm

Extremeophile wrote:One advantage of using a Windows tablet over a Pocket PC, Palm or Android device is the ability to run Compass, Walls and Illustrator. PocketTopo is very nice for interfacing with the DistoX and is a good simple digital sketch tool, but the data collection is only designed to work with TopoRobot. For those who prefer to use Compass or Walls, you can input the data directly as you survey. most mobile devices have the ability to store and display PDF files, so you can carry digital copies of existing sketch notes to help with navigation, locating leads, tie-ins, etc.


Derek,

If you're to survey for some time in the cave, it's probably easier on the tablet battery to input your numeric data and sketch in a PDA running Auriga (some PDAs last over 20 hours on a single charge). Back at (underground?) camp, you can export it all to your tablet through a memory card or a Bluetooth transmission in Compass (DAT) or Walls (SRV) and SVG files, and then refine your sketches in Illustrator. Since this Auriga-Compass/Walls exchange can go both ways, you'll have all your survey notes with you all the time too (with the original station names preserved, since alphanumerics and symbols are supported).
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Re: DistoX tablet question

Postby Extremeophile » Jan 22, 2014 3:43 pm

Good points Luc. I'm going to have to give Auriga a serious trial. The ability to exchange data between Compass or Walls and Auriga is a huge positive.

I should make some follow-up points too, since I did a fair amount of research on devices and some of the differences in tablet technology may not be obvious. Most modern tablets have capacitive touch screens and this includes all iOS devices, Samsung Galaxy Tab, Kindle Fire, most smart phones, etc. If you wish to use a tablet for electronic in-cave sketching then you need to find one with an active digitizer. This is a separate layer on the screen that allows it to be used with a stylus or digital pen, and not all pens are compatible or interchangeable. Sketching with your finger won't give you the level of precision you need to make a quality sketch. The older pocket devices such as Pocket PCs and Palms have this ability, and a few modern tablets also do. Devices such as the Galaxy Note, Surface Pro, and Lenovo Thinkpad Tablet II (with digitizer) will work. If it doesn't come with a stylus or pen, then it almost certainly does not have a built in active digitizer. There's a digitizer in the newly released Dell Venue 8" tablet, but this reportedly doesn't work well. Devices with a Wacom brand digitizer are usually a good bet. There are other considerations such as battery life. Most Android tablets, and Windows tablets with Atom processors have battery life reported in the 8-10 hour range. Tablets with more powerful CPUs, such as the Surface Pro, are more responsive but typically have half the battery life, and may not last the duration of a survey trip.
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Re: DistoX tablet question

Postby caver.adam » Jan 22, 2014 9:47 pm

All very good information! Thanks a ton!
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Re: DistoX tablet question

Postby caver.adam » Jan 22, 2014 9:49 pm

May have to debate that Asus...I want a dual use tablet that I can also take on business trips or keep in a water resistant case for survey. I'm not currently surveying super hard caves.
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Re: DistoX tablet question

Postby lleblanc » Jan 22, 2014 10:38 pm

Extremeophile wrote:I should make some follow-up points too, since I did a fair amount of research on devices and some of the differences in tablet technology may not be obvious. Most modern tablets have capacitive touch screens and this includes all iOS devices, Samsung Galaxy Tab, Kindle Fire, most smart phones, etc. If you wish to use a tablet for electronic in-cave sketching then you need to find one with an active digitizer.


If by "active digitizer" you mean resistive screen, they're rare and disappearing; you only find them on cheap tablets. All capacitive screens can use a special - easy-to-find and cheap - capacitive stylus, but AFAIK, the minimum size is 4mm, which is coarse for sketching.

Another advantage of PDAs is their smaller size, making them less fragile.
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Re: DistoX tablet question

Postby Extremeophile » Jan 23, 2014 11:16 am

lleblanc wrote:If by "active digitizer" you mean resistive screen, they're rare and disappearing; you only find them on cheap tablets. All capacitive screens can use a special - easy-to-find and cheap - capacitive stylus, but AFAIK, the minimum size is 4mm, which is coarse for sketching.

The devices I mentioned above that have an "active digitizer" are not using a cheap capacitive stylus. They use a purpose-made stylus that has very high precision (<1 mm), and you can generally move the cursor on the screen by hovering, and many have pressure sensitivity. The tablets with these active digitizers are generally popular with graphic artists or those using note taking applications like OneNote and Evernote.
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Re: DistoX tablet question

Postby Martin Sluka » Jan 23, 2014 4:18 pm

There are zillions of powerpacks you may use to charge or work on your tablet many hours.
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Re: DistoX tablet question

Postby Radiolocation » Jan 25, 2014 12:33 pm

I bought a used Dell Latitude 10 tablet with Windows 8.1 to run PocketTopo with a DistoX. All but the cheapest "Essentials" version has the Wacom digitizer screen, which is separate from the touch screen. I choose it because it has a swappable battery. Mine has the double life battery, which will run videos for 10 straight hours. It also has a full-size SD card slot and full-size USB port. It is designed for a special Dell active pen or the Wacom bamboo "feel it" active pen, both of which have electronics, but no batteries. They derive power from the screen by using a loop antenna in the pen. The pen activates when brought within about 3/4" from the screen, also shutting off the touch screen so that, with care, you can rest your hand on the screen while drawing. It is also possible to disable the touch screen in Device Manager to prevent all accidental marks from your hand. The drawback to the patented Wacom technology is that the drawing speed is limited and the lag is noticeable. Drawing with your finger on the touch screen is instantaneous, like the stylus on a PDA, but impractical and with no place to rest your hand. The pen calibration, which can be customized, varies a bit at some edges, but is fine over the main area where drawing occurs. I can run PocketTopo from the SD card, and save data there. If the tablet fails, the SD card can be moved to a DEll Axim PDA and the survey continued. The tablet is the same size as a sheet of paper. A waterproof soft case is available online for $15.00.
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Re: DistoX tablet question

Postby kevinm » Aug 13, 2014 12:04 am

Is anyone else having trouble keeping their Windows 8.1 device connected via Bluetooth to the DistoX2? I get it to pair, and it is connected for a short while, then it disconnects.
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Re: DistoX tablet question

Postby Martin Sluka » Aug 13, 2014 3:09 am

lleblanc wrote:it's probably easier on the tablet battery to input your numeric data and sketch in a PDA running Auriga (some PDAs last over 20 hours on a single charge). Back at (underground?) camp, you can export it all to your tablet through a memory card or a Bluetooth transmission in Compass (DAT) or Walls (SRV) and SVG files, and then refine your sketches in Illustrator.

As allways, Luc, you forgot mention Therion. As export from Auriga, which I hope, works well so possibility to edit exported data in Therion what is 10 times faster then in Illustrator. :wink:
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Re: DistoX tablet question

Postby lleblanc » Aug 13, 2014 4:04 am

Martin Sluka wrote:
lleblanc wrote:it's probably easier on the tablet battery to input your numeric data and sketch in a PDA running Auriga (some PDAs last over 20 hours on a single charge). Back at (underground?) camp, you can export it all to your tablet through a memory card or a Bluetooth transmission in Compass (DAT) or Walls (SRV) and SVG files, and then refine your sketches in Illustrator.

As allways, Luc, you forgot mention Therion. As export from Auriga, which I hope, works well so possibility to edit exported data in Therion what is 10 times faster then in Illustrator. :wink:


The Therion folks are lucky to have you patrol forums to make sure Therion gets mentioned every time it should (and sometimes shouldn't ;) even if 7 months late...

You'll be happy to learn that the upcoming new Auriga release implements the import of Therion .th files (the export to Therion .th files was implemented in December 2012, and extended to .txt files in May 2013). For good measure, and to not let down your old friend Jeff, it will also add the import of Walls files, thus making it symetric (imports = exports).
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Re: DistoX tablet question

Postby Martin Sluka » Aug 13, 2014 4:41 am

lleblanc wrote:The Therion folks are lucky to have you patrol forums to make sure Therion gets mentioned every time it should (and sometimes shouldn't ;) even if 7 months late…

And? Is it not true? :grin: After 7 month as before 7 months? :wink:
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