Getting To The TrackPoint Quicker

Love it or hate it, TrackPoint can be a powerful tool. Love it or hate it, the idea of moving the mouse without removing your hands from the keys has an appeal. [Alon Swartz] incorporated one into his custom wired split mechanical keyboard and wrote a helpful guide on how to do it yourself.

The first step was to determine the pinout of the Trackpoint, which he provides a handy repository of various devices with annotations and pictures. The next step is swapping the little rubber nub at the top for something a bit longer. As the PCB sits below the keys, a labret cheek piercing happens to be a perfect candidate. Strong, thin, easily obtainable in different lengths, and threaded on one end. With jewelry in hand, [Alon] created a reset circuit with just a few resistors and a capacitor so the teensy can trigger a reset of the Trackpoint. The keyboard’s TMK firmware also needed a few tweaks to support reading the Trackpoint.

It’s a great guide, and we love the use of the jewelry as a piece of the keyboard. A knitting needle was used in a previous attempt to add a Trackpoint to a mechanical keyboard, and we’re excited to see what other household items end up in keyboards.

10 thoughts on “Getting To The TrackPoint Quicker

    1. Ha yeah I remember this one! Found it ages ago. I’m one of those freaks who likes the nub mouse (and trackballs..) so I had to find a way to shoehorn it into things that aren’t a thinkpad. I found a bunch of salvaged laptop keyboards with the trackpoint module in them, but none of them quite matched the layout of the ones reverse-engineered in this guide. So I figured them out myself. I was meaning to send photos of the pinouts to him, but never got around to it. I should do that one of these days. Seems like there’s a whole lot of variations through the years.

      It’s also nice that they all have pins for THREE MOUSE BUTTONS. Middle click is not optional for me, and so many mice leave it out. I can’t use CAD with just two buttons. Geez.

      1. I also like trackballs. However i prefer them large and used by my thumb. WAY nore accurate than a wrist movement and you can use them in any sitting position making them very ergonomic. One of these days im going to take that monstrosity of a logitech and stuff a high quality sensor in it.

        Once you get used to it you can traverse multiple screens with a flick and stop pretty darn accurately. I used to clean up instagib in quake using one of those to the point people accused me of cheating and rage quit. Nope, just using my thumb instead of my whole forearm to aim. Which makes vertical aiming so much easier than with a mouse.

    1. heh this is just what i was thinking, though i didn’t know anyone else had done it. i’ve made a series of one-off hacks (named things like ‘xmouse’, and ‘xmouse2’) depending on the specific deficiencies of whatever laptop trackpad i’m using today.

    1. I am presuming you mean a 4 or 5 way switch, it would be trivial to do and that is probably why there is no examples for it.
      The thing about the Track Point is that it is analog, or at least has different levels, that makes it possible to do both big and small moments.

    2. You mean a keyboard cap? Zenith had the “J mouse” which I was rather fond of as it seems that your right middle finger isn’t that heavily worked for typing, so it seems to integrate typing and mousing better.

      1. I’ve never come across the J mouse! Sounds like the sort of thing – I was thinking strain gauges on at least an x and y axis. I don’t think a 4 or 5 way switch would work for the reasons MrSVCD highlights – and that’s why there aren’t examples of such in the field ;-). Integrating the trackpoint gubbins into a key cap whilst also retaining the key’s switching mechanism could be an interesting challenge – of course the trackpoint is strain gauge based in its own right, and IBM engineers are pretty clever, so I am guessing that it would be really hard to pull off successfully.

  1. We’re all friends here, this is an informal conversation.

    ‘Clitmouse’ is the name you are looking for.
    ‘Nurple’ if slightly more formal.

    Nobody knows WTF a trackpoint is. Stinkpad style mouse is the safe way to describe when around people with sticks in uncomfortable places.

Leave a Reply

Please be kind and respectful to help make the comments section excellent. (Comment Policy)

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.