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Odd Inputs And Peculiar Peripherals: Miniature Steel Drums Become Rotary Mouse Controllers

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When [bornach] browsed via his workplace’s free-cycling field he discovered an outdated novelty toy that permits you to play easy tunes on miniature metal drums. Such a factor might be enjoyable for about 5 minutes – if it’s working, which this one wasn’t. However as an alternative of throwing it away, [bornach] noticed a possibility within the capacitive contact pads on prime of these little drums: they seemed good to be modified into an unusual mouse cursor controller.

A steel drum toy being used to control a mouse cursorThe operation began with [bornach] ripping out the unique PCB and changing it with an ESP32 D1 Mini. That board has a helpful stack of touch-sensitive pins which might interface instantly with the drums’ contact pads. He then programmed the ESP32 to interpret the indicators as mouse actions and button presses, and ship the outcomes to a pc via a BlueTooth connection.

Working the mouse drums is so simple that they nearly seem made for this objective: you slide your finger in circles alongside the contact pads to maneuver the cursor within the X or Y path, and contact the middle pad to click on. The left drum strikes the cursor horizontally whereas the proper one strikes it vertically, however there’s additionally a mode to make use of the proper drum as a scroll wheel.

The rotary X/Y controls are paying homage to an Etch-a-Sketch; whereas most likely too clumsy for on a regular basis use, they could turn out to be useful in some circumstances the place it’s essential make single-pixel-accurate motions, if solely to click on these miniscule “shut” buttons on some on-line adverts.

Amazingly, this isn’t the primary Etch-a-Sketch model mouse we’ve featured: this cute little wooden device works in an analogous manner.

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