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3DConnexion products

Unread postPosted: 26 Jul 2012, 16:09
by justcallmecrash
Has anyone used any of the 3DConnexion products? I have a SpaceBall4000 on the way from ebay (nice and cheap) and wondered if any of my fellow DTers had used any of their stuff. The SpaceBall line looks pretty promising as a trackball...

Unread postPosted: 26 Jul 2012, 16:30
by kps
It's not a trackball, and as a mouse substitute, it's not terribly useful — basically a giant trackpoint.

Support for these (originally) expensive devices is abysmal, and the reason I will never again buy any Logitech product.

Unread postPosted: 26 Jul 2012, 19:57
by Maarten
Only experience i have is with the Space Pilot Pro which worked great and felt real good quality to me.... Awesome in 3D development environments but pretty much useless for anything else.

Unread postPosted: 26 Jul 2012, 20:04
by justcallmecrash
Well, crap.

Unread postPosted: 26 Jul 2012, 21:33
by damorgue
It is more of a 3d cursor, I wouldn't call it an replacement for a mouse. It makes it easy to zoom, pan and rotate around in CAD for instance. I tried one but didn't quite like it, felt like I wanted to use a mouse and it, which meant that I couldn't use the keyboard at the same time to pick the actions to make. I feel it is necessary to have one hand on the keyboard to pick what actions to make, and the 3dconnexion couldn't fill all other aspects, which a mouse could. It was probably just me not being willing to spend the time to get used to it, but I didn't like it.

They must be doing something good though, since they are quite popular in professional CAD. They probably result in less strain on the hands since they don't have to move around.

Unread postPosted: 26 Jul 2012, 21:54
by justcallmecrash
I work in a box plant and our design guys (we do a lot of custom displays and the like) have a 3d CAD program... if I can't find a use for it in my life, I'll bring it in and let them have it.

Unread postPosted: 01 Jun 2016, 15:14
by BlueBox
Apologies for replying to a prehistoric thread but this was one of the first things I found when searching for info about a Spacemouse.

I bought an old Magellan model from ebay for 99p in the New Year thinking that it would be a) broken and b) completely unsupported but would make a good fugly retro ornament.

Eventually I realised not only that it was fully working but that support is *built-in* on Ubuntu (sudo modprobe magellan) and even that I could assign the 6-axis stick and 9 buttons to virtually any mouse action or keypress using qjoypad from the repos.

So what have I done with it? I also have a CST trackball which lacks a scroll wheel and any extra buttons for forward/back. A few simple mappings in qjoypad and I have page and line scrolling mapped to different joystick functions on the magellan, plus Ctrl, Alt, Esc, F5, Home/End and others I've forgotten mapped to the buttons for forward/back next/prev tab, close tab, refresh, etc.

All the basic web and document navigation functions available to one hand with minimal movement. Win.

What else? Well I don't do any CAD work, but I do use it to navigate around a 3D environment moving blocks around to create structures. I believe it's a popular game.

Unread postPosted: 01 Jun 2016, 15:36
by justcallmecrash
Wow, BlueBox. Have you been studying necromancy? It's been nearly 4 full years (and I still haven't found a use for that SpaceBall 4000).
I may as well bring it in for people to gawk at in my new job. Thanks for reminding me it exists!

Unread postPosted: 01 Jun 2016, 18:11
by face
These are only useful if using CAD. But then they are worth their money three and four times! I am using the SpaceNavigator and for CAD its almost like crack (ok, I don't know how Crack is, but you get the point), it's just so useful.

Unread postPosted: 01 Jun 2016, 20:13
by Findecanor
Microsoft once made a similar device, but in 2D only especially for navigating around in real-time strategy games -- which would be a possible use for a SpaceMouse, if you could get it to work.
The MS device did not work in Windows 7.

Unread postPosted: 02 Jun 2016, 08:36
by davkol
Microsoft SideWinder Strategic Commander? That's technically a standard joystick.

Unread postPosted: 02 Jun 2016, 17:25
by Findecanor
Yeah, but the Strategic Commander does support twisting, does it not? I never got mine to work but it felt that way when I moved it.

BTW, I added a stub for the SpaceBall in the Wiki.

Unread postPosted: 02 Jun 2016, 19:21
by davkol
It does support twisting, which reports as joystick handle rotation or something like that. The only missing feature (from original drivers) is macro support depending on position of the switch at the base of the device.

Unread postPosted: 03 Jun 2016, 00:12
by Findecanor
Well, the Strategic Commander has a mouse-like shape which is why I liken it more to a puck-joystick such as the Magellan and similar devices than to a flight stick. I have updated the wiki page to not mention the Strategic Commander specifically.

BTW. I found a page that claimed that the Spaceball had originally been developed as a controller for the space shuttle's robotic arm... :shock:
It was supposedly also because of complaints from astronauts that the ball shape was retired and the name changed.

Unread postPosted: 03 Jun 2016, 01:27
by justcallmecrash
Findecanor wrote:Well, the Strategic Commander has a mouse-like shape which is why I liken it more to a puck-joystick such as the Magellan and similar devices than to a flight stick. I have updated the wiki page to not mention the Strategic Commander specifically.

BTW. I found a page that claimed that the Spaceball had originally been developed as a controller for the space shuttle's robotic arm... :shock:
It was supposedly also because of complaints from astronauts that the ball shape was retired and the name changed.

Damn, +1 for such a deep-dive history lesson. Very interesting.

Unread postPosted: 03 Jun 2016, 01:51
by jacobolus
For a while there was a PC game controller made out of these called the SpaceOrb. It was by far the best controller for playing Descent. There was even a Playstation 1 version of the controller at some point, but it didn’t sell well because only a couple of games supported it.

These things would be great for controlling flying quadcopters IMO. Would take some work to figure out how to map the controls though.

Overall it’s like a joystick or a trackpoint or an analog pedal or trigger: you can use it to input velocity or acceleration (and angular velocity or angular acceleration). This is different from a mouse or trackball or trackpad where a motion indicates some kind of relative position change. And that is in turn different from e.g. a pen input, which you use to input absolute position.

I personally find that the spacemouse / spaceball / spacepuck / whatever works reasonably well for moving around in 6 degrees of freedom CAD, geometric modeling, etc. kind of contexts, but not perfectly. It’s a bit cumbersome and takes getting used to. It is however better than a standard mouse/2d trackball/touchpad/etc. for 3d motion. I plan to someday make a proper 3D trackball which allows direct 1:1 mapping of ball rotations to rotations in the computer; such a device should be much faster and more accurate than the spaceball for inputing rotation.

Unread postPosted: 06 Jun 2016, 14:44
by adhoc
jacobolus wrote:I personally find that the spacemouse / spaceball / spacepuck / whatever works reasonably well for moving around in 6 degrees of freedom CAD, geometric modeling, etc. kind of contexts, but not perfectly. It’s a bit cumbersome and takes getting used to.

This is my sentiment as well. The idea is great, but it lacks polish, it took quite a bit of time to set it up properly (that said, I don't manipulate CAD as much, I'm an analysis engineer) for the specific software I spend most time in and I couldn't get used to it after a couple of days I had it in use.

Unread postPosted: 07 Jun 2016, 00:10
by jacobolus
The problem is not the lack of polish, but the general concept. The space ball relies on precise control of force and torque against an unmoving object, but humans aren’t all that good at such control, compared to making precise movements in space. Humans are much better at using direct position control devices like mice, trackballs, pens, finger gestures, etc. compared to rate control devices like joysticks, pedals, throttles, or spring-loaded return-to-center jogwheels, etc.

There have been some studies of this, e.g. http://www.shuminzhai.com/papers/siggraph/final.html

Unread postPosted: 07 Jun 2016, 08:29
by adhoc
Interesting. Where do you use / have used it?

I'm primarily into FEA preprocessors/postprocessors as far as CAD manipulation goes, but the compatibility was not all that great (Abaqus, Ansa). I really wanted it to work out for me, but I simply couldn't get into it - or get it to run properly. That was years ago, maybe they have solved this since. I used the space navigator.

Unread postPosted: 07 Jun 2016, 10:41
by jacobolus
I only played with them in little toy applications, never used it for serious work. I have a couple old spaceballs which I half took apart, which I'd like to someday reverse engineer the internal protocol for and use for something interesting. Not sure what that'll be though.

Unread postPosted: 07 Jun 2016, 10:56
by adhoc
That's my problem with it. At work, I can't necessarily invest 30+ hours to really get used to it. My workflow will suffer during the transition period. I could use it professionally, but between the problems with compatibility, long transition process and everything, I wonder why even bother?

Perhaps I'd think differently, if I were in design, not sure.

Unread postPosted: 01 Dec 2016, 18:40
by Raft
Image

anyway know how many axis are old the old one?

Unread postPosted: 01 Dec 2016, 19:05
by Wodan
jacobolus wrote:For a while there was a PC game controller made out of these called the SpaceOrb. It was by far the best controller for playing Descent. There was even a Playstation 1 version of the controller at some point, but it didn’t sell well because only a couple of games supported it.

Oh damn I still have one of those. Spent weeks mastering the SpaceOrb and got really good at playing TFC with it. Very very flat learning curve! Gave me a very unique play style back then, unfortunately the controllers were a little fragile. My first one broke an axis and I got a second one. Still got is in the basement but something broke in there as well, it makes a noise when I shake it ;)

Those were awesome times. I tried to many controllers back then before it all went WASD... anyone ever used the Logitech Wingman Warrior?

Anyway, got a second hand 3dconexion thingie ... space navigator? ... but it's not the same :(

Unread postPosted: 02 Dec 2016, 09:55
by jacobolus
Raft wrote:anyway know how many axis are old the old one?

They are all 6 degrees of freedom. That’s the whole idea, you can pull or twist it in any direction.

Unread postPosted: 11 Jan 2017, 06:12
by Tehrasha
The 'spaceball' and the 'magellan' were separate designs from different companies.
The German design which became the Magellan was used to control the space shuttle arm.
After several corporate changes/buyouts/mergers, both designs were eventually acquired by Logitech, and then spun off into the 3dConnexion we have today.

Shameless plug for the Spacemice Wiki.