How to make the Surface Pro pen better

Discussion in 'Microsoft Surface Pro' started by bill-p, Aug 21, 2013.

  1. bill-p

    bill-p New Member

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    I had to register just to say this...

    I was extremely frustrated with the Surface Pro stock pen. The plastic tip slides on the screen very easily and gives little friction so drawing and writing requires a lot more control than I'm used to.

    Then I read tips about the Bamboo Feel pen from Wacom that has a different soft rubber tip that's supposed to give better resistance on the glass screen. So I purchased the Bamboo Feel pen, and sure enough, it was better. In fact, it was also more accurate than the stock pen.

    But since the Bamboo pen does not have a magnetic strip, it needs to be stored elsewhere, and not along with the Surface Pro. I found myself constantly leaving it at home since I could never remember to slot it in the bag the next morning. Especially if I was in a hurry.

    So I was still stuck with the stock pen for the most part, since it's just easy to attach it to the tablet.

    Today, I was curious, so I tried to take the nib off of the stock pen. If it's a Wacom pen, I should be able to change the nib, right? To my surprise, I was able to take it off. So... yeah, you can replace the nib of the stock pen!

    Wow! But then... what nib fits? I have a Wacom Cintiq 13HD handy, and it came with a bunch of different nibs, so I tried those first. None of them fit. The Surface Pro pen had too small an opening.

    Then I remembered the Wacom Feel stylus came with some replacement nibs of its own, so I took them out and tried to put them in, only to realize... it's too short! In fact, I pushed the nib in so far that it disappeared inside the hole.

    Out of sheer frustration, I took the Surface Pro pen to the toolshed, took out some sand papers, and... I started shaving off the tip. I thought that maybe I could shave the tip enough that I could pry out the nib that was stuck inside. After a few minutes, I was able to test my theory. I shaved down enough of the tip that the nib was exposed, and I could take it out easily. Unfortunately, I also killed the nib in the process. Part of the nib was shaved off with the sanding, and the prying caused a huge opening in the middle that snapped the nib in half. But my misfortune didn't stop there. When I put the stock nib back in, it stuck out farther than last time. It seems I overdid the shaving.

    Curious... I put a new Bamboo Feel tip back in. And this time, it fit!

    I tried the "new pen" out, and... wow... the new tip is soft and resistive, almost like fine markers, or a very well-used pencil. And best of all, accuracy improved by quite a lot. So much that I think this may well be the best I have ever gotten out of the Surface Pro. That includes all of the crazy calibrations and drivers and troubles I had to go through.

    And then I found out... I can buy replacement Bamboo Feel nibs from Wacom for something like $5 a pack.

    You can guess the rest. I think I've made my Surface Pro pen inherently more usable... and re-usable, since I can now use official Wacom nibs with it.

    My Wacom Cintiq 13HD is still better as a tool, but the Surface Pro is close enough to it now that I don't miss the Cintiq anymore when I go roaming.

    So I thought I'd share this for those who may be interested in getting more out of their Surface Pro. It's now my favorite tool for sketching and light drawings!
     
    Last edited: Aug 21, 2013
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  2. jimsmart

    jimsmart New Member

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    Let me see if I get this right. You sand off the tip of the stylus and then put the bamboo nib in? How much do you need to shave off the tip to get the bamboo nib to go from disappearing to being perfect?
     
  3. bill-p

    bill-p New Member

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    That's right. Actually, I had a Bamboo nib in there first. With the pen at stock, the nib would actually go in too far, and it would get stuck in there. A part of the nib would still be outside, though. But it's so small that I couldn't grab it even with a tweezer.

    So I sanded the tip... carefully, with the nib still inside. It took just a few minutes, so I don't think I shaved off much at all. Probably 2-3mm at most.

    Let me see if I can take some photos...
     
  4. Lolvo

    Lolvo New Member

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    My Device:
    RT
    I like these kinds of modifications; taking something good and making it great through trial and error. Thanks for sharing this with us - if I had a Pro, I would definitely be doing this tomorrow.

    As for myself...I hate commonplace styluses with a passion. The rubber tips are too big, too soft, not precise, provide terrible feedback, and are simply pointless to use for any real work. While I have not used the pen for the SP, I look at it and say "now that's the type of stylus I want!" - small, precise tip with good interaction and feedback from the screen. I just wish I could find something similar for my RT..*hint hint*
     
  5. bill-p

    bill-p New Member

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    Alright. Here you go. Some photos so you have a better idea.

    Comparison, stock nib vs Bamboo nib. You can see that stock nib is visibly longer than Bamboo nib.

    [​IMG]

    Stock nib in Bamboo pen. Notice how it sticks out.

    [​IMG]

    Bamboo nib in Bamboo pen. Super fit.

    [​IMG]

    Bamboo pen with Bamboo nib in comparison to Surface Pro pen... now sanded, and see how Bamboo nib fits perfectly.

    [​IMG]

    Close-up of the sanded tip. I made it slightly rounded so that it wouldn't grind against the screen at off angles. Also just because it makes the pen look better.

    [​IMG]

    And there you have it.

    You don't need the Bamboo Feel stylus at all. Just the nibs. Nibs are $5 from Wacom, so... if you know you'll be drawing and writing a lot, better stock up!
     
  6. mitchellvii

    mitchellvii Well-Known Member

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    You'd think MS would have thought to include a variety of nibs with our $1200 tablets but they pulled off all the pen nibs guys and put them on making the kickstand sound super awesome when you close it because we all know THAT'S what sells tablets.

    Maybe that's why Surface sales went "thunk"?
     
  7. Sher the Love

    Sher the Love Member

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    Just did this to my pen. worked great. Thanks!
     

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