Not sure about you, but I enjoy a plate of steaming hot Styrofoam chunks and raw silicon rubber in the morning. I enjoy it even more when it’s chock full of electronic and re-soldered PCB bits. Delicious. Now, take that and turn it into a lesson on form, function and recycling a USB mouse to be the tool of file dragging, text selecting, geometry tweaking joy you’ve always desired. I present to you a new Instructable from Jude Pullen that steps you through the wonderfully educating process of making your own Ergonomic USB Mouse. You probably have a spare mouse laying about and this is just the project for some weekend fun or introduce design process to kids.

Get Your Ergo On

Jude’s Instructbles are not only educational, they’re a model of how all Instructables should be laid out. This one in particular takes on your common USB mouse, dismantles it and the whole concept of what that mouse should look like. It’s a mix of how to approach a lot of different aspects of design and you get your hands dirty in the process.

In this Instructable you can learn how to take apart your mouse – saw the circuit-board in half, and segregate the functional parts with a little soldering. You will then be guided through how to sculpt a small chunk of foam into a shape that feels good (is ‘ergonomic’) to you – and fix the click/scroll wheel just as you want them. Finally there are a few tricks to making the Mouse look and feel cool to use (that is not red paint you can see, but silicone rubber!)

That’s some good styrofoam sculpting fun right there. All together, there are 14 steps to the process, including:

  • How to take apart an existing battery-powered Wireless USB Mouse (Wired can be used as an alternative).
  • How to cut a PCB in half, safely. (It’s not magic, but it is cool).
  • How to re-wire the functional parts (Left/Right Click Buttons, Optical Sensor, DPI Switch) on ‘flying leads’.
  • How to sculpt ‘Blue Foam’ (styrofoam) into a shape that (ergonomically) fits your hand.
  • How to fit the functional parts to this shape.
  • How to cover the Mouse in various fillers to achieve a professional finish.
  • How to spray paint to finish – or optional extra – using a silicone rubber material called Sugru.

Sugru, people, sugru. This is like a college level course, laid out in steps (with 24 videos!!) that guide you on process and thinking through a design. More than that, the hands-on aspects are extremely valuable both in learning to work with materials and in learning how to think about packaging the internals of an electronic device. You can follow through the Instructable or see the entire video series on Jude’s website. Here are a couple highlight shots of process.

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There are two additional items we must mention. Jude’s Ergo mouse Instructable has been entered into three contests on Instructables.com–you’ll see an orange “Vote!” badge in the upper right corner. Have a look and send in your vote! You’ll also want to check out Jude’s latest Design Modelling workshop, where he teams up with HowDo for a blend of electronics wizardry and physical prototyping in the process of making a ‘Magic Marble Run’.

Filed under: DESIGN FAB