The Cheapest Way to Convert Optical Mouse Into a TrackBall




About: Electronic Engineer

This is the beginning about a project to convert a optical mouse into a Trackball for a cheap multimedia kiosk peripheral. We can´t use the mouse as the original way, because it can be damaged or stolen. So we propose this PROTOTYPE to make some experiments and see if it works. Ok so what we need is:

1 Empty Roll-on deodorant
1 Cutter
1 Cutting pliers
1 Glue or sillicon pistol
1 Optical Mouse

Step 1: Getting the Ball

Ok so we need the ball of the roll-on deodorant so we take our cutter and simple cut the upper part of the dedorant case where ball is. Not to be necessary perfect in the cut

 Important: you need to leave some material where the ball can support itself without touching the superfice where it will be rested.

Step 2: Nivelate the Surface

Once we have our trackball, we need to cut off the excedent material in order to make the rollon ball closer to the surface. This is because the optical mouse sensor only detects movement in a range less than 1 cm. So we take our Cutting pliers and we start making little cuts in order to reduce the material. Be carefull to not let the ball touch the surface if you rest on a flat horizontal surface, because it this happens the friction will not let the ball moves freely.

Step 3: Attach to the Mouse

When you have your trackball ready it's time to glue it to the mouse. Take your optical mouse downwards where the optical sensor is. Most of the optical mouse have a red LED near to the sensor, a few other use invisible infrared LED. This do not affect the functionallity. Center your trackball with the sensor aperture and glue it. Remember to dont let the ball touch the mouse surface, it have a distance between about of 3 mm.

Step 4: Done!

You are DONE! , you just need to plug in your mouse and you can start experimenting with your trackball. There will be an issue about your new trackball mouse, it have an inverted axis, X or Y depends in how your grab the mouse. Now we are trying to find a software solution or even an electronic hack to correct this issue. If you know how to do it please share with us and the comunity. About the clicking, our next work it's to solder new switch buttons and attach it in a ergonomic way.  If you make yours please let us know!

Here is a video with the trackball working:



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    18 Discussions


    10 months ago

    Is there any way to flip y or x axis on android?

    Navi NathaneCNavi NathaneC

    Reply 3 years ago

    If you are using win 8, the cursor migth dissapear if you lock the screen while using sakasa, its very easy to fix, just disable auto hide mouse while typing.


    4 years ago on Introduction

    This is absolutely brilliant, i love the idea! :)

    I built a mini arcade cabinet with an android tablet, this will be a perfect trackball for arkanoid and the likes.

    I only need left and right, so I'll install the mouse upside down beneath the control panel to invert the axis correctly.

    2 replies

    Reply 5 years ago

    Is not finished, the future work you need to do, is solding push Buttons switches form the internal circuit.

    Pode-se usar este "Sakasa":


    5 years ago on Step 4

    the only problem, is that left and right are inverted, but really clever !


    7 years ago on Introduction

    I don't now what operating system you are using, but with almost any linux distro (the ones using X11) you could use xinput to invert your mouse. Take a look at the manpage: man 'xinput'.

    2 replies

    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    We´re using Edubuntu 11.10 and yes we found a solution to the inverted x axis in the next forum:

    It works perfectly

    Thank you in advance!


    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    nice to hear it is working.

    For other people that come across this issue:
    Find your mouse with 'xinput -list'
    Left-right inversion with: 'xinput set-int-prop "YOUR_MOUSE_NAME" "Evdev Axis Inversion" 8 1 0'
    top-bottom inversion with: 'xinput set-int-prop "YOUR_MOUSE_NAME" "Evdev Axis Inversion" 8 0 1'


    7 years ago on Introduction

    This is an excellent idea! I would have never thought of using a roll-on deodorant applicator. Thanks for posting this.

    1 reply

    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    Thank you, the idea comes because we need something cheap and easy to do and implement to use in public places, so if suffer damage we can easily replace!