This OSHW Trackball Is Ready To Be Customized

Oh sure, Amazon can deliver any number of Logitech peripherals to your door in 48 hours, but where’s the fun in that? With open source hardware (OSHW) input devices like the Ploopy Adept Trackball, you not only get to say you built the thing yourself, but there’s also an opportunity to tune the gadget to your exacting specifications — even if that just means packing it full of RGB LEDs.

The trackball is powered by the Raspberry Pi Pico running QMK, features a high-accuracy PMW3360 sensor that can be found in commercial gaming mice, and uses a snooker ball for the business end. All the hardware is wrapped up in a 3D printed enclosure, and thanks to the VIA project, configuring the device can be done right in the browser through a web app.

Like the other devices in the (somewhat unfortunately named) Ploopy family, all of the design files for the Adept Trackball are released under the CERN license, which combined with the project’s fantastic documentation means you’ve got everything you need to build it from scratch. There are official parts kits if you don’t want to source or print all the components yourself, but as of this writing, the Ploopy Shop will only let you preorder them.

25 thoughts on “This OSHW Trackball Is Ready To Be Customized

    1. Amen.

      “Hey, your Web site is broken. When you press ‘Check out’ nothing happens.”

      “We recommend deleting your cookies and cache and making sure you’re using Chrome.”

      “Buh bye.”

  1. Any suggestions on where I can source a 1.75″ snooker ball in the USA short of lifting it from some British expat pub? There’s plenty of 1.5″ and 2.25″ balls on amazon, but nothing at 1.75 comes up. There are a few mentioned in titles, but the actual item pages never have that size. I’ve wanted to make a trackball of my own for a long time, so this project seems ideal. I wonder if I could just scale everything up by 50%…..

      1. Doing a quick look at them, I would have to conclude that no, those won’t work as they’re wooden balls that have been painted. The surface will be too uneven and soft–the paint will quickly flake off with the stress of the bearings point loading it. And the low mass of the wood will make it roll poorly. Maybe if I searched more generically for ‘1.75″ resing ball’ I might have better luck…. Nope, that doesn’t work either.

        I appreciate your effort!

          1. That’s what I sort of settled on. I posted an issue on the projects github asking of they either though it would be practical to scale it to 2.25″ billiards balls or if a much more dense 1.75″ steel bearing would be practical. I guess the ball’s in their court, now.

  2. You folks now have me missing my old trackball. Can’t recall the brand now (Win98 era), But the drivers were easy to simply pull up in a text editor and you could just re-write the numbers string to get the acceleration curve to suit your preferences.

    Seems nothing else feels quite like that steel ball!
    I still have a few steel ball mice left in the treasure box.
    Optical mice just don’t have the right feel for me.

    The encoder shafts (for the steel ball mouse) are wearing slightly thin in the center areas though.
    Perhaps a sleeve job for the shafts at some point?
    Really wish I had grabbed a few “left hand” ball mice when they were still around. they actually fit my rt hand much better.

  3. i love my old logitech “marble” trackball but i live on a laptop so i hardly ever use it anymore. just get it out if i want to play videogames, or sometimes if i get too frustrated doing image editing.

    what i really want is a better touchpad. it never really seems to stay calibrated to what is 0/1/2 fingers, so it would not register my input, or think it’s 2 fingers, depending on which direction and how bad it had gotten. my old laptop, i would recalibrate it by hand whenever the humidity (?) would change dramatically. my new laptop has automatic calibration of some sort so i have some unreliable dance of putting my whole palm on it and taking it off to reset it? the new laptop, the pad is so physically large that it picks up a lot of extraneous input, like from my gut hanging over the laptop (i use it in my lap, go figure). i think that is the root cause of its continuing difficulty.

    i really think some radical redesign is in order and for a few months i have been dreaming about putting an upside down optical mouse in there. if i could eschew the light, i can imagine simply dragging my fingertip along the little window there and letting it register the texture of my fingerprints.

    dreams. sigh.

  4. Does anyone know how much this costs if you source the parts yourself, rather than buying their cdn$74 print it yourself kit? For my purposes three kit is a bit steep. (I’d use it with emulation for some old games, but I think I prefer a trackpad or a mouse for general use.)

    1. Doesn’t seem expensive. Just uses basic components and a RP2040.
      The only stick in the mud is the PMW3360 sensor and its optic part. No regular supplier carries it, only seem to be able to get them via alieexpress. Which is always a gamble.

      Main hurdle in self-construction is the RP2040 and the USB-C connector. If you can deal with that, no reason not to built it yourself if you can get the parts.

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