3D Mouse With 3D Printed Flexures And PCB Coils

3D mice with six degrees of freedom (6DOF) motion are highly valued by professional CAD users. However, the entry-level versions typically cost upwards of $150 and are produced by a single manufacturer. [Colton Baldridge] has created the OS3M Mouse — an open source alternative using PCB coils and 3D printed flexures.

The primary challenges in creating a 6DOF input device, similar to the 3Dconnexion Space Mouse, lie in developing a mechanical coupling that enables full range motion, and electronics capable of precisely and consistently measuring this motion. After several iterations of printed flexure combinations and trip down the finite element analysis (FEA) rabbit hole, [Colton] had a working single-piece mechanical solution.

To measure the knob’s movement accurately, [Colton] employs inductive sensing. Inductance to Digital Converters (LDCs) assess the inductive alterations across three pairs of PCB coils, each having an opposing metal disk mounted on the knob. This setup allows [Colton] to use a Stewart platform‘s kinematic model calculate the  knob’s relative position. The calculation are done on an STM32 which also acts USB HID send the position data to a computer. For the demo [Colton] created a simple C++ app to translate the position data to Solidworks API calls.

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Build A DIY Space Mouse For A More Efficient CAD Workflow

When you find yourself doing a lot of work in 3D modelling, you occasionally wish for something more capable than the humble two-dimensional mouse. A space mouse is a great tool in this regard, and [Salim Benbouziyane] was inspired to build his own.

[Salim] started his work with research, by watching a teardown of a Connexion Space Navigator 3D mouse. This informed him of the basic functionality and the workings inside. The commercial product appears to use an optical sensor setup, but [Salim] decided to go with a magnetic sensor setup instead due to the parts he had on hand. Namely, a 3-axis magnetometer which seemed perfect for the task.

The build uses a motion platform mounted on six springs which translates and rotates in three dimensions as required. The magnetometer is mounted on the platform above a stationary set of neodymium magnets. Thus, when the platform, and thus sensor, moves, the magnetometer’s output can be used to determine the motion of the platform and translate that into useful viewport commands for CAD software. A RP2040 is charged with reading the magnetometer and acting as a USB HID device. It’s all wrapped up in a neat 3D-printed housing.

For now, it’s a little simpler in its operation than a full 6 DOF Spacemouse, but it nonetheless has helped [Salim]’s workflow improve. A good peripheral like this can be a real boon on the desktop; we’ve seen a few DIY projects in this realm for just that reason. Video after the break.

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Old 3D CAD Mouse Gets New Lease Of Life

[Jacek Fedorynski] had an old Magellan/SpaceMouse 3D mouse with a serial interface which made it impossible for him to use with modern hardware and software. The problem he faced was two pronged – the absence of serial interfaces in the hardware and the lack of appropriate drivers for the operating system. So he built a low cost, simple adapter to use his RS-232 Magellan/SpaceMouse with modern software.

The hardware required to build the adapter was minimal. A Raspberry Pi Pico, a MAX3238 based RS-232 adapter, a null modem adapter and a DB9 gender changer. Of course, a combination null modem – gender changer would have made things even simpler. Four of the GPIO pins from the Pico are mapped to the serial RX, TX, RTS and CTS pins.

On the software side, the code emulates a 3DConnexion SpaceMouse Compact, so it can be used with software like Fusion 360, 3ds Max, SolidWorks, Inventor, Maya and many others. On the host computer, only the standard 3DxWare driver package is needed. On the host computer, the old Magellan/SpaceMouse 3D will appear like a modern SpaceMouse Compact connected over USB. The only downside to this is that the SpaceMouse Compact has just two programmable buttons, so only two of the many buttons on the old Magellan mouse can be mapped.

Flashing the code to the Pico is also straightforward using the BOOTSEL mode. Hold down the BOOTSEL button when plugging in the Pico and it appears as a drive onto which you can drag a new UF2 file. Just drag-n-drop [Jacek]’s magellan.uf2 firmware and you’re done.

If you’d rather build your own, modern 3D mouse, check out the DIY Cad Mouse You Can Actually Build.

3D Mouse Drives Robot Arm

You’ve built the perfect robotic arm. How do you drive it? If you are [angrymop] you interface a 3D mouse from 3DConnexion via a few microcontroller boards. The Spacenavigator mouse is a staple anywhere professional CAD people are working, and it looks like it is a natural fit for a robot arm.

According to [angrymop], the Raspberry Pi can read the mouse’s commands via /dev/hidraw (that’s the raw human interface device). Each motion generates two lines of output. Each line has a unique identifying byte and values corresponding to the axis positions.

The Raspberry Pi then uses an SPI interface to talk to an ARM microcontroller and that drives the servos. The arm (the robot arm, not the processor) itself is well done, made from Lego Technic parts and common RC servos. Not that this is the most amazing thing we’ve ever seen built from Technic, but it is still pretty impressive.

You have to wonder if other 3D controllers might be useful for controlling robot arms or how the Spacenavigator would do controlling a bigger, more capable arm. Then again, maybe this arm would be the right size to build something inspired by Escher.

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Hackaday Links: February 1, 2015

It’s Sunday evening, and that means Hackaday Links, and that means something crowdfunded. This week it’s UberBlox. It’s a modular construction system based on Al extrusion – basically a modern version of an Erector set. Random musings on the perceived value UberBlox offers in the comments, I’m sure.

[Trevor] sent in something from his Etsy shop. Normally we’d shy away from blatant self-promotion, but this is pretty cool. It’s reproductions of 1960s Lockheed flying saucer plans. We’re not sure if this is nazi moon base/lizard people from the inner earth flying saucer plans or something a little more realistic, but there you go.

3D computer mice exist, as do quadcopters. Here’s the combination. It looks like there’s a good amount of control, and could be used for some aerobatics if you’re cool enough.

Who doesn’t love LED cubes? They’re awesome, but usually limited to one color. Here’s an RGB LED cube. It’s only 4x4x4, but there’s a few animations and a microphone with a beat detection circuit all powered by an ATMega32u4.

A while ago we had a post about a solar powered time lapse rig. Time lapse movies take a while, and the results are finally in.