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The Ploopy Adept Trackball is an input device that looks a bit like a Kenginston Expert trackball, but it has more buttons, a smaller trackball, a 3D-printed case, and a completely open source design.

In other words, in addition to pre-ordering one from Ploopy for $80 CAD (about $60 USD) and up, you can visit the company’s GitHub page to find design files, schematics, and firmware, which means you can customize this trackball to your heart’s content.

Theoretically you could also build your own from scratch rather than paying for one. But I suspect that most folks would probably end up spending more than $60 if they went that route.

The starting price is for a DIY kit that comes with a 3D-printed case, ball, sensors, a mainboard, and a Raspberry Pi Pico running QMK firmware. You can pay a little more to get a fully-assembled model if you don’t feel like putting everything together yourself. Or you can save a few bucks and get everything but the case if you want to 3D print your own.

But thanks to the open source design, that’s not all you can do. Want a bigger body that will accommodate a larger trackball? Then you can just modify the design files and print your own (or order it from a commercial 3D printing company if you don’t have your own 3D printer). Want to change the behavior? Then you can modify the firmware.

Or if you just want to give the company some money and be done with it, you can choose from one of eight available colors and select whether to have the Ploopy Adept shipped with a USB-A to USB-C cable or not.

Ploopy has been around for a few years. The company launched its first open source trackball in 2019, and since then Ploopy has expanded its lineup to include a number of other products including a thumb-operated trackball, and the Ploopy Mini and Nano trackballs.

The new Ploopy Adept went up for pre-order the end of September, and should begin shipping to customers by early December at the latest.

via HackADay and /r/ploopy

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  1. Serious question, how useful are trackballs really? I remember using one as a kid in elementary school, and I didn’t like it. Just my personal preference, so seriously asking people that like them and use them.

    They’re better for the wrists no doubt, but I just always found regular mice more ergonomic.

    1. They are mainly useful where you don’t have a lot of desk space to move a mouse around. I prefer them for more situations, but unfortunately there are very few good designs, actually so few that I use a mouse. And yes, I’ve used the Logitech and Kensington models.

    2. I’ve found trackballs generally a little bit harder to get the cursor exactly where you want it to be really quickly. Just a little. It might be that some people can work more precisely with a trackball than a mouse for reasons not even they can explain.
      However, button placement and the shape of the peripheral as a whole is going to make a HUGE difference in how useful the thing is. The Logitech trackball I used and they probably don’t sell anymore had a nice shape to it, but no middle mouse button or scroll wheel, so it was practically unusable for CAD stuff (which fortunately is about the only thing I know of that depends on middle click and drag). It might be that you’d have to use one of those thumb trackballs if you wanted to reach middle click and move the cursor at the same time.

    3. For me a trackball is good for moving a cursor a long distance on a high resolution monitor, e.g. from left edge to right edge of an ultrawide. With a regular mouse at low sensitivity for accuracy you drag, lift, move, drag a few times. With a trackball you spin the ball hard and let momentum carry the cursor. It’s similar to a free-spinning scroll wheel if you’ve tried one of those.

      For FPS games I use a regular mouse. As Some Guy says it feels easier to click an exact pixel with one.

    4. I can understand not liking them, especially as a kid. I didn’t like them then either. And when I decided to use a trackball as an adult, there was definitely a period of having to get accustomed to it. As for general use now, I prefer to use trackballs, though it’s nice to able to move seamlessly from a trackball, to a mouse or touchpad. Not having to move around a mouse is nice with limited space. But the main reason I switched to a trackball was due to and and wrist pain I was experiencing at the time which was clearly exacerbated, if not caused, by using a mouse. That was a long time ago, and may not apply now, but that was my main reason for making the switch, and it did work out well for me.

  2. I’ve been thinking about ordering one of these, but the only thing I’m unsure of is how the buttons feel. I can’t find any videos of them.

    If they sound tactile enough, I’d give it a shot.

  3. Ooh neat! I’ve ordered one to replace a Kensington Expert where the tracking goes to sleep sometimes and needs a power cycle to recover. The nano trackball is also an interesting size for a laptop bag but it needs mouse buttons for that. Does anyone know of small pointing devices that aren’t mice?