DIY Gaming Mouse Beats The Competition, Costs Less

We’ve seen plenty of custom keyboards here on Hackaday. Seriously, like more than we can count. But custom mice? Those are far more elusive. Though we wouldn’t be surprised to see that change should this excellent example from [Tyler Richard] catch on.

How the mouse sees the date on a US quarter

The goal was to build a customizable mouse that could match the performance of Logitech’s MX Master 3, but without the $100 USD price tag. In the end, [Tyler] says his mouse is around 10x as responsive thanks to a 1,000 Hz refresh rate, and the total cost is just a fraction of the retail price of the Logitech. Though as you might expect, there’s a catch or two.

For one thing, he says getting your hands on the PixArt PMW3389 mouse sensor in single quantities can be difficult. It seems like he was able to secure a sample because he’s a student, but you’ll have to figure out your own way to con secure one from the company. There’s also no friendly GUI to configure the mouse, and indeed, you’ll need to write some code should you want to modify any of its buttons. Oh, and despite the fact that the cheapo donor mouse you need to use for parts is wireless, the replacement guts you’ll be fitting it with currently only support wired operation.

Alright, we’ll admit it’s not perfect. But it’s still a huge step in the right direction if you care about being able to spin up your own input devices. With some refinement, and perhaps somebody willing to do bulk buy of the sensors, we could see this project becoming quite popular. In the meantime, you may have to settle for a macro stool.

33 thoughts on “DIY Gaming Mouse Beats The Competition, Costs Less

  1. It should be noted that I’m not a gamer that expects much from their equipment so I have little authority on what makes for a good gaming mouse. I have been told, however, that the MX Master 3 isn’t a good gaming mouse, so comparing this mouse to it for the purposes of gaming seems like an unfair comparison. Furthermore, and I say this as the owner of a MX master 3, the featured mouse absolutely is not an MX Master 3 and no matter how much better the sensor is, it will never even come close for one main reason – the scroll wheel. The magnetically indexed and automatic software selectable freewheel options for the scroll wheel of the MX3 are the single reason I can no longer switch to another mouse. I was previously a trackball fanatic, but had to switch to a different mouse for a wrist injury (MX 3 was the recommendation of my PT given my injury and hand size). I’ve since recovered, but have yet to put any real time on my trackball. The scroll wheel on the MX Master 3 is just pure sex and the customizability makes it good sex. It snaps into the indexes sharply, but moves away from them smoothly. I like having it always indexed for CAD and technical work, but have it freewheel upon a relatively fast flick for web browsing and mouse heavy reading applications, and I have it freewheel after just a slow flick on things like console windows and other apps that I don’t use the mouse much or have very little scrolling except for going way back in history.

    Every time I use a scroll wheel on anything else it just feels like going back to the time when mice had a ball and optical encoder.

    1. Yeah, the MX Master 3 seems to be a productivity focused mouse from all the materials I see on Logitech’s webpage. It’s not gonna be difficult to beat it in refresh rate, and even then you have to reliable with how you track movement using that refresh rate.
      I had a “1000Hz” Logitech back in 2006, a G5. And still rock a G500, a still older “1000Hz” design. I’m sure they are updating the sensor at 1000Hz, but I’ll bet that doesn’t translate the same for every design. Plus its not the only thing to measure this on.

      Even if the DIY design does meet or exceed one of those older designs, I doubt it actually beats a newer model for gaming usage.
      If they tried to beat the MX Master 3 on productivity functions, sure might be a matchup, but this seems like an Apple and Oranges comparison for mice.

      1. Hah, my Logitech G5 “laser” mouse from 2008 is still my primary pointing device – not counting my digits of course. ;-)

        Had to decipher the M/N to verify it’s actually the G5 still on my desk.

        My older mx500 and mx510 are still working too (one has a cable problem I think and maybe the grip-stuff is dissolving – haven’t checked in quite some time)

    2. A DIY mouse will never surpass the build quality of a premium priced mouse. I have used a lot of mouse and I would never go back to low to mid priced mouse. I would always gravitate toward Logitech and I would never ever buy a Razer mouse they are just too unreliable and doesn’t last as long as Logitech.

      1. After years of using whatever mouse was at hand I splurged on a “good” one. Not top of the line, but better. I’d still be using it, but in 2016 I bought a decent trackball. I’m still undecided whether it’s better than a mouse, but it works fine.

        1. You’re being a fanboy saying Razer spanks Logitech in mice. You’ve not tried every mouse from both brands. Otherwise, you’d know whatever criteria you’re using to base your generalization on was incorrect. I have 31 mice in my possession right now. Some from every brand, but I have 3-4 from Razer and 3-4 from Logitech. Some are good, some are awful. But you literally contradict yourself immediately in your post. “Razer spanks Logitech,” and then “Don’t be a fanboy.” Smh.

        2. \> Don’t be a fanboy

          \> Proceeds to be a fanboy

          FWIW, every Razer and Corsair product I’ve ever owned has failed. Not in a “yeah, it lasted years and then a button started going goofy” way, but in a “Wow, this thing is barely two months old and is functionally useless” way. That’s because they’re both overpriced garbage made by companies who focus more on flash and meaningless specs than they do making good products.

          Meanwhile, I’m using the same Vortex Pok3r I bought on release day, and the same L-Trac (X-Keys, red ball) I’ve been using for ages. They both work (and look, surprisingly) like new.

          I understand everyone has their preferences… but cheap junk smeared with unicorn barf and wrapped in “gamer angles” isn’t mine.

      2. I had a death adder mouse the cable became unreliable after about 5 years. I bought a Logitech wireless G pro and the battery failed after 3 years. I have since bought a death adder V2 which uses normal batteries so hopefully I avoid both problems.

        I think the longest lasting was an MS optical might even still work.

      3. You obviously don’t know much about modern tooling or manufacturing. And I’m not sure what your definition of a “premium” mouse is. Razer Viper Ultimate is plenty premium. And Logitech has it’s failings as well. Their most popular mouse, the Logitech G Pro Superlight, has a common issue where the middle click ceases to function over time (a few months) without pressing it down with an absurd amount of force. I’ve had 3 of them, all given to me for free minus the first because Logitech knows it’s a problem, and have sent me new ones without question. You’re making huge generalizations, which makes your argument seem pretty flat. I’ve had Logitech mice that have lasted for years, and I’ve had Razer mice that have lasted for years. But I’ve also had both that haven’t lasted more than a few months. DIY mice with modern 3D printing tech could easily be as good as a “premium” (again, no idea what your definition of that is supposed to be, unless you mean gimmicky switches with crappy software, like Razer and Logitech) mouse.

      4. That’s ridiculous. A custom keyboard can cost THOUSANDS of dollars. Hell, a basic Canoe will run you $400+ if you can even find it. Another $100+ for a PCB, another $100 easy for switches, $200 for a set of unique color way keycaps. And this isn’t even like, one of a kind unique stuff. A single artisan keycap can run hundreds.

        Then again you can also do a build for under $100 and still have something incredible and unique.

        To say that there’s no room to do the same for mice is ridiculous. No clue why it’s not done.

    3. I guess different people like different things in sex, but for me the mx master 3 wheel definitely cannot compare to it. Its functionality when changing scroll direction is terribly unpredictable ignoring lots of wheel ‘ticks’, especially in the up direction. It seems it’s a known issue that logi and online reviews ignore!

      1. Hmmm, I’ve not noticed any issues with missing “clicks”, up or down, and that’s after well over a year of use. Maybe I just got lucky? If I had to find something to complain about the wheel, its that when the magnetic “clutch” switches from freewheel to indexed, sometimes the wheel is in between clicks it goes one click opposite of the direction of initial movement, but I think that’s just how that would have to work, it certainly would if there was a mechanical clutch. I can see where unpredictable scrolling would be a deal breaker.

        Also, I’d love it if the thumb wheel was indexed. Even just a mechanical always indexed would be nice. Minor niggle.

    4. Hey, creator here, and I completely agree with you. The fact that the MX Master 3 sucked as a gaming mouse was my main motive here, as, like you, I’m addicted to the scroll wheel and can’t imagine using anything else. This mouse was more of an “is it possible” than an ultimate replacement. Eventually (maybe once the first semester is over?), I’m hoping to gut an MX Master 3 and use all of its parts (including the amazing scroll wheel!) to make a new ultimate DIY mouse.

  2. This might fix the main problem I have with many popular mouse brands.

    Despite the quality and expense of the sensor-processing-buttons-casing and a good value at $10-$50. They are only configurable with a 200MB bloatware package that can’t even change the LED color without an active internet connection and an account logged in. Booo.

    So bring the DIY mouse like this! One option might be to find a donor mouse with the pixart sensor you want?

    1. Yes! I say we need at least ONE of open source EVERYTHING! If not for anything else, then for the very thing of “don’t like how it works? REPROGRAM IT YOURSELF!”

      It is the pinnacle of customization – open hardware mouse, keyboard, printer(!!!), webcam – open source ALL the hardware, all the software, all the peripheries! I really hope company like framework is today will do this.

      I’m done.

      1. Same, the aforementioned MX Master 3 has a thumb button there for gestures. I find that pressing with the side of the thumb isn’t very intuitive or ergonomic, so I rarely do it, but if it were a capacitive switch I would probably use it all the time.

  3. As someone who owns 31 mice at the moment (I review them and it’s helpful to keep carpal tunnel away), a DIY mouse is my next project. One of biggest issues is finding a base that has the laser dead center on the bottom, so when using your wrist to track left or right, the cursor moves as expected and not off to an angle. Thanks for sharing this article, it helped spark a lot of great ideas.

  4. I definitely would not give up my MX Revolution’s scroll wheel, even for the MX Master (no wheel tilt, no side rocker-switch). But the MX Revolution’s are all over a decade old, and whilst you can still replace the battery and mouse buttons, the wheel mechs will all wear out eventually. That’s the part I really would like to replicate, but mechanisms that fine are well into SLA territory rather than FDM, and I’m not sure how well even ‘tough’ SLA resins would stand up to being worn away as a detent surface.

  5. The one thing I must have on my mouse is a d pad to use for my thumb. If I can mod that onto a decent enough mouse, I’ll have no reason to use anything else. Being able to one hand FPS games is a dream in and of itself. Maybe I’ll buy a right Joycon one day…

  6. I know it’s not a gaming mouse, but M100 and the like are pretty decent for newbies. What is great about it is optical mouse encoder, meaning longevity (though bad/cheap scrolling mechanism: noisy unless lubricated, which results in less gripping, not to mention erasing of bumps with time), as well as that it doesn’t loose control (don’t know the proper term in English, you know, the one occurring during fast movement; this was on proper mouse pad, so you may get different results w/o it), has 3 buttons (B110 has 5 buttons, but 3 of them are near scroll wheel and it’s hard to use 2 of them, if not all 3) which is enough, also it’s very light which makes moving it very easy, w/o classic slamming. It’s kind of hard to hold (I hold its “tail” with 3 fingers: big, pinky, nameless). Also you have to resolder microswitches to Omron or something else, because they have cheap Kali. Also mouse pads are a bit shitty. But for $5–10 it’s a very good mouse (I bought used for $1 and replaced 3 switches for $0.5).

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