Fully functional, and furry!
Warning: this project involves taxidermy, dremels, and sometimes graphic pictures of dead animals. While there are no guts in this tutorial, viewer discretion is still advised. If you are offended by this entire idea, please peruse the wallet contest or the laser cutter contest instead.
Concept by noahw
Implemented by noahw and canida.
Step 1: Acquire Mice
Obtain a similarly-sized (wetware) mouse. These are commonly available fresh or frozen from pet stores, or any other place that sells reptile food. It's easier to fit a small object into a large mouse than a large object into a small mouse, so err on the side of caution. You can always fill extra space with cotton balls.
If you've got an optical (hardware) mouse, make sure to choose a pale-furred (wetware) mouse for lightest skin pigment - this will be important later.
Step 2: Dissect (hardware) Mouse Part 1
The mini travel mouse didn't come factory ready to get put inside of a taxidermied mouse. (What were they thinking?)
Thus, you'll need to take your mouse apart and see whats inside.
Take off the spring loaded cable retractor by taking out the screw and then pop the two halves apart with a screw driver.
Remove the little plastic nub that was on the wire so that the wire will thread smoothly through a hole in the (wetware) mouse.
Next, grab a marker and draw lines around all parts of the plastic mini mouse housing that aren't essential. We needed to slim our (hardware) mouse down to fit inside the (wetware) mouse. We used a rotary tool to remove sections from the front of the buttons and the rear sides so that the (hardware) mouse would fit between the (wetware) mouse's shoulders and hips.
Remove as much plastic as necessary to make your mice fit, but take care not to damage the circuit board. The pseudo-ergonomic styling is really for decoration- you can't make a little mouse like this ergonomic, so go ahead an trim it down to the size of the circuit board.
Make a new slot in the back of the (hardware) mouse for the cord- we need to relocate it to the back to fit with the (wetware) mouse tail.
Step 3: Dissect (hardware) Mouse Part 2
Before you take things apart be sure to write down what wires go into what mounts on the circuit board so that you will be able to put things back together correctly.
Using a soldering iron, gently touch the tip of the iron to the ball of solder that holding the wire in place. After a second or two the solder will melt and the wire will come free. Leave the ball of solder attached to the circuit board - you can use it to re-attach the wires later on.
Step 4: Shave (wetware) Mouse
We started with a sharp scalpel, then moved onto tweezers and fingernails as they are easier and less likely to damage the skin. Your mileage may vary- go with what works.
Step 5: Dissect (wetware) Mouse
Take your mouse apart using the techniques described in my previous Mouse Taxidermy Instructable.
You should now have a bag of mouse skin; discard the innards. Remove the tail if you want to run a cord through the opening instead.
Wrap and wire the legs as described for a bit of support, but cut off the wire ends- we'll just let the legs hang loose around the Mouse Mouse body.
Prepare a head-only form, and attach the eyes.
Step 6: Assembly Part 1: Reconstitution
Reassemble the shell and circuit board, and hot-glue the pieces in place.
If you've trimmed any bulky edges of the casing away, you'll want to wrap them in plastic to keep the mouse skin away from the circuit board. We used folded-over kitchen plastic wrap, and hot-glued the edges to the sides of the casing.
Step 7: Assembly Part 2: Integration
We inserted the (hardware) mouse into the shoulders first, then pulled the tail region around the back. It was a tight fit - next time we'll find a fatter mouse, as it's easy to fill extra space with cotton balls! Skin is stretchy, though, so long as you keep it moist the mice should integrate nicely.
Sew up the back opening, starting near the tail and working towards the head. Leave a space for the scroll wheel- it won't work properly covered in fur!
Tack the skin down around the scroll wheel with a bit of superglue, taking care not to gum up either the buttons or the scroll wheel. I usually apply the glue with a tool, either a pin or a piece of wire with a small loop on the end.
Step 8: Optical Sensor
Make sure your completed Mouse Mouse is dry first, or the skin may pull and warp as it dries!
Use your X-Acto knife or scalpel to carefully trim a hole for the optical sensor to peek through, then add just a touch of cyanoacrylate (tissue glue, aka superglue) to the edges of the skin. This will toughen the skin edge and fasten it to the plastic around the sensor.
Use a tool (I used a bent piece of wire) to apply the glue, and do so sparingly- you don't want to drop any on the optical sensor!
Step 9: Completed Mouse Mouse!
The buttons and scroll wheel worked beautifully, as did the cursor movement after we trimmed the belly skin away from the optical sensor. You may need to trim a bit of fur around the edges of the scroll wheel or optical sensor, but otherwise it's a wrap!
Keep in mind that this mouse isn't meant for heavy-duty computer use- it's a functional work of art, and should be saved for stylish installations and special occasions. Using the Mouse Mouse on a daily basis will likely cause shedding (the mouse) and RSI (your wrists), so we really can't advise it.
Of course, it's Really Damn Cool- every nerd who's any nerd should have one!