Introduction: Control Your Computer... With a LASER!

Picture of Control Your Computer... With a LASER!
Have you ever been annoyed because you have to get close to your computer when you use it? Have you ever wished for a wireless mouse, but never quite ended up buying one? Well here's a temporary solution for you!
This lets you control mouse motion (mouse clicks just added!) with an everyday $1 laser pointer from up to 20 feet away (and way, way further if you have a more powerful laser).
When choosing lasers, however, use caution. If you pick a way overpowered green laser (like one that can burn things and set matches on fire), you may end up damaging the optics on your mouse. All cheapo dollar store laser pointers are perfectly safe - just use caution on any laser you need to wear "lasershades" for.

You can read through the whole Instructable or just use the video below... ENJOY!

Also, if you like this Instructable, please give it a (+) rating and/or comment. Thanks!

NOTE: This Instructable has been updated to include mouse clicking!!! The video has also changed to incorporate this.


Step 1: The Materials

Picture of The Materials
Here's what you will need:

  • An optical mouse (I bet your computer already uses one)
  • A laser pointer (you can use a cheap $1 laser pointer0.

Step 2: The Setup

Picture of The Setup

Position your mouse by standing it up (leaning against the monitor). This will allow you to control the mouse from anywhere in the room! Make sure the underside of the mouse (the side with the shiny red thingy) is facing the room - not the monitor.

Step 3: AMAZE YOUR FRIENDS!!!

Picture of AMAZE YOUR FRIENDS!!!

Now for the fun part...

First, identify the sensor on your mouse. It will be recessed and it will look like a tiny bubble tinted black. When you move the mouse on a mouse-pad, the mouse shines a laser below it and this sensor picks up the light and interprets it as movements. So this sensor move based on incoming light... and you have a laser which emits light.
SO, by putting the two together, if you shine the laser so the dot hits the sensor on the mouse, you can control the movement of the mouse!
After you first get a "lock" on the mouse, you no longer have to shine the laser directly at the sensor - just in its vicinity. If you move the laser right, the cursor moves right. It really works and it is really cool.
It might not be *that* useful, but hey, it is FUN!

Step 4: Add Clickability

Picture of Add Clickability
Adding clickability is so easy!
You only need these parts:
  • LDR (about $0.50, available at any electronics store. Also called a Photo Resistor)
  • Straw (this will be used to make the barrel for the LDR)
  • Electrical Tape (to "insulate" the barrel from light)

First, open up the mouse and find the button controlling the left mouse click. Solder two wires to the button leads.

Next, go ahead and create the barrel by wrapping the straw in electrical tape. Make sure no light can pass through the side of the straw.

Go ahead and solder the Photo Resistor to the two wires sticking out of the mouse (there is no polarity). When the photo resistor does not contact light, there is a lot of resistance. When it does contact light, there is very little resistance (this simulates a button click).

Lastly, insert the LDR into the barrel and tape it in place.

You're DONE!!!!

To click,shine the laser into the barrel. It's as simple as that!

Step 5: Increasing Movability....

Picture of Increasing Movability....

If the cursor is too sensitive, it is easy to fix!
Just follow these images:

Also, if you want to learn more about lasers, go to the laser forum
If you want to buy the laser pointer I used, go to this laser pointer shop.
Posted by Laser Community member: ghost

Comments

YuganR (author)2015-04-10

how to solve the problem of inversion?

sumtonian (author)2014-06-10

VERY GOOD INTELLIGENT WORK WITH HIGH COMMERCIAL POTENTIAL.

MY 100 percent marks , congrats and thanks

dhpmet@gmail.com

fabiogn (author)2012-09-09

This is simply wonderful!!!! Great Idea! congrats.

bdubsrocks (author)2011-12-08

GOD JOB. Mac can do something useful

spystealth1 (author)2011-10-19

I think I noticed that the mouse movement is inverted in the video. You could probably fix this in the control panel, with a special program, or using a mirror. Also, you could probably use a cheap Fresnel lens to enlarge the beam. Very cool instructable.

TheHawkeye (author)2011-03-27

This can be drastically and easily improved with the use of a diffraction grating (or you could use a convex lens) placed in front of the laser pointer. You can buy laser pointers with a "star lens" (diffraction grating) that work very well with this. The star lens will spread the laser out into many (hundreds of) points with each able to interact with the mouse. This way you can move the laser without really worrying if your dot is close enough. If you use a convex lens (magnifying glass) it will spread the laser beam out to make a wider beam (but less bright); this method works too, but is not as good as with a diffraction grating. If you want the ability to click you will have to put the photo resistor far enough away from the mouse that it will not move the mouse and click at the same time.

Where to Buy

CaseBoy (author)2011-01-20

yo you should check out kipkay's channel. you can make a burning laser with that pointer you have!!

quincycy (author)2010-12-28

wah tak kiro apik mas....ternyata....

turner22 (author)2008-03-31

I have an apple mouse and the clicking part is a button. How do I solder the wire on if I can't find them?

sbelardo (author)turner222008-04-01

easy, macs suck, therefore it's no possible :P

KalphaK (author)sbelardo2008-06-28

I think im just going to make a movie...without seeing the BSoD. Care to join me? Oh wait...

Thereyouhaveit (author)KalphaK2010-12-21

You're having BSOD's but i don't :P
You just have a degraded PC , period .
The thing is though , most people use their macs for a short time .
And people use their PC's for very long time

MJTH (author)sbelardo2008-07-10

I thought you said Easy Mac, and im like oh Yumm.

glsluvs2snobrd (author)sbelardo2008-05-02

Mac's are ok, they just use different "electronics" in their hardware

icinnamon (author)turner222008-03-31

Unfortunately, I don't have an Apple mouse. Can you post a picture of the insides? Then I can help.....

Hackrtanman (author)2010-06-08

i started thinking....is it possible to increase the amount of sensors on the mouse? i got this idea when i thought of the wiimote white board, and thought i might be able to control the mouse via 3 or 4 sensors on the monitor, and my green laser pointer would be the tracked point.

Lupus420 (author)2009-03-10

If you wanted to, could you also hook up another one of these to the right mouse button using the same procedure?

eomonkeyboi24 (author)Lupus4202009-03-10

Why couldn't you? The only thing is you would have to keep the photo resistor away from the other one otherwise they would click both the mouse buttons.

eomonkeyboi24 (author)2009-03-10

I wonder if this could be even made to click the mouse button easier by addind a IR reviever and using a IR LED to click it. ANy way this could work without any other parts needed?

planeglory (author)2008-11-19

maybe if you put the laser inside and held a mirror you could shine it back onto the mouse but if someone walks into your room their eyes are screwed

chaosmaster (author)2008-10-06

my april issue of popsci was wrong and it was the april one to it was ian cinnamon

taylorinalaska (author)2008-09-26

does the red LED play any role in this? or is it unnecisary when using a laserlight? have you or has anyone tested models without clear cases? and thank you, ive been trying to find a way to make a touchless mouse, i think im getting closer.

HardCoreHacker (author)2008-08-28

Poor you, I think... If you are who i think you are, PopSci spelled your name wrong.

icinnamon (author)HardCoreHacker2008-08-28

? Who do you think I am? And which popsci issue are you referring to? The April '08 one spelled it correctly

HardCoreHacker (author)icinnamon2008-09-01

One of 'em said Iancinnamon

TheSaviour (author)2008-03-21

seems like a alot of work when you can just buy a wireless mouse but still pretty kool

hostile_hams (author)TheSaviour2008-07-27

I have a wireless mouse and they work, but they don't really work once you go too far away from the sensor. they are less sensative than the wiimotes and stuff.

Shut Up Now (author)2008-05-16

CONGRATZ ON POPSCI! thats where i saw this! i have already been using instructables tho. nice little trick ehh? good work +1

bigt4616 (author)2008-05-16

cool instructable, but one question, at the end, you played that vid that you where makeing.?!?!?!HOW?!?!?! LOL

eeeXsmart (author)2008-04-15

thats cool! first time i see something like it. great instructable!

eggmix (author)2008-03-31

Looks easy!! I wanna Try!

madhops0620 (author)2008-03-12

yeah i saw it in popsci too

xproplayer (author)2008-03-10

congrats on popsci article is a little small but its there!!!!

mspark400 (author)2008-03-09

Great instructable but also congratulations on being in Popsci!!!! +1 just for that !

LinuxH4x0r (author)2008-03-07

POPSCI!!!!

icinnamon (author)LinuxH4x0r2008-03-07

Isn't that amazing?!?!
I was so thrilled when they asked me to be in it...
For those who haven't seen the article, here you go...
PopSci article

teresajoy (author)icinnamon2008-03-08

The reason I looked this up was because I was Surprised to saw it in POPSCI.

yeah me too. But congrats!

LinuxH4x0r (author)icinnamon2008-03-08

Thats so awesome! You deserve a patch or shirt or something. Congrats!

icinnamon (author)LinuxH4x0r2008-03-08

thanks!!! but how did you get your popsci's already? I usually don't get it till 2 weeks before the month... (I got mine the early because I asked for one..)

LinuxH4x0r (author)icinnamon2008-03-08

I usually get it around the 10th

thefonz101 (author)LinuxH4x0r2008-03-08

i saw this on popsci too.

James (pseudo-geek) (author)2008-03-08

congrats for getting on PopSci dude

brainiac (author)2008-02-17

now you just need one for typing

Sandisk1duo (author)2007-11-22

Ha you have Dollertree screwdrivers!

brainiac (author)Sandisk1duo2008-02-17

ha if u niticed u must have thm to lmaowdp

Skyfinity (author)2007-11-24

Sometimes, simplicity takes the cake, and optical mice have proven themselves to be very hack-able. Thanks icinnamon for contribting this instructabible. HA! I am using the laser right now, cool... 'xcept I can't click without ripping it apart.

Deltablazing (author)Skyfinity2008-02-13

haha 'optical mice' mice that are eye doctors...(random)

icinnamon (author)Skyfinity2007-11-24

Thanks! Even if you rip it apart, though, the mouse still works :)

Imagina (author)2008-01-19

How about adding something like a cone of a highly reflective material to increase the area you mover the laser-pointer?

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