Picture of Desktop Scroll Wheel and Volume Control!
Make Magazine's weekend project, 3/4/09

Some Background

Recently, I've been reading a lot of different blogs. Each day I'll read the latest posts on engadget, lifehacker, hackaday, BBG and the MAKE: blog. The problem for me came when I realised that only some of the posts were interesting to me, and to get to the interesting ones took a lot of scrolling.

For this, there are several solutions. I could have set my RSS reader up with each of the blogs that I read and go through the titles daily, or I could have set up a Yahoo! Pipe to filter by words in the title. I didn't much fancy this though, so I set about looking for easier ways to scroll long distances. In my searching, I came across this: http://www.griffintechnology.com/products/powermate - The Griffin PowerMate. The PowerMate is an assignable controller that you can set up for many things, browsing Google Earth, scrolling, Controlling volume etc..

I took a look at some YouTube videos of it in use and thought it was literally a scroll mouse on it's side with a fancy knob and some software. A few googles later, and I found a post on the bit-tech forums about a guy who made his own from a VCR spindle and an old mouse. I fancied a bit of that, so away I went and this is what I came up with. I call it the Griffin PowerFake.

It's made from an old PS/2 Mouse, a project box and, yep you guessed it, an old R/C car.

I made a wireless one, it doesn't go very far, but it works nevertheless.
Wireless Scroll Mouse.JPG
hey bro how did you do that man . share with us please :)
tudgeanator6 years ago
Just finished mine! Woop woop! (i only started it about 15 mins ago, not when i posted my previous comment-just so you know) Thankyou so much for giving instructions on how to do this, it's so useful!
crazzzik6 years ago
Is there any other piece of software for this needs? I think the idea is to actually be able to use second mouse INDEPENDENTLY from main mouse. By that I mean using just a wheel without keystrokes or use mouse buttons as modifiers
jaime9999 crazzzik10 months ago

By using the guts of a USB mouse (or PS/2 mouse converted to USB) in this instructable, it will be sending USB "Human Interface Device" or "HID" commands over USB. This is a standard for keyboards and mice, and includes only standard commands like "letter A key pressed down", "letter A key released", "mouse X moved +N ticks", and "mouse L button clicked down".

Virtually all USB *drivers* built into all modern operating systems consider HID commands coming from multiple devices to all be sent to the single Windowing Manager for use in any windowed application (thus the application that received mouse-move events, for example, is controlled by the Windowing system-- generally sent to the active window, sometimes sent to the window overwhich the mouse is positioned). note that it is the Windowing Manager that renders the mouse *pointer* which follows mouse movements (commands coming from the mouse device). Generally this means you can plug in a bunch of mice and any one will move the cursor and no one mouse is the master; and different software does not "claim" any particular mouse nor can distinguish between different mice.

Theoretically if you program the USB (or PS/2 serial) driver at a low level, you can "read" the events from one USB device and, importantly, also keep those commands from being forwarded to the Windowing System.

is is possible that I could attach a steering wheel to this and us it in a game like Flatout 2 respond ASAP I AM a N00B
This is one-hundred percent possible as long as you can steer in flat-out 2 with the scroll wheel, that being said if u are a noob you should get some experience first.
wackottl2 years ago
Thanks for this, it was helpful for my side scroller.

ReCreate6 years ago
its called potentiometer...not encoder XD
whatsisface (author)  ReCreate6 years ago
No, it's called a rotary encoder, there's a difference.
Hi Sir,

Please see attach image of my DELL mouse.but i can't see encoder.Can you please help me where is encoder in this mouse?
whatsisface (author)  wbilgrami3 years ago
It's the thing next to the left click button.
I think...i don't have encoder in this mouse.but i think you can see potentiometer near left side button..please describe briefly if my mouse have encoder then where it is and if not then where can i find this encoder?
If this is a "Rotary Encoder" then PLESE tell us the difference between that and a "Potentiometer". After searching out the web for this part I found a discription for a Rotary Decoder but I have a hard time comparing it to what you've got in the picture.

...I'm sorry, but if it's a Duck then lets just call it a Duck.
whatsisface (author)  scottm_1135 years ago
A rotary encoder shorts two of the legs protruding from it together, followed by another different pair of legs. By interpreting this, a microcontroller can tell which direction the shaft is turning in, and thus the computer knows whether to scroll up or down.

I repeat, it is not a potentiometer.
Really? It has 3 Pins and it looks like a potentiometer...
whatsisface (author)  ReCreate6 years ago
And its name is a rotary encoder. Just like a Voltage regulator has 3 pins and a tab for a heatsink, that doesn't make it a MOSFET.
Funny that you mention that. I've had to remind myself over and over to check the tiny print on those things to keep from confusing them!
hornbadoing3 years ago
man, i wish i could do this. im too poor to afford a good soldering iron. all i have is an old one from like 1999 that dosnt work =(
Hey there, I built mine and it doesn't seem to work. Can my regular mouse still be plugged in while I use desktop scroll wheel?
Please respond.
whatsisface (author)  crf250rider144 years ago
I can only say for certain on Windows as I know it can recognise two mice. Other OS's may not be able to.
Would this work on a Mac?
whatsisface (author)  MrMistermister4 years ago
I see no reason why not, I'd check first to see if OSX can recognise and use two mice beforehand.
robot13984 years ago
i have 4 wires sticking from my mouse which one to use
monsterman4 years ago
is it possible to do this with a usb mouse?
T_T_4 years ago
would this work for a usb optical mouse?
yes it has a rotary encoder
whooms5 years ago
I don no ... but mine didn't work .... it's still like a mouse ... but a butchered one ... clicks still work like before (like right click or somethin') ... and when i scroll the handle thing.... nothin' happens ...:(
So, After a long while, I was poking around some arcade cabinet sites, and low and behold... I found a site that had instructions on how to build a simple spinner from a mouse w/o a rotary encoder. That's right, he used an optical scroll wheel and it worked well apparently. Take a look, It might help anyone who can't get a solid state encoder.
Turns out the link isn't direct, so go to the controls tab on the left, then go to spinners to find the building instructions.
arepark5 years ago
whatsisface, you say that an IR setup is no good for this. what is the reasoning behind this? Reason I ask is I made a wheel following another post and used an IR setup. I have been using it for a few days and today it seems to be generating phantom mouse clicks. Caused by the IR? Any ideas?
My dad gave me his old Wireless mouse when i ordered a new one for him, but i cannot make this, he said it works, but only half the time. But this is the first thing i thought about when i got the new one in the mail.
Hi, I really like this idea but my cable has about 5 wires running through it. Would you know without looking at it what the wires I need to solder to rotary encoder are?
pyro-jim7 years ago
could you put buttons on the side maybe to emulate keyboard strokes or left and right clicks and use the software so that only this mouse would do the adjusting? that way you just press the button on the side and scroll to adjust what you want without affecting other work!
whatsisface (author)  pyro-jim7 years ago
Yes, thats very possible.
Can the software make each mouse do different things; for example: make the left mouse button on the griffen wheel emulate a keystroke? Or does anybody know of some software that can do this?
macs have a softwar called keyboardmouse that will probably do the trick
whatsisface (author)  pyro-jim7 years ago
This software won't do that, and I'm personally not aware of any that can.
Yeah, I tried hotwiring the buttons externally, and it worked. Find the two terminals on each button that are used, only 2/3 are used.
hg3416 years ago
cool this looks like fun if i need some thing to do and i find a usb mouse ill will do this
imakethings6 years ago
can it be done with a wireless mouse?
whatsisface (author)  imakethings6 years ago
I have no reason to believe it wouldn't, you'd need a way of charging it though.
tudgeanator6 years ago
So do you need a mouse with a scroll wheel?or are you using the ball's sensor things instead? i'm confused.
Sorry,I hadn't read your instructable thourorly enough.It is a scrool wheel, i now understand.
I just made one that hotwired the buttons to an external one. IT WORKS.
robots1996 years ago
I have a griffin powermate and it rocks. the software is very easy and the built in led control rocks. Nice Ible though
killerezv6 years ago
i got a mouse the was an IR resiver all i did was leave it in there without thw top of the mouse and put a pool throw the end on the scrool weel and turned it to its side and used a bigger box, oo and i used a pencil insed of a wheel cause i count get and weel to rotate strat in always title and scratched the sides
j626no6 years ago
okay so i got the mouse in today. it is the right type; however, the circuit board is JUST a little bit too big to fit inside my project box. would the entire thing stop working if i cut off the IR detectors for the trackball?
whatsisface (author)  j626no6 years ago
I very muc doubt it would, just be careful not to damage any of the tracks leading to the other components.
what if all it has is a sensor against the scroll wheel?
whatsisface (author)  Yerboogieman6 years ago
See my comment below.
hahha thats great. You said there is a commercial product for this purpose? I have a mouse with a infrared laser instead of the rubber ball, and a little wheel between the "click ' buttons.
qwertyboy6 years ago
A suggestion would be to add some weight to it so it doesn't slide all around your desk. I'm going to try this with an old wireless mouse that I have laying around.
Instead of weight, you could attach it to somewhere on your desk, maybe the side or on the underside of it to keep it from moving and to keep your desk free. This way, you can just reach over whenever you need it.
j626no6 years ago
will thisthis work? i am going to order it today if it will, so please let me know asap. thanks.

whatsisface (author)  j626no6 years ago
I honestly can't say. There's no real way of telling if it has a solid state encoder until you open it. If it doesn't have a SSE, then it'll be a bit harder, but not at all impossible to do.
alright well i'll order it then. if it comes in and it doesnt have the SSE, would you mind walking me through the process of making it work? lol. you certainly know electronics better than I do. thanks.
whatsisface (author)  j626no6 years ago
If it doesn't have an SSE, then what it will have is an IR Emitter and reciever, with a plastic wheel in the middle. The plastic wheel has slots in it, and when the reciever detects that one of the slots hs broken the beam, it scrolls down. What you'll have to do is desolder the emitter and reciever and remove the wheel, then resolder them the same distance apart on a piece of stripboard. After that, you'll have to attach whatever you want to use to scroll with to the plastic wheel and mount it to the stripboard to get it to work properly. Like I said, not impossible, but a lot more complicated.
oh...that simple? cause thats literally what i envisioned....i looked it the IR emitter up and what came to mind was an old nickelodeon that used persistence of vision to play a movie.lol. but yeah...if that will work then i'll give it a shot. Thanks.
whatsisface (author)  j626no6 years ago
Yeah that's literally it. You could make it even easier and use a wheel to direct drive the mouse wheel, it'd be pretty bulky though.
LemonSlice7 years ago
I'm going to try this with a wireless mouse! Great instructable! 4.5 stars
That would be Really kool, Nice idea!
Darn, I didn't have any desoldering stuff and i accidentally burned of the contacts. The PCB's lines got pulled off and it doesn't work anymore. I really need more tools for my workshop, as I'm a heavy DIYer but I have very little tools.
whatsisface (author)  LemonSlice7 years ago
Ah that's a shame. Good thing you can pick up cheap mice for next to nothing.
Well, it was a wireless mouse so that was a little harder to replace. Well, wired doesn't matter because I really don't plan on using this on the road with my laptop either so that doesn't matter. I'm probably gonna get another mouse for this project though.
whatsisface (author)  LemonSlice7 years ago
avibank9117 years ago
this is just what ive been looking for thanks. can i map the controler wheel to a program like Guitar Rig 3 ? ive tried to using my mouse but it only recognizes input frm the keyboard as midi.(midi is used to controll things in this program.)basicaly need a software similar to volumouse but lets you choose any app to map it to and that lets it act as controller. thanks again
whatsisface (author)  avibank9117 years ago
I have a feeling this may be what you're looking for:


It lets you make the scroll wheel up/down send specific keystrokes to specified programs.
thanks for help but it didn work i have a bad feeling i gonna have to get into the actual core of guitar rig to program it to accept continuose messages from a mouse. other wise i think a joystick may work.. will post results wen i get joystick.
thanks for the link. That program looks perfect for this. Seems a bit difficult to set up the .txt file though >_>
2hochn7 years ago
If only I could find an none IR mouse..."
By a stroke of luck, I found a mouse that has a VERY small, but still solid state encoder. It's ''this''. You can find these on the web new for about $7, I found mine @ frys for $10. I loked @ that big scroll wheel and figured it would have to have a ss encoder. The only downside is that you need to remove about 17 screws(both phillips and allen heads) before you can crack it open.

I'm probably gonna go back for a couple more of them just to play with...
Can anyone help point me in the right direction for finding a SS rotary encoder wheel? It's driving me nuts that I can't find a single one. Also, do you think it would be possible to wire up a solid state where an optical encoder/reciever led-thingy was on the pcb? The IR receiver diode has a 3 pin output, like the solid state encoder, so i was just wondering if they were interchangeable. I imagine that the outputs of the two might not be compatible with each other and the chip's coding, but let me know if you think it'd work.
whatsisface (author)  eggplanthunter7 years ago
I wouldn't be able to say, I've never tried it. It may work, I've seen similar mice PCB's using different encoders/diodes.
jacoby3087 years ago
if anyone tried this with a MS basic optical mouse - does it work? i have one but i dont want to open it because its still used sometimes.
Neat idea. I wonder if there are any driving games that allow you to steer using the scroll wheel, because this device would make a great portable steering controller for playing games on a laptop. It would also be great for playing Arkanoid/Breakout games if a way could be devised to map the control to the scroll wheel instead of the arrow keys or the mouse's x-axis. My favourite is still the old DOS version of Arkanoid, which I play via DOSBOX running on Damn Small Linux.
i guess you could adjust the setting ingame to allow steering through scroll wheel
The old DOS games I like don't gave a lot of in-game control customization. However, now that I think about it, it shouldn't be too difficult to take an old mouse and create desktop wheels from the rollers INSIDE the housing where the ball is kept. With that method I could take an old mouse and get THREE desktop wheels out of it (one for the x-axis, one for the y-axis, and one for the scroll wheel). It would be like using an etch-a-sketch as an I/O device! (I think I've found the inspiration for my first instructable, if I can get it to work...)
should work great! really good idea!!! the problem is finding a ball mouse that has a scroll!
whatsisface (author)  ekulmeekul7 years ago
The one I used here has a scroll, but it was an encoder one.
skincage7 years ago
Great idea!
JellyWoo7 years ago
hey! someone else made something like this too.
did you use a different encoder, or the same one?
whatsisface (author)  Yerboogieman7 years ago
It's the same encoder that was soldered into my mouse.
mweston7 years ago
whatsisface (author)  mweston7 years ago
Thanks very much!
technick297 years ago
Awesome job!
whatsisface (author)  technick297 years ago
Thanks =)
cheetooh7 years ago
Thank you very much. This is really great. Something 2 do 4 d weekend :)
whatsisface (author)  cheetooh7 years ago
Thanks =]
dagger5767 years ago
This is cool... I'm already thinking about kitschy items I could use to scroll with. By the way, what was the music playing on the video?
whatsisface (author)  dagger5767 years ago
Thanks for the comment. The music was "The Hives are law, you are crime" by The Hives.
=SMART=7 years ago
Awesome dude !
mehendalek7 years ago
Fantastic Idea. What inspired you to get this kind of idea....... :)
is there any way to make a PS/2 mouse into a USB because i only have a PS/2 mouse and my laptop has about 10 USB ports and no PS/2 thanks
whatsisface (author)  Iliketomakestuff7 years ago
I believe you can get adaptors but they may be a bit expensive.
Depends where you get 'em - Amazon has them as cheap as I've been able to find recently. I've got a couple similar ones that work great.
There are adapters. I actually have a couple laying around.
neardood7 years ago
Cool idea
JakeNikolas7 years ago
the rc car tire made me think...what if you took apart an rc car and hooked up what made the car accelerate the the scrool wheel. then you could use the rc remote control to turn the wheel.
whatsisface (author)  JakeNikolas7 years ago
Yeah, that could be done. Might be a bit messy but it would work.
Masher17 years ago
I would think that the optical guts in a MS mouse would also work same as a mech. unit would it not?
whatsisface (author)  Masher17 years ago
Yes it would work the same, but you don't get as clearly defined "Notches" on the circuitry without hacking up the mouse case as well, using optical guts just needs more work.
This is awesome. I always wanted a Griffen wheel, but I could never get myself to pay what they wanted for it.
I think that I want to try this with my laptop. The volume adjuster is just awful, it doesn't show you what the volume is and it is very sloooow. Also, the scroll portion of the pad isn't does't work a lot of the time.
XilStorm7 years ago
This is pretty cool, but I have a question: how can you use two mice at the same time?
whatsisface (author)  XilStorm7 years ago
It works pretty well, most OS's will allow for 1 PS/2 and 1 USB mouse, or 2xUSB mice, hence you can plug a mouse into a laptop and still use the touchpad.
FixedHDD7 years ago
i built it just one and its perfect! thanks!
whatsisface (author)  FixedHDD7 years ago
Excellent! Thanks for posting the picture!
axist477 years ago
Im gonna try a "nano" version of this cause my laptop uses touch controls for volume, and I can't find them half the time. Thanks for the great ible!!!
MrFairlady7 years ago
perfect for engadget viewing
abadfart7 years ago
you cold play pong lol
NikonDork7 years ago
Superb Instructable. Soon as I get back to the thrift store (I just came from there, hehe) to get a PS2 mouse, this thing will find a home on my desk. Now if only I could use this to change the brush diameter in Photoshop. Whoa.
whatsisface (author)  NikonDork7 years ago
Thanks for the kind words. I wonder if there's a plugin for Photoshop that will do that.
If you can link a keystroke with a scroll step, you can do it without a plugin. The key commands "[" and "]" will change the brush size up and down (in steps, though - 1px in 1-10, 10px in 10-100, etc), while "{" and "}" will change the "softness" (fuzzy edge) of the brush.
Er. Looks like certain characters can't be used in comments. Look here instead, then:
Grrr. Let's try this one more time..
Change Your Brush Dynamically
whatsisface (author)  helifino7 years ago
Yeah thats very possible to map to a scroll, through an Autohotkey Script or maybe some other software.
Be careful with Auto Hot Keys! When it is installed on my computer everything stops working. Internet doesn't work. Word does't work and many other things. But if it is uninstalled even with a compiled script running everything is fine. I recommend installing AHK on a junk computer and transferring a compiled script to your good computer.
whatsisface (author)  duckythescientist7 years ago
I had no problems with it when I started using it last year. There were a couple of glitches but that's to be expected with what I was doing.
Assuming you can man this with your non-dominant hand (which I bet you can), most things seem to be adjustable if you hover over them & scroll. I can't speak for photoshop, but most things in my gnome desktop appear to do this. (active window, volume, dropdown boxes...)
whatsisface (author)  zachninme7 years ago
Yeah, I'm using my non-dominant hand in the video because I had to hold the camera with my right. I just realised that you can use this to scroll through FF tabs and to select different parts of a movie clip in Windows Movie Maker.
shooby7 years ago
The hives are law, you are crime! Nice work. If I were to build this, I think I'd add a weight in the base (steel plate, etc) to make it more stable. Does volumouse temporarily change the registry, or does it always have to be running?
whatsisface (author)  shooby7 years ago
Woah, well spotted. I have to have it Blu-tacked to my desk to keep it stable, and it works pretty well. Volumouse has to be running all the time, but uses little to no system resources in doing so.
jonas rae7 years ago
Whatsisface - if you read this after my other message - i may have found just the thing.... http://www.autohotkey.com/ - the words limitless and possibilities come to mind.... :-)
whatsisface (author)  jonas rae7 years ago
Yeah I was just about to suggest that to you in a PM. AHK is super easy to script and can make some pretty powerful things happen.
zachninme7 years ago
Oh, BTW, you say how you could just use an RSS reader rather than scroll down every page. I use gReader to do all this, and I save a *ton* of time. However, I use the item view, and I still scroll a ton. This might make the morning feeds more fun!
whatsisface (author)  zachninme7 years ago
I just thought, I should couple this with a hamster wheel and read at a rodent's pace!
codester7 years ago
This is AWESOME!!!! Will this work for movie editing? I was looking for something like this.
whatsisface (author)  codester7 years ago
Yeah, actually I edited the video of it using the wheel itself. It would probably work better to desolder the left click button and solder a new one on the side of the case, so that you can use it to click and scroll, selecting different parts of the movie. I might do this and add the neccasary steps if required.