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View Full Version : Anyone know anything about touchscreen monitors?



Scott Shepherd
05-03-2012, 7:23 PM
I picked up a used touchscreen monitor in hopes of playing with the idea of using it on some of our equipment. Either the lasers or the CNC router. They guy was most helpful and said if it didn't work, he'd give me my money back and left all his contact details with me, so I think I've got nothing to lose (especially since I didn't pay much for it).

It's a ELO touchscreen monitor.

Out of the bottom, there is the blue, VGA plug and a green 9 pin serial plug. The guy said "You'll have to buy that touchscreen cable from ELO", which is the green one.

We called ELO and asked if the cable was special and they said it was just a straight through 9 pin. Cool, we have those.

I don't understand how it's supposed to be hooked up (mainly because of the instructions the guy told me). Am I supposed to hook up the VGA to the VGA on the computer and then the serial to the serial on the computer? Is that how those things work? He indicated that you didn't use the VGA, just the green serial connection. But I can't see how plugging a serial connection into the serial port is going to drive video. So am I right in thinking that you have to hook up both of them, one cable drives the video and the serial actually handles the touchscreen part of it?

I've never seen one or played with one before, so it's all greek to me.

Graham Wintersgill
05-03-2012, 7:41 PM
Scott

Never used one but imagine you would need both cables, 1 for the video and the serial cable to send the touch screen inputs to the computer.

Manufacturers website with destructions and drivers http://www.elotouch.com/Products/LCDs/default.asp

Regards

Graham

Jerrimy Snook
05-03-2012, 7:45 PM
Steve,

I have an ELO touchscreen on one of my saw grinders. The VGA goes to VGA and serial to serial. It would work as a monitor without the serial plugged in but nothing works without the VGA connection. I have had this one for almost 8 years and the only issue I have is that there is some burn-in from some of the graphics. It shows essentially the same image 50 hours a week.

Phil Thien
05-03-2012, 8:08 PM
But I can't see how plugging a serial connection into the serial port is going to drive video. So am I right in thinking that you have to hook up both of them, one cable drives the video and the serial actually handles the touchscreen part of it?

I've never seen one or played with one before, so it's all greek to me.

Correct. The VGA gives you the video signal, the serial is used to emulate (sort of) a mouse. So you need to plug them both in, and then you need to load some additional software (drivers) that emulate a mouse to the O/S.

Matt Meiser
05-03-2012, 11:10 PM
ELO is pretty standard too so the drivers shouldn't be hard to find.

But, I've built touch-friendly applications before. There's a lot to think about and if your software isn't designed for it it may not be very usable.

Jessica Pierce-LaRose
05-03-2012, 11:54 PM
As others have said, that's how all the ones at work (semiconductor fab) function - two cables, one for video, one for the touch interface. Drivers are necessary. On the more modern machines we use, the drivers sort of emulate a mouse. (We have some pretty old machines running custom dedicated software rather than a standard OS - things get weird there.)

As Matt said, if the software isn't designed for it, it can be a pain. Not that you probably couldn't get it to work in some fashion, just that it's probably not going to be ideal - the wrong tool for the job. Imagine trying to do a spreadsheet or your taxes on the computer, but having to touch all the tiny little boxes before you could type in them. And then having to punch in little numbers on a tiny little keypad that pops up. That's akin to some of the worst I've worked with - not a great description, but I'm having a hard time putting it into words. It's almost like trying to set an old digital watch with your thumb, where you might normally use a pen to hit the buttons, maybe?

Also, as someone who's been stuck in front of a touch screen at work, I can say they have their ups and downs - when you're just selecting an option here and there and then punching "go" (or something along those lines) they're great, easier to use than a mouse for a lot of things - but if something goes wrong and you're stuck in front of a machine trying to troubleshoot, going through data logs, edit parameters, or mess with anything in the interface for an extended period of time, the ergonomics of it suck and you find yourself aching (in more ways than one) for a mouse. If you're stuck with a screen with poor touch resolution (or worse, a 15 year old thing with a horrible "light pen") and you're trying to touch tiny things, it's even worse. But I imagine what you're using it for is probably less hassle prone than the weird machines we use at the semiconductor plant. But if you have to sit down and monkey with things for a while, make sure you can still get a mouse.

Of all the ones I've worked with (some of ours are fairly old, but I've worked with a variety of machines from a variety of manufacturers which have been made over the last 15-20 years) the ones that came equipped with ELO screens do strike me as the ones where the touch screen hasn't ever been a hassle, but I'm don't work in a position where I could comment on reliability or longevity or anything, just my experience as an end user of the screen.

As Jerrimy said, some of our screens have burn in - I don't think this has been a problem with the flat panel screens, but if it's a tube unit, it can be an issue if the thing basically displays a static screen, or has certain elements in the same position for hours on end day in and day out. Depending on the software you run, being able to pop up a screen saver may help with that.

Dan Friedrichs
05-04-2012, 12:18 PM
As everyone else said, the 9-pin serial acts like a mouse. You just install a driver. I did it once with an ELO touchscreen a few years ago, and recall it being dead simple.