The classic “keyboard and mouse” combo has been popular since the ’80s, and it’s a testament to the practicality of the setup that it remains largely unchanged today. Sure, modern mice have a higher resolution, and wireless options are available. But how they’re used has stayed the same for decades. However, that doesn’t mean there aren’t innovative new ways to control your computer. The Microsoft Surface Dial is one example, and you can purchase this similar device as a DIY kit for just $15.
The Microsoft Surface Dial is an interesting multi-use input device designed to work with Surface computers. You can use the dial to interact with applications in new and interesting ways, such as changing brush colors in Adobe Illustrator without lifting the pen. The Ahmsville Dial is capable of similar functions, but costs just $15 for the DIY kit — compared to $99 for the Microsoft Surface Dial. Notably, you can also use the Ahmsville Dial with Mac or Linux computers.
The Ahmsville Dial uses an ATmega32u4, which is the same microcontroller that’s used in the Arduino Pro Micro. That means you can program it through the Arduino IDE to customize it. You can use the Dial to control your computer by twisting it or by tapping the four capacitive touch pad buttons on top. Those can be mapped to specific functions within your applications. For feedback, the Dial has RGB LEDs and a vibration motor.
You can purchase the Ahmsville Dial as either a DIY kit for $15, or a fully-assembled device for $35. The assembled unit comes with a 3D-printed enclosure, but you’ll need to print that yourself if you choose the kit. If you’re looking to add customizable control to your workflow, this is an affordable way to do it.