Shocking Mouse Prank




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This idea came out of a project I put together way back in college--a shocking (gift-wrapped) present. The present would shock you when you would move it if you were touching any two opposite sides. I'd get it out every year at Christmas :) It contained an ignition coil from an old junk car, a 6-volt lantern battery, and a mercury switch to close the circuit when the person shook or tilted the present. I got bored with it and thought I could convert it into a shocking mouse instead--here are the details of the conversion.

Materials Required:

  • mouse (in this case, a cheap Ativa Model 611405 Wired Optical Mouse)
  • mercury tilt switch (from an old thermostat)
  • old 12-volt automobile ignition coil
  • 3 conductor cable (around the same diameter as a mouse cord)
  • small wire nuts (or you can solder the wires)
  • almost any random on/off switch (this is optional but is for disabling the mouse once you have it assembled)

Tools Required:

  • wire stripper
  • wire clippers
  • soldering iron
  • hot glue gun
  • black permanent marker
  • drill
  • very tiny drill bit (I used a 1/16")

For more how-to's visit my website:

Step 1: Schematic Overview

Take a peek at the pictures for a basic schematic of the project and an overview of the setup.  I labeled the colors so you could keep track of what comes out on either end of the cable.

The basics are that the coil steps the battery's voltage way up but because we are using a small 6 V battery the current is low.  The mercury (tilt) switch activates the circuit and you get a shock.

BTW: Be careful with this thing.  I can't take any responsibility with what you do with it.  If you aren't comfortable with electronics and electricity then pass on it.  Do not use this on someone with heart trouble or a pace maker--that would not be funny.

Step 2: Choose a Mouse.

The first time I made this project I used an old PS/2 mouse but now an archaic-looking manilla-colored mouse being placed at someone's desk looks pretty suspicious so I've wanted to upgrade it to a black usb optical mouse for some time.  The only constraint is that you'll need to be able to fit all the components inside the mouse housing.  On the other hand, there isn't that much to cram in there though.  Finally I ran upon a donor when I was cutting some cable (zip) ties and actually severed the mouse cord, oops.

Step 3: Disassemble the Mouse.

In my case there was only one screw on the bottom side of the mouse to remove.  The front of the top cover hooked onto two tabs on either side of where the cord exits the case.  Be careful that you don't break them off because we're going to want to reassemble it in the end.

Step 4: Prep the Insides of the Mouse for the Project.

Go ahead and cut the mouse cord flush with the mouse's circuit board.  We won't re-use the mouse's cord because the wire is to lightweight to mess with (and is multi-stranded, which won't work for us).  When I made the PS/2 shocking mouse I actually was able to use the original mouse cord but I had problems with arching between the wires.  I'm going to keep part of the circuit board so that the mouse scroll wheel will remain in place, allowing the mouse to have all the feel and function as it did originally.

I then cut the circuit board in half width-wise to make room for the mercury tilt switch.  I kept the plastic lens so that the mouse looks totally real from the outside.  I clipped out almost all of the plastic tabs from the top and bottom of the mouse to make room for the surprise we're going to put inside!

Step 5: Drill Holes for the Contact Wires.

We are going to run a thin wire on each side of the mouse, in the seam, right where your hand grips.  The back of the seam actually belongs to the top half of the mouse case.  This is important because we are going to drill holes (on each side) in that lip that overlaps inside the seam.  One hole for where the bare wire comes out of the case and another where it will go back in.

I used a 1/16" Dremel bit (just slightly bigger than the strand of wire I'm working with).   The bit I chose was actually smaller than any of the Dremel chucks I own so I had to use my cordless drill.

Follow the series of pictures (and the details included on each pictures) for the steps on where and how to drill the holes.

Step 6: Prepare the Contact Wires (the Wires That Do the Shocking).

Take a 4-5' piece of the cable you are going to replace the mouse's cord with (this is the cable I used, except a grey version, which I had laying around) and expose the strands of wire on one end--be careful not to cut into the insulation of the individual strands because this might cause some arcing between the wires.  Pick the color you are going to use for the red wire in my diagram.  Strip enough insulation off the red wire so you can go out one hole and in the other and then have enough to bend the wire over inside the mouse so it stays in place.  The first time I made this mouse I actually used a paperclip for the contact wires, but that mouse had a bigger seam.  You'll also want to use a black permanent marker and paint the wire black to disguise it in the gap (versus having a shiny copper-colored wire) if you have a black mouse like mine.

The other contact wire will be done the same way but it isn't one of the wires connected directly to the new mouse cable (refer to the diagrams).  You can use one strand out of a different section of cable if you want.  In my case I had a piece of wire connected to the mercury switch already that I used.

Step 7: Run the Contact Wires.

Run the red wire (based on my diagram) out the first hole (from the inside).  I hot glued it in place before I went any further.  Shape the wire so it runs tight along the seam and then back in the other hole.

The second contact wire is the one that connects to one side of the mercury switch (refer to the diagrams for which side).  I already had some multi-stranded wire soldered to the switch so I won't be using the same kind of cable that we just used so I picked one of the individual strands of wire and then cut the rest of them off.

Insert the wire in the first hole and then glue the wire in place (see picture).  Shape the wire just like you did the first one and run it back in the second hold and bend it to hold it in place.

Step 8: Secure the Mercury Switch Inside the Mouse and Make the Proper Connections.

You will need to find a good place to mount the mercury switch.  The reason we are using a mercury switch is because we want the shocking mouse to be "off" when it is sitting still (and level) and we want the mouse to activate when it is moved (or better yet--when the unsuspecting user moves it back and forth quickly wondering why the cursor is not moving on the screen).  When the mercury connects the circuit---Zap!  You could actually fashion a motion switch that would be suitable for this project with an ink pen spring and a metal loop that would go around it--when the spring shook it would touch the loop, closing the circuit.  Let me know if you choose that method in the comments.

You'll have to play around with how you are going orient your mercury switch based on the space constraint but the more horizontal the better (verses orienting it top to bottom) because people tend to move the mouse back and forth (left/right), versus up and down, when they grab a mouse and move it (to wake the computer up from the screen saver).  You want to make sure the glass end of the switch is lower than the wire end because you want it off in the natural/flat position.  You'll also want to look at how the contact points are oriented inside the glass bubble because you want them pointing down.  See the pictures for the way I mounted mine (this picture is of the final project actually, because I relocated the switch after the first run).

Connect the wires as shown in the diagram and arrange them so there is clearance to put the mouse back together.  I used wire nuts to connect the wires because they are less work than soldering and heat-shrink tubing but they take up a lot more space and I had to hot glue them in place to keep them from getting in the way when I was closing up the case.

Step 9: Connect the Battery and Ignition Coil.

Follow the diagrams and color coding to connect everything on the coil and battery side.  You'll probably need to solder the wire to the output of the coil (center connection).  This was a pain originally because it was hard to get the coil side hot enough for the solder to stick.  I soldered this connection a long time ago and have just left the wire connected and re-attached it to my various projects.

I added a switch between the negative of the battery and the black wire in order to be able to shut off the mouse so I don't shock myself (anymore than I already have in testing the thing) and so I can transport it without running down the battery.  I placed everything in a box and added some cardboard to fill in the gaps so the parts don't roll around.  You definitely don't want to try taking this with you on a flight because you'd make the evening news!

Now it's time to test out the shocking mouse--ON YOURSELF.  I always test it before deploying it and that way I know it's working and I've experienced the deal myself that I'm going to subject someone else to.

This is nothing like a stun gun but they always make cops get stunned before they let them use it on someone else.

Step 10: Pick Your Target.

Be careful who you choose--this does shock you!  You have to test it out on yourself so get a feel for the surprise they'll get.  When they are not around, replace their desktop computer mouse with this one and then wait for them to come back to their computer :)  I don't have any desktop PC's at home so I had to take the picture with my mac.  At my office we used to look forward to the next new hire so we could initiate him into the group with a nice surprise!



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    31 Discussions


    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    hardly, but couldn't you put a resistor to deminish the voltage on discharge? so it doesn't give the violent zap


    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    You could. I'm not willing to try it (on my self). If using a cap I would say nothing more than 5,000uF at 16v, with a 1 watt 1k ohm resistor.


    6 years ago on Introduction

    This seems like terrible overkill. I have a Chinese-made pen, powered by three button cells, run through a tiny circuit that fits inside a working pen. That tiny circuit delivers a very effective and safe "joke" electric shock.

    What are the benefits of the huge componets in this circuit if the goal is to deliver a mild shock to the hand?


    6 years ago on Introduction

    Try making it simpler with a modified disposable camera circuit.


    6 years ago on Step 5

    I know, I had to get a separate dremel chuck for my tiny drills too.
    Worth it though if you etch your own circuit boards.
    The dremel press is awesome for drilling component holes.


    6 years ago on Step 4

    It would be cool to have something like this in a working mouse.
    Perhaps a 5v step-up chip to say, 70-90v with almost no current capability.
    Still a fun unexpected jolt, but safer.

    This could be fed by usb and be fitted to zap the user when they clicked on something. Then when they claim something is wrong, you know how to hold the mouse without getting hit and say "It works fine for me, It must not like You."

    Or, if you're an Apple fanatic, make it fire on a Right-click as punishment for having a mouse with more than one button.
    Curse those infidels who can operate a computer 99% without touching the keyboard!


    6 years ago on Introduction

    Wouldn't this be dangerous? That seems like a lot of electricity to be zapping someone with. Has this been tested?

    4 replies

    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    It's not voltage that kills you but amperage. The coil creates enough voltage to startle you but not much amperage. Having the circuit running through your hand won't cause any permanent damage other than making you wary around someones mouse. If by chance you did make the connection run through your heart, the resistance in your skin, bone, etc. would be more than adequate to keep you from harm. I used to play pranks lie this. I'd ask my dad to look at my motorcycle coil, it was pretty funny.
    If your really worried, modify the prank using a shock collar. It has small parts that would fit in the mouse and it has been animal tested...jk. I've played with them too, so they have been human tested too.


    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    Most of what you say is true, but the statement: "It's not voltage that kills you but amperage" is a very misleading. Those volts are directly related to the amps... inseparable. The coil doesn't create anything, it just exchanges volts for amps. The battery, to begin with, doesn't have the energy in joules to do a massive amount of damage.


    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    I agree that they do go hand in hand, thank you. I should have explained that better. tasers and stun guns range from 50,000 to 5,000,000 volts. Everybody is nervous about a coil producing 10,000 to 30,000 volts when they could get in a riot and be hit with 100X what the coil's going to do. That's not going to hurt you because of the humungous amount of resistance in your body that is going to drop that voltage. Grab an ohmmeter and check. Worry more about the amperage in the end result which all coils I have ever worked with in the auto industry drop for that very reason. Chevy probably wouldn't want every back yard mechanic being electrocuted to death, bad for business. I just don't like being long winded.


    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    The 6 volt lantern battery/automotive coil has the potential to produce up to 15,000 volts, it only takes about 70 volts across the chest to generate enough current to be potentially lethal under certain conditions, and the flyback collapse through the coil can generate enough instantaneous current to exceed the minimum level to cause fibrillation, so rapid repeated shocks could potentially be lethat, and the person jiggling the mouse could cause the mercury swtch to repeatedly and rapidly make and breake the circuit quite a few times. I say don't try this one, and don't listen to nhathaway, because it becomes more obvious with every one of his posts that he knows very little about the subject!

    Don't want to sound like a stick in the mud, and it is something I would have done in the past and I have had much bigger shocks myself. It is potentially lethal if the persons heart is a bit dodgy, so I would highly recommend against this.


    That's why I don't scare old people, or give hard alcohol people with only one kidney. Pranks are only funny until you hurt someone. Use you head, think it through. If you play an electricity prank on someone with a pace maker or a weak heart, you're an idiot. Please prank responsibly.


    6 years ago on Introduction

    Why do you need a mercury switch, anyway? It would seem like it would probably be more effective if you hooked it up to the mouse buttons instead.

    1 reply

    Also, you should actually put a "High Voltage" sticker on the mouse itself; nobody would really believe it,but it would be funny, and then nobody could sue you if it killed them.