Fighting with computers

Computers are not always friendly.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Genius G-Note 5000

Some days ago I saw this nice gadget on the website of a distributor. I thought it might be a good idea: A notepad you take with you, you write as many pages as you want and, when you are back home you can download all your handwritten text or drawings.

Of course you can do this with a cheap scanner without having to recourse to buying any new hardware (provided you already own an scanner). However, what I was looking for when I learned about this product was a tablet for drawing.

The Genius G-Note series does both: You can use it off-line to write more than 100 pages in the built-in 32MB of flash memory and it can also be used online as a mouse substitute (or companion). I feel much more comfortable when writing and drawing with a pen than with a mouse.

The unit came with some Windows software which was ok. Without any software the tablet looks like a USB flash drive to your system where each page drawn shows as a different file. Filenames are numbered (i.e. BK-01-001.DNT, BK-01-002.DNT and so on). File format was unknown but a quick look at it suggested a sequence of waypoints representing what you drew was used. Included software allowed you to export either to PDF or JPEG file formats.

Four AAA batteries power the tablet and two button batteries power the black and red ballpens included with the unit. The color of the pen is kept on the archives, so the system output will look exactly the same what you wrote on the page. I am not yet sure how long batteries last, but manufacturer claims you can get 80 hours out of a battery set. The tablet unit also has several buttons to allow you create a new empty page, to delete a given page and to select the current page you want to be writing on.

Before trying to reverse-engineer the .DNT file format I thought it would be a good idea try to pull the information from the manufacturer. Of course I did google for that first, but my quest drew zero results. So I checked the "About ..." option on the software that came with the unit to learn that UC-Logic was the maker of the program. I looked for their support email address on the net and I sent them a message asking for the info. To my surprise, my message was answered promptly and I was provided with a two-pages long word file with all the details on the file format they use. It took me two hours of test to get a perl program that successfully converts a .DNT file to a .SVG file I can later manipulate with Inkscape. I keep each stroke as a different polyline.

Here you have the perl code. And, I almost forgot, the G-Note 5000 retails at $99, so I think it is a very good deal.

49 Comments:

  • At 1:59 am, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Hola, me ha interesado mucho este comentario, porque tambien he comprado esta tableta y me di cuenta que el programa que lee los archivos que se graban en la misma no se podian exportar vectorialmente, gracias por encontrar una solucion, lo malo es que no se nada de perl, no se programar absolutamente nada, podrias indicarme como hacer algun sencillo programa o pasarme el link de alguno para poder pasar los archivos de la tableta, te lo agradeceria muchisimo.

    hasta pronto. y la tarjeta esta ideal para ilustradores, no vale para mate painting, pero si para crear ilustraciones al detalle y de forma muy sencilla

     
  • At 2:01 am, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    ha por si acaso, soy el del comentario anterior, que no se nada de programacion, si quieres puedes alludarme enviandome un mail a quemeinteresa@yahoo.com.ar

    la cuenta parece rara, pero es real

     
  • At 2:05 am, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    well in bad english:

    i'm very insterested in your coment, a buy a g-Note tablet to.
    i don`t know anithing abaut programing, if you have a soft or can tell me how can i convert the files using your code, i'll really happy, thank you again for the amazing discoverying and sorry for my bad english

    my e-mail if you have something to tell me for help me is: quemeinteresa@yahoo.com.ar

     
  • At 3:58 pm, Blogger Miguel Sánchez said…

    Ok, so you do not have Perl or know how to get it for your Windows computer. Quite easy:

    Visit
    http://www.activestate.com/Products/ActivePerl/
    to get a Free copy of their Active Perl interpreter.

    To execute a Perl program (after installing the above package) you need to open a command box in Windows:

    Start/Excecute and type cmd and press enter.
    You'll get the old command line interface, then you need to type perl and next the name of your program.

    I reckon they also include perlcc which is a Perl compiler that will create an EXE file instead. (But I am afraid you still need to install Active Perl on any Windows PC you want to run your compiled EXE anyways).

    As you might notice my current code is only handling the black pen drawings.

     
  • At 5:17 pm, Blogger MarcoBruto said…

    Hi Miguel,
    I see from your posts that you are using Ubuntu, and besides, you own this nice gadget Genius G-Note 5000. Great! Since I am already using Ubuntu, have you managed to make them work together? That would be good news for me. Thanks

     
  • At 5:36 pm, Blogger Miguel Sánchez said…

    Hi Marco,

    I hope you'll read this message (your blogger profile is not public so I cannot retrieve your email).

    You are correct, I use Ubuntu and I made it to work with Genius G_note pad. You do not need any additional driver just some magic on the xorg.conf file:

    add

    InputDevice "pad" "SendCoreEvents"
    to your ServerLayout section
    and a add new device section>:

    Section "InputDevice"
    Identifier "pad"
    Driver "evdev"
    Option "Device" "/dev/input/event3"
    Option "Type" "pad"
    EndSection

    Please note to check the event tied to your pad (it might be different than event3). Do not forget to restart X11 after you've done the above changes to /etc/X11/xorg.conf. It is always wise to keep a copy of your old xorg.conf (just in case).

     
  • At 3:00 pm, Anonymous _Xoft(o) said…

    Hi,

    i've been looking for the format spec, too, but got no response from the UC-Logic guys. Could You please post the spec somewhere on the web, or at least email it to me?

    Thank You in advance,
    _Xoft(o), xoft (at) xoft (dot) cz

     
  • At 9:07 am, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Thanks so much for posting all of this information! I was looking for digital notepad, but I was worrying if it was going to be compatible w/ my mac/linux/windows setup. Now I know that the file format is just a simple svg translation and the device a standard mass storage device/digital pad!

     
  • At 1:58 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Hi
    I'm a user of G-note 5000
    I've used your script to translate
    the dct files to svg
    I think that you haven't used on it that
    A1 means black pen
    A5 means red pen
    So I've included that my a vb windows port of your program.

    By your code ,I think that you use the first 2 bits ofbyte(6)
    to read in "x"
    and third and forth bits and in "y".
    . But in my windows code, my program works perfectly without using that
    information.
    Can you send or post the DCT format information

     
  • At 4:07 pm, Blogger Jeff Burton said…

    Thanks so much for posting this. Are you familiar with the other digital notepads and their file formats (a number of companies seem to be selling similar devices from a single OEM, but they appear to be different from the genius product)?

     
  • At 2:34 pm, Blogger Javier said…

    Hi Miguel.
    I'm Javier Coronel from Spain too. For those of you intereseted, there is another manufacturer that uses the same hardware: LaPazz.
    It uses the same file format, and is provided with a write recognition software. It can convert your manuscript (including diagrams and pictures) into a PDF or a Word file, but it's only a demo version.

     
  • At 9:51 pm, Anonymous Dmitry said…

    Hello!
    Could you please send me the DNT file format specification or post it somewhere in the web?
    My e-mail is mo3r AT nm DOT ru
    Thanks in advance

     
  • At 6:13 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I have tested you converter on my G-Note. It have pens with two colors and 0xa1 - black and 0xa5 - red. After adding red pen it works just fine, but it would be very interesting to look at format definition as well. Send it me to.

    g1itch@i.ua
    Thanks

     
  • At 4:25 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Hello,

    I am interested in writing a conversion routine similar to your Perl conversion. Can you post a link to the .DNT specification? Also, your Perl code link is not active. i attempted to download your file "dnt2svg.pl" and it times out.

    Thank you,
    Chris

     
  • At 9:48 pm, Anonymous Enrique Zubiría said…

    Muchas gracias por el script, que me ha permitido utilizar el D-Note (mi tableta, aunque es el mismo hardware, es de la marca NGS y lo llaman así) desde Linux (Gentoo).

    Estoy interesado en continuar "jugando" con el formato DNT por lo que le agradecería que me enviase la especificación que UC-Logic le envió (ezubiriagonzalez AT gmail DOT com).

    Gracias,

    Enrique Zubiría

     
  • At 1:59 pm, Anonymous axi said…

    Here is a link to the D-Note Format
    http://lapazz.com/LP-Download/DNT_D-Note%20File%20Format%20v1.1.zip

     
  • At 2:01 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    http://lapazz.com/LP-Download/
    DNT_D-Note%20File%20Format%20v1.1.zip

     
  • At 5:03 pm, Blogger Miguel Sánchez said…

    Hi Axi,

    Thanks a lot for the link. I did not know about it and I am sure many other visitors will find it very useful.

    I did get that info but I was not told it was ok to publish it so published my source code instead. I'm glad all the full spec is available now for anybody to download.

     
  • At 8:00 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Hi,

    can anybody sent me an example .dnt file for test purposes?

    Thank You,

    support (ad) vectorpen.com

     
  • At 7:44 am, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Can someone help me please. I have G-Note 5000 and I run XP
    I installed the software but I can't use the pen
    I can write using the mouse but I want to use the pen

    thanks

     
  • At 10:30 am, Blogger Miguel Sánchez said…

    Have you tried powering down the unit and then connecting it to your PC running Windows?

     
  • At 10:24 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Hi Miguel What exactly do you mean ...powering down the unit and then connecting ?

    thanks

     
  • At 10:22 am, Blogger Miguel Sánchez said…

    Hi,

    Your tablet maybe on or off.

    I reckon that on one mode you connect it and you have access to the stored files as if it were a flash disk. I think it has to be off to obtain that behaviour.

    But if when you attach (connecting the USB to the PC) the tablet it is on (I reckon) then it will work as a pointer for your system (it did on my computer).

     
  • At 7:02 am, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Hi:
    I am a Math teacher in Guadalajara Mexico and want to buy one tablet like the 5000 to give my classes of algebra. It is possible that it recognizes the algebraic equations and convert them to Word?.

    If this is possible, could say to me like doing it. Thank you very much by its support.

    Rafael Salinas

     
  • At 10:37 pm, Blogger Miguel Sánchez said…

    I think it is possible to write software to do this.

    I know there is some software that does this but only with text (no math) and I do not know how reliable it is.

    I do not know any available software that can translate your math into word (or LaTeX for that matter).

     
  • At 8:49 am, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I am using G-Note 7000, which save the file as .TOP extension,
    My question is that “Is there a way or software which can convert the TOP image to Text file”?
    Your kind support is highly appreciated.
    Thank you

     
  • At 9:49 am, Blogger Miguel Sánchez said…

    Can you send me a sample file?

    Maybe they've only changed the extension but format is similar. I do not know.

     
  • At 7:44 am, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Dear Miguel Sánchez,
    Can i have your email id to send you the TOP extension file.

    Thank you.

     
  • At 8:57 am, Blogger Miguel Sánchez said…

    You can reach me at misan (at) disca.upv.es

     
  • At 8:22 pm, Blogger Viktor said…

    Script for conversion is perfect, thank you!

     
  • At 8:35 pm, Blogger Miguel Sánchez said…

    you're welcome

     
  • At 10:53 am, Blogger lukeo25 said…

    Wow you wrote a program or perl script i should say, but you didn't tell people how to use it ... is it perl your script.pl BK01-001.DNT or is it perl your script.pl BK01-001.DNT the svg file name. My money is on the Vb script guy. By the way Vb script guy, some of us are keen to get our hands on that. Can you post a link?. Oh and I have to correct a little grammar. Its amazing we are smart enough to use a computer and write software yet we use "anyways"..(its anyway)!!! no matter how you use it ( plural or singular ) and I think you mean anyhow. anyways

     
  • At 12:17 pm, Blogger Miguel Sánchez said…

    Hi,

    If you'd look at the script you'd see that the output is printed so the correct use is script.pl BK01-001.DNT > yourfile.svg

    You're right, it's a perl script, so it can also be invoked as perl script.pl

    More than two thousand people have downloaded the script so far. But it never occurred to me that the usage info was missing. Now that it is fixed, thanks.

    You're also right about the incorrect use of "anyways". I'm still learning the English language and I appreciate your comment.

    By the way, are you sure you meant "its" instead of "it's" in your sentence about grammar errors? :-)

    Please remember you can find above a link about the file format used so you can create your own version in your favorite language.

     
  • At 7:49 pm, Blogger lukeo25 said…

    Miguel,

    Very cool.

    I wasn't waving my finger at you about grammar. I was making a general remark about what "anyway" and "anyhow" mean and how people use them.

    Thanks for the script. It is great you are still helping everybody.

     
  • At 8:08 pm, Blogger Miguel Sánchez said…

    Lukeo25,

    I meant what I said: I appreciate your comment and your fix.

    It is said we learn from our mistakes.

    Many times readers do not point out errors and they stay there forever.

    Thanks,

    Miguel

     
  • At 5:09 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Hey! I'm a VB dude, Can anyone tell me if there is a way to use VB or .NET to read the DNT file!

    Thanks a lot!

     
  • At 5:14 pm, Blogger Miguel Sánchez said…

    Of course there is:

    You just need to adapt to the binary format which is documented here.

    In short, ignore the first 64 bytes and then read blocks of 8 bytes, each one will contain a new x,y coordinate (more details in the spec file above).

     
  • At 8:56 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Thank for your post!

    I was going trough that file, but still have some difficulty to follow since I’m a beginner in VB and .NET. but can you point me to some tutorial or sample VB code which could help me to read DNT file and for now just display in a box. Then I did some reading on reading binary data to VB still trying to understand all the decoding and coding the data so….would appreciate if you could point me in the right direction or sample code…lol :-)! Then when I keep Google I still have no luck!

     
  • At 12:16 am, Blogger Miguel Sánchez said…

    You can read this article, it shows how you can define fixed size data structures to be used to read from a binary file in VB.

    I hope it helps.

     
  • At 11:28 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    how can i draw with it in photoshop?in win 7?i can do nothing with this tablet seems useless

     
  • At 11:57 pm, Blogger Miguel Sánchez said…

    I got this tablet to work as a mouse (when connected to the PC).

    I have not tried it with win 7, but if you power it on while connected to USB and you do not get it to move your cursor maybe this feature is not win 7 compatible.

     
  • At 4:39 pm, Blogger ?????????? said…

    Heyy Miguel,

    I am trying do what many others here were trying. I am trying to come up with VB code to convert the DNT file to JPG or BMP. Your links to file definitions archive file seem to be broken. Same with the link to perl code. Could you please re-upload both?

    Thanks in advance!

     
  • At 10:14 pm, Blogger Miguel Sánchez said…

    Sorry about the broken links. I do not have the documentation at hand now, but you can get the source code from here

     
  • At 7:57 pm, Blogger ?????????? said…

    Thanks a lot.

    With your script I ran into two problems. First of all, in the SVG file the image appears to be rotated counter-clockwise by 90 degrees. Secondly, the SVG output seem to be truncated.

    Here are the svg files created using script and using the digital organizer utility:

    Please take a look ...

    http://www.filefactory.com/file/cebdfea/n/Converted_using_Digital_organizer.svg

    http://www.filefactory.com/file/cebdfe6/n/Converted_using_perl_script.svg

     
  • At 10:51 pm, Blogger Miguel Sánchez said…

    Sorry, I could not load any of the two files you mentioned.

     
  • At 5:00 am, Blogger ?????????? said…

    Ohh sorry about that, Miguel.
    How shall i sent the files to then? Recommend any sites available there?

     
  • At 7:48 am, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    ou can email it to hj43us -at- gmail.com

     
  • At 6:48 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Hi Miguel,
    I've sent the files to the above mentioned email address. Hope to hear fro you soon. Thanks in advance ...

     
  • At 8:39 pm, Blogger Miguel Sánchez said…

    @Suraj: Both of the files you sent me have the top left corner missing. It does not seem to matter what software you use for the conversion, so I guess that if you wrote in that area and it does not show up it might be a problem with your hardware.

    You may want to try a systematic approach to determine if certain area of your unit is not sensitive to your writing.

    Achieving a 90 degree rotation is very easy using software like inkscape. It depends what usage you favor (portrait or landscape).

     

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