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Monday, October 03, 2005

The Rumble Mouse

So, I was sitting around with an old N64 rumble pack and I began thinking, "Where could I put a rumble pack where it obviously doesn't belong?" A few ideas immediately came to mind: a remote control? - meh, I did a remote project last time; a cellphone? - they already have rumble packs; a mouse? - hmmm.....you click on it and it vibrates. Great for FPS games, terribly annoying for anything else....I like it, I like it alot.

The following is a fairly detailed explanation of the making of the rumble mouse. In this explanation I assume that the reader has some understanding of basic circuits and soldering. If you just want to see the final product in video form you can go ahead and skip to the bottom, I don't mind.

Disclaimer: I take no responsibility for any damage that occurs to your mouse, computer, home or limbs. Modding electronics can sometimes be dangerous.

Step 1: Take everything apart. Ah, my favorite part of any project - the destruction of a perfectly good electronic device. I started with the rumble pack which surprisingly only contained a motor with a weight on it. Next, I took apart a cheap roller ball mouse that you can get anywhere. Take a good look at how everything works and is connected before proceeding.

Part B: The Plan. Now, its been awhile since I studied circuits, but here is my rudimentary plan: wire up a circuit that provides current to the motor whenever the left-click button is pushed. This should give the rumbling sensation we want when playing our shooting games. (yes, i'm aware that real rumble packs are activated through software, but I don't want to spend that long on this project so I wired it to the left-click button on the mouse...any problems? I didn't think so.) In order to do this, I drew up the basic circuit above. The motor is wired in series with a variable resistor to a 9v battery and the collector of an NPN transistor. Also, to protect the transistor and the rest of the mouse circuitry I placed a diode in parrallel to the motor (this is not shown in the schematic, but I trust you can figure out where to put it). I next connected this circuit to the mouse circuit board. The base of the transistor was connected to the positive side of the left-click button shown below. If you are new to electronics and don't understand anything I'm talking about, you can research circuits online. Here are a few sites that helped me out:
Electronics Tutorial
Using Transistors as Switches

Above, you can see the underside of the mouse circuit board and the connections that need to be made to implement our functionality. The two solder-poionts on the top right of the board correspond to the left-click button. When the button is pressed a connection is made between those two points. This is where we want to connect our transistor, so that our motor will rumble whenever the button is clicked, got it? The connection on the top right portion of the board is where I connected the transistor to the left-click button. You will need to make sure which node is ground and which node is the positive connection. This can be easily found with a multimeter (a modder's best friend). The connection on the top left side of the board is the ground connection for the mouse which MUST be connected to my homebrew circuit as well (not having common ground between components is the most sure-fire way to fry your cicuitry, computer, or house).

III: The Test. Above you can see where I wired up the whole circuit with a solderless breadboard for testing. This is an immensly important part of any circuitry project. You can't just jump to soldering your components before you know that they will work, geez - who do you think you are? Well, I tested it and it worked - Hoorah. Let's move on.

Four: Enough planning, lets put it all together. One of the first things I had to do for this step was clear a little room in the original mouse. There were some plastic standoffs that I had to clip off inorder for the motor to fit at all. After making the needed adjustments, I put the motor in place with a little piece of that thick mounting tape.

Then I began soldering all the components together onto a piece of breadboard. Apparently, I'm still no good at soldering...

Here is my small circuit board that I placed into the mouse. Again, I used that mounting tape stuff to hold it in place.

Above is the innerds of the mouse all put into place and connected properly. She's a beaut ain't she?

Finally, I snapped the casing back on only to find that the motor didn't have room to spin. So, I took my dremel tool and sawed the bottom portion of the mouse off to allow for full motor spinnage. Yes, I know it looks like a piece of junk, and yes that is a 9v battery hanging off the side of the mouse, but when I'm using it it really feels comfortable. Maybe I'll make Rumble Mouse 2.0 in the future that has a casing that covers the entire mouse and possibly a more elegant solution to the battery positioning, but until then this will have to do.
Video - In Action

The intensity of the rumble is adjustable with the variable resistor that I wired in the circuit. However, if you want to disable the rumbling altogether you can just unplug the battery and it will work like normal. Now to the real test - gaming. I tested it out with Unreal Tournament 2004 and it was AWESOME! Definately, the most fun I've ever had with that game. The mouse was just going crazy with the minigun - it was great.

Overall, I'd say the project was a success. It may be ugly, cheap, and ugly but it will definately rumble your hand off. For any queries, comments or help email me at leadingzero@gmail.com


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