Convert mechanical mouse to optical

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17 Sep 2015, 12:30

Hi there,

I very much like the original Microsoft Intellimouse and I've been using one for about a year or so. The ergonomics are great and the buttons do have a nice feel as well as the scrollwheel. Plus, you can get them new for something like 5 euros...

Now the mouse ball does have its problems and optical mice are the solution to this problem. But before shopping for some fancy, shiny new gaming mouse, I wanted to ask whether somebody here has successfully converted a ball mouse to one with an optical sensor.

Any comments are welcome!


18 Sep 2015, 22:28

I have hacked a few mice... with hacksaw, that is. (the original connotation, a "hacker" uses a hacksaw to tinker)

You could perhaps build your IntelliMouse as a shell on top of a cheap optical mouse. Leave only the PCB with the buttons and scrollwheel and wire them to the optical mouse's PCB. There are some very small optical mice that are meant to be used for travel.
It depends on what space there is inside the IntelliMouse and on what kind of scrollwheel sensor is used (optical vs rotary encoder).

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18 Sep 2015, 23:40

I found an old and pretty beat up Intellimouse optical! This looks to be a good donor for the optical part.

Thanks for your ideas, I might just cut a hole into the mouse and leave the switches for the buttons intact. The scroll wheel seems to be pretty much identical. So I might get off with just rewiring the buttons and somehow fixing the optical board. This doesn't look impossible ;)


02 Oct 2015, 17:19

Just wanted to chime in that I *also* absolutely love the shape and feel of the very old Intellimouse going all the way back to the one that had no scroll wheel at all.

Man I would LOVE if they ever made a new version that's purposely retro/vintage in shape/ergo, but with an optical sensor in it.

So you've been using one (old mouse ball) in daily use?
How's that been?

It's honestly been so long I don't even remember the pros/cons of it.

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03 Oct 2015, 12:45

There exists a mouse that you wish for: ... 7/ms02.jpg
But the optical sensor is said to be not so good and the glossy finish is not so nice...

A ball mouse does work very well in daily use. Actually, this resolution hype with mices is what it is: a hype. Of course, a modern mouse might be a bit smoother but not that much if you're browsing the web and stuff like that. You just have to clean your ball every few weeks :D

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03 Oct 2015, 13:40


Resolution may be marketing hype, but ball mice were insufferable dreck in any case, and their passing was well earned. Not everything is like keyboards, where older is better. Mice really did improve with time, like processors and displays.

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03 Oct 2015, 17:05

I didn't say a word about ball mice being better ;) Optical mice are better in every respect but a ball mouse tends to do the job, too.


03 Oct 2015, 17:07

I guess what I meant was that I wish MS made a mouse in the exact old shape/style of the ball mice, but just with optical guts. The really old Intellimouse feels just amazing to me in hand.

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03 Oct 2015, 20:00


03 Oct 2015, 20:30

Thank you for that idea!!

I never realized they made that model at all!

Just grabbed a NIB one for $70

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