FreeForm Systems - FAQs
Answers to some of your most frequent technical questions. If you have general questions about the FreeForm systems, please reference the Product FAQ.
What are the system requirements for the FreeForm system?
Please see FreeForm System Requirements.
How does the PHANTOM® Desktop™ connect to the computer?
The PHANTOM Desktop connects to your computer through a parallel port connection, as long as the parallel port supports the IEEE 1284 protocol (EPP port mode).
How do I make sure my PHANTOM Desktop auto-calibrates correctly?
The key is to move the PHANTOM Desktop slowly throughout its workspace in the maximum allowed range of motion-left to right, up and down, in and out. Be careful not to force beyond the stops. If your calibration is wrong, there are a few ways to force the PHANTOM to recalibrate. You can simply delete the "PHANTOM Calibration (Default PHANTOM)" file that resides in your public document folder\SensAble. Another simple method is to simply reconfigure your PHANTOM in the PHANTOM Configuration Control Panel. Reconfiguring (just change one option, and then change it back) causes the calibration to be deleted.
What do I need to consider if I am using a PHANTOM Desktop on a computer equipped with a hardware dongle lock?
Some software packages use a hardware device called a "dongle" to ensure that the software is only used on the machine for which it is licensed. Usually, this device plugs into the parallel port of the computer. Since the PHANTOM Desktop device also plugs into this port, if you are using a software package which requires a dongle, you will need to understand the following considerations.
The best performance from applications which utilize the PHANTOM Desktop will be achieved when the PHANTOM Desktop is attached directly to the main parallel port on the computer. A second parallel port card will be required for the dongle. You can use an ISA or PCI parallel port card such as those available from SIIG. In this configuration, it is recommended that the PHANTOM Desktop device attach to the main port and the dongle attach to the secondary port. An alternate configuration that may provide sufficient performance on many computers is to plug the dongle into the main parallel port on the computer and plug the PHANTOM Desktop into the back of the dongle. Although some throughput is lost in going through the dongle, in practice this may not prove noticeable if the computer is fast enough.
The way a dongle works is that the software package associated with the dongle "talks to" the dongle and asks whether a valid license exists. Early versions of this dongle "driver" software do not discriminate the dongle from other devices and may attempt to talk to all devices on all parallel ports. In doing so, the driver may attempt to erroneously communicate with the PHANTOM Desktop, causing delays in software start up. This has been corrected in newer versions of the dongle software. Additionally, a parameter setting exists which allows you to specify which port the dongle software should attempt communication with. For updated drivers or information on how to configure the dongle, please contact the software supplier who supplied the dongle. Because both the PHANTOM Device Drivers and the dongle drivers operate at a very low level, they are not compatible when running simultaneously. As such, it is not possible to run applications requiring the PHANTOM Desktop at the same time as a "dongled" application. They should run fine independently if configured as described previously.
An error message states that the computer cannot communicate with the PHANTOM Device. What should I do?
This is usually caused by a misconfigured or disconnected PHANTOM Device. First check the devices connections and power supply. Then open the PHANTOM Configuration tool and make sure that your particular device is selected. See your PHANTOM device User's Guide for more information.
If you are using a PHANTOM Desktop, you may need to check the Parallel Port Setting in your BIOS. You may want to consult your computer's documentation on how to enter the BIOS. Be forewarned, making reckless changes to your BIOS could lead to unpredictable behavior from your computer. If you do decide to make BIOS changes, be sure that you feel comfortable doing so. Please call us directly if you have any questions or would like us to walk you through.
Once in the BIOS, there should be a location to change your Parallel Port Mode. This may be under a menu that has a name similar to "Devices and IO Ports" or "Peripheral Settings." From this menu, you'll want to set your Port Mode to EPP. When back in Windows, run the PHANTOM Configuration Control Panel to allow the drivers to redetect the new port mode. It may take a little trial and error, but as long as your computer has an EPP mode, it should work.back to top