Ultra Mouse Modification


When traveling with a laptop, we often find that the list of peripherals that we have to attach can get pretty long. Especially if it is an older laptop without wireless built in. [Dawning] has taken steps to consolidate some of his peripherals(registration required)by cramming a USB hub and a wireless card into his mouse.

He started by dismantling a USB hub. After placing the board in the mouse to see how it fit, he realized that he was going to have to reduce the size. To do this, he removed the USB slots themselves. This forces him to wire things directly to the board, but saves a ton of space. Next, he took the guts from a USB wireless adapter and wired them up. The decorative LED in the mouse was then moved to the wireless card. This way he could see light flicker with his network traffic. At this point, that’s all he’s added, though there’s still plenty of space for other items. He notes that he’ll probably add some storage or a CF reader. The only problem he has encountered is that his mouse tends to get warm during use. What peripherals would you put in there?

Update: [Dawning] let us know that he didn’t actually remove the LED from its original location. He connected a wire from the wireless adapter that causes the LED to short when traffic is going through. Also, there’s a video which you can now see after the break.

75 thoughts on “Ultra Mouse Modification

  1. Funny, I did something similar a few days ago. It’s not enterily the same- I gutted a small hub/cardreader-combination and fixed some usb-stuff inside the modified housing. Now it has a 2GB-USB-Stick and the receiver of my USB-Notebbok-Mouse. The third port is still free, I want to make it useable as a normal port, and the forth port supplies the cardreader. the size does not exceed the original, and it still runs without additional powering. When I made the final changes, I’ll post some pics maybe.

  2. I like the idea of adding flash storage with either an OS, your favorite apps, or your encryption keys, but the age-old problem still exists. Don’t put too many eggs in one basket. Might put you in a real bind if you lose your mouse or it decides to quit working while on the road. You can’t just run out to your favorite electronics store and replace it.

  3. Adding more juice is easy. When 2.5″ external drives first appeared many required a ‘y’ adapter to tap into the power from a 2nd usb port. you can do the same – keep all the original wiring, unless its really small guage you should be able to pump 1 amp through it w/o a problem especially since many of the parts only have intermittant draw. Never heard of usb ports turning off, usually the power pins are all paralleled together and therefore unswitchable.

  4. @me: I’m not sure adding more juice is actually that easy. Seems to me that a USB port will only provide power to a device for a brief period of time (like a minute) without the device making a connection. After that, the port returns to a low-power state. I think the reason why the y-connectors would work for hard drives is that initial power could be used to offset and initial power surges in the power consumption of a hard drive as it powers up. Most of our devices initially cause a big power spike when they first fire up and thus temporarily need a lot more power than what they generally operate at….. So IF I’m actually right about that regarding USB ports, then I don’t think the splitter would solve anything. :\

    Good thought at any rate.

  5. Make a custom wire with two usb plugs on the end. You can get a flexible rubber coated 10 conductor wire not much thicker than a regular mouse wire. it will look stock. Then use the second usb wire to connect other devices or just to power more stuff.

  6. Dawning/paul g

    Your hand probably is getting microwaved. Many 802.11 devices indicate a minimum distance one should stay away from the antennas while the device is on. (For instance manual for a Motorola WA840G wireless access point or WN825 PCMCIA adapter say to stay at least 8″ from the antenna), and of course further is better.

  7. that was my idea (as well as [i guess] many other peoples) to put a usb flash drive in a mouse.
    POWER TO THE HACKERS! we come up with these ideas. COPYRIGHT THEM! too many dang companies take our ideas and sell them. they make the money, and we had the idea. see the problem?

  8. Cool idea. I’d connect a memory stick and a WLAN stick. If you put a bootable Linux on the memory stick, you can take your fully preconfigured system with you.

    OMFG YES!!! Linux in a mouse :D I am SO doin that! Assuming I can fit a hub in the mouse, will probably try with a USB keyboard.

  9. @scdr: I think I’m fine for the radiation factor – I’m thinking cell phones have got to be more dangerous. Probably cordless phones too. I’d guess the stardard you read up on has more to do with signal attenuation. And like I suggested to someone else, the atenna could be easily broken out and exposed on the USB cord itself.

    @cyberpunk: Meh, I don’t think anyone necessarily has a right to own something like this… Now if any of us go ahead and make a bunch of them and sell them to others, it’d be nice to be mentioned, but really, whatever. I’m more interested in technological progress than making a buck. I’ll worry about making $ by doing custom stuff for people and not milking one good idea to death. I think copyrights are ridiculously abused. Though I’d suspect if I had the $, I could copyright this – I don’t don’t really care to.


  10. A key-activated accelerometer would be nice. As you have a USB-Hub you could build a little device using a little avr to do the magic. That way you could use gestures to start programs, make it act as arrow keys to navigate google maps and do other fun stuff – I think you got the point.

  11. I have my doubts if many manning security are going to be able to glance at an x ray of a cordless mouse and, go; “hey whats with all the extra components inside that mouse. :)

  12. There is a way to over come this issue. http://www.instructables.com/id/LINUX-LEECH/ This is a project that I did as a proof of concept but, crunching it down into a smaller form isn’t much of a leap. While there is no mouse housing it will cover everything. The power issue is overcome by adding a battery pack. I have run a usb card reader, portable harddrive, wifi, and a small mouse (I really wanted to install a small touch pad on top). The distro that I was using had a virtual keybord. This unit made it easy to take over a machine with only one usb cable. I still use this little sucker.

  13. Computers are built to do what his mouse is hacked to do. Mine has BT, 3G, 802.11G, IR, 1394, several card slots AND a Synaptics touch pad so the inverted trackball is not needed. Yes the track ball pre dates mice several years and is still superior for people with normal coordination.
    Why have a mouse? Why not use a laptop computer with his hacks in built?

  14. @eric: You’re over simplifying the issue. You should watch the video and pay particular attention to the justification I give in the first few seconds. I was having difficulties using my wireless card inside my laptop due to lame interfacing between my hardware and OS. I found a card that worked better and decided to consolidate my peripherals.

    I think people like the idea of this hack because it suggests compressing a bunch of handy peripherals in to one that they can easily move between computers. I think the best case is the idea of running a Linux distro from a flash drive inside the mouse. :)

  15. I have a regular wired trackball mouse. I want to mod it so it is either bluetooth, or wifi enabled which will enable me to have a wireless mouse, but preserve a usb port on my mac.

    Any ideas?

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