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.
Step 1: What You Will Need
- An old PS/2 Mouse, preferably one that has a ball rather than an optical one, and one that uses a Rotary encoder as a scroll wheel, not one that uses an IR Transmitter/Detector. If you don't know what a rotary encoder looks like, see the last image of this step.
- An old R/C car/ Other circular object you can use for rotating that fits in your hand easily. Other suggestions are the spindles from an old VCR or maybe even an old CD-ROM drive, spinning the CD like a record on a turntable.
- A project box of your choosing, I used an old one I had lying around.
- A metal rod of suitable length to go through your R/C car wheel, project box side and the rotary encoder.
- Soldering Iron
- Solder Wick/ Desoldering pump
- Tape/Glue/Double sided foam pads/ Pressure sensitive tape to mount the encoder.
- Small piece of strip board (Optional)
Step 2: Gut the Mouse
Now is where you'll find out if you have a rotary encoder or an ir transmitter as a scroller. If you have a rotary encoder, well done and carry on. If you have an IR Transmitter (As is the case with cheapo mice) then it's no good for this. Go directly to jail, do not pass Go, do not collect £200. OK, bail yourself out and try with a different mouse.
I don't have any pictures of this step because it's a bit obvious (and I forgot to take some), but I do have a picture of my board after the rotary encoder has been removed, and one of the rotary encoder soldered to the piece of protoboard I used to mount it.
Step 3: Desolder the Encoder
Now in each of the holes that the encoder was sat in, solder a different colour of wire. These will need to be about 3-6 inches long depending on your project box size. Now you have a choice. You can either solder the wires directly onto the corresponding pins of the encoder or you can go into the magic cave and look for the chest of mystery (Page 132). No seriously, your second option is to use a piece of stripboard to connect the pins to the wires, as I did. This is a bit more durable than directly soldering the wires. In my picture I have bent the tabs on the encoder at right angles to the actual component and have already glued in my metal rod.
Step 4: Glue the Rod In
Once you have your rod, cut it to about 3 inches long or shorter. It needs to be long enough to fit through the encoder, one side of the project box and a good way into the wheel of your R/C car.
Glue it in to the rotary encoder by putting a small dab of superglue onto the rod and sliding it in to the hole in the encoder's centre. Let it dry, and if the metal rod can turn the encoder, you're in business. Otherwise, use a knife to scrape away where you've stuck the rod to the edge of the component and try again. You'll find it turns very easily with the rod stuck in it.
Step 5: Mount the Encoder
First off, drill a hole in your project box that's the same diameter as your metal rod, and stick your rod through it. Now you need to mount your encoder to the inside of your project box. For this, I used pressure sensitive tape, which is double sided and very sticky. I then went over this with a little tape just to be certain.
Step 6: Stick the Wheel on and Mount the Board.
I used a little superglue again to mount my wheel, the same way as I did the encoder. You may have a different diameter hole in your wheel to your rod, so I reccommend you roll up some paper to pad out the hole, or gum it up with some Blu-tac. I don't have any pictures of ripping the wheel out, partly because they're all different and partly because mine was found at the bottom of my parts bin.
Now all you need to do is stick the board to the bottom of the project box (pressure sensitive tape again) and drill a hole in the side of the case for the cable to escape from. Then clip/screw the two halves of the box together and test it!
Step 7: Test It
Fire up something scrollable, be it your Winamp library, your browser or a massive Ebook and give it a test. If you find it's too sensitive or not sensitive enough, then go into your Control Panel and adjust your mouse properties, more specifically, how many lines you scroll with one turn of the wheel.
As an added bonus, see if your wheel has enough momentum to scroll under it's own weight with a flick of the wrist, like mine does.
Step 8: Take It a Step Further
Basically it lets you adjust the Volume of your PC by holding a keyboard button and scrolling up/down. As well as this, it will show a little slider that shows the percentage volume that your PC is at. It will also resize windows using the wheel and change brightness, all according to the conditions you give it.
Here's a demo video of the wheel with Volumouse installed and running, with the Window Resize plugin installed.
And that's it! If it looks like I've missed anything out, or if you have a question, feel free to comment and rate!