Hackaday Links: July 1, 2018

Remember when computer mice didn’t have scroll wheels? The greatest mouse of all time, the Microsoft Intellimouse Explorer 3.0, is back in production. This mouse was released in 2003, before the popularity of ‘gaming’ mice from the likes of Razer, and at the time it was the standard mouse for RTS and FPS professional gamers. After producing a few million of these mice, the molds died or the sensors were out of stock, Microsoft stopped shipping the Intellimouse Explorer 3.0, and the ones that were out in the wild slowly died. Now this fantastic mouse is back, and it’s only going to set you back $40. Believe me when I say this is one of the greatest user interface devices ever created, right up there with the Model M keyboard.

Another week, another update on building an airplane in a basement. [Peter Sripol] has basically finished the fuselage of his homebuilt ultralight with working elevator, rudder, and landing gear that looks like it might hold up.

The Pebble was one of the most successful crowdfunding campaigns ever, and now it’s dead. Pebble was bought by Fitbit for $40M, and now the Pebble servers are off, as of June 30th. Of course there are community-based projects to keep the Pebble working, notably the rebble project.

It’s time for Steam’s summer sale, and your wallet is crying. The standout deal is the Steam Link, a sort of ‘thin client for Steam’ that plugs into your TV, looks on the network for your battlestation, and allows you to play Fortnite or whatever on the big screen. The Steam Link normally sells for $50, but with the summer sale it’s two dollars and fifty cents.

Here are a few experiments in CNC joinery. [Mirock] has a CNC machine and a few pieces of wood, and explored what is possible when you want to join two boards at ninety degrees to each other. Why is this interesting? One of the joints on this simple box project consists of a circle with a hole on one board, and a pin on the other. This is basically a Knapp joint, a ‘dovetail’ of sorts that was developed in the 1860s. This was the first popular machine-made joint in woodworking, and if you ever see it on an antique, it solidly dates that piece to any time between 1870-1900. Of course, now that you can just buy a CNC router, an infinite variety of joints are possible, and [Mirock] can experiment with all sorts of combinations of pins and tails and mortises and tenons.

32 thoughts on “Hackaday Links: July 1, 2018

  1. “Believe me when I say this is one of the greatest user interface devices ever created, right up there with the Model M keyboard.”

    Ergonomic keyboard was pretty popular.

    “The Steam Link normally sells for $50, but with the summer sale it’s two dollars and fifty cents.”

    Subtle hint for someone to take it apart.

      1. On one hand the hardware specs are a little low: just one CPU core, only 100MBit/s ethernet and so on…
        On the other hand there is a cross compiling SDK and an SSH shell with default PW is easily accessible.

        I’d like to use it as a thin client (windows rdp) but so far i couldn’t really figure out how to compile freerdp for it….

    1. The Steam Link has been around for a long time, there’s plenty of teardowns available. You can also find Valve’s official SDK release on github. Hardwarewise it’s very close to the original Chromecast, featuring a Marvell Armada 1500-Mini single-core Cortex-A9 CPU.

  2. Its good to see that I can still buy a mouse that does what I want in a mouse. Its not wireless (I hate wireless mice and keyboards because of battery life). Its not tiny (like all those laptop mice). Its not super-expensive (like all those gaming mice). And its got the 2 buttons on the side for use in all the software I have that supports those extra 2 buttons.

    Hopefully the new Intellimouse actually becomes available to me here in Australia without having to order it online and pay a fortune in shipping.

    1. Batteries in wireless mice and keyboards can last quite a long time now. My old Performance MX probably goes a few weeks to a month, but I’ve read newer mice can go for 6 months to a year.

      1. They always go dead when least convenient, and when used in a stationary application it only makes sense to cut the middleman (battery and transmitter + receiver) and wire it up directly.

    2. I hate wired mice slightly more than I hate the battery life problem, but I still don’t like it.

      Why is there no energy harvesting built in? And why do the almost never use accelerometers? Dead reckoning sucks for accuracy long term, but a mouse is closed loop, and you can correct it with occasional use of the optical sensor.

      They could use solar, thermoelectric, RF, or at the very least put a lithium battery and a built in USB charger instead of expecting us to go out and buy LSD NiMH.

      1. A mouse is inherently a relative positioning device. Changing it to absolute positioning means you lose mouse acceleration behaviour, and you can’t reposition the mouse at will to keep it in a comfortable spot.

        If you want a mouse with absolute positioning and high accuracy, what you really want is a tablet.

        1. There’s no reason you can’t have relative positioning with an accelerometer, it’s just a power saving optimization that also lets it work on surfaces without many features to track.

  3. As a leftie, that mouse sucks. They should bring back the design of the original Intellimouse. Despite not being symmetrical, it was designed to be used both left- and righthanded.

      1. there’s good research that the population of left-handed people is a lot higher than reported, due to a lot of people forcibly switching their dominant hand while they’re young and their brain is still plastic. happened to me due to my kindergarten and 1st grade teachers thinking left-handedness was a sign of the devil and punishing me for using my left hand…

  4. I want the MS Trackball Optical 1.0 back, with one small improvement. Silicon carbide bearings instead of the steel ones that wore out. I still have one that’s good. I’m the only person that gets to use it because I make sure to have my hands clean and I keep the ball and bearings clean.

    1. Me Too!!!
      I have purchased and refurbished several from fleaBay including changing the bearings. There are a bunch for sale with missing balls and I have been experimenting with different sorts of balls from various sources and can’t find any where the size is a consistent match. (Found some quartz ‘healing crystals’ which work good and look awesome with the red LED, but the sizes are inconsistent. Maybe one in ten fits. Does anyone know where to get workable replacements?)
      Still have 3 working Intellimice version 1.1A

  5. That mouse was good but it had one guaranteed flaw, at some point the wire would break internally near the entry point to the mouse.
    The result was weird incidents and drop outs and the solution was cutting out a bit of the wire to get past the damaged area.
    I bet that if you can find a ‘bad’ old one you can also simply replace its cable and have it work again.

    1. The other flaw was the rubberised paint, which would become sticky with age :(

      It’s sad the sensor on the new one sucks, though there is a guide to replacing the internals with a pixart chip.

  6. Unlike basically every other mouse in existence, Mac OSX, Android, iOS (how would you even attach it though) or Linux support for that mouse though.

  7. I want to see the Microsoft Wheel Mouse Optical go back into production!! I buy them up whenever I can find them for an amount that doesn’t make me faint, and repair them until there’s just nothing left.

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