What: Hack the innards of an Apple Mighty Mouse into an EEE 901.

Why: I found the 2-finger scrolling using the touchpad a PINTA.   So, since it’s never my intent to leave well enough alone, and I was itching for something to take apart and hack, I decided to integrate a trackball into my EEE 901. The Apple Mighty Mouse was the best candidate becase the trackball acts like a wheel on the mouse – I can use it solely for scrolling rapidly through pages of content. Of course, there are out there, but its ball acts as a mouse controller (not for scrolling) and I didn’t want to pay the price.  I figured the Mighty Mouse would be more of a challenge anyhow.  Well, it was.  Read on for details, a video, and instructions

How Much: $22 USD (the mouse)

Update: Jan 2010
There have been a number of blogs and forums that have picked up this DIY, which is nice to see. There have also been a number of posts that share similar themes that either point to the Mighty Mouse being trash, or questions as to why would someone want to do this hack when the EEE already has two finger scrolling on the trackpad.   To answer the quality question – the trackball has been installed since July 09.  6 months later (and counting), it’s still working as good as it did when I first installed it.   No crud, skips, etc etc.  To answer the ‘whatever floats your boat’ question, I guess its just that. I like to hack and DIY things – never satisfied with status-quo. As noted in this post, I dont like the 2 finger scrolling. While some consider these things an effort, others (like myself) consider them fun and challenging. I just find it funny when reading some of the responses out there as they either seem to be arrogant of the concept of DIY, or just like to get their post counts up :-). Thanks to those of you who can appreciate the hobby of DIY.

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How To:

When I first starting thinking about a solution, I immediately thought about using the trackball from a Blackberry. However, the electronics/hall effect sensors are part of the main board and not the removable track ball unit. This would mean I would have to figure out a way to get the entire BB in the EEE as well as how to interpret the signals to translate to (for example) a small wheel mouse trackwheel.

The below images show the pinouts and signals from the Mighty Mouse trackball. I figured these out on my own – so no guarantees – but it works for me. After figuring this out, my plan was to then try to hack the signals into a tiny USB wired mouse like this one (since it has a small main board). After doing some testing, I found that the signals generated by the Hall Effect sensors in the Apple mouse do not translate well to the signals generated by an IR emitter/receiver (I was hoping that they would both show as voltage drops between 0-5V – but it wasn’t the case.

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So, my only option was to use the main board from the Mighty Mouse and hope I could cram it into the underside (memory / SSD) bay of the EEE 901. The following pic shows the size of the mainboard with the trackball attached.

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Here you can see the thickness of the board. The height limitations of the EEE underside bay limited me to the height of the yellow box. So, the connectors to the left had to go. I also had to desolder the two CAPs and give their leads more room so I could bend them down.


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The following 3 pics, show the mainboard at various states of desoldering parts. The leftmost img is the final product after removing all the large bits (rightmost img) as well as the USB and trackball connectors. The middle img shows the parts on the topside of the mainboard.

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Showing some preliminary tests to see the fit.

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Imtermission time.. Go get a coffee, tea, choclate.. Before I started working on the EEE, I wanted something to protect the LCD. The neoprene cover makes for great protection! Try it.

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Showing the complete unit ready to be mounted in the EEE. All large bits removed from the mainboard and an extension soldered onto the trackball.


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I used JKK’s guide to determine the USB connection points. However, for USB D- and D+ I went directly to pins 36 and 38. If you do this, make sure you have a fine tipped soldering iron and very steady hand as the pinouts of the mini pic-e are very close together. The pics look worse than it is (mostly because of the wire melting a bit). Click the images for close-ups.

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Showing the wiring and touchwheel on the topside of the mainboard. Also note that I had to move the CMOS battery on top of the SD card slot loader.

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Showing the trackwheel mounted on the underside of the palm rest. This was the most difficult part of doing this mod. Why? Because I was about to put a hole in the palm rest. Of course, in my typical fashion, I did this without dwelling on the thought (sort of like being with your buddies and jumping off a high cliff into water – if you wait and think – its too late – just do it!)


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Close-up of the trackball. I used hot glue to hold the unit in place. Oddly, its failure to stick to the trackball shell (while sticking to the EEE palm rest) turned out to be an advantage. I expect (sometime next week) to get a blue coloured trackball (from a Blackberry) that I want to try and fit in, but I need to remove the Mighty Mouse trackback – now I can as the glue has formed a ‘clamp’ of sorts so it will fit right back in. The trackball is held in place mostly because it touches the EEE mainboard when installed (very slight buldge in the right palm rest). Keep in mind that the 3 screw tabs (used to screw the trackball to the bottom of the mouse) have to be shaved off to allow the trackball to fit in the EEE.

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The final fit. Another P.I.N.T.A. Spent a lot of time trying to get the Mighty Mouse mainboard to fit. I even attempted to desolder the mainboard LED Camera sensor (mouse movement detector) to give it more space, but the trackball failed to work – guess it is part of the circuit. The third image shows the final resting spot. I had to cut out a bunch of the EEE plastics to give it more room.

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The final product – and it works great. The hack was well worth the money. It took me approx 2 hrs to do it, and I would do it again!

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Final Thoughts:

The Apple Mighty Mouse uses a built-in driver from Win XP. From the trackball standpoint, the driver provides the ability to scroll vertically (95% of what I was looking for). However, it does not provide horizontal scrolling (no big deal as most pages I visit fit within the resolution and screen size I have). For the fun of it, I researched this a bit and found that a 3rd party is selling a driver (Japaneese) to enable horizontal scrolling. Googling this further, there are even translations on how to download and get it working.

Other ideas: There is also the possibility that if you do this hack, you might also consider doing something with those
Capacative Touch Sensors on the underside of the mouse shell. They work in conjunction with the click button inside the mouse to detect and allow left and right hand clicks. Who knows, maybe you can do something funky with the palm rest on one side and a click button…

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