Saturday, April 4, 2009

Fixing a Wacom Bamboo pen

My daughter's Bamboo graphics pad stopped working. Oddly enough the eraser side of the pen was still OK - but the stylus side was dead. This suggested it was the pen - not the pad or the connection - that was at fault.
I found a brilliant blog at http://abiamy.com/abiyasablogs/2008/04/06/fixing-a-broken-wacom-pen/
which described my symptoms, and had pictures for a similar pen. But the Bamboo pen has a slightly different design so I thought I would document the disassembly (including what went wrong for me...).

The tip of the pen contains a coil with a ferromagnetic core. This core breaks when you drop the pen - this means it doesn't make as strong of a magnetic field and that means the pad can't sense the pen (or vice versa). To get to the core, you have to take the pen apart (carefully - there is a lot of sensitive electronics inside!)

First step: remove the plastic tab next to the buttons:



Note where I put the screwdriver. Gently ease it under the tab and nudge until you get something like this:



This is where I went wrong and forced the tab off. With a snap something broke, and when I looked closely I saw I should probably have slid the tab (moved in in the direction of my fingers in this picture) rather than pull up and away from the pen - see this picture:



Even better - I could have just left it alone. I later found that the top and bottom half of the stylus are only held together at one point - and so just lifting the tab at one end is enough to free the two halves. With the tab off, careful jiggling allowed me to separate the top and bottom of the pen (it takes quite a bit of force: be careful not to bend it as the two parts separate, or you will break the circuit board inside):



As the two parts separated I could see the little blue tab that I had broken off:



Next, I needed to liberate the electronics board which was still being held by the buttons. I was a bit apprehensive now, but it turns out that this time you can just use a small screwdriver and nudge the buttons straight up and off:



After carefully easing the circuit board out of the barrel I could see the broken coil (it didn't look broken, but when I pulled very gently on the end it came apart, showing a crack):



I pulled out the plastic tip (I needed to turn it to free it - not sure if I could have pulled but with the coil looking quite fragile I decided to play it safe - you don't want to break the little wires that hold it in place). Now, using some Loctite superglue gel (the kind that doesn't go everywhere but still sticks like crazy), and with my daughter's help to hold the crack open as I applied the glue, I was able to put a couple of small dabs in the crack and push it tightly shut - in the process pushing most of the glue out of the crack:



Two more cautions before putting it all back together.
First, make sure there is no glue on the inside - or you won't be able to put the plastic tip back in. Holding the assembly vertical, I moved the tip in and out a few times - it did come out sticky so I kept wiping it clean, until it went in and out without getting sticky.
Second - you want to make sure the glue has time to dry properly, and with the smallest possible gap in the ferrite core. To so this, I held the assembly vertically and let it sit for about an hour - long enough for the superglue to really set. A shot glass and some tissue paper did the trick:



When everything was dry, I put it all back together again. But for the little blue tab that had broken off and the white mark on the blue tab where I had bent it when I should have slid it, it was "good as new". And more importantly, it worked again!



A Great Big ThankYou to Abiyasa - the blogger who inspired me to do this. Let me know if it worked for you!

110 comments:

  1. Yay! Thanks so much for doing this so descriptive pen fixing blog. My pen broke with in the first few hours after opening my tablet and since I'm going out of town tomorrow I was very dissapointed. This was super helpful and now my pen is good as new

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  2. You are a gentleman and a scholar sir!
    Thank you so much for so carefully detailing this.
    It was exactly what I needed to re-animate my cheap eBay purchase which is now A.O.K!
    People like yourself that take such trouble to be helpful really make the internet shine.
    Kudos to you!

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  3. It is great. I have fixed mine as well.
    Thanks for sharing this tip.

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  4. God bless you!

    I've been with my bamboo pen broken for months now and you made it as new again!

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  5. Heeey tahnk yooouuu. u made it new again 4 me too, I-ll repost ur blog in twitter

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  6. Thanks so much :) Your description was amazing. I followed your directions, the picture are very clear, and now my pen works again. Thanks for taking the time to blog this for us all.
    Best Regards
    TriniTwiNz

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  7. Thanks so much for sharing how you fixed it with such illustrative photos! My Bamboo Fun pen has a different problem, it is always writing, even while hovering over the tablet.

    After ruling out any software issues, I decided to open the pen to investigate. Everything looked in place. As of now, I am not able to figure out how to fix this hardware issue. And I am dreading to buy a replacement, since it is so expensive!

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  8. I've blown about $90 over the last couple years replacing my wacom pens - I'm glad I did a little research this time! What a money saver! Thanks so much!

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  9. This worked perfectly! Thanks so much for this, you really saved me alot of time and money :) thanks again!

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  10. Thank you! Got my tablet just five days ago and my cat got in a fight with my neighbour's one and they... well... pushed my pen off my desk and some other stuff, all while I wasn't even at home ._.

    Storing the pen on the shelf out-of-reach for the cats. Storing the shelf in a room closed for the cats. Storing the cats in the toilet... no wait, that would be inhumane. Storing the cats in the washing machine.

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  11. Can I just say you absolutely ROCK!!! I just got the Bamboo for my birthday from my husband, and spent the last 4 hours trying to figure out what I had done wrong in installing it... and YOUR SOLUTION FIXED EVERYTHING... thank you!!!

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  12. im having trouble taking it apart did it take some time before you were able to take in apart?

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  13. This was fantastic! I used a type of superglue that brushed on with a tiny brush and it worked like a charm. Awesome!

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  14. This is awesome, my daughter came to me and said it wasn't working, we found this site so I pulled out my jewelers screw driver and set out to try. I figured I can't loose, it is already broken.

    Note: for those doing it, in the first step where you pop up the the clip (above the buttons) becareful when you lift up, to only lift a little and slide it out, or the back part of the clip will break off, like it did for me.

    I used quick set nail glue, like for your finger nails, and i covered the outside with it. this created a solid bond and coil doesn't care. I was amazed that this coil wasn't sealed, like most from my electronics days.

    The pen works now. Thanks again

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  15. "My daughter's Bamboo graphics pad stopped working."
    Now, I can say, been there, done that, did work!
    MANY THANKS to you. It happened the eve of a homework due day...
    Like you, I was the one "designated volunteer" for the job... Thanks to you, you ease the process.

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  16. Great many thanks! Did this to my girlfriends pen and it works like new now.

    Be careful with the blue slidy-thing everyone. The only thing is the split, that is going to get a bit beat up. But it works!

    Thanks again!

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  17. THANK YOU VERY MUCH WORKED A CHARM REALLY BIG HELP. I WAS LOOKING TO JUST BUY AN UPGRADE BUT KNOW I DONT HAVE TO SAVED ME SOME MONEY. X

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  18. Thanks, I would have certainly broken the pen without these guidelines

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  19. Thanks for the heads-up! Now, if someone could help me get a Bamboo Wireless (black) pen apart, I'd be much obliged to grovel at your feet for a while. Emails pleeeease! <3

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  20. Wow a million Thank yous!!! like i absolutely love you for this!!!!!!!!!!!

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  21. thank you so much! saved my life! i accidentally dropped my pen this morning while i was rushing my assignment. thank god for your tutorial or i would never have finished my work. thanks again :D

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  22. Thank you so much, I followed your steps, up to the superglue part. My father isn't home, and he won't can't tell me where the superglue is. Hah.
    My brother threw my pen after I poked him with it, and when I opened the pen, carefully, making sure to not snap the button, I saw the coil, and it looked exactly how yours was.
    I've gotten up to that part, and I am just waiting for the glue. Thanks a whole lot, and I hope this works, because I don't want to waste 60$ for a replacement. D:

    Thanks again, and have a nice day. (:
    -Anna.

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  23. worked like a charm, thank you!!!

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  24. My pen stopped working after I tried to see if the tablet would react if I wrote on the opposite side. Mysteriously right after this simple test my pen suddenly didn't react with the tablet anymore. I thought I had done some damage by writing on the back of the tablet.

    Apparently my coil had finally come lose, which I assume it was already cracked from previous drops of the past.

    This little tutorial helped me put Mr. Cheapy Wacom Pen back together again.

    Thanks for bringing great "$aving" insight into the world, it works again!!

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  25. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  26. Lol, spent 2 to 3 hours, reinstalling and uninstalling the driver. Found my way to this post, told my dad and he attempted to take it apart. After a lot of time carefully taking it apart, we found nothing wrong with it. Put it back together and thought of trying it out on a different computer. One last attempt on the wacom and it worked straight away, maybe a bit of dust was in there? or a loose connection.. Who the hell knows? Weird!! Thanks anyways

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  27. ......umm the coil for me isnt broken what do i do?

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  28. You're God.

    I'm glad someone figured it out!

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  29. top mate. This works fine.

    Cheers from Brazil bruv

    Thnx by this tutorial

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  30. THANK YOU! My story is a little different... I spilled a little bit of wine -- and it went right into the pen holder. The wine wicked up between the tip and the ferrite core (it is either ferrite or powdered iron, I'm sure). That was enough to detune the circuit and make it stop working. I followed your procedure then used an eyedropper to flush the center of the core with distilled water, then dried it by running a rolled facial tissue ("Kleenex") swab through it. Reassembled, and all is working OK. Perhaps those who have a failed pen but no broken core might want to try something similar.

    I had one other problem: The tablet worked on my administrator account, but stopped working on my limited user accounts (Windows 7). I went into All Programs / Pen Tablet / Pen Tablet Preference File Utility and selected All User Preferences / Remove. The tablet started working on my limited accounts again.

    Once more: THANK YOU!

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  31. thank you so much!
    you are a real macgyver!

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  32. Sadly, this didn't fix my stylus. The tablet now recognizes the pen, but it's sporadic...not ideal for a graphic artist. :P

    I'm going to try to switch the front and back coils using solder and see if this helps. I have the black Bamboo pen, not the Bamboo Fun, so that may have something to do with it.

    Thanks for sharing your experience!

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  33. Hey, this tip has landed in Brazil!
    I just fixed my wife´s pen.
    Wacom must do something for future products.
    Thank you for sharing your experience!!!!
    And thanks St. Google!

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  34. Awesome, this worked for me too! Thank you so much.

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  35. I'm having trouble seperating the two halves... Any advice????

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  36. THANK YOU SO MUCH!!! Followed your instructions thoroughly and my pen is as good as new. It's great to see there's people who will take out the time to show us all how to do these things ourselves instead of paying lots for a repair or replacement.

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  37. Hi! I have a Wacom Bamboo Pen Tablet, and I managed to get the nib out and the upper half apart, revealing about an half an inch of the circuit board. By wiggling the circuit board and pressing the buttons (which look impossible to get off from the outside), I've managed to bear at least an inch of the circuit board, but it's still stuck on the buttons. Any suggestions.

    It's just so frustrating! With a really good flashlight shone in just the right spot, I can barely see the coil, to!

    And I'm assuming the coil is broken, seeing as it fell 20 feet down a flight of stairs. Yey.

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  38. Thank you so very much!!!................... my pen stopped working today... and i thought i had to buy a new one... which is hard here cause its hard to find such things here.... but i followed your method and its working brilliantly now! :)... thank you again! :)

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  39. I see two recent comments of people (ALBUS and Tides) who have trouble separating the two halves - as the buttons hold the circuit board in place.
    As I mentioned (and showed in one of the pictures) it really is possible to pry the buttons off with a screwdriver - see the picture under the text "Next, I needed to liberate the electronics board which was still being held by the buttons. I was a bit apprehensive now, but it turns out that this time you can just use a small screwdriver and nudge the buttons straight up and off:"

    I am proud and happy to see all the comments from people who managed to fix their pens with my help!

    Floris

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  40. Hi,
    I glued them already yet it still show no response :( what could i go wrong? is it i glue wrongly?

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  41. hi,
    your tutorial was was very clear and helpful
    thanks for that
    we are having similar problems with our pen
    we took it apart but there is no damage to the the coil
    next we had and attempt at swapping the cores round as the eraser was still working
    the soldering was fine
    this hasnt solved the problem either
    what should we do?
    i think our last resort is to buy a new pen

    many thanks anyway

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  42. @Ashwin I'm not sure if you've figured out the problem yet, but that happened to mine and all I needed to do was go into the settings for the tablet and change from mouse mode to pen mode. :D

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  43. omfgggg D: Thank you so so much for demonstrating everything step by step <3 you're a life saver :)At first I was skeptical about trying to dissect my pen without any help xD But then I read all these comments and I went ahead and did everything as expplained and VOILA! it works now :D thank you very very much ^.^

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  44. @tides - I posted a video to disassemble a Bamboo Pen (MTE-450) here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iH5bmc0IdIE

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  45. Thanks for the instructions, everything was explained so well :) Fixed the pen perfectly!!

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  46. Wow! I hope this works! All the other comments said it worked, so I'm really betting it will. It took me forever to get the pen undone, but I did it without breaking the first part. Its now resting inside of a cup filled with napkins awaiting superglue. (I have to go run and get that in the morning, because we're out) Thanks for the guide I'm sure it will work!.

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  47. Well I'm of to get some glue, thank you sir

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  48. I have a black Wacom tablet pen, and the two sides are glued together, or I'm doing something wrong. :/

    I got both the buttons off, but I can't seperate the two halves D: But thank you for the tutorial!

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  49. Hi,

    to fix my black bamboo pen, I removed the conductive washer under the rubber thing attached to circuit board on the eraser end.

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  50. Thank you man ! I followed exactly your instructions.

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  51. Thank you so much!

    Google led me here. Between my bf and myself, we managed to glue the broken piece back together in time for me to finish my drawings for class!

    You are so awesome!!!

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  52. Thank you so so so much for this!

    I have been without my tablet pen for months. We thought it was the nib, but right when we were finally able to purchase new nibs, my pen still didn't work. I was heartbroken, and than I found this tutorial, and now it's as 'good as new'.

    Thank you so much!

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  53. Hi! Thanks for the tute!

    I'm just having a bit of a problem, I've got the buttons off, with no worries, now I can't separate the two halves of the pen..

    It really seems as though it's glued.

    Am I just not pulling hard enough?

    I'm worried about cracking the circuit board.

    It's a really old one, has anyone else seen this?

    If so, how dd you overcome it?

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  54. Got it!
    Dad just pulled the crap outta it!
    *^-^*
    What would we do without men?

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  55. It is working again. Thank you, especialy for the first phase of the disassembly process - thanks to you I took it apart without a single scratch.

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  56. Thank you for an article.
    I'm looking to replace an outer shell of a Graphire3 pen (by buying a dead pen) since electronics in mine is perfectly working but rocker button is long gone and I am researching if board in Bamboo have the same size so I can ask for broken Bamboo pen also.

    So the question is do you have a photo of the electronics board in full size (like this one http://abiamy.com/abiyasablogs/wp-content/uploads/2008/04/pen03a.jpg ) so it will be possible to compare them?

    Thank you in advance

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  57. I was having the same problem, where my pen would draw/select text while hovering - except this was happening on BOTH the eraser and pen tip ends.

    So, after reinstalling drivers to no avail, I just took apart the pen as this blog described. Nothing inside was damaged (no coils coming apart or anything), so I just put it back together.. and viola, it suddenly worked perfectly, the pen tip and eraser! Not sure why, but I'm not gonna question it.

    Thanks for this very helpful blog! You're awesome. :)

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  58. And word to the wise, in case you end up having to use a pocket knife, because a thin screwdriver was nowhere to be found:

    Don't stab yourself with the knife. I'm currently bleeding profusely out of my palm. Ouch.. but so worth it. :D

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  59. thank you soooooooooooooooooooooooo much GOD BLESS YOU MAN THIS WORKS THANK YOU

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  60. Didn't work, pen came completely to bits, something even fell off the circuit board.

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  61. Thank you so much! I don't know what was actually wrong with mine (the core was OK) but taking it apart and putting it back together fixed it.

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  62. Mine was fine but the pressure sensitivity was all wrong. It was registering pressure when I didn't even touch the pad. I took it apart, cleaned it and put it back together and it works perfectly!! Thank you. Another tip (at least for mac users) if you option + click the "about" button in the preferences pane (control panel??) it give you live specs on pressure sensitivity and other things. That is how I know it was the pressure locked not a button locked. :)

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  63. hey, thank you for the tutorial! <3 it helped a lot and fixed my problem~

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  64. I'm joining the throngs of people singing your praises! Thank you. I had the newer model pen, but the exact same part was broken.

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  65. Hello!!

    Thanks a lot for this. I just wanted to say that this process is 100 percent accurate. Every step was accurate. No problems. And thanks for saving out time and money.

    But unfortunately, I don't have a daughter to help me. So I had to call my brother =/

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  66. It took some attempts to figure out the correct search terms in Google to actually find this website (to many websites offering new pens for €40), but I made it.
    Great tutorial on how to do it, and although the glue is still drying I already tested it and it works! Thanks for the knowledge that you can restore magnets by just glueing parts together, I never knew that would work. And thanks for saving me too much money for a new one!

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  67. Hi !!

    Even though I fixed it like 2 weeks ago... but I have a problem...

    see, for example.. I used to keep the pen like 1 inch above the pad to use it as a mouse. But now, this distance is decreased to like this [ ] from [ ]

    It is very hard to draw/hover with problem. Any ideas how to fix it now ?

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  68. thank you so much! you saved my life!!

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  69. thank you great help , little suggestion , to hold the circuit board upright while its dryng you can use the pen dock to hold the eraser side of the pen and slide the circuit in to the empty shell to keep it upright while drying,

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  70. I was looking at this and I found out that I had the same problem the coil was broken. I managed to fix it and when I used the pen (without the nib) the tablet could sense it but this was not the case when I put the nib back. Anyone know how to fix this? It seems like I'm so close to finishing!

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  71. Your step by step instructions were easy to follow and everything turn out perfect. IT WORKS AGAIN! It feels like magic because one would not expect that modern harware could be fixed! Especially so easy!
    Thank you!

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  72. WE LOVE YOU!
    i'ts really works!

    thank you

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  73. I'm going to attempt the repair of my pen today which has an intermittent problem where it stops working. Thanks for posting as you've inspired me to have a go myself rather than buying another one. Cheers dude !!

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  74. Fixed !!! A small lock tab from underneath the first tab you removed in your description was wedged under one of the buttons, stopping it from activating its micro-switch. Cheers again !!

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  75. THANK YOUU!!!!!!!!!! I tried to fix it as you said, but my mom got the glue all over the thing and base... so it is ruined at this point (because it was that liquid glue you specifically told us not to use hahaha) ... what I had to do was to replace the broken coil and base with the one on the other side.... so now the eraser doesn't work but i never use it anyways.... so thanks a lot man... you saved me some money and the trouble of having to find another replacement... this is the second pen i break, if only I had read this at that time. Thnx again, cheers.. :D

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  76. Thank you so much my friend! This is great! it works now!

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  77. I took the pen apart as you described, there was no damage to the coil. While it was taken apart it showed signs of life, but didn't work once it was put back together. Oh well, thanks anyway.

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  78. Now that I checked it out more closely, I did find the damage in the end and superglue did the trick. Thanks for giving such a detailed description of this tricky process!

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  79. Ditto: I used a small electronics bench vice with an insulated alligator clip to hold it all vertical. After the super glue, I set a small socket on top of the coil to apply downward additional pressure until it all dried. TKS!

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  80. THANKS A TON!!!!!!
    Worked for me. Though I have to put it back together but its working.
    Separating the two halves do take time n a lot of force but it worked in da end. So allz good. Great fix!!!!

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  81. ABSOLUTELY WONDERFUL.

    One of the best DIY Fixing tutorial things I have ever viewed. I can't even express my thanks! Happy drawing, everyone!

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  82. Add me to the list. It worked! I have a Bamboo Fun, Model CTE-450, and your instructions brought my Wacom pen back to life. This is a gem of an article. To get the two halves of the pen apart, I wrapped two dish towels around the front part of the pen, cinched it with some pliers and pulled it apart. Who would have thought that your post back 2009 would continue to live on for this long. Much appreciated. Thank you!

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  83. I add my thanks to all the others! My pen is working again now.

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  84. I'll write my problem as a "tag" so maybe people with my same problem will find it easier:

    wacom bamboo drawing tablet drawing when not touching the pad. My bamboo pen always in click state.

    So if you have the problem above, what I did with my bamboo fun CTE 450 (CTE-450) pen was dissasasbling the pen (look two comments above if you have CTE 450) and pulling the nib besides moving the coil a little. When I put all thet together i had my pen working.

    Thank you DR FPM

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  85. Great together with this http://thisisgood-isntit.blogspot.be/2010/04/how-to-fix-wacom-bamboo-tablet-pen.html#comment-form (stupid) instruction I managed to repair my black Bamboo pen :)))
    Thx!!

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  86. This worked and all fine now. Thanks very much for sharing.

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  87. Thank you so much! This is fantastic.

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  88. Aww.. so close! Thanks for the instructions. They're great, and really easy to follow.

    Mine was broken in the exact same place and I fixed it briefly, but then I got impatient and now I think it's broken for good. I used UHU Alles Kleber (A glue that is rubbery when it dries) and even though I didn't see a gap, it was not accurately tracking the pen. I tried to pull it apart and take the glue off and, well, it reminds me of the metal slinky I broke when I was a kid. The coils will never quite coil again.

    Thanks a lot, though!

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  89. Thank you so much

    Although all the comments are all thanks I'd like to add mine into the list for my clumsiness and your awesomeness :D

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  90. For my pen, not only is the coil broken, but even the black tube that it was on is broken! I've heard of the solution where you have to desolder the eraser part and switch it with the pen part, but I don't have experience with that nor do I have a soldering mechanism.

    Is there any other way I can fix it? :(

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  91. Thank you so much! mine didn´t break exactly the same but your tutorial helped me find where the problem was :D

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  92. my pen broke yesterday. I had it for years and thought that its time to be replaced. I saw this and tried opening it and found the same problem. I followed everything here.

    Even before the glue cured , i wanted to see if it works. i picked up the pen without the barrel cover and hovered it over the tablet and saw it responding. thanks for you post.

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  93. My pen wasn't responding, so I followed your guide. It was broken around the coil. I used glue to put it back together and now its working great! Thanks for making this!

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  94. Thanks for your post!
    my pen just recently broke and I want to try this with my pen. Nice info!

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  95. i'm really glad that you shared the post :D,,,,i've been wondering like crazy about what happened to the wacom pen of mine...thanks a bunchh!!!!!

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  96. I removed the buttons and such but I cant seperate the case of the pen from the other side of the case

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  99. YOU ARE A LIFESAVER thankyou, worked a charm!!

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  100. thanks a million! god bless you:)

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  101. can anybody help me please? :c I've been trying to separate the two parts of the pen for hours but I still can't. It's a genius easy pen m406w

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  102. i've been looking for pen replacement for a year now. just when I was absolutely sure to buy a new tablet, I saw this! can't wait to try this later already..

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  103. I'm already trying to disassemble but my pen is different from mte450. Help xo

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  104. I got the top exopart off, but the bottom wont come off no matter how much I jiggle it. I have the Bamboo Fun but it is black and the pen is black too. it seems like there is some kind of flange inside and I am scared of breaking it.

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  105. I swapped the coil with the one on the eraser end of the stylus.

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