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%% Calcomp DrawingBoard III                             by John Collier %%

After reading the last AMReport (2.05), about how they aren't getting many
user  submissions, I decided to try and help out and write an article. 
My spelling and grammer aren't the greatest and I don't write often but 
I figured if my favorite computer is to survive these days I need to be an
active supporter.  Before I start with my mini-review I would like to
describe my setup, I have an A4000/040 with 18megs ram, 2-Syquest 88's,
1-Maxtor 250meg HD, 1-Quantum 80meg HD, 1-Chinon 435 CDrom drive, 
1-Archive Viper SCSI Tape drive, 1-SupraFaxModem V.32bis, an A4091 Scsi II 
controller, GVP I/O board, Emplant Deluxe board, GVP Spectrum display board 
(great, unsupected, Christmas present from the folks) and a Calcomp 
DrawingBoard III (A great Christmas present to myself), and the subject of
my review.

Well with that said I would like to talk about my experiences with my
Calcomp DrawingBoard III.  I've always dreamed of having one of these babies,
it's much more natural to draw/paint with a pen than a mouse, I once heard, 
or read that doing artwork with a mouse is like drawing with a bar of soap, I
totally agree! I chose the Calcomp because it had all the features I wanted,
cordless pressure pen, cordless cursor, reasonable price, and most importantly 
it seemed to be well supported on the Amiga. In fact the included driver 
installed flawlessly and integrates perfectly with most of my Amiga software.

Upon first arrival I was disappointed to learn that it didn't come with a
cursor (they call it a cursor, I call it a mouse), just the pressure pen.  
I had assumed it came with both and I was quickly told, after calling my 
dealer, that the DrawingBoard III only comes with the pen.  Well, that
wouldn't do so I had to shell out $80 more to get the cordless cursor, a
very nice mouse, in fact, it feels much better in the hand than my Boing 
mouse.  My plans were to get rid of the Boing after I got the Calcomp up 
and running (since my Boing mouse pad has some badly worn spots on it) but 
I soon learned that wasn't to be.  It seems the Emplant software isn't 
compatible with the Calcomp Cursor, it will recognize button clicks but not
any movement of the mouse.  Also Prowrite 3.3.2 will not let me highlight 
text with the Calcomp mouse and games such as FighterDualPro II, which take 
over the system, do not recognize the Calcomp. So the bottom line is I must 
keep the Boing off to the side for these situations. The Tablet plugs into 
any of your Amiga's serial ports, I used one from my GVP I/O board.  As I 
said previously the software installer worked without a hitch and has a 
variety of different configurations, I mainly stuck with the defaults except 
for the data rate.  They recommeded setting it to the highest level if you 
had a 68040.

The Calcomp mouse and pen works fine with most of my software, including
Pagestream, PortalX, Aladdin, Typesmith, Art Expression, ADPro, ImageMaster 
R/T, DeluxePaint IV, all the EGS software, including Spectrum Paint. It 
didn't work properly with Prowrite 3.3.2, it won't let me highlight text
or properly pull down menus and games like FDPro II, which take over the
machine probably nuke the Calcomp driver (my untechnical opinion). The 
cordless pressure pen is fantastic for drawing but I find the speed of 
DPIV (v6) to be a big disappointment.  The pressure feature of DP is also 
messed up, it won't let you use the one pixel brush in the pressure mode. 
You have to start with the 4 pixel one, why?? I found myself using the EGS 
Spectrum Paint program more, even though it doesn't support the pressure 
feature, it also ran faster in 24bit 800x600 mode than DP did in 8bit 640x400 
and has a fantastic airbrush tool.  I guess I will be purchasing a more 
capable Paint program in the future, one that directly supports a pressure 
pen and doesn't move like a snail.

I have one complaint about how the tablet works with my workbench.  Only a
small area of the tablet is used for my Spectrum generated 800x600 intuition 
workbench  (around 2x2 inches), where is the whole tablet is used (12x12) 
for AGA generated screens and the EGS workbench.  I think this is probably 
not the Calcomp drivers fault but rather the way the Spectrum Workbench driver 
operates, although now that I'm used to it I rather like it.  It moves fast 
and you don't have to run the cursor 12 inches down your desk to get to the 
other side of your workbench :-)

Overall I think this tablet is great. It makes computer art a much more
pleasant experience.

                         John Collier

John Collier ** FAT AGNUS BBS 914-429-7765