Project DDDD aka. turn your V into a Surface Studio

Hi community!

So I got a big news here.

I have been working for the past month on writing my bachelor thesis with Eve. This project could be something that will actually go into production as an Eve product, depending on various factors.

Soo.. What is this?

This project was inspired by creative desktop computers like the Microsoft Surface Studio as well as the Wacom Cintiq 24HD Touch. Those two constitute the state-of-the-art tool for the creative out there. The exquisite hinge mechanism allows the user to do drawing, sketching, writing, using it as a regular computer, and everything in between. It is, without doubt, a fantastic creative’s tool.

The main limitation of the existing products, such as the ones mentioned above, is the fact that the mechanism can only be purchased together as a complete computer system that costs quite a huge sum of money, with none costing less than 2000 dollars. Due to the rapid pace of technological advancement, the computer will also become obsolete within a few years, and the only way to get it up-to-date is to replace the whole system, including the hinges that are still perfectly adequate. In addition to that, no part of the computer could be taken as a portable system, which means it is a 100% stationary product.

To put it short, the limitation of existing products are:

  • Expensive
  • Not upgrade-able
  • Limited selection of OS, processor, etc.
  • Not portable

My solution here is to create a flexible docking station for the artists’ exiting tablets and laptops that allows it to be used in a similar manner. By offering just the mounting mechanism that could be adapted to various tablets, the user would then have the freedom to choose their favorite drawing tablet depending on various factors including price, operating system, size, display technology, pen technology, etc., as well as giving the portability factor that tablets are known for.


Product Concept

I call this the Donald Dock Designer’s frienD, or DDDD for short

DDDD will be an independent accessory to the project “Donald Dock” (DD) docking station. By independent, that means both products could be purchased and used separately without each other. In short, this will be modular to the DD, although that does not mean DD will not have modularity by itself as a docking station (see Attiq’s concept here, for example). Since DD fulfills the role as the port replicator, DDDD will fill the role of a “dumb dock” in the sense that it does not electronically communicate via USB or similar connection.

From the market research, we found out that there is a small but distinct need for a docking station that allows pen-enabled tablets to be docked, forming a flexible desk-bound digital drawing surface that also functions as a monitor and can also be effortlessly detached and taken on the go. I projected that the main target market of this product would be small to medium-sized independent artists, designers, architects, freelancers, or other creative who already use their pen-enabled tablets for doing their job. Because the target market is relatively small, and the exact needs vary, it would be ideal to make such a system accommodate a variety of tablets and be reasonably affordable to the aforementioned market segment.

To that end, the aim is to devise a docking station that accommodates a multitude of pen-enabled tablets for the purpose of desk-based productivity. The docking station will also have articulating armatures to allow said tablets to articulate form an upright ‘monitor’ position down to a low level flat-on-the-table position.

In short, here are the four main design points:

  • Allows the flexible angle for various positions or ‘modes’
  • It has to hold the set position firmly and sturdily, and only moves when the user wants to
  • Universal: Supports most pen-enabled tablets
  • Despite being universal, docking and undocking has to be firm yet effortless

One of the inspirational design was first proposed in the community by LazerCut at The concept has since then been improved upon, optimized based on community feedback that you can see in the next section

To further make the design more intuitive, convenient, as well as exuding the premium feel, the whole product would use the power of electric motors for the common function. That includes the movement of the hinges as well as the clamping mechanism to dock and undock tablet itself. In order to control the product, the user interface would follow a similar analogy to motorized seat adjustment in luxury cars, where the controls are implemented via intuitive buttons that mimics the shape of the main system itself.

(seat adjustment in Mercedes-Benz CLS 350)

Input from the community so far

  • The tablet has to be able to lay completely flat (thanks to @TristanSchaaf).
    Solution: Move the hinges to the side of the tablet, to minimize Z-height and to allow it to lay flat

  • Having additional buttons would really help (thanks to @mlivesey).
    Solution: Space where the user can put an a) Elgato Stream Deck, b) Wacom ExpressKey Remote or c) both!

First concept design

In canvas mode (30 degrees of tilt)

In monitor mode

(the base is just a placeholder for now)

Combinations sample

Eve V in landscape, with Elgato Stream Deck on the left and Wacom EK Remote on the right

Acer Switch 7 Black Edition in portrait, with Elgato Stream Deck on the right and plastic insert (wrist rest) on the left, e.g. for left-handed

Apple iPad Pro 9.7" in portrait, with plastic inserts on either side (iOS does not support either Elgato or Wacom remotes)

Those two large dark grey on either sides are plastic inserts that are custom-fit for either the Elgato, the Wacom, or simply a cover (as a wrist rest). The material can be decided later, but I would go with either plastic or soft-touch rubberized plastic. I expect this product to ship with 4 of those plastic inserts. One for the Elgato, one for the Wacom, and two for no remote (wrist rest).

I made it completely symmetrical on either sides, to accommodate left and right-handed people.

Preliminary specs


Down to the inner workings

The tablet holder

The tablet holder is arguably the most complicated part of the design. It has to maintain a slim profile to be able to lay flat on the desk without any intrusion, include various mechanical and electrical components, as well as maintaining a fairly compact width while fitting the remote key sets on both sides, the tablet itself, as well clamping mechanism that would take any tablet from 9.7" to 13.5" in either portrait or landscape position.

This is how the clamp comes out of it’s resting state when the user pinches the “dock” button, to clamp the tablet in place.


The gaping hole on top will be covered with materials like this a roller, I hope we could implement something like this in Mercedes cars.

Here’s how it works C class w204 rollo roller blind & center console cover replacement - YouTube or BENZWERKS C-CLASS CENTER CONSOLE REMOVAL PART 1 OF 2 - YouTube. If its not possible, then we will go with a regular textile roller like what we have for rolling window blinds (or Alcantara, anyone? XD)

This is how the mechanics work on the inside. So there is a rack (like a gear, flattened) attached to the clamp, which is moved by a regular gear (actually a worm gear, its slightly different). The gear is moved from a worm (dark grey, teeth not shown) attached directly to a gearmotor.


Also btw, despite the seemingly ‘square’ space for the remotes, it actually has to share space with the motor and gears. Note the space highlighted in red might not fit the remote. In this example, the Wacom EK Remote has to be placed off-center.


The Arm


The arm is possibly the second most complicated component of this product. The arms would have to do the following functions:

  • ‘Carrying’ the whole tablet holder assembly
  • Stopping the tablet holder part from wobbling (will be achieved via brakes actuated by selenoids)
  • Transmitting the rotation for the second hinge (tablet holder), from the motor at the base
  • Fit all that in roughly 2 x 2 cm cross section (hollow) shaft


It wouldn’t be Eve if there was no, polls, wouldn’t it? So here are the polls that will definitely help the design decision of this product.

  1. Do you need the main hinge (base-arm) to rotate totally independently from the second hinge (arm-tabletholder)? If not, we could implement a desk-lamp-like mechanism, like in the Surface Studio. This would cost an extra ~$20-50

  • Yes, make them totally independent
  • No, the linked method is sufficient

0 voters

  1. Is supporting Elgato Stream Deck and Wacom ExpressKey Remote enough?

Note that supporting a generic num-pad would be challenging due to the sheer number of varieties out there

Elgato Stream Deck

Wacom ExpressKey Remote

  • Yes, I will use either of those two, or I will use neither
  • No, I have a specific remote key set that I am going to use (post below)

0 voters

  1. How should the power input be delivered?
  • Integrated power supply
  • Regular DC adapter (barrel-type connector)
  • USB Type-C (might cost a little more)

0 voters

  1. What’s the maximum amount that you would still pay for this product?

Note that I cannot guarantee that the price will be under the most-voted amount, as at the end of the day, pricing would depend on various factors

  • Nope
  • $100
  • $150
  • $200
  • $250
  • $300

0 voters

If you have a feedback, both on the design, usability, or engineering point of view, every single voice from you is welcome.

Meanwhile, I am also interested in seeing how you behave when drawing, sketching, or designing using the pen. I am living in Germany, in Krefeld / Düsseldorf area, but I can travel to the whole NRW region. We could set up a meetup, if you are interested in taking a look at the V, compare how the V pen and the Bamboo Ink performs, wants to help me out with this project, or you just want to meet me :sunglasses:

Obviously the date, time, and exact location will be determined later

  • I am interested in joining the meet up
  • I am not joining the meet up

0 voters

Special Thanks (in alphabetical orders) to @Attiq, @Konstantinos, @mirv, @Xinjie for helping me in designing this product, as well as the whole Senior Creators who have given me input and feedback before I released this to the public :slight_smile:

This thread, just like the project, is a WIP


Box Contents (preliminary):

  • Docking station itself
  • USB-C adapter
  • 2 mm pad (for 10-11 mm thick tablets)
  • 3 mm pad (for 9-10 mm thick tablets, or combine with 2 mm pad for 7-8 mm thick)
  • 4 mm pad (for 8-9 mm thick tablets, or combine with 2 mm for 6-7 mm thick)
  • Adapter for Elgato Stream Deck
  • Adapter for Wacom ExpressKey Remote
  • Adapter for nothing (wrist rest) (custom)
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Reserved for future posts #2

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good job!

its coming together nicely.

my input:


firstly I see your idea about it being able to go flat, but the main reason for it being so was so you could rest your wrist on the table whilst drawing at the edge of the screen. because of all the electronic gizmos it’ll never be able to lay as flat as the V can on its own so you might as well add a wrist rest to the side of the ‘clamp’ which can have a detachable button thingy that can go on either side ( to suit right or left handedness). I hope that made sense.


second main point is about turning moments, you seem to be starching very far as you move from desktop to studio mode, id suggest shortening the arms and folding the tablet backwards rather than forwards. yes this will raise the tablet up but seeing as I’ve added a sizable wrist rest it shouldn’t be an issue. if anything its better because you wont have to lean forward as lower.

as ive said before and as @TristanSchaaf just mentioned the small screen size of the V is kind of the Achilles heel of this design. maybe add a variant with a large 20+ inch display (as a theoretical exercise)

also seeing as this is still theoretical throw a gtx1060 into the base :slight_smile:

Maybe DDDD should have a integrated larger screen? And maybe the usb c connector should be adjustable so the DDDD can be used with other tablets which have usb c ports (not in the same place)?

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It looks very nice! Some good thoughts have gone into it.

My main points with such a device would be:

  • The hinge has to be able to withstand the force of my input (I accept with having to lock the hinge for extra support).
  • The screen has to be big

Unfortunately , everything under 20" isn’t something I would even consider. Having a MS Studio like device as an external monitor would be a better option in my opinion. If it had it’s own big display I would pay more then the “none” I selected.

For the external/extra buttons, the things I use a LOT are the shortkeys in an amount of different programs. So having (programmable) keys, like the streamdeck, would be an option. Though I don’t see the point of having actual keyboard keys. Might prefer something like the Novation Launchpad. A couple of those on a side (don’t know which is the better left, right, top or bottom) would be a big plus. About 10 or so from the top of my head.
The other button I’d like to have is a “hold” key, like the one that is available on wacom pens. I’m unsure if this will actually proof any use, but might be something to look into.

I’m mainly turned off by the screen size though. But, if you’re sticking with that, try to make it iPad compatible (maybe with an easy to remove case which the iPad has to sit in, or a new accessory). I know more people with an iPad and pen then surface.

Btw, I live in Enschede, which is near Münster so I could be up for a meetup (do bring your V though, I haven’t seen one in real-life).

Good luck with your bachelor! I have my final presentation in 2 weeks :stuck_out_tongue: .


I propose an improvement to the name:
Donald Dock Designer’s frienD by V
in short, D4V


wen can we do the pit boy version ?


pit boy

So make the V a Smartwatch?



Hi, I appreciate the reply.

The design above has the wrist rest already, which can then have either an Elgato or Wacom key sets inserted. The part in dark grey is a plastic insert that can be removed and replaced depending on which remote that you want to use. I expect this product to ship with 4 of those plastic inserts. One for the Elgato, one for the Wacom, and two for no remote (wrist rest). I will present more pics of that very soon.

Regarding the height, while it is true that it wont be able to be as low as the V alone, Id like to keep it as low as possible for ergonomic reason. I mean, there is a good reason why desks as high as they are, and I wouldn’t want to deviate too far away from that. In addition to that if the user, for example, has a book or other material next to the desk for reference (which is true when I am designing this), the difference in height would be better to be minimized, I believe.

I know the arms look really long :slight_smile: the reason was that Id like to minimize the torque that the transmission mechanism has to handle for the second hinge (the hinge between the arm and the tablet-holder), since Id have to take into account the large, heavy 13.5" tablets (pic shows 12") , with the hinge position a compromise between it placed in portrait and landscape. The reason is larger tablets are generally heavier and it would extend more towards the top, which is why the hinge is placed closer to the top. However, with the votes leaning towards the desk lamp-like mechanism (thank you btw, if it wasn’t for you, I wouldn’t have considered that design), the arm could be made shorter and more ergonomic :slight_smile:

I have designed a system for this exact purpose :slight_smile: There is a mechanism similar to brakes in cars, to lock it in place. It is actuated by a selenoid. The default position is “brakes engaged” (position locked), and the brakes will be disengaged only when the user tries to move the position of the product. Also its done that way so that when there is a power loss event, the device wont fall

This is also the reason why I want to meet artists and designers, to measure how much force that they are exerting when drawing.

iPad will be supported for sure, except for iPad Mini. One of the reference tablet is actually the iPad Pro 9.7", which I personally have, so I could get into the details on how to adapt the design to it. The most challenging part so far is that the “unblockable part” is rather small due to the speaker holes, power button, and Lightning port that occupy pretty much all portion of the sides. Thats why the clamp design is the way that it is

I was considering this as well, but there simply isn’t that many option for pen-enabled screen that would benefit from this mechanism. Meanwhile regular non-touch monitors, I believe, do not need the flexible angle like mentioned above.

The connector will be on the back, and ideally be connected with the DD (when the user owns a DD), or simply a regular Type-C adapter. There is no benefit, I believe, from exposing the connector to the front.


Oh wow, its so HUGE. I think its quite impossible to fit that here though, if we want to make it symmetrical, we would need at least 240 + 240 + 329 of space (tablet in the middle + Novation on either side), plus the arms and paddings. That alone exceeds the overall width limit that Im trying to achieve. Genuine question, do you think people would be fine with this product being almost a meter wide?


I think you misunderstood my intentions. It wasn’t about the device but more about the type of keys. I don’t think putting the entire launchpad on there is a good idea :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

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Im pretty surprised that the desk lamp gets quite a lot of votes, so here’s my first mock up…

Sequence 01_1

Btw I couldn’t find resources online on how to calculate such hinge mechanism. If you have some online resource, book, or anything that would help me calculating and designing this dual-arm hinge mechanism, I would greatly appreciate that :slight_smile:

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I don’t have (mathmetical) resources I’m afraid… didn’t really do any math for the past 8 years sadly.
But I’m not really clear about what that poll is about. How would the other option work?

the totally independent option : both the ‘arms’ and screen swivel separately this givens greater degrees of freedom in the angle and height of the screen.

the linked or locked option is where the tilts in lock step with how low or high the screen is just as the surface studio screen. so the screen is vertical when the arms are at their highest and as you lower the arms the screens starts tilting back mechanically. this mean a lot less degrees of freedom in the screen angle/height.

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for your thesis I would go for the fully motorized full freedom option.

if this becomes a real product I would go for the locked option, simply because I don’t see the motorized options getting passed the value engineering stage.

What I get from this is that the independent option basically has more advantages and zero downsides. Who wouldn’t want that option? (I know costs are a downside, but people don’t really care that much about that right now). Or would the independent option be less reliable when it comes to stabilizing? My priority would be zero movement of the device when in use. That is a critical factor in such a device (for me).

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Yes its mostly about a) cost and b) it requires a bit of mental understanding on how the whole system operates (not as intuitive).

The Surface team had actually considered the independent option, and they didn’t seem to like it, although do keep in mind that there are a couple differences here:

  • Surface Studio is much larger in comparison
  • The hinge is hidden from the user when used, which means the user can’t really see what’s going on when theyre adjusting the screen.
  • In their prototype, they used clutches to lock and unlock the position. The user had to engage and disengage the clutches manually. Since we have electric motors and brakes/clutches that are automatically actuated, the process will be totally invisible to the user
  • It is a bit harder to save/memorize your favorite position. I counter that issue with user-programmable memory just like the seats in luxury cars.

Here’s the explanation from the Surface team on the two methods

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What exactly do you want to calculate? Stress, torque, velocities, accelerations, resistance, etc? I can help with the physics side of things, but I don’t know what you’re looking for.

The geometry, like what the distance should be between the two hinges, to achieve the desired rotation characteristics.

In the meantime, I am also considering to implement telescopic functionality to the arm. I think it will be too complex though.