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Repairing iGesture pads

Posted: 07 Feb 2007, 20:22
by TorbenGB
I'm posting this verbatim on behalf of Betty who can't register because the forum is currently acting up. Please reply by posting; I'll correspond with Betty as needed. - Torben

i have been a dedicated iGesture (and iNum) pad user for years, and bought as many of the units as i could before they went bankrupt. slowly, the units are wearing out. so i now have a large stack (approx one dozen) defective units, and only three working pads. am looking for someone to repair them, since i don't have enough technical smarts to do this. when my last three die, i don't know what i'm going to do .... i can't imagine going back to mouse...


Betty Kayton
Los Altos Hills, CA

Posted: 07 Feb 2007, 20:30
by TorbenGB
It was wise of you to buy spare iGestures, and also to keep those broken ones. I can't imagine how you can break so many??
- Can you give some explanation as to when/how this happens?
- What does the diagnostic say about the broken pads?
- Can you describe your everyday use, that might also help us?
(Please note we're also just users, not FingerWorks technicians, but perhaps one of us has some idea about this.)


Posted: 07 Feb 2007, 22:12
Crikey, Betty may be the Ultimate User with more boards than anybody else.
With three working ones she is doing great, but, yeah, broken boards are no good for anybody.

So, as Torben asks, How, What, Why?

Is it they just don't work or have the cables failed or are they partially dysfunctional? Did they suffer a static shock? What measures have you taken to revive them?

They are very hardy items, not much to go wrong other than the dreaded static shock or physically separating the pads from each other.

In any case, you have found a lot of sympathetic ears. I, for one, can't conceive of going back. I've never used a real mouse, before FW is was touchpads on laptops and before that it was a puck and digitizer board.

Posted: 07 Feb 2007, 23:14
by ivanw
OK Betty, I think that with this many defective devices you put on the table :shock: , it starts to make sense considering someone with proper technical skills and equipment would draw some business from a repair facility.

I think that any owner of a dysfunctional FingerWorks device would not miss a chance to have it repaired. As an alternative to the void, a single facility would make the difference, despite any shipping cost. :oops:

We've heard about some successful repairs around this forum. It would be nice to collect all the information in a single topic. This could help those most able to make good use of them to consider the situation. :idea:

I truly believe that all of us would take comfort from knowing that FW device trouble could mean just a problem to solve rather than a sentence to death. Image

Hey, Betty, you should take your shoes off when you operate MultiTouch technology with your feet. :wink:

Posted: 07 Feb 2007, 23:26
by TorbenGB
By the way, FingerWorks didn't go bankrupt; they were bought by Apple (so that they could build their shiny new iPhone). But that makes no real difference to us as we lose all hope of FingerWorks technical support/repair options either way :(

Posted: 09 Feb 2007, 07:32
by TorbenGB
Here's a reply from Betty:

torben asked how i use the iGestures. sorry to say that i don't use them for hockey pucks. nor (as ivanw suggests) do i stomp on them [grin]. i am just a normal, ordinary user. i work in finance, so i do a lot of typing and data entry. i use the iGesture pad on my LEFT hand (am right handed) to relieve the pain i had started feeling in my right hand from too much mousing/clicking.

in the beginning, i bought just one iNum pad, thinking it would last forever. after two weeks, i loved it so much that i bought two more units (so i'd have one at home, one at work, and one at an office i occasionally visited). after about three months, one morning my office one was totally dead. i unplugged/plugged the USB connector a few times. Windows saw the device and connected to it, but no matter what my fingers did on the surface -- nothing on the screen. so, i bought a second iNum pad. this one was DOA (dead on arrival). so, i bought a third one. it worked perfectly for.... about six months. and then one afternoon right in the middle of editing a document.... it completely stopped responding. just like the first one.

so i bought TWO iGesture pads (to keep one as a backup). each of them lasted 3-6 months. identical symptoms. one day each of them just gave up the ghost.

given this history........ when i heard the rumors of TouchStream's demise.... i bought as many units as i could find/afford. and i have been guarding the dead units carefully since i hoped someone could repair them eventually. except for two units that i threw out [sacrilege!] early on before i realized that i should keep the hulks.

interestingly enough... all of the dead units died at my office, when plugged into the back of an IBM ThinkPad docking station. the home unit (connected to the same laptop, but through a 4-port MinView KVM switch) never died (it's been working fine for 4+ years). and it was just the main office one that kept dying. wait a minute, there was one other dead one. when i moved out of my second office, i put the iGesture pad in a box with keyboard, mouse and other stuff i was moving out of there. a few weeks later, i went to use the pad, and it was dead. maybe something shook loose when i transported the unit home? i didn't know they needed to be treated with TLC -- i just dumped it into the box. now i'm feeling like a murderer that i probably killed it from carelessness.

RAFH asked if the units were separated. i never even thought this was an issue, so the dead ones are stored in a nice, neat little stack. and i think at some point i had the good ones stacked up too. nobody ever warned me that this was bad! (boo hoo, am i the one resposible for murdering my own iGesture pads?). RAFH: i assume you are saying that It_Is_Not_A_Good_Thing to touch one unit to another -- are there any other rules to help prolong the lifespan of my geriatric units?

RAFH asked what steps i took to repair them. aside from prayer.... the only thing i tried was two years ago,someone suggested i gently flex the edges of the board so it was slightly curved. i tried this on one unit. no change.

torben asks: "what does the diagnostic say about the broken pads". at the risk of exposing my ignorance (too late!)..... i don't know what diagnostics you're referring to. the info is probably on the forum website, but it's sick so i keep getting error messages...... could someone please send the URL to link to diagnostics?

i love the idea of setting up a repair facility. i read a lot of suggestions on the forum on how to fix things, but even though i DO know which end of a soldering iron is hot..... i wouldn't want to risk being the incompetent repair person for my sick babies. i'd pay $100 per unit to get my dead ones repaired. this could be some seed money to start a repair facility....... i bet that the fingerfans would flock to this resource if it were made available

my email is and mobile is 650.255.1712. i'll keep sending posts through torben so they can get onto the main forum page.

and my deepest appreciation to everyone for keeping this forum/information alive and flowing! i'm wondering if anyone knows of a tech that worked at Fingerworks that wants to fix these things as a hobby? or if anyone knows someone at apple that we could convince to champion our cause and do the repairs...... just think of the publicity they would get from the disgruntled FingerFans if they provided a for-charge repair facility!

Posted: 09 Feb 2007, 09:14
by TorbenGB
Betty wrote:after about three months ... totally dead. i unplugged/plugged the USB connector a few times.
This is a good first step, and if that didn't work, then our usual suggestion would also not help: we call it the hand slap when you place your entire flat hand on the surface and lift it again -- like a finger touch, but with your flat hand (or as much as will fit on the surface). The cursor would then briefly move in a plus-shaped pattern to show you it has reset. This would remove any static electricity build-up that is the main cause of trouble.

You should try to "slap" the pad like this, but 5 times in a row. You should see the "plus" cursor movement each of the five times and then it will be unresponsive for 15 seconds. That causes a "deeper" reset action that might revive trickier issues.
- Try this on some of your dead touchpads too, just to be sure, but I don't expect them to magically work again. I suspect there's more needed. But let's see!

Betty wrote:all of the dead units died at my office ... [the one at home has] been working fine for 4+ years
It seems to me that there is something in the work environment that causes the unusual amount of malfunctions.
- Office carpeting? That could cause high levels of static electricity to build up in your body, and when you return to your PC and touch the pad, it can get zapped and need a hand slap, possibly but rarely even zapped to death. Just one theory.
- Cell phone near the unit or the cable? It's not confirmed dangerous but cell phone signals can disrupt the operation of the touchpad. Keep your cell phone 1-2ft. away from the touchpad+cable. Especially when it gets a call. But a hand slap should fix it, so it's not the likely cause.
- Neon lighting? A long shot, but if there's a desk lamp very near (1-2ft) then it might interfere like the cell phone. But a hand slap should fix it, so it's not the likely cause.

I'm a little surprised that you didn't do a lot to troubleshoot (email FW support?) or fix the units when they failed but just bought new ones. Still, you must be convinced as otherwise you would have abandoned the products. You should dig out the manual now and read the part about care and troubleshooting. It might help you be better prepared with your still-working units.

Betty wrote:maybe something shook loose when i transported the unit home?
Actually, the iGestures are rather sturdy. There are some tiny electronic compontents that might fall off if the iGesture is handled roughly, but I doubt that you would be just so careless.

We fingerfans have become touchy especially because the double-size keyboard is much more vulnerable to transportation problems. But when you transport an iGesture carelessly, at most you would risk surface scratches that are harmless to the product but possibly annoying to you. However, be careful about the cable!! It's not as soft as a mouse cord, and too tight bends may cause real damage. (I remember pulling a mouse out of a cluttered box just by tugging its cord -- never do that with an iGesture!)

Loving fingerfans never transport the units if it can be avoided, and when necessary, then always in antistatic bags wrapped in bubble-wrap. That might be overdoing it but it won't hurt so I highly recommend it, given that replacements aren't available.

Betty wrote:the dead ones are stored in a nice, neat little stack. and i think at some point i had the good ones stacked up too. i assume you are saying that It_Is_Not_A_Good_Thing to touch one unit to another
Relax -- stacking and touching is not the least dangerous as far as I know! I think RAFH refers to the TouchStream keyboards because they are actually two iGestures with a rather delicate cable connecting them. As for general rules, I've mentioned some tips already (avoid static, cell phones, mistreating the cable).

Betty wrote:someone suggested i gently flex the edges of the board so it was slightly curved. i tried this on one unit. no change.
I hope I didn't understand this right but I'd say that was even a lucky outcome! Don't tamper physically with the units... they are delicate pieces of electronics.

Betty wrote:i don't know what diagnostics you're referring to.
Let's take this one step at a time. With evey unit there is an installation CD-ROM, but the unit might work even without installing anything, so perhaps you're not familiar with the software on that CD-ROM. The software includes drivers, but it also includes a diagnostic program tha might tell us more about your defective units!

So, if you just bought it and plugged it into the computer then it will probably work, so if you never installed any software then you wouldn't know what I'm talking about.

If you did install the software, you still might never have seen it because the iGesture just works, so you never had a reason to actually use the software.

You can dowload the software from our website. (This link is the software without Java. If the installation complains about missing Java, just mail me and I will provide the solution.) By the way, sharing this software is legal. Once it's installed, there is a new group FingerWorks in your Start menu. Start the Utilities and a windw with four large colorful buttons appears. Click the one named Diagnostics and a window opens. Now click the button RUN Diagnostics.... In the black area, you will be told if it passes or if there are errors. This is a normal text field, so you can select the text and copy it into a mail or into Word. In Word, add the serial number that¨s printed on the bottom of the iGesture. It should look like this:

Code: Select all

Reading diagnostics...

Diagnostic Report for iGesture NumPad USB  ver 1.6:
All sensor array tests PASSED!
Loaded 431 Key/Gesture Mappings SUCCESFULLY
Testing Complete.
Now you can collect the diagnostics for each unit: Unplug your iGesture and plug in one of the others. Wait 20 seconds to let Windows recognize it, then press the RUN button again. You get a new diagnostic result that you can also copy into Word along with the serial number (so you can tell your results apart later). Repeat this for as many units as you like, then send us the Word file so we can help you.

Betty wrote:i love the idea of setting up a repair facility ... i'm wondering if anyone knows of a tech that worked at Fingerworks that wants to fix these things as a hobby? or if anyone knows someone at apple that we could convince to champion our cause and do the repairs
We all do, but we aren't FW experts enough to make it happen, and sometimes replacement parts are needed (special chips and stuff) that just isn't available. And Apple has put a very tight leash on all FW staff, so it's looking bleak. That's why we are all so over-cautious about our units!

the latest chapter in the iGesture saga

Posted: 10 Feb 2007, 21:30
by betty
i wrote a long post this morning, and thought it was successfully posted to the forum, but it seems to have gone missing. so i'm trying to remember what i wrote. forgive me if this all turns up twice on the forum.

i went to the attic this morning and brought down my stack of dead iGestures. tried all of the stuff everyone so generously suggested on the forum (Fingerfans are super, and i'm honored to be welcomed into the family).

good news: one of the iGestures was resurrected by a five-time-slap.

bad news: none of the others even register on windows when i plug them into the USB port. it's just as if they aren't even plugged in.

i spent some time reading all the stuff on the forum about repairs. although i know which end of a soldering iron is hot, i don't feel comfortable tampering with electronics that are delicate enough that even you folks have challenges with it. i also couldn't find any tests which i can run on the iGesture when even Windows doesn't know it's there. i tried the iGestures on several machines (both naked, and behind a powered MinView KVM switch), but they were as inert as bricks.

since i can't contribute technical stuff to the forum, i was trying to think of how i could help the community. as a finance person, money and systems are my forte. and from a selfish viewpoint, i have a bunch of dead units i'd like to get fixed. and i'm sure lots of other folks have currently dead (or soon-to-be-dead) units for repair.

what i'd like to propose to the group is that we find someone (one of us? a college kid?) to set him/herself up in the TS/FW repair biz. we could fund the purchase of the test equipment, parts, etc. and then this person could make money charging people for repairs, and would repay the seed/repair money as part of the repair business. for example, if it takes $1K in set-up costs, and if the Repair_God charged $200 per repair, then we could ask the Repair_God to repay $75 of each repair toward the $1K set-up until it was paid off in full. After that, the Repair_God would keep all of the money he/she charged. [the dollar amounts i used are purely hypothetical since I have no idea what the right numbers are]

I'd be willing to bankroll this process (if the set-up cost isn't too high) if anyone wants to become Repair_God. And if we don't know anyone who wants to become Repair_God, then since I'm in Silicon Valley, maybe i can find a college kid who'd like to start a repair biz in his/her dorm room. i'd appreciate some feedback from the group if this is a good idea, if there are any nominees for Repair_God, and the price that fingerfans would be willing to pay to fix the dead units.

i found a retailer that claims to have a half dozen broken iGesture pads. and perhaps some TS keyboards. if we go ahead with this repair scheme, we could buy these and see if they are repairable, or usable for parts.

on a related topic, i noticed on the forum that folks were looking for the FWSEN16A chip. google led me to who claims to have 230 chips. i sent a request for his price if we buy all of them. if the group thinks this is a good idea, i'd say "thanks" to the group (for helping me resurrect one of my iGestures) by buying the lot (if it's not too expensive), and then reselling them (one at a time, at cost -- no markup) to people that need them. this assumes, of course, that someone_with_technical_smarts can confirm that these are the right chips. and not just useless plastic.

as long as i don't lose too much money (and i can get a chance to have my units repaired), i'll bankroll the adventure. the way i look at it, if i can get three more working iGestures.... and they worth let's say $400 each, it would cost me $1,200 to buy them on eBay. so if i can put this same money into seeding a repair project that will benefit everyone..... it's a good deal all around.

i'm waiting in breathless anticipation to hear the forum's reaction to setting up a repair depot. and even more breathlessly i'm waiting to hear from someone that wants to become Repair_God. money ain't gonna solve the problem. we need a smart person to dig into the electronics.

Posted: 11 Feb 2007, 05:35
by TorbenGB
It's great to hear that you could revive a unit. That made the exercise worthwhile already!

Those other units... when they don't even show up in any form in Windows, it's bad. One last simple thing to check is the USB cable: does it look smooth, or has it been bent too violently at some point? Let the cable slide between two fingers from end to end; that way you can fess any cinches that might be hidden underneath the outer plastic. Pay special attention to where it attaches to the casing.
- If so, it might be possible to "just" replace the USB cable.
- If not, then it would appear to be a bigger problem for which I have no more tips or solutions left over... :(

Posted: 12 Feb 2007, 09:02
Aloha Betty,

I can't speak for the others but I am 100% with you in all you suggest. I tried to buy some of the chips from the Orient, but was never able to complete a transaction. I would ask for the price and they'd say to send the money. I'd ask how much and they'd say to send the money. It just went around like that. I'd ask how much to send and they'd say to send the money. I can only assume it was a communication problem.

Any way, I'll support any venture you propose. I can't but help believe these boards are treasures in and of themselves and they should be preserved if at all possible. Plus I'll never learn how to go back to a mouse and keyboard so I'll do about anything to keep mine working or obtain new ones.

Unfortunately there are only so many ever made and they are slowly disappearing. I sincerely doubt they will ever be made again. That's sad but its also true.

I have three TouchStreams and one I-Gesture pad.

Hopefully we can work something out. I don't know if there would be enough money in repairing them to support someone but it might be enough as a side line.

Does anyone have any idea of how many boards are out there?

Posted: 12 Feb 2007, 11:24
by TorbenGB
I have one TSLP (Danish layout, which makes it rather unique) and one iGesture NumPad that has occasional glitches. I sold one other NumPad at retail price before I knew about these glitches. Agony!
RAFH wrote:Does anyone have any idea of how many boards are out there?
No, nobody knows for certain. Only FW would know and they no longer exist and ex-employees are gagged. But I think it's safe to assume that there were less than a total of 10 000 units sold, and perhaps (likely??) even less than 1000 in total.

Consider that this forum has about 5 active members and around 30 in total. Given the passion that owners exhibit, we would have heard from a lot more people if there were thousands out there, I believe. So perhaps a pessimistic guess puts us at a (few) hundred active users in all.

Not a big market, no matter how brilliant the products actually are. I also doubt that such a line of products will reappear within the next 10 years.

... depressing, isn't it?

Posted: 12 Feb 2007, 15:04
by jmadison
... depressing, isn't it?

Yes.... very much so...


Posted: 12 Feb 2007, 23:05
by ivanw
pythagoras wrote:Product Troubleshooting -> Fruitful TouchStream Repair Tactics
Despite appearances, some of us fought hard behind the scenes for a smoother FingerWorks ending, but, if anything, probably made it worse. Even with the benefit of hindsight, we might not manage to thread the chaos of cash, investors, legal and production constraints to shutdown smoothly in such a brief time frame. But FingerWorks took a fork in the road in the hopes of a greater good in the long term. So buck up, try to keep your TouchStreams working, and give up the gloomy talk about history being stopped. It's just on pause ... for a long while ...
:!: pythagoras contributed only for 2 posts in a single thread of this forum
:wink: His profile's interest is enough to tell who he is...
:?: Could someone follow the tracks and expose them here...
:idea: If not, I will explain what I have in mind.

Posted: 13 Feb 2007, 09:19
by aegis

Posted: 13 Feb 2007, 09:45
by ivanw

keep your fingers crossed

Posted: 13 Feb 2007, 16:24
by betty
what the heck, we have nothing to lose by trying. i sent the following email to Westerman (using the contact info Aegis so kindly provided). if i don't hear anything back from Westerman, i'll try other avenues to get into Apple's iPhone group. if nothing else -- i can drive over there and camp in the parking lot [grin]

snippet of email to Wayne Westerman:

"i'm one of the folks that "discovered" Fingerworks many years ago, and have been pain-free ever since i switched to the iGesture (and iNum) pads (soon after they were introduced). when my iGesture pad died, i contacted the Fingerfan forums, but apparently nobody has set up a repair facility for the products. i'm sort of a self-appointed ringleader of the Fingerfans who are trying to figure out a repair solution. i'm based in Silicon Valley, so i'm hoping to find a solution here for all of the Fingerfans everywhere who have broken units.

as one of Fingerworks' founders and a (hopefully former) sufferer of RSI, i hope that you can help us in our effort to set up a repair facility to keep these products working as long as possible. comments from other Fingerfans basically echo the same sentiments: "i can't imagine going back to an old keyboard/mouse again". we're willing to do whatever it takes to get this going: purchase of test/repair equipment, spare parts, repair manuals, etc. perhaps you could put us in touch with a repair tech that worked at Fingerworks (and who wants to make some spare income on the side), or perhaps help us with a repair manual, schematics, pointers as to where to find spare parts, etc. we Fingerfans have a sizable number of units with various problems ranging from 'totally unresponsive' to irratic behavior and sector abnormalities.

the rumors are that you are at apple. whether or not this is true, apple is getting some horrible publicity regarding the inability to repair Fingerworks devices. if apple were to assist us Fingerfans, they would get some great publicity instead. and they would help the Fingerfans who are becoming desperate as we wonder about how our hands will survive the pending demise of our cherished input devices.

we would appreciate whatever you can do to help. my contact information follows; feel free to share it with anyone that could be of assistance."

Posted: 13 Feb 2007, 18:36
by ivanw
You're right Betty, it can't hurt us to ask. But it could hurt him...

Think about it from the perspective of somebody whose part of his very existence has been obliterated for a price. It's like FingerWorks has never been part of his universe now. For a conclusion, it's likely he won't understand what you're talking about.

For the time being, :twisted: rules our world with money.


Posted: 14 Feb 2007, 02:23
by Minox
I would be willing to check out one of your pads that doesn't power up. I have dismantled both an iGesture numpad and Touchstream LP.

I added a mini-USB port to the numpad (soon to be on ebay as I need money) and repaired the ribbon on the LP. Additionally, I purchased a MacNTouch with 2 damaged cables and I fixed it by making one from scratch.

I have read and understand the tech tips that are on our forums and will offer to check out one of the units that doesn't power on. First I'll check non-invasively and then after communicating my finding would dive in with your blessing.

let me know your thoughts...

Located in NY

minox -- would love your help

Posted: 14 Feb 2007, 03:32
by betty
would love your input on one of the non-responsive iGestures. i realize you're not doing it purely for love -- what would it cost (a) just to look, and (b) if you fix it? we can either continue this repair discussion on the forum, or you can email/call me about it. or 650.255.1712

i don't know protocol for buying and selling numpads, but i would be interested in buying it, either through eBay or privately (if buying stuff on this forum isn't breaking the form's rules).

Re: minox -- would love your help

Posted: 14 Feb 2007, 09:11
by TorbenGB
betty wrote:would be interested in buying it, either through eBay or privately (if buying stuff on this forum isn't breaking the form's rules).
We support trade -- we even have a "marketplace" forum. I'd be interested too, since my only iGesture is acting up... but let's not have a fight :)


Posted: 14 Feb 2007, 13:39
by Minox
Well, knowing that there is the chance I am unable to fix the iGesture. Let us work off the assumtion that I will receive nothing if I fix nothing. To be fair I would also have to have some sort or liability if I destroy it. I know what I am doing and honestly feel that wouldn't happen. I just want to be fair and have everyone involved feel protected.

I do not know what to offer if I were to destroy one. I mean, honestly, you can't break something that is already broken. What value do you all feel the already broken pads would hold in terms of reparation?

Additionally, If a repaired unit is returned back to it owner what cost do you feel is fair for the effort I put forth?

Regarding the NumPad... It is actually a fun project that I had :-) I purchased an IGesture Keyboard with attached NumPad - serial number 9304-4215 (C2).

I proceeded to make the following changes:

- Removed the iGesture NumPad and removed the 3" pigtail USB cable.
- I replaced the USB cable with a 5 pin MiniUSB port (often times seen on Cameras and Cell Phones)
- I cleaned off the back of the PCB and insulated it with Kapton tape.
- I covered the entire underbody with high strength adhesive backed Velcro. I covered the Mating plate it was glued to on the Keyboard with the opposite Velcro.

Thus making it removable/portable. Since you can now use the keyboard with attached iGesture NumPad via it's built in hub. But when you want to travel can remove the iGesture and unplug the USB cable to not damage either when packaged away. I recently purchased a retractable USB cable (which has yet to arrive) so that it can be further portable.

I will post pictures when I get the chance to

Mind you there are some photos of the process there already. Sorry they are a bit blurry.

fixing iGesture

Posted: 14 Feb 2007, 16:16
by betty
does $200 sound right for repair cost? it's about half of what seems to be a fair "if working" price.

and if you wreck it -- i recommend public flogging or hanging (after being tarred and feathered). no treatment is too viscious for someone that destroys a work of art. [big grin]

Posted: 14 Feb 2007, 16:46
by TorbenGB
In that case I suggest we tar, feather & flog Betty once for each destruction of ... how many did you say you wrecked, Betty?

[big grin right back atcha!]


Posted: 14 Feb 2007, 22:56
by Minox
I will accept your terms... Mind you I would like to point out that even being very careful, as mentioned by Fingerworks staff, the fingers that hold the casing together may snap. The case can be held together with a dab of glue but I cannot guarantee the black housings. I will of course do my best but, one never knows. Additionally, I want to make a mold of a dismantled black case and recreate them in resin if possible. Then we could have a replenishable supply.

repairing iGesture pads

Posted: 15 Feb 2007, 01:39
by betty
i re-read your post. and it says: "i, minox, absolutely, positively guarantee that i will fix your igesture pad and it will be perfect."

seriously -- thanks for being so honest about what you can (and maybe can't) do. i trust you do to your best, and i hope that whatever is wrong with the pad is fixable.

to what address should i send it?