Electronics

Tindie Blog | 6 Degrees of Freedom CAD Mouse!


Those of us who have done a lot of CAD/CAM work know that using a two-dimensional device (a traditional mouse) to move around in three dimensions is usually not great. Solutions have included using modifier keys, using two mice, or using joysticks of some size or shape. But in the high-end professional market, mice with true 6 degrees of freedom have existed for decades. Now, this 6DOF Arduino-based mouse is available that gives you full movement control and has 9 programmable macro buttons for convenience!

Compare the cost of this device to professional devices such as the original SpaceBall that was designed for use with high-end Silicon Graphics workstations, and you’ll see why it’s exciting to have this available. Instead of an eye-watering $3200 in 1988 dollars (over $8200 today), you can grab one of these pre-assembled units for under fifty bucks. Alternatively, if you have a 3D printer and the time, you can check out the design files on GitHub and tweak them to suit your individual ergonomic preference!

The design is simple but very clever. A set of 6 spring-loaded potentiometers attaches to the cap, allowing movement in all axes. The demo video is impressive, with very smooth motion and good sensitivity (check it out below). A device like this is not only useful for people doing CAD work, anyone working with software in animation, design and 3D modelling will find it very useful! Once you start using a 6DOF input device, you’ll find it difficult to go back to using a regular mouse.