Gaming Mouse Becomes Digital Camera

Ever since the world decided to transition from mechanical ball mice to optical mice, we have been blessed with computer pointing devices that don’t need regular cleaning and have much better performance than their ancestors. They do this by using what is essentially a tiny digital camera to monitor changes in motion. As we’ve seen before, it is possible to convert this mechanism into an actual camera, but until now we haven’t seen something like this on a high-performance mouse designed for FPS gaming.

For this project [Ankit] is disassembling the Logitech G402, a popular gaming mouse with up to 4000 dpi. Normally this is processed internally in the mouse to translate movement into cursor motion, but this mouse conveniently has a familiar STM32 processor with an SPI interface already broken out on the PCB that could be quickly connected to in order to gather image data. [Ankit] created a custom USB vendor-specific endpoint and wrote a Linux kernel module to parse the data into a custom GUI program that can display the image captured by the mouse sensor on-screen.

It’s probably best to not attempt this project if you plan to re-use the mouse, as the custom firmware appears to render the mouse useless as an actual mouse. But as a proof-of-concept project this high-performance mouse does work fairly well as a camera, albeit with a very low resolution by modern digital camera standards. It is much improved on older mouse-camera builds we’ve seen, though, thanks to the high performance sensors in gaming mice.

Aimbot Does It In Hardware

Anyone who has played an online shooter game in the past two or three decades has almost certainly come across a person or machine that cheats at the game by auto-aiming. For newer games with anti-cheat, this is less of a problem, but older games like Team Fortress have been effectively ruined by these aimbots. These types of cheats are usually done in software, though, and [Kamal] wondered if he would be able to build an aim bot that works directly on the hardware instead.

First, we’ll remind everyone frustrated with the state of games like TF2 that this is a proof-of-concept robot that is unlikely to make any aimbots worse or more common in any games. This is mostly because [Kamal] is training his machine to work in Aim Lab, a first-person shooter training simulation, and not in a real multiplayer videogame. The robot works by taking a screenshot of his computer in Python and passing the information through a computer vision algorithm which recognizes high-contrast targets. From there a PID controller is used to tell a series of omniwheels attached to the mouse where to point, and when the cursor is in the hitbox a mouse click is triggered.

While it might seem straightforward, building the robot and then, more importantly, tuning the PID controller took [Kamal] over two months before he was able to rival pro-FPS shooters at the aim trainer. It’s an impressive build though, and if one of his omniwheel motors hadn’t burned out it may have exceeded the top human scores on the platform. If you would like a bot that makes you worse at a game instead of better, though, head over to this build which plays Valorant by using two computers to pass game information between.

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Hand-Built Metal Mouse Is Beautifully Engraved

Computer mice, like computers themselves, used to be built almost solely in hideous beige designs. These days, things are a bit more stylish, but they’re still largely following a simple plastic formula. [Uri Tuchman] decided to build a fancy metal engraved computer mouse for a little more style on the desktop.

The build starts by gutting a simple three-button scroll mouse, as there’s really no sense in reinventing the wheel where the electronics is concerned. The PCB inside is pulled out and assembled on a brass baseplate, along with standoffs and supports for the mouse wheel as needed. It’s paired with a hefty brass enclosure with a nice gentle slope to sit well in the hand. Or, as well as it can, given the square  metal edges of the finished product.

The build is full of fun details, like [Uri] trying to form a hex shaft by hand, and the work that goes into the engraving is similarly impressive. In any case, it’s a build that would pair wonderfully with a proper steampunk keyboard. Alternatively, if you hate the idea of having to do all that engraving by hand, think about building your own CNC machine. Video after the break.

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Accessible Arduino Mouse Helps

We enjoy access to cheap stuff because of the mass market for things like mice, keyboards, and cell phones. But if you need a device that doesn’t have mass appeal, you will have to pay a lot more if you can find it at all. However, with modern techniques like 3D printing and Arduino-like microcontrollers being cheap and simple to use, you now have the option to build that special one-of-a-kind device. Case in point: [Davy’s] mouse for people who have brain or nervous system disorders. This particular device is helping a 6-year-old who can’t manipulate a normal mouse.

The device uses an Arduino Pro and an MPU-6050 accelerometer and gyroscope. The original design uses machined aluminum, but 3D printing should work, too. There’s something wrong with the link to the design files in the post, but it is easy to find the correct link.

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Dead Mouse Reincarnated As Macropad

[Taylor] wanted to join the cool kids club and build a macropad for CAD work and video editing, but didn’t want to do it the traditional way with an Arduino. We can get behind that. In fact, [Taylor] wanted to reuse some old piece of tech if possible, which is even better. With a little luck, they found a used gaming mouse with a set of 12 tiny macro buttons on the side that were ripe for reuse. Only the scroll wheel was reported to be broken.

After verifying that all the macro buttons worked, [Taylor] tore down the mouse and extracted the daughterboard, then removed the sticker that held the rubber dome actuators in place. Then they wired up twelve Kailh box jades to the pads, doing some nice diagonal work with bare 30 AWG wire to join all the common pins together.

[Taylor] designed and printed a simple enclosure that’s a slim 21.5 mm tall including the switch plate, and then made a dozen keycaps to match. That was until [Taylor] remembered some relegendable keycaps they had lying around — the kind that let you print your own labels and trap them underneath clear plastic. The only problem was that they are stemmed for some cylindrical actuator, so [Taylor] designed an adapter piece so they would fit on MX-style sliders. Be sure to check out the build video after the break.

If for some reason box jades aren’t clicky and satisfying enough for you, try making your own maglev Hall-effect switches. These days, you even have design options.

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Microsoft’s Minimal Mouse May Maximize Masochism

So it seems that Microsoft has a patent in process for a folding mouse.  It looks a whole lot like their Arc mouse, which is quite thin and already goes from curved to flat. But that’s apparently not good enough for Microsoft, who says mice in general are bulky and cumbersome to travel with. On the bright side, they do acknowledge the total lack of ergonomics in those tiny travel mice.

Microsoft filed this patent in March of 2021 and it was published in early November. The patent describes the use of an expandable shell on the top with these kerf cuts in the long sides like those used to bend wood — this is where the flexibility comes in. The patent also mentions a motion tracker, haptic feedback, and a wireless charging coil. Now remember, there’s no guarantee of this ever actually happening, and there was no comment from Microsoft about whether it will become a real rodent someday.

And now, the rant. Microsoft considers this mouse, which again is essentially an updated Arc that folds in half, to be ergonomic. Full disclosure: I’ve never used an Arc mouse. But I respectfully disagree with this assessment and believe that people should not prioritize portability when it comes to peripherals, especially those that are so small to begin with. Like, what’s the use? And by the way, isn’t anyone this concerned with portability just using the touch pad or steering stick on their laptop anyway?

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Smart Ruler Has Many Features

For those of us who remember old ball mice, they were a lot like modern optical mice except that they needed to be cleaned constantly. Having optical mice as a standard way of interacting with a computer is a major improvement over previous eras in computing. With extinction of the ball mouse, there are an uncountable number of cheap optical mice around now which are easy pickings for modern hacking, and this latest project from [Vipul] shows off some of the ways that optical mice can be repurposed by building a digital ruler.

The build seems straightforward on the surface. As the ruler is passed over a surface the device keeps track of exactly how far it has moved, making it an effective and very accurate ruler. To built it, the optical component of a mouse was scavenged and mated directly to a Raspberry Pi Zero W over USB. Originally he intended to use an ESP32 but could not get the USB interface to work. [Vipul] was then able to write some software which can read the information from the mouse’s PCB directly and translate it into human-readable form where it is displayed on a small screen. The entire device is housed in a custom 3D-printed enclosure to wrap everything up, but the build doesn’t stop there though. [Vipul] also leveraged the Bluetooth functionality of the Pi and wrote a smartphone app which can be used to control the ruler as well.

While the device does have some limitations in that it has to make contact with the object being measured across its entire length, there are some situations where we can imagine something like this being extremely useful especially when measuring things that aren’t a straight line. [Vipul] has also made all of the code for this project publicly available for those of us who might have other uses in mind for something like this. We’ve seen optical mice repurposed for all kinds of things in the past, too, including measuring travel distances in autonomous vehicles.

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