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Thread: Anyone seen this trackball before? I can't get it to work

  1. #1

    Default Anyone seen this trackball before? I can't get it to work

    P1040124.jpg

    I saw this "PC Accessories" serial trackball at a surplus store and having not really done anything with trackballs before I decided to grab it and give it a shot. I first tried it on a windows 2000 PIII machine and it was recognized as a standard microsoft mouse, the buttons all seemed to work but the trackball itself didn't move the mouse. So then I took it over to my 286 MS-DOS machine I ran ctmouse which also saw it as a microsoft mouse, so I fired up a game and it was the same deal, trackball did nothing but buttons worked.

    At this point I'm suspecting that this thing requires some special drivers but I couldn't find anything, interestingly there is also a switch on the bottom with positions 2 & 3, with 3 selected the buttons don't even work and with 2 they do. Anyone seen this thing before? Know any mouse drivers that might support it for DOS or Windows?
    Currently working on new DOS game, Chuck Jones: Space Cop of the Future, Check out my Dev Blog. WARNING: contains rocket powered El Caminos

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    Quote Originally Posted by PgrAm View Post
    P1040124.jpg

    I saw this "PC Accessories" serial trackball at a surplus store and having not really done anything with trackballs before I decided to grab it and give it a shot. I first tried it on a windows 2000 PIII machine and it was recognized as a standard microsoft mouse, the buttons all seemed to work but the trackball itself didn't move the mouse. So then I took it over to my 286 MS-DOS machine I ran ctmouse which also saw it as a microsoft mouse, so I fired up a game and it was the same deal, trackball did nothing but buttons worked.

    At this point I'm suspecting that this thing requires some special drivers but I couldn't find anything, interestingly there is also a switch on the bottom with positions 2 & 3, with 3 selected the buttons don't even work and with 2 they do. Anyone seen this thing before? Know any mouse drivers that might support it for DOS or Windows?
    I have a similar Logitech 3-button trackball that I bought back in 1987 for my 1000SX. Still works and all of the software is on 5.25 360 floppies.
    Surely not everyone was Kung-fu fighting

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    I've got a C-H Products 4 button serial trackball mouse. It can be configured for a variety of hardware, including Sun. It is recognized as a serial mouse and everything works. If you can spy on the data lines for your mouse, every movement of the trackball should result in an output, usually at 1200-N-8-1. If it's not outputting ball movements, it's probably time to open the thing up and see what gives.

    ch-products-dt225-4-button-trackball-pro-serial-mouse-1.21__63944.1490211958.jpg
    Last edited by Chuck(G); September 26th, 2019 at 08:44 PM.

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    If the buttons work but the ball does not I would be verifying if the X and Y axis tracking is working at all since the same internal controller is registering button presses.
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    Quote Originally Posted by PgrAm View Post
    the buttons all seemed to work but the trackball itself didn't move the mouse
    It's likely either broken or dirty. Open it up and see what's there.
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  6. #6

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    P1040127.jpg

    So using serial monitor I managed to verify that the trackball was not sending any bytes when moved, but I did receive bytes for the buttons. So I opened it up can cleaned out the dust but still no dice. I was able to confirm using my phone camera that the IR leds were actually lighting up. Perhaps the IR detectors have gone bad? Or maybe the controller expects a command over the serial before it sends it's position?

    I suppose I might have to do some more digging and maybe whip out my oscilloscope.

    EDIT: I did some experiments with my TV remote pointing at the infrared sensors and I got the thing to spit out serial data and even move! This tells me that either the emitters have gotten dim over time or the detectors have lost sensitivity. I might try replacing one axis with ones from a ball mouse and see if that does the trick
    Last edited by PgrAm; September 27th, 2019 at 04:28 PM.
    Currently working on new DOS game, Chuck Jones: Space Cop of the Future, Check out my Dev Blog. WARNING: contains rocket powered El Caminos

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    The HM8350A was used in a lot of serial mice, so app notes and datasheets can be found.

    For example Here's a shot of a genuine Microsoft serial mouse showing the HM8350A

  8. #8

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    Well, I managed to make it work, but I had to modify the circuit. The trackball uses a zener diode to generate a 6.2v supply to run 4 IR leds in series with a 470r resistor. I thought that seemed a little weird, as it would run the LEDs pretty dimly. Indeed using my phone camera they seemed much less bright than my tv remote. So I dropped the resistor to 100ohms to run the LEDs more brightly and lo and behold the trackball started working!

    I still have no idea how it worked in the first place.
    Currently working on new DOS game, Chuck Jones: Space Cop of the Future, Check out my Dev Blog. WARNING: contains rocket powered El Caminos

    Vintage Computers:
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    What's the voltage of your serial port lines under load? Some cheated a bit on the RS232C voltage levels. A good "space" is usually around +12V and "mark" is about the negative of that. Some later implementations just used +/- 5V, which is only marginally within the standard. Also, the standard doesn't specify the current required, as RS232 is nominally voltage sensitive. Clearly that's not the case here--the trackball draws current.

  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by PgrAm View Post
    I still have no idea how it worked in the first place.
    Maybe the sensors simply lost some sensitivity with age (exposure to air or dust) and you are now working around that.

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