Instructables

Foot operated computer mouse

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I built the functions of a mouse into a footrest so I could compose and edit text without breaking my train of thought and taking my hands off the keyboard to fumble with a conventional mouse or trackball. Commercial foot operated mouses are available for up to $1500, but I do not care for the way they are implemented. My version can be built for under $30. Disclaimer: I am not actually a computer geek, I just play one on the Internet.

To see my related Instructables, click on "unclesam" just below the title above or in the INFO box to the right. On the new page that appears, repeatedly click "NEXT" to see all of them.
 
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Step 1: Components and tools

Picture of components and tools
Components
PVC architectural plastic sheet for foot board, 1/2 inch thick (actual 0.470), 17 inches by 22 inches, chosen because it is slick and because I had some scraps.
1 optical mouse; Targus model PAUM004U because it was on sale nearby for $10; reconditioned ones are available for that price via the internet.
2 roller lever switches, Radio Shack #275-017A, $4 each, order or find walk-in store that stocks them at radioshack.com.
7 feet clear plastic tubing, 1/2-inch inside dia, 3/4-inch outside dia.
Screws for fastening tubing to foot board, 1-inch long #6 phillips pan head, and washers.

Tools
Woodworking tools. If motorized tools are used on plastic, they should be run at very slow speed.
Berkin4 years ago
o_O Who'd have ever thought of this?? Awesome work! :D
Xixfas Berkin7 months ago
popular science...
Xixfas7 months ago
this was in the popular science book!!
i got it
j4jackj9 months ago
I made something like this.
Take 2 PC mice, USB. Attach pedals of cardboard to the buttons of one, and stand the mouse at a ~65* angle.
Then take shoes that fit you but you don't use. Tape the second mouse to the front-bottom of your shoe, and make sure the heel is ultra slick. Make sure the left shoe is the mouse. More to come in my first Instructable.
Majufan1 year ago
Thanks a million! I have arthritis in my hands and arms and this foot mouse have helped me a lot! :o) Now I can browse the internet again. Thank you so much for sharing! :o)
Fantastic I'm making this ASAP
cinstallers2 years ago
This is just what I have been looking for as I have back problems, what about a foot operated keyboard ?
In case you are not a computer geek like me, a foot operated mouse is called a 'rat'.
unclesam (author)  ultralegomaster50962 years ago
legomaster5000, thanks for the info, I had not heard that! It opens up all sorts of interesting logos and decorations for the platform. This project has received tens of thousands of hits, and you are the only one to offer the name for it.
UncleSam
Imagine this: Make this shaped as a rat, give it to you're family computer geek as a Christmas present, then videotape his reaction...
catawba3 years ago
How would you click and hold the left button down? For example, so you can drag a selected file to the trash can or move windows on the screen.
unclesam (author)  catawba3 years ago
catawba, the way you click and hold the left button down is to click and hold the left button down. With your foot. With a conventional hand mouse, to perform the operations you mention, you slide, lift and slide your mouse until you position a cursor over the object you wish to move. Then you click and hold the mouse's left button down with your pointing finger while you slide, lift and slide the mouse to move the object on the screen. When the object gets to its destination, you lift your pointing finger off the left-click switch. With the foot mouse, you slide, lift and slide your right foot over the upturned mouse to position the cursor over the object you wish to move. You then click and hold down the left-click switch with your left foot, then slide, lift and slide your right foot over the upturned optical mouse to move the object, then slide your left foot off the left switch when the object gets to where you want to drop it. This operation is generally referred to drag-and-drop. You pick up and drop the object using the left click switch with your foot the same way as you would do with the pointing finger of your right hand on a conventional mouse. You see, your left foot takes the place of the pointing finger of your rght hand. That is why it is called a foot-mouse. Maybe I could show you a picture that would make it easier for you to understand. No wait, I already did that. The opening picture shows a left foot positioned near two switches, one on the left and one on the right. Imagine that these two switches, one on the left and one on the right, are analagous to the left-click switch on a conventional hand-mouse and the right switch in the picture is analagous to the right-click on a conventional hand-mouse. The two switches pictured operate exactly as the two click-switches on a conventional mouse. To perform some operations, you just click the switch. To perform other operations, you hold down the switch. In fact, if you examine the Instructable, you will note that the two foot-operated mouse switches are wired directly to the two connections on the upturned optical mouse that originally were connected to the mouse's left and right click switches. That is why the two click switches pictured on the foot-mouse work identically to the two click switches originally in the mouse. If you have any more technical questions concerning this project, I will be glad to try to clear them up for you.
Unclesam
I actually read over this Instructable multiple times before asking that question. I simply misunderstood how the switches work. I thought that as your foot glides over one it goes from open to closed back to open while your foot is still over it.

Anyway, I do really appreciate you clearing that up for me.

One alternative implementation to this instructable that I think would be cool is to replace those switches with light sensing ones (darkness sensing actually). So when it goes dark the switch is closed, otherwise the switch is open.  That way you can move your foot over the switch from the side (east or west) without having to lift it.

Again, thanks for the great Instructable and thanks for clearing up my misconception.
unclesam (author)  catawba3 years ago
catawba, I hope you realized that I was just having some fun with my reply to your original question. I suspected that you had a misconception about how the click switches worked, because I had the same misconception when I was trying to figure out how to implement the foot mouse. I put off actually working on the project for months after I first thought of it. I thought I would have to research how the mouse worked, how it sent data to the computer and its format, and how the computer responded. Once the optical mouses became cheap, I just bought one and tore it open. Each click switch is soldered to a circuit board, so I just took them off. It dawned on me that I only had to know how the switch worked, and that the mouse and the computer would take care of the rest. I put an ohmmeter across the switch terminals, and when it is pushed, its contacts close, and when the finger is lifted, the contacts open. I just found the roller switch with the same contact arrangement. A good example for how a solution can be found by attacking a problem from different directions.
Light activation should be another way to implement the clck switches. I considered magnetic as well, since I have a bunch of tiny reed switches that activate when a magnet is held near them. That would require attaching a small magnet to the foot or slipper or shoe, but it would allow activation from any angle. There are also switches that have a ball as an activatior instead of a roller on a lever. The foot could be run over the ball from any angle and still activate the switch. The ball switches are costly, but someone could find a suitable plastic curved shape or ball and spring mount it so the foot could come from any direction and press the plastic down to activate a switch, even the switch removed from the mouse itself. Thanks for your interest.
Uncle Sam
Vspec3 years ago
This would be godly for mechwarrior.
santos_rem3 years ago
hi unclesam, can you send to me the pdf of this design.i cant download it for i need to pay. but i do not have any credit card yet. i am a student and needs to make a design similar to this. can i have ur email? thanks you and take care.
frikkie4 years ago
You know people that dont have arms can work with your idea very nicely.
I think it the best instructable in a while that ive seen.
 bwaaa....ha...ha...ha..... lol
that's freaky funny.... I like that very much..
Now I can pick my guitar while I daytrade. Thanks! Anyone seen a version where the good foot rocks forward/back for up/back motion, then swivels clockwise/counterclockwise for Right/Left, and the off foot uses push buttons for mouse buttons?
svfox694 years ago
Another example of need spurring invention.
I would think you could turn a slipper into a mouse.
Tilting your foot left or right, or tilting your foot forward or backward.
Then just one shoe would control the mouse.

Steven
http://sellsheets.com/
Somnione4 years ago
Hi, great instructable, found it through wikipedia when looking for footmouse. I'm looking for some similar solution for some while now, and like others say yours seems like the most elegant. But there is one suggestion (which I may try in my version), and that is to use a trackball, that way there is no problems with x/y axis.
unclesam (author)  Somnione4 years ago
Somnione, I included my experiments using trackball in reply to a comment, below. I failed to mention that my large trackball used in the conventional manner would send unintended pointer commands whenever the surface on which it rested got jiggled. I found the jiggling pointer on the screen to be annoying. U.S.
Kryptonite5 years ago
Nice, but erm, with your right food you can't really move the pointer much due to the space of the underside of your foot, and if you move down right with your foot don't won't the pointer go up left? I get confused easily and if you changed from your computer to another, you'd get confused so much! Apart from that, great idea! I'm thinking of using just the little camera and inserting it into the soul of a pair set of shoes.
unclesam (author)  Kryptonite5 years ago
Kryptonite, re ALTERNATIVE IMPLEMENTATIONS, including mounting the optical sensor in the sole of a shoe. Since mounting the sensor in the sole of a shoe seemed difficult, I considered fixing the mouse onto the side of the foot/shoe, in the instep area, and the foot would move it over the surface same as moving it with your hand. Mouse could be attached to a thin slider that would have a raised rim that would engage the sole of the shoe, maybe a strap over the toe of your foot so you could lift the mouse as needed. In either case, you need a way to park the foot in a way that disengages the optical sensor when you no longer need to move the pointer. You do not want to keep jiggling the pointer if your feet fidget. You could cure that in your operating system, such as Windows XP, using a setting that causes the pointer to disappear when you are actually typing, and how to make it reappear. However, I also believe you want to stop the mouse's light from running full brightness all the time, which it would do if you do not disengage it from the surface. You could create a rest position for the foot, or for the thin slider you move with your foot, that you could find by feel, and have a hole through the foot board that would fall under the optical sensor. Looking down through that hole would disengage the sensor. I have done no experiments with wireless mouses, but a wired sensor or mouse attached to your foot would need to have its wire suspended by an overhead arm. I was afraid such a rig might get easily broken. You would not need to have the click switch wires run out by that same method. You could wire the roller click switches to a second USB mouse mounted somewhere under the foot board. The two mouses could be run to two ports on the computer or hubbed into a single port. The computer will accept commands from either mouse, and you can even keep your hand mouse connected and use it as well. To implement the scroll function, you might be able to add a surface that could be contacted by the scroll wheel of the mouse attached to your foot when you lifted your foot up so the wheel would contact that surface. The direction of the scroll might feel reversed, but it might be possible to cure that by cross-wiring the wheel's sensor on its circuit board. If that does not work, you could turn the wheel's axle around inside the mouse and move its sensor along with the axle, running wires across the circuit board to the original sensor solder pads. You can also implement the footmouse using a track ball, with it mounted under the footboard so the top of its ball protrudes through a hole just proud of the top surface of the footboard. Even with my slick-soled slippers, I was able to move the large ball of an old trackball I own quite well, but I did not use it for footmouse because it will not work with my current computer. With a trackball, the roller click switches could be wired to the trackball's click switches, there would be no annoying wires above the footboard, and the pointer axes would not be reversed. See my recent response to eeCharlie for additional notes. U.S.
Thank you for spending the time for writing that up, there seems to be many ways to do this and just as many things to cause annoyance. I believe that you wil find a way no matter how long it takes, I can tell from how much patience you must have to write up that comment! All that I can say is good luck, at the moment I don't have the tools, materials or money to be able to do things like this but I'll keep an eye on this to see how it turns out. :3
unclesam (author)  Kryptonite5 years ago
Kryptonite, you can move the pointer as far as you want, by lifing the foot a tiny bit, lowering it again, and moving the pointer in increments, the exact way you move the pointer using a hand mouse. If you read the instructable, you will find a way to make the mouse movement directions the same as you get when you use a hand mouse. I also considered placing the optical sensor in the sole of a shoe, but that was too complicated for me to do in this proof of concept model. Note from the photos that there is a lens/prism that must be precisely positioned within the light and the sensor, both of which are mounted on the circuit board. I was afraid I would destroy the mouse if I tore into those small parts. U.S.
broaff5 years ago
LOL it's very creative!! :D
jolshefsky5 years ago
Perhaps if you rolled a traditional mouse ball with your foot then used the optical mouse pick-up below it as a direction, it would reverse the axes so right is right and up is up. If you chop up an old roller mouse so you have its ball facing upside-down, then place the optical sensor from the optical mouse under that, moving your foot over the ball to the right causes the bottom of the ball to move left so the upside-down optical mouse thinks you moved right again. A software solution would be better, though.
btop jolshefsky5 years ago
you could just have the mouse upside down?
jolshefsky btop5 years ago
More likely: mirroring and flipping take more thought to figure out than I put into that comment. As it turns out of course, moving a mouse to the right on a table is just like holding the mouse steady and moving the table left; flip it over, and it's like moving the table to the right -- voila!
If you turn the mouse 180 degrees, it still is upside down, but it would have normal directions. (You can try it with it right know (not upside down of course))
unclesam (author)  minime123585 years ago
minime12358, if you read the instructable, you will find a way to reverse the direction of either or both mouse axes, restore them at will. U.S.
oh, sorry. Took a quick look at it, thought it was a good idea and I should do it sometimes, then didn't have enough time to read it.
Except if you turn the mouse 180 degrees, your left/right tracking is swapped. Which is way more confusing than the up/down thing. Just make believe you're flying your cursor like an airplane - pushing forward on the stick (mouse/foot/whatever) makes things go down and pulling up... ah, pulls up.
unclesam (author)  TheOneTrueStickman5 years ago
TheOneTrueStickman, I also have no trouble handling the reversal of the up-down mouse axis, but for those who do, reading the instructable will give them a way to reverse either or both axes, restore them as they wish. Since my foot is near the floor, I just imagine that when I push my foot forward, the pointer is going down to meet it. U.S.
Right, I was aiming that last part at everyone who didn't seem to get the reversal thing but from my own perspective of multiple computers/OSs on a KVM and thinking that the mental fix makes more sense than software. All of which I failed to state or make clear... And I also forgot to say that I've been wanting to make some sort of pedimouse for a while, but your solution is the most elegant hack I've seen. My sketches all involved a tilting/rocking set-up with a crazy mash of joystick & mouse components.
unclesam (author)  jolshefsky5 years ago
jolshefsky, I toyed with all kinds of mechanical means for getting the mouse axis directions to come out right. A ball reverses both axes, so you gain nothing, and the ball would jiggle and send unwanted pointer commands. I considered a flat loop of fabric that the foot would rest on. The loop's carriage would slide left-right with foot motion, but front-back would cause the fabric to roll, and the fabric on the bottom of the roll, viewed by the upside down mouse, would move in the opposite direction to the foot, which would make both axes move on the screen in the traditional way. I also looked at attaching the mouse to the side of the foot, so it would just move over the footboard in the traditional way, with its wire supported from an overhead arm. I would have also have had to find some way to lift the mouse off the surface without requiring the foot to do a lot of awkward and straining moves. I have since inserted a link in the instructable to a free download of a little program that allows you to reverse the direction of either or both of your mouse axes and restore them at will. U.S.
arduinoe5 years ago
big feet =big socks

big hands= errr... isnt it past your bedtime!

lol
eecharlie5 years ago
Great instructable. You are a very patient person to have not gone crazy with all the questions from people who haven't actually read it. Two thoughts - How well does it work if you just wear socks and that's it? Not enough flat surface area? Is it pretty quick to do a double click? Have you thought about putting a second roller switch just above the left-click, in parallel with it, so that if you slid your foot further up you'd roll over them both in one motion? (Although that would require the first switch to re-open before you hit the second, tricky. Maybe a second normally-closed pole on the second switch, or some glue logic?) I'd love to do this, but I definitely want to come up with a foot-operated scrolling solution first.
unclesam (author)  eecharlie5 years ago
eecharlie, after posting 25 instructables, I have realized that for some reason people feel compelled to post comments or questions, many of them nasty, without looking past the opening photo. What fools they make of themselves when the text, or other posted comments, already address their concerns. This time, I decided to make the point directly to each commenter, because otherwise they would never know, probably would never return to the instructable. Sockfeet work just fine, though a sweaty sock would not slide so well, and after a while the footmouse might begin to smell like....feet. To double click, you can slide your foot back and forth, but you can also just slide it forward for one click, lift and lower it for a second quick click. You need lift the toe of the foot only about an eighth of an inch and can clearly hear the clicks. You can scroll by holding down the left-click switch and move the pointer up and down in the right edge of the screen, but that can be tiresome. The scroller wheel could be implemented using a second USB mouse mounted with the top of its wheel protruding up out of the foot board surface wherever it would be convenient for you. You could connect both mouses to computer ports or hub them into a single port. The computer will respond to any command issued by either mouse. Your hand-mouse can even remain connected and used along with the footmouse. If you use a ball mouse as the scroll mouse you need to fix it so it will not issue pointer commands when its ball gets jiggled. You could also mount just the scroll wheel parts of the pointer control mouse into the footboard, run wires from its rotation sensor to the remainder of the upside-down mouse. You might want to check back for my response to another recent inquiry, in which I will include other notes about alternative implementations. U.S.
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