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Electronic Signature Pad and Hardware FAQ

This page provides information about Topaz electronic signature pad technology. Click on one of the links to the left to visit the product's page, where you will also find a PDF Data Sheet that may provide you with more information about the signature pad of your choice. Visit the Topaz Products page to view all Topaz tablets.
  1. What are the key features of Gem-series tablets from Topaz?
  2. What is the reliability of a Topaz system - both calculated and in the field?
  3. What is the Topaz field Hot-swap Program?
  4. Why do we say that a Topaz tablet is "the standard for signature capture?"
  5. How can I test the SignatureGem or ClipGem pen to be sure that it is working?
  6. How do I change the ink tip in the pen?
  7. Should I consider using a "pressure-sensing" tablet?
  8. How do I troubleshoot computer/tablet COM port problems?
  9. How are the Topaz LCD tablets with serial interface installed on my computer?
  10. How do I replace my SignatureGem or ClipGem pen's batteries if they run out?
  11. What is the difference between USB and HSB signature pads?
  12. Should I upgrade from USB to HSB?
  13. How do I upgrade to HSB?
  14. Can I pay to upgrade an older USB pad to an HSB model?
  15. In terms of temperature and humidity, what are the operating ranges for SignatureGem and SigLite pads?
  16. How do I set up my serial LCD tablet?
  17. My non-LCD serial tablet has stopped functioning. How can I get it up and running again?
  18. How do I correctly install my serial-to-USB adapter to work with my Topaz tablet?
  19. My signature calibration is off. How do I recalibrate it?
  20. How do I connect my Topaz serial tablet to a network?
  21. I have an LCD 4x5 and want to adjust the contrast. How do I do that?
  22. How can I check to see if my Topaz tablet is working without wondering if the problem is in the application and not the tablet?
  23. How can I change my software to accept a different tablet type without reinstalling SigPlus?

1. What are the key features of Gem-series tablets from Topaz?

  1. Rugged, portable units with ink or plastic cartridge.
    • Survive scratches, cuts, and even being run over by a truck!
  2. Built-in pen tether and pen holder.
  3. The highest-performance tablets, designed for electronic signature capture.
    • 377 points per second conversion rate (half are reported)
  4. Powerful signature capture drivers and software on all standard authorized tablets where all updates and support are free.
  5. All Topaz verification and security tools supporting your application in the background.
  6. A range of sizes from LCD 1X5 to a full legal-sized clipboard tablet, including LCD-based pads and very-low-cost touch pads.
  7. Software tools that work across the entire product line, allowing software learning to apply to many different application areas in your company.


2. What is the reliability of a Topaz system - both calculated and in the field?

Calculated non-LCD pad MTBF is greater than 500,000 hours (greater than 50 years).

Calculated LCD pad MTBF is greater than 100,000 hours (greater than 10 years).

Actual field use experiences are really what determine the reliability of the tablet, and Topaz has a lot of experience in the field. This includes a single Topaz pad capturing well over 100,000 signatures in the field. Topaz units have survived being driven over by a small truck. The Topaz pen has been qualified to over 30 million activations and high G-forces. Our experience is that of field reliability. It's the technology and attention to all of the little things that makes the difference.



3. What is the Topaz field Hot-swap Program?

If you are a qualifying corporate account and have a problem in the field, Topaz will send a replacement tablet and pen to you before you have returned the problem unit. After you receive the replacement unit, simply return the old unit to Topaz.



4. Why do we say that a Topaz tablet is "the standard for signature capture?"

Topaz electronic signature pads have been deployed in the millions over the past 15 years.  Because Topaz has been in the business for so many years, millions of people have successfully used our products and software as they have been deployed with thousands of independent software applications.  With the wide use of Topaz pads and software, you and your application benefit from the network effects of the Topaz eSign Ecosystem ™, including familiarity of use, the ability of a single Topaz pad to support multiple applications, and so on.   



5. How can I test the SignatureGem or ClipGem pen to be sure that it is working?

Tap the tip of the pen to the case of an operating AM radio set to a low frequency (between 530 and 550 khz). If you hear a whining sound in the speaker, and if the pitch of the whine changes when the pen tip is pressed and released, then the pen is OK.



6. How do I change the ink tip in the pen?

DO NOT OPEN THE PEN! The pen tip is removed from the tip of the pen and replaced all from the open end of the pen. Simply grasp the tip of the cartridge and pull it out from the end of the pen. If the pen is forced open, it will be virtually impossible to re-assemble without special factory tools.



7. Should I consider using a "pressure-sensing" tablet?

Topaz does not recommend the use of tablets which sense variable pen pressure (although we do provide pressure-sensing pens for some products as an option).  Pressure information is highly variable and dependent on the environment of use and mood of the signer.  If the pressure part of the signature data recorded is unreliable, the whole signature can become unreliable. 



8. How do I troubleshoot computer/tablet COM port problems?

Topaz provides a COM port test program, which can be downloaded here.

You may also run DemoOCX.exe in the <windows>\SigPlus directory.  Check the COM port under the tablet tab of the properties button.  When you press Start, the demo program should be able to capture and display ink from the pen.  If the COM port is not available, an error message will show up after pressing Start.  An "unable to open COM port" message indicates that the COM port may be in use by another device or driver, such as a Palm Pilot data transfer utility.  If you receive this message, you first need to free-up the COM port so that the tablet can connect on the chosen port.  To try an alternate port, click Stop, and then set the COM port under the properties button. Apply the change and then click Start again.

To test the overall computer COM port connection and the tablet and pen, you may run Hyperterm.exe, which is accessed from Start: Programs: Accessories: Communications: Hyperterminal. Chose a default name for the connection (Test, for example) and the default icon. Then connect using: "Direct to COM xx" as you are connected to the computer. Then set the communications parameters to 19200, 8 bits, odd parity. After clicking OK, you may get an "unable to open COM port" message, in which case you need to solve the reason that the COM port cannot be opened before proceeding. If the Hyperterminal goes to the white screen, try signing on the tablet with the supplied pen and look for random characters on the display. No garbage on the screen indicates that the COM port selected is not the one that the tablet is plugged into, or possibly that there may be a problem with the tablet or pen.  Try different COM port settings to understand the correct port settings compared to the actual physical ports on your computer.  However, you must disconnect from the COM port in Hyperterminal before changing the settings and then reconnect again after making any changes.  

Topaz recommends that the sigplus.ini file in the <windows> directory be used for setting the COM port for a particular installation.  You will notice that the first line under the [tablet] section sets the COM port.  This file can be opened and edited with the Windows "Notepad" program.  The sigplus.ini file that resides in the <windows>\sigplus directory is a reference copy only and is not used to set any of the computer or tablet parameters. However, if the application software is written in such a way that the COM port is set in the actual programming code, the .ini value will not be able to control the setup of the COM port.



9. How are the Topaz LCD tablets with serial interface installed on my computer?

Topaz LCD tablets with serial interface require more power than can be provided by just the serial port of your PC.  Therefore these tablets are supplied with the cables needed to power the unit from the keyboard port while sending the signature data to the standard serial port.  To view the installation instructions for LCD tablets, click here. An AC wall transformer is available for those who would prefer it. Please contact the factory.



10. How do I replace my SignatureGem or ClipGem pen's batteries if they run out?

To replace pen batteries, rotate the rear pen cap one quarter turn counter-clockwise and remove. Remove the old batteries and replace with type #393, available at most drug stores and supermarkets. Replace the pen cap and lock into place with one quarter turn clockwise.



11. What is the difference between USB and HSB signature pads?

Topaz old “–USB” suffix Topaz pads were succeeded many years ago by our “HSB®” suffix pads.  The "-HSB" model is a USB-connected pad which uses the Human Interface Device (HID)-type of USB driver built into Windows and other leading  operating systems and computers. 



12. Should I upgrade from USB to HSB?

Yes.  If you are the original purchaser of the tablet, Topaz has a program in place to bring you up-to-date with an HSB model. 



13. How can I upgrade to HSB?

Simply purchase a -HSB suffix tablet. Install the SigPlus software and select the -HSB option when prompted to do so. To see if you have a -USB or -HSB tablet, check on the back of the unit and determine the suffix of the part number. If your tablet has a "-CXXX" suffix, please contact the factory.



14. Can I pay to upgrade my old USB signature pad to support HSB?

Yes, if you are an original purchaser of the Topaz USB pad. 



15. In terms of temperature and humidity, what are the operating ranges for SignatureGem and SigLite pads?

Operating temperature is 0 to 40 C. Storage temperature can be -20 to +60 C. Humidity can be 10-90% RH, non-condensing.

16. How do I set up my serial LCD tablet?

Please view the LCD Serial Troubleshooting Guide for information on how to set up your serial LCD tablet.



17. My non-LCD serial tablet has stopped functioning. How do I get it up and running again?

To get your non-LCD serial tablet up and running again, follow the instructions in the Serial Troubleshooting Guide.



18. How do I correctly install my serial-to-USB adapter to work with my Topaz tablet.

To install your serial-to-USB adapter, follow the steps in the USB-Serial Adapter Guide.



19. My signature calibration is off. How do I recalibrate it?

For recalibration instructions, view the LCD Field Calibration How-To.



20. How do I connect my Topaz serial tablet to a network?

To connect your Topaz serial tablet to a network, you must utilize the ethernet adapter and cable. View the Ethernet Adapter How-To for installation.



21. I have an LCD 4x5 and want to adjust the contrast. How do I do that?

View the LCD 4X5 Contrast Adjustments for tips on how to adjust the contrast of your LCD 4x5 tablet.



22. How can I check to see if my Topaz tablet is working without wondering if the problem is in the application and not the tablet?

Demo.OCX full tablet functionality testing. To view the Demo OCX How-To, click here.



23. How can I change my software to accept a different tablet type without reinstalling SigPlus?

You can change your software to accept a different tablet type by using SigPlus Adjust. To view the SigPlus Adjust How-To, click here.



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