Use your TV remote as an HID mouse

[Vinod's] latest project lets him use a TV remote control as a mouse. It may not sound like much, but he did it with a minimum of hardware and packed in the maximum when it comes to features.

He’s using an ATmega8 to read the remote control signals and provide USB connectivity. With the V-USB stack he enumerates the device as an HID mouse. One note of warning, he used the PID/VID pair from the USBasp programmer project. If you use that programmer you’ll need to uninstall the drivers to get this to work (we think this is only necessary on a Windows box).

The cursor can be moved in eight directions using the number pad on the remote. The numeral five falls in the center of the directional buttons so [Vinod] mapped that to the left click, with the zero key serving as right click. He even included the scroll wheel by using the volume buttons. The firmware supports cursor acceleration. If you hold one direction the cursor will move slowly at first,then pick up speed. Fine adjustments can be made by single clicking the button. Check out his demonstration embedded after the break.

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Controlling a mouse with your voice

It’s entirely possible to use a computer without the aid of a mouse or trackpad. Shift and arrow keys will get you very far, but that is entirely too taxing. [Stephen] came up with a really neat way to control a mouse with your voice, a project that is sure to find its way onto the desktops of those with mobility issues very quickly

The voice controlled mouse works in conjunction with the voice recognition built into OS X, a little AppleScript, and a touch of Python. When the user says, ‘show grid’ a 10 by 10 grid numbered 1 to 100 is displayed on the screen. By saying ‘thirty five,’ the cursor moves to the 35th cell in the grid. From there, the mouse can be controlled by speaking cardinal directions such as South and Northwest.

[Stephen] put up a very clever demo of his Voice Mouse project available after the break. Even though he did have a little difficulty with his mac recognizing a few of his spoken commands its light years ahead of trying to navigate the web with just shift and arrow keys.

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Retrotechtacular: The Blit has given me access to the power of multiprogramming!

We normally try to be descriptive with our titles. But when that statement pops out of the narration with notable excitement it made us chuckle. This installment of Retrotechtacular is a promotional video for the Blit. It’s a graphics-based hardware terminal for Unix systems. It’s biggest boast is the ability to run (and display on screen) several different programs at once — an activity called multiprogramming. But there is also the “digitizing mouse”. On board is a 68000 microcprocessor 256k of RAM (they call it a quarter meg), and connects via RS232. The screen is 800 by 1024; that’s right, it’s a portrait orientation.

Notable in this episode are some classic eyeglass frames, and rad synthesizer sounds for scene transitions. Whatever happened to videography technique that uses a dimwitted companion to ask that all-knowing narrator stupid questions?

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Foot-controlled mouse keeps your hands on the keyboard

A bit of mechanical ingenuity makes building this foot-controlled mouse into a fun project. It consists of a platform which hosts one pedal for each foot. The right foot controls the movement of the cursor, and the left is responsible for the buttons.

The guts of a wireless mouse do most of the electrical work for this hack. You can see that the optical sensor is mounted on the front of the right foot pedal. A ball bearing combined with a hinge provides motion on two axes. This moves the sensor past a piece of curved foam made by covering a ball with plastic wrap then spraying foam insulation around it. The pedal on the left has four buttons actuated by moving the toes down, up, left, or right. There’s a centering mechanism for this pedal which uses a rubber band

One thing we wonder about here is whether there is a need to lift and re-center the mouse/cursor? There is also no scroll wheel. But those issues are just waiting for someone to pick up the project and make their own improvements.

Python maps mouse movements on an LED matrix

[Vinod Stanur] is working with a mouse input and a microcontroller driven LED matrix. The mouse cursor is tracked inside of a window by Python and the resulting coordinates on the LED grid are illuminated. He calls it an LED matrix “Paint Toy” because one of the features he’s included lets the user create pixel art like in MS Paint.

The 10×8 grid of lights is controlled by a PIC 16F877A. This display orientation is perfect for the 8-bit controller, which uses an array of ten bytes to keep track of the pixel data. A computer running his Python application (which uses the Pygame module to track the mouse movements) communicates with the display board via an RF connection. Five bytes plus a stop character make up the communication packet. The first two bytes contain the coordinates of the cursor, the other three bytes contain mouse button status.

As you can see in the demo after the break, the system is very responsive. The mouse can be moved quickly without latency issues, and if the cursor leaves the tracking window it gets picked up right away when it re-enters.

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Ancient mouse teardown and repair

For a young geek in the 80s, the it computer was the IBM PCjr. On paper, it was a truly remarkable leap in technology. With a wireless keyboard, light pen, and optical mouse it was an impressive, if maligned, piece of hardware. There was a small problem with the optical mouse, though; it required a special mousepad. [Michael], a PCjr aficionado, decided to make his own optical mousepad. It works, and was a lot easier to build than finding a used one for sale.

The PCjr mouse used two photodectors – a red LED and photodector for the horizontal axis, and an IR LED setup for the vertical. Light is shot through two holes in the bottom of the mouse and reflects back onto the photodetectors. [Michael] emulated the old mousepad with a sheet of aluminum foil and a transparency with a printed grid pattern. Surely not as elegant as an original, but it does the job nonetheless.

This clever-for-its-day optical mouse setup wasn’t limited to the lowly PCjr. A number of old Sun workstations had a similar setup that used small dots on the mousepad. There were several generations of mousepads that were generally incomparable with each other (because one type of mousepad wasn’t proprietary enough for Sun), but we would assume a similar build would work for these forgotten mice.

Thanks to [josh] for sending this one in.

Pep up your house cat’s boring wintertime life

With winter upon us, and all the windows shut, [Garfield] and [Socks] can get a little restless. But [Dino] is determined to keep his furry friends entertained through the cold dark months. He hit the junk box, and used some interesting fabrication techniques to build the Chase-a-Mouse motorized cat toy.

The toy is popular with the cats because it incorporates two traditionally satisfying features; something to chase, and an obstacle to chase it around. The base of the unit is a long plank which is held up from the floor by a couple of inches. The loop of rope which spans the board’s length has a mouse attached to it with about six inches of string. When the motor is flipped on it bounces and jerks its way around the circuit, darting in and out of the space below the base.

As you can see in the video after the break the motor is a bit loud. [Dino] used the sweeper motor from a Roomba for this. It might freak the kitties out at first, but curiosity will get the better of them eventually. It’s a quick build, and we love the drill-turned-lathe that is used make the wooden pulley for the system.

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