Help with retrofitting my SteelSeries mouse switches/materials


31 Jul 2018, 11:31

Hello DT!

So this is my first post here on the site meaning you don't know me but just as a small intro, I'm an avid gamer just like many of you and I'd also like to consider myself as a hardware enthusiast in the sense of going yhe extra mile to get my hands on the top of the line stuff. As far as keyboards goes I'm blessed to own a custom Korean board and I'm pretty satisfied as far as sound and monitors goes, since there's a market for all budgets here. Then there's the mouse...

In my opinion the mouse is the most personal peripheral when it comes to playing games so once I got used to one, it's by far the hardest item to replace.

I currently use a SteelSeries WoW MMO Legendary Edition gaming mouse. And boy is it bad, quality wise speaking. The reason I do use it is the (for me) perfect button lineup, something I've been unable to find anywhere else in any other mouse. When I quit playing WoW a few years ago (I'm back at it now) I got myself a Ducky Secret along with a Roccat Hiro+ and that combination is a godsend, except the lack of all those extra buttons.

So, one thought that hit me was to manufacture my own design on a global level given the reputation I built while playing, maybe it could have worked, but life took a different turn and the idea has been dropped since then, maybe for the better ^^.

Anyways, I was just casually browsing the web and I came across these forums and saw the kind of discussion and knowledge among its members and I thought perhaps this is my last hope at this.

Before getting to the point, I just want to add I am in no sense experienced with this stuff, kind of like an above average experienced driver that doesn't know more than the basics when it comes to tuning/repairing the vehicle.

So, starting off with the switches. Can these be replaced? Thinking Omron switches just like the Ducky. On the left/right mouse buttons as well as the two thumb buttons and lastly the right side button at the ringfinger. The other 3 buttons are find to be fair.

Moving on to the sensor. As I mentioned above, I did use the Hiro+ and that's one hell of a pad. Just bought this Ducky/Roccst combo for a friend and there was love at first sight. As I like to put it, it's like the mouse is floating on a cloud.

Sadly the shitty SteelSeries sensor performs poorly here, misstracking and living it's own life so I'm stuck to use some below average WoW themed cloth mat at the moment. So, afaik the Ducky uses the 3310 sensor. Can this (or its newer version (33xx?)) be used in the SteelSeries instead of the current one?

Second to last, the thumb buttons (the actual plastic buttons) could be replaced as well with the same material and proper fitting as the Ducky. The current ones sit a tad loose so if you put the finger there its like a small gap (they are not 100% "stuck", not sure how to better explain it).

Then lastly, the outer body, currently we've got this low quality glossy plastic that's not very optimal when the hands get sweaty and I thought, maybe I can get the same material used (PBT) in the Ducky? Afaik this requires a mold among other things and I guess this is where things get expensive.

Anyways, I'd love all the help a d tips I can get to make this reality. In terms of where to get the replacement parts as well as where to get it do e, something I'd gladly pay for as soldering and the like is not one of my expertises.

Tldr: need help to replace switches, sensor, thumb buttons and outer shell of the SteelSeries Legendary Edition WoW mouse with the kinds that are used in the Ducky Secret.

Thanks in advance

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10 Aug 2018, 21:07

That might cost you much more than trying a few new mouses, how's buying a logitech or zowie?


02 Oct 2018, 14:39

I've tried more mice than I'd want to admit, and I don't mind spending a little extra on this, that's a nice bonus, the uniqueness. :) Kind of like spending all that money on a custom korean keyboard, which I have.


02 Oct 2018, 16:55

You could probably replace the left/right/wheel switches with ones that are lighter or harder, but not change the throw. The throw depends on how the button is hinged and the switch is located.
My guess is that the thumb buttons would have to be re-engineered more in depth... But there are many ways to make side buttons. You can assess it only after you have opened it up and taken a look.
Replacing sensor: Maybe look up the model number printed on the IC's package and look to see if the same manufacturer has an improved version of that sensor that could be used to replace it. That means: same package, pin assignment and optical stats for the sensor. However, the risk is that the sensor would have a microcontroller in it that would have to be custom-programmed, and then you would be out of luck.

Therefore, getting a new mouse with a good sensor is probably better.


02 Oct 2018, 20:20

Oh, damn. Maybe I think it's easier than it is (just replace X with Y (+- actually making it fit). Well, I'd need to find someone who can do this anyways. I've never opened up a mouse, let alone trying to change parts (except Glides), so I believe I wouldn't be able to do this myself.

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03 Oct 2018, 19:46

Lulleh wrote: Oh, damn. Maybe I think it's easier than it is (just replace X with Y (+- actually making it fit). Well, I'd need to find someone who can do this anyways. I've never opened up a mouse, let alone trying to change parts (except Glides), so I believe I wouldn't be able to do this myself.
I used to have fun modifying cheap optical mice; imo it's a pretty good way to get your feet wet.

First question: are there any other mice you like that have the same number of buttons, even if they're in a different physical layout? With some creativity, you might be able to take the internals of a mouse with a better sensor and fully replace the electronics of the Steelseries WoW mouse.

For the mouse body texture, you could try plasti-dip -- you wouldn't be the first ... sults.html -- but I don't know how long the coating would last.

Side buttons -- if you disassemble the mouse you may be able to "stabilize" the buttons by adding pieces of plastic or cardboard. It might be possible to craft your own replacement buttons too -- 3d printed or otherwise.

Basically, if you can afford it, pick up a spare "project" mouse, open it up, and see where you get. :)


04 Oct 2018, 05:21

Short answer:
You can probably swap the side switches with Omrons, if there is room, but a sensor swap or the wheel buttons, no. There's not enough room for different buttons in almost any mouse, and swapping the sensor means firmware and lens changes, possibly more. The crazier you get the worse it's probably going to turn out.

By the way, if your sensor stinks, try a different pad, mousepads can DRASTICALLY change how a sensor performs. I went from a cloth to a hard pad and it raised my resolution by 20%, I had to go in and turn it back down to levels I hadn't used in years.

Long answer:
So how would I do it?
Start off with an interior and external 3d scan of the mouse you like most, maybe alter it a bit.

If it's a one off, to save yourself a LOT of trouble, find a mouse with the number of buttons and sensor you want that is already made. I do not recommend trying to engineer this yourself as it would require a programmer, engineer lots of testing, and/or a lot of your free time, not to mention money. Now take a scan of that board and components. Toss that all into your cad program of choice and swap out any switches to the ones you want and kick out a cad file for the body parts.

Send it out to someone to 3d print it in resin for test fit. Unfortunately you won't 3d print PBT and even if you can it will not result in a good finish and a common FDM printer lacks the precision. Once you know everything fits properly, you now have a few options, send it out for powder printing out of ABS or some other plastics, or have it cnc milled from whatever material you want (if it can be milled), or you can send your files off to China to have a mold made and injection molded out of PBT.

Total time and cost, probably a year, year and a half, maybe two, and this will almost certainly exceed a thousand dollars. If you if you lack cad skills and a commercial grade resin 3d printer you can pretty much triple that time and cost estimate before you even start, triple it again if you lack both cad and a printer for development, and even this is if you decide not to injection mold the body, which is about the only way you will get pbt. If you have never done any of this before, multiply all of that, times two. You might think this is an exaggeration, but it's actually probably on the low side. People have no idea what it costs to bring something to market and precisely why Razer is crowd sourcing their latest left handed mouse.

Injection molding is by far the most expensive, between you know knowing how to engineer a mold to use as few parts as possible and the number of molds you need, this part alone could probably break $30k, but you could quadruple that if you had the molds made locally. By the way, pbt is actually one of the cheaper plastics, cheaper than ABS, it's just more difficult to work with in some situations, which could drive up mold costs as well. Personally, I would probably look into milling or powder printing it out of polycarbonate plastic, probably only cost a couple hundred dollars, were it not weight sensitive I would say do it from aluminum, might as well. The cad program can give you a weight estimate, but if it's wireless, signals could be an issue.

Keep in mind, none of this takes into account you engineering your pwn pcb, this is just a body and button swap, but at these prices and wanting to market it, you may as well consider doing the R&D on the electronics as well. There are ways to cheat, like, looking into who the oem is for it, Logitech doesn't have their own factory, find that oem, they already know what is needed for the sensor, but you would still need to tweak the firmware. They can even help with the design of everything, just beware, if you don't have an exclusive contract they will sell it under another name as a white label product and since you underwrote the R&D, theirs will cost less.

Bottom line, one offs and prototypes are EXPENSIVE, there is a reason not many companies make high end gaming mice. I threw those number out there casually because they are really easy to blow right past on this stuff. One of the last things I designed, one part alone was quoted at $15k for the mold made in the US, make a mistake, oops, that's another $15k. We figured $80k if we did all 9 parts, but we were told China would only cost about $10-$20k for all of them. Once you have the molds though, each part literally costs pennies to make.

That said, if you have never dealt with China, get ready for another round of bending over. China has no IP laws, and if a company screws you over, who do you talk to? How do you know they are reputable? How can you be sure their suppliers won't rip them off (a common problem). I can tell you some crazy stories about working with China that happened to me and people I know. It's cheap, but it's insanely easy to get ripped off as well. It's very easy to create a company and burn it once you get a big client, many of the shadier ones have multiple shell companies they are cultivating at any one time just waiting for a whale to come along, then they just burn it and start another shell company.

Speaking of crowd sourcing, all of this is precisely why "successful" crowd sourced campaigns fail, most of the time they have a great idea, but no business and/or engineering skill, and no supply chain or manufacturer lined up. Many do not even have a good idea, just a slick marketing campaign and little else.

Unless you are REALLY ready to go down this road (and based on your writing, trust me, you're not), buy something off the shelf and live with it.

* I also used to run a company that handled low volume manufacturing, I've done all of the above and served as a consultant and engineer on quite a few products, most failed (as most do) but some went all the way to store shelves.


31 Oct 2018, 16:48

Wow, thanks a lot for the detailed replies and sorry for the late reply (from me). It sure gives a much better picture indeed and it makes sense. Sad but like you said, I'll just have to buy another mouse once I am done with WoW (and no longer need the 11 buttons I got on my SteelSeries). Thanks once again!


05 Dec 2018, 10:41

I had tried adding a three-color LED to the mouse, which resulted in a slow mouse response. :|

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