Introduction: Make Your Own Keyboard With Integrated Trackball Mouse

My home computer setup is much like a media center PC. I have a small Shuttle PC hooked up to a large 37" 1080p LCD panel as the main monitor. As a bachelor renting a house with friends, my PC is in the same room as my bed, and there are a lot of times when I'm watching a DVD or Hulu.com or playing World of Warcraft and would really like to be able to lounge on the bed and control the computer.

I have used wireless keyboard & mouse combo units and found that they are totally unreliable. The thumb stick is nearly useless in precision and doesn't allow you to quickly move the mouse around the screen. They also tend to run through batteries quickly, and when running low on batteries they will miss key presses or mouse input randomly. I searched for a wired keyboard & mouse combo and found that my options were very limited. Many of them were built for media center PCs and have non-standard keyboard layouts, small keys, and were also pretty expensive.

After running out of other options, I decided to roll my own! This instructable will show you how to take an ordinary USB keyboard and USB trackball mouse and combine them into a single unit. The units in this instructable are WIRED, however you should be able to do the same thing with a wireless keyboard and mouse, albeit at a much higher price.

Step 1: Gather the Materials...

I purchased all of the electronic items in this instructable at Newegg.com. Here is the list:

1) LITE-ON Black USB keyboard - $7
2) Logitech Gray 3 Buttons + Wheel USB TrackBall TrackMan Wheel Mouse - $30
3) SYBA 4-port mini USB hub - $8
4) BYTECC 10ft USB extension cable (Type-A Male-Female) - $3
5) JB Weld - Had this already.. use whatever epoxy-like compound you have handy
6) Small Zip Ties - Already had this as well, feel free to use twist ties or whatever

Total price: $48 + shipping
Total time spent: ~30 minutes construction time, plus a few hours to let the JB weld set properly

Step 2: Pop the Number Pad Keys Off

This step is very exciting!

Take a flat-head screw driver or other flat instrument (butter knife?) and pry all of the keys off of the keyboard. I say it is exciting because these little keys just FLY OFF and across the room! Watch your eyes here, really!

I also recommend doing a dry-run before hand to make sure your mouse is going to fit in the proper location.

Step 3: Create JB Weld Tools & Mix JB Weld

I didn't want to try to find something to stir up and apply the JB Weld, so I cut up the box that the mouse came in and made some stirring utensils. They work really well! I recommend making a couple of them, in case one loses its structural integrity during the process.

Once your tools are finished, use the plastic mouse shell that came in the packaging as a good place to put your JB Weld / epoxy, and mix up a small batch!

Step 4: Attach Mouse to Keyboard

Now that the keys are off of the keyboard, determine exactly where the mouse will sit. Keep in your mind an idea of where the bottom of the mouse touches the keyboard, and flip over the mouse and put a liberal amount of epoxy / JB Weld where they touch. Press the mouse firmly down on the keyboard, and use any excess epoxy to fill in the gaps between the keyboard & mouse so that you get a very strong bond.

I would highly recommend laying down some plastic wrap or a pizza box or something down when doing this step, you really don't want to get JB weld stuck to anything unintended.

Be sure to wipe off anything that you accidentally epoxy as soon as possible, once its dried its a horrible mess to get off!

Once you're happy with the JB weld job, set the keyboard down somewhere flat so the mouse doesn't slide off, and get the location of the mouse however you like it. I recommend sitting the keyboard on your lap and type on it a bit, and make sure that the mouse feels right, because once it's dry its not going anywhere. Luckily, JB weld takes a while to dry, so you have half an hour or so to play around with it.

Step 5: Finishing Up

Now that the keyboard & mouse is drying, grab some twist ties and take care of the cabling. If you twist the two cables a little bit and then zip-tie them, they wont be able to untwist and the cables will stay together, keeping the keyboard nice and tidy.

This is the time to also hook up your USB hub, and then use the extension cable to connect it to your PC. Since you're using an active hub, the length of your USB cable can be up to 16 feet without having to go to an active-repeater-cable.

Give the keyboard a few hours to dry before you start trying to really use it. JB Weld is very slow to dry, so leave it over night. If you use a 'real' epoxy, it will certainly dry much faster.

Once you give it time to dry, its very strong, I am able to lift up the keyboard by the mouse with no problem. I've been using it for a week now and it works AWESOME! Watching movies is much more pleasant now! :)

Comments

author
slimordium (author)2012-10-04

I came up with this idea I my own, figured I would check before posting and here it is! I mated mine with a split ergonomic keyboard and dremeled a space where the trackball can fit. Turned out nice actually.

author
Nikunj Rastogi (author)2010-05-30

 i does not understand ur step no 3 clearly, plese or clera kare

author
KAoC (author)2010-05-21

You sir quiet obviously do not do enough math with your computer. YOU DESTROYED YOUR PRECIOUS NUMPAD!!! Oh god I couldn't ever think of doing such an atrocious act. How will you ever efficiently enter data? :( I pity you, sir. 

author
CyberBill (author)KAoC2010-05-21

Haha!

I do a -lot- of number entry... When I'm at work!  Not when I'm sitting on the couch though. ;)

author
CyberBill (author)2009-04-16

its DUCT tape, not duck. Its original use was to tape up... wait for it... DUCTS. Also, the word 'wouila' doesn't exist. 'voilà', is a french word which roughly translates to 'there it is' or 'there you are'. There is really no need to type it twice in two languages. In my house, I prefer that things look nice. I try not to use duct tape on things that are going to be seen. I have guests often, and if everything in my house was covered in duct tape, they'd be less likely to come back. Besides, duct tape is rarely the best way to go. Using JB Weld holds stronger, lasts longer, looks better, and doesn't cover half of the palm rest.

author
bluegillfly (author)CyberBill2010-05-20

Not so fast, CB :-)

The tape we all know and love was originally called duck tape, and there is even a brand of it called Duck Tape, most likely available at any home improvement store near you, at least if you live in the United States.

It only came to be called duct tape later (= after WW II; it was developed during the war to fill the need for a strong, waterproof tape).  Also, if you look on rolls of duct tape, they typically include a warning not to use it on heating and air conditioning ducts. Why not? It's waterproof, but heatproof? Not so much. Some kind of metallized tape is usually used on ducts,.

author
Saturn V (author)CyberBill2010-04-08

Actually, its original use was to tape up ammunition crates in WWII and make them waterproof.  Then it was called Duct Tape, because it was the only tape in that time period that could create a strong enough seal, and last for a long time.

author
deathsmileyinc (author)CyberBill2010-02-11

it still doesn't look nice :( it isn't hard to build the cabling into the keyboards.
its hard to paint the keyboard but you could have painted the trackball casing black and use some Plexiglas or anything to smooth out the edges between the trackball and the keyboard.

author
A.C.E. (author)CyberBill2009-06-22

well yeah, but on some rolls of duct tape, presumably made by a different company, there is a duck on the inside. i would really do this, but i like my keypad. i might do it anyway, but use some bondo or something to make the mouse look more ""integrated"" or something.. but i like it : ) if i get a good looking one and send you a pic, can i collaborate to make it look better?

author
CyberBill (author)A.C.E.2009-06-22

Absolutely! :) Sounds good! If you spent a lot of time on it, you could use bondo or other body filler to really make the whole thing look great. Just make sure that you keep the ergonomics of the mouse in check. Its not good to have something really pretty that gives you carpel tunnel in an hour. ;) Good luck!

author
Lance Mt. (author)CyberBill2010-02-02

You sir would make one cruel admin, I tremble in fear, or maybe thats urine. Hmm.

author
foxtrot4697 (author)CyberBill2009-12-09

duck tape is always the best way to go

author
uberben (author)CyberBill2009-12-05

 Actually, it was originally created to water proof ammo cases in world war 2 and so was named duck tape. The name was later changed to duct tape. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Duct_tape

author
rocketman217 (author)CyberBill2009-07-23

i think it might of been a joke...............................................just maybe

author
Treknology (author)2010-04-05

Carov, I think your comment sux. Criticism should be constructive and/or encouraging. 

CyberBill: Rather than sacrifice the numeric pad, I would get a piece of 3mm acrylic cut to size so that it fits under the keyboard and protrudes far enough on the right side so you can attach the track-ball.

If the keyboard cable is coiled, thread the trackball cable through the middle. If not, rather than twisting them together, use braiding technique--that way they still look twisted together, but they won't keep trying to untwist.

author
Saturn V (author)Treknology2010-04-08

Agreed

author
pancho del rancho (author)2009-10-07

you should try it on the wii see if the mouse works

author
erikals (author)2009-07-01

i'll be giving this a go as soon as I get an old keyboard (PS/2) and a trackball mouse... Thanks for publishing this great Instructable Keep it up.

author

your name looks like mine:P

author
memyselfand1 (author)2009-06-29

hmmm...... so effectively, you've just stuck a mouse on the keyboard and plugged them both into a hub connected to the computer. Pointless and a slight waste of a mouse, but if it works I shouldn't be criticizing it.

author
Karel Jansens (author)2008-11-24

Not that I'm promoting Brando or anything (they do sell some amazingly bad crap), but as you indicated your cost is USD 48 + shipping, I'd invite you to take a look at this:

http://usb.brando.com.hk/prod_detail.php?prod_id=00678

And it's wireless too!

author
CyberBill (author)Karel Jansens2008-11-24

This is one of the keyboards I was looking at initially. Check out the keyboard layout, particularly in the lower-right, and you'll notice that its non-standard. The keys are also really small. For me, I am a touch typist and I can type at 120wpm, I get really frustrated when I use a lot of laptop keyboards because they screw with the layout, too. I think if you're using this strickly for a media-center PC it would be fine, but I intended on using this as a partial keyboard replacement (I am using it from my bed right now!) and like being able to chat at full speed. ;)

author
A.C.E. (author)CyberBill2009-06-22

and as for the whole laptop keyboard thing, i got a laptop with a complete keyboard that has no curve or anything to mess it up. i was thinking the same thing while trying to pick out a laptop.

author
Karel Jansens (author)CyberBill2008-11-24

I have an Accuratus ToughballAccuratus Toughball myself. It has a pretty standard UK QWERTY layout, but it came out a lot more expensive than this Brando thingie (which hopefully doesn't try to match Brando's general level of quality). Added bonuses of the Accuratus are a scroll wheel and left button on both sides of the keyboard. Also, it holds surprisingly comfortably.

I've been looking at the Brando because I'm planning to kit out a house with "Beagleboard-powered" TVs (and central NAS media storage). For mediacenters the Brando should indeed be more than enough. The media buttons are unlikely to work in Linux, but that's hardly a problem with VLC Media Player.

author
CyberBill (author)Karel Jansens2008-11-24

That keyboard looks pretty good, the keyboard does have a strange placement for the | \ key, but I don't personally get a lot of use out of that one at home... I do also like the trackball! Way better than the thumb stick. How is the reception for you?

author
Karel Jansens (author)CyberBill2008-11-24

Pretty much the same as bluetooth: around ten meters (30 ft?) without obstacles. Let's just call it mighty fine couch potatoe material. :)

author
JakeTobak (author)Karel Jansens2008-11-24

Thanks for the link, I think I might grab one of those for someone's Christmas present :P

author
imnotarealaccount (author)2009-04-14

I think that actually would look better, this is awful, why destroy the Number pad?

author

The mouse has to go somewhere, and the number pad is a very convenient place to put it. I never need to use the number pad when I'm sitting on the couch watching movies, so it was expendable. I still have the other keyboard & mouse connected to the computer, which gets used most of the time.

author
Phvxoui (author)2009-04-13

dude with all respect thats some Ghetto A$$ Sh!T!!! Awesome!!! lol i had a 2.5 hdd enclouser crammed on a 3.5 sata drive and a 2nd comp power supply jump started and hooked to the hdd for power cause the USB wasnt enough now thats Ghetto man! lol A+++

author
MairseyDotes (author)2009-03-30

Hmmm. Instead of destroying the number pad, get a piece of Luan door skin and cut it to fit under the keyboard, with a few inches projecting to the side (the right side if you are not a Southpaw). Paint it to match the keyboard. Wit for the paint to dry. Hot-glue it to the bottom of the keyboard. Hot-glue the trackball to the top of the Luan, whichever side you put it on. Hot-glue the USB hub under the keyboard, plug in keyboard and trackball, and bundle the excess wires under the keyboard.

author
lupinesoul (author)2009-03-14

Can this even be considered an instructable? This is not as informative as "How to Escape from America".

author
Yerboogieman (author)2009-01-30

One of my friends that works for microsoft designing keyboards and mice, he made a Really nice keyboard and mouse, the keyboard and mouse dock at the same space, the keyboard has a tiny touchpad for when your mouse dies, and for little things.

author
PKM (author)2008-11-24

If you want to be super-l33t you could desolder the button switches and glue them to the left side of your keyboard. I have seen a wireless keyboard/trackball with that layout, that you hold like a Game Gear (if you're old enough to remember what one of those is :P) and control the mouse with your thumbs.

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Padlock (author)PKM2008-11-24

A keyboard doesn't have button switches... It has two layers embedded in a clear plastic sheet with conductive traces on them, separated by a thin, plastic sheet in between.

author
PKM (author)Padlock2008-11-25

I meant the switches for the mouse buttons, so you could use the mouse in the "game gear grip". In retrospect I'm not sure that would add much to the design, though, I just saw it on a friend's wireless keyboard and thought it was cool. It appeals to the original-Gameboy-and-similar-handheld-playing part of me that grew up with the "movement with one thumb, actions with the other" instinct.

author
Padlock (author)PKM2008-11-26

Oh, ok. Yah, that would make it easier. More classy, too.

author
CyberBill (author)PKM2008-11-24

I really was considering this! :) That was, until I found out I can buy a full-size USB number pad for about $10! It would be easy to glue it to the side or something.. and since I have the USB hub, I could just plug it in! hehe My original keyboard was like the one you described, it had a sort of thumb-stick on the right side, with the left/right mouse buttons on the left, and you use your thumb to hit them. It had reception issues, though, even with line-of-sight to the receiver and only being ~5 feet away. Its very sad how crappy wireless keyboards are. :(

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