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Cobra!
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« on: June 10, 2023 @28.58 »

Anyone else here remember a time before optical/laser mice became commonplace? When mice had balls?

Most mice used to be controlled by ball rolling along the bottom, this ball in turn (no pun intended) turns some rollers inside the mouse to determine movement, when then moves the pointer on screen.

Nowadays that sounds very primitive, but for the longest time, that was the standard. Optical mice became more common place by the late 2000s, and the rest was history.

Cathode Ray Dude covered a 3rd kind of mouse that never took off, and in that video he mentions how the transition from mechanical to optical mice was the smoothest ever transition, and almost nobody actively goes back to ball mice.



That got me thinking a lot. It's a very good point, how come I and nobody else has ever really explored them?

I don't remember them being particularly bad. Maybe not quite as accurate or convenient as optical, but I explore other old tech that also present no advantage in the present day, so why not old mice?

I scoured eBay and my local markets, and found a couple of ball mice. Unfortunately they all use PS/2, which with the exception of one, none of my old laptops have, and my daily driver only has one port occupied by the keyboard (Splitters don't work, I tried).

While they don't feel as reliable as optical, honestly, they feel nice to have. I've always loved rolling things along a surface (I guess that's one of my "stims"), and for the better brand of mice, you get a nice bit of feedback from the weight of them moving inside, if that makes sense!

I'm someone who likes to experience things as authentically as possible, I'm sure these mice, when I get converters to USB, will be perfect for playing games on my Windows 98 and Mac OS 9 computers, and I might even use one for my daily driver depending on how good they are for gaming. My current mouse's middle mouse button is busted anyway, so would need a replacement.

So your opinions on mechanical/non-optical mice?
« Last Edit: June 13, 2023 @20.81 by Cobra! » Logged




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« Reply #1 on: June 11, 2023 @248.76 »

All my mice have balls. In daily use they pick up dust quite fast. So every month, the ball has to be removed and the rolls have to be scratched free with my fingernail.

I guess if I'd be a Dota or ego shooter Pro Gamer I'd get angry over ball mice. When drawing something, things can get mildly frustrating, when the roller skips for 1 millisecond in inconsistent ways. But after a quick "pit stop" the mouse is back in the race, always.

At least those old mice can't lasershoot me in the eye. I think open lasers belong into spaceships and not on my desk.
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« Reply #2 on: June 11, 2023 @304.05 »

Kinda reminds me of these types of mice:


I remembered my dad having one and he never had to clean it unlike a old Apple branded Mechanical Mouse we use to have long ago (but I can barely remember that).
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« Reply #3 on: June 13, 2023 @20.51 »

So I learned more about how ball mice work after I got a new old stock mouse on eBay.



It even came with a floppy disks with the drivers and other utilities!



Anyway, turns out it didn't work properly. It moved on the Y axis just fine, but the X axis was very finicky and sometimes didn't work at all. I decided to open it up and see if I could see what the problem was. Turns out a component next to the roller was bent further back than the one by the Y axis. So I decided to bend it back upright, and the X axis started working again! I'm guessing that component is some sort of censor, and in front of it are cogs, I'm assuming it detects movement based on how it sees the teeth move.



Well anyway, it doesn't feel as great as a Logitech mouse I got, but it's the only ball mouse I got that has a scroll wheel, so I'll be using this one more.

Also the back of the box has some nice aesthetics, but I noticed the Italian translation has some very odd mistakes made, aside from the usual grammar errors, some words are split into 2. For example "Programmabile" should be one word, but here it's split.
I showed this to a French speaking friend, and he says the French is weird as well...

Kinda reminds me of these types of mice:


Is that a trackball? What was/is it for?

I remembered my dad having one and he never had to clean it unlike a old Apple branded Mechanical Mouse we use to have long ago (but I can barely remember that).
I'm guessing it's because it never made contact with the ground, picking up any scuffs of dusts it comes by?
« Last Edit: June 13, 2023 @24.13 by Cobra! » Logged




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« Reply #4 on: June 13, 2023 @87.01 »

Is that a trackball? What was/is it for?
I'm guessing it's because it never made contact with the ground, picking up any scuffs of dusts it comes by?

You would be correct with that assumption as you move the ball instead of the mouse. It's used when space is cramped or there exists some disability in a person that make using a regular mouse difficult or the person just puffers using one!

Edit: added context
« Last Edit: June 13, 2023 @141.44 by Icelogist » Logged



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« Reply #5 on: June 13, 2023 @118.55 »

that a trackball? What was/is it for?
Trackball mice are actually still made and are reasonably popular!
This Logitech one is the most common one - the actual mouse does not move, it's just a trackball - a lot of people who have wrist issues use them in offices - someone even had one on my game design course.

These big dues are also really popular for DJ's or recording studios where desk space is basically non-existence and you don't have time to be fussing with a mouse.

I dunno why, but I was super into researching trackballs a few months ago :tongue:
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« Reply #6 on: June 13, 2023 @357.22 »

Old mice will eventually challenge your point of annoyance. Some dust on the rolls is fine and doesn't affect cursor movement at all (or only slightly). But eventually, the tiny cursor skips will happen at the worst moments and then...

@Cobra: Might I ask about the advertised "3D" capabilities of your mouse? Any special moves on the Z axis as well?
I also wonder which super mouse capabilities you get through installing that floppy disk. I never had to use those, as the standard PS/2 mouse driver worked with any mouse.
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« Reply #7 on: June 13, 2023 @814.39 »

Old mice will eventually challenge your point of annoyance. Some dust on the rolls is fine and doesn't affect cursor movement at all (or only slightly). But eventually, the tiny cursor skips will happen at the worst moments and then...

Will have to see how it goes with me, then.

@Cobra: Might I ask about the advertised "3D" capabilities of your mouse? Any special moves on the Z axis as well?
I also wonder which super mouse capabilities you get through installing that floppy disk. I never had to use those, as the standard PS/2 mouse driver worked with any mouse.

As far as I can see, it means absolutely nothing. No idea why they called it that, it's literally just a normal mouse.
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« Reply #8 on: July 02, 2023 @683.88 »

Finally got a PS/1 to USB converter that worked on my daily driver, and have started to use the mouse I sent pictures of above.

It works a lot better than I expected. In fact if it wasn't for the feeling of rolling something about, I wouldn't have noticed any difference!

I'll post any updates here, though. See if anything changes.
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