The computer keyboard community is very active and enthusiasts have many options when it comes to purchasing or customizing keyboards. You can even order parts to assemble your own mechanical keyboard from scratch and take advantage of the open source hardware, firmware, and software that has been developed by the community. Unfortunately, that isn’t the case with computer mice — you’re pretty much stuck with whatever products are currently on the market. It isn’t, however, impossible to build a mouse if you have the skill and motivation. Ploopy has done exactly that, and their new Arduino-based, 3D-printed computer mouse is now available for preorder.
Ploopy is a small company focused on designing products that can be 3D-printed. Some of these designs are open source, or at least partially so. Last year, we featured their 3D-printed trackball mouse, which was very interesting to those of us who prefer this style of mouse. Trackball mice are great for reducing the wrist pain that can be caused by you moving your mouse around on your desk all day. But they do take some getting used to, because you essentially have to retrain your muscle memory. So it’s understandable that you may prefer to stick to a standard mouse. Luckily for you, Ploopy has just opened up their new 3D-printed mouse for preorder, and it’s built on an Arduino Leonardo.
Before we go further, it’s important to note that this new mouse isn’t completely open source — only the firmware and schematics are. That means you have to purchase the mouse from Ploopy to get the 3D-printed parts and the custom PCB, and it isn’t exactly cheap at $135.99 (with USB cable included). That custom PCB is designed around a Microchip ATmega32u4 microcontroller, which is the chip that the Arduino Leonardo is based on. Interestingly, it runs a modified version of QMK (Quantum Mechanical Keyboard) firmware. As the name suggests, that is normally intended for use with keyboards. But Ploopy has chosen to use it here, because it offers a lot of flexibility. With it, you can configure the eight available buttons to act however you want. The copy on the Ploopy website does say that this is a large mouse and may not be suitable for those with small hands, but it is worth considering if you have found the mouse options that are currently on the market to be lacking.