Hackaday Podcast Ep 146: Dueling Trackballs, Next Level BEAM Robot, Take Control Of Your Bench, And Green Programming

Postpone your holiday shopping and spend some quality time with editors Mike Szczys and Elliot Williams as they sift through the week in Hackaday. Which programming language is the greenest? How many trackballs can a mouse possibly have? And can a Bluetooth dongle run DOOM? Join us to find out!

 

Take a look at the links below if you want to follow along, and as always, tell us what you think about this episode in the comments!

Direct download (52 MB)

Continue reading “Hackaday Podcast Ep 146: Dueling Trackballs, Next Level BEAM Robot, Take Control Of Your Bench, And Green Programming”

A Trackball So Good You Can’t Buy It

The projects we feature on Hackaday are built to all standards, and we’d have to admit that things have left our own benches as bundles of wire and tape. Sometimes we see projects built to such a high standard that we’re shocked that they aren’t a high-end manufactured product, such as [jfedor2]’s two-ball trackball project. It combines a pair of billiard balls and a couple of buttons with a beautifully-designed 3D-printed case that looks for all the world as though it came from a premium peripheral brand.

Inside are a pair of PMW3360 optical sensors on PCBs mounted with a view into the billiard ball sockets, and for which the brains come courtesy of an RP2040 microcontroller. There are five PCBs in all, each having a set of purpose-built stand-offs to hold it. The result appears to be about as good a trackball as you’d hope to buy, except of course that you can’t. All the files to make your own are in the GitHub repository though, so all is not lost.

Over the years we’ve brought you a variety of trackball designs, including at least one other build using a billiard ball.

Giant DIY Mouse Sets The Ball Free

Make the move to a split keyboard and the first thing you’ll notice is that you have all this real estate between the two halves. (Well, as long as you’re doing it right). This is the perfect place to keep your cat, your coffee cup, or in [Jacek]’s case, your fantastic DIY trackball mouse.

Don’t be fooled by the orange plastic base — all the electronics are rolled up inside that big sexy ball, which [Jacek] printed in two halves and glued together. Inside the ball there’s an Adafruit Feather nRF52840 Sense, which has an onboard accelerometer, gyroscope, and magnetometer. As you’ll see in the video after the break, the Feather takes readings from these and applies a sensor-fusing algorithm to determine the ball’s orientation in 3D space before sending its position to the computer. To send the click events, [Jacek] baked some mouse buttons into the keyboard’s firmware. Among the other Feather sensors is a PDM MEMS microphone, so detecting taps on the ball and translating them to clicks is not out of the question for a future version.

Here comes the really clever part: there are two reed switches inside the ball. One is used as a power switch, and the other is for setting the ‘up’ direction of the trackball. The ball charges wirelessly in a 3D printed base, which also has a small neodymium magnet for activating the reed switches. Check out the demo after the break, which shows [Jacek] putting the trackball through its paces on a mouse accuracy testing program.

If you prefer your DIY trackballs to be more standard looking, click on over to the Ploopy project.

Continue reading “Giant DIY Mouse Sets The Ball Free”

Inputs Of Interest: BIGtrack Mouse Might Make You Squeal

You know me, I like to get my feet involved when I use my computer, which happens pretty much all day every day at this point. My cache of pedal inputs keeps growing like mushrooms in the darkness under my desk: every upper case letter in this post and dozens more have been capitalized with a shift pedal!

Naturally, I’ve thought about what it might be like to mouse with my toes. The more time I can spend with both hands on the keyboard, the better. I started sniffing around for foot-sized trackball candidates, thinking maybe I could just build one with regular mouse guts. Then I found a 15-year-old Golden Tee home edition console at a thrift store. It has a large ball and four buttons, so it seemed ripe for turning into a mouse as-is, or just stealing the ball to build my own. So far, that hasn’t happened, though I did solder a bunch of wires for testing out the controls. Continue reading “Inputs Of Interest: BIGtrack Mouse Might Make You Squeal”

Lunchbox Cyberdeck Is A Tasty Build

One of our favorite things about the cyberdeck concept has got to be the versatility of this mobile computing medium. Some cyberdecks lean toward making the user into a full-on Snow Crash gargoyle, and others are more fold-and-go like laptops. This discreet deck from [Andres Borray] looks as though it might have a PB&J and a bag of chips inside.

Instead, there’s a Gherkin. What? For the uninitiated, that’s a handmade 40% 30% mechanical keyboard right there and it’s called the Gherkin. It has more keys than it appears, thanks to layers in the firmware. By long pressing any key on the bottom row, the entire map changes to access stuff like numbers and F keys.

This lunchbox is powered by a Raspberry Pi 4 and uses the official Pi display with the touch input enabled. Even so, there’s a baby trackball right there under the thumbs. [Andres] designed and printed panels for both sides to mount everything, and those files will be available soon along with a more detailed build log.

You can do anything you want with a cyberdeck build — it’s kind of the point. Want to program microcontrollers wherever? Get your feet wet with a cyberduck.

Via reddit

Who Invented The Mouse? Are You Sure?

If you ask most people who invented the mouse, they won’t know. Those that do know, will say that Doug Englebart did. In 1964 he had a box with two wheels that worked like a modern mouse as part of his work at Stanford Research Institute. There is a famous demo video from 1968 of him showing off what looks a lot like an old Mcintosh computer. Turns out, two other people may have an earlier claim to a mouse — or, at least, a trackball. So why did you never hear about those?

The UK Mouse

Ralph Benjamin worked for Britain’s Royal Navy, developing radar tracking systems for warships. Right after World War II, Ralph was working on the Comprehensive Display System — a way for ships to monitor attacking aircraft on a grid. They used a “ball tracker.” Unlike Engelbart’s mouse, it used a metallic ball riding on rubber-coated wheels. This is more like a modern non-optical mouse, although the ball tracker had you slide your hand across the ball instead of the other way around. Sort of a trackball arrangement.

Continue reading “Who Invented The Mouse? Are You Sure?”

Hackaday Podcast 043: Ploopy, Castlevania Cube-Scroller, Projection Map Your Face, And Smoosh Those 3D Prints

Before you even ask, it’s an open source trackball and you’re gonna like it. Hackaday Editors Mike Szczys and Elliot Williams get down to brass tacks on this week’s hacks. From laying down fatter 3D printer extrusion and tricking your stick welder, to recursive Nintendos and cubic Castlevania, this week’s episode is packed with hacks you ought not miss.

Take a look at the links below if you want to follow along, and as always tell us what you think about this episode in the comments!

Take a look at the links below if you want to follow along, and as always, tell us what you think about this episode in the comments!

Direct download (60 MB or so.)

Continue reading “Hackaday Podcast 043: Ploopy, Castlevania Cube-Scroller, Projection Map Your Face, And Smoosh Those 3D Prints”