23 Replies Latest reply on Jan 16, 2017 3:11 PM by Katie Hildebrandt

    Using a Steam controller with SW

    Katie Hildebrandt

      Has anyone else had this idea?

       

      I use SW every day, but all I had at my desk was a standard mouse. I wanted to have more shortcuts than mouse gestures allow for, but the cost of a decent gaming mouse is a bit prohibitive. I wanted to have a 3D mouse, but even the cheapest ones are beyond my budget.

       

      Then I had an idea. Right now, I'd have to say it's the best idea I've had in years. I bought a Steam controller.

       

      bindings.PNG

      It's hard to believe how many shortcuts you can bind to this thing...The haptic pads can be programmed to function as mouse input or configured to function as a D-pad or buttons and set up to switch between two different modes as needed. Nearly every input has a shifted mode that can be programmed as fully as the standard mode. Multiple keys can be bound to a single button press. Even the sensitivity of the mouse controls can be tweaked to such a specific degree (and further dampened when needed if a user-specified button is held) that there is no way you won't get the precision you need out of this.

       

      Most impressive? Gyro controls. The gyro controls can be programmed so that tilting the controller will rotate the model. Bind a button to ctrl, turn on the gyros, and tilt the controller for a smooth pan. Bind mouse wheel up and mouse wheel down to separate inputs, and you can get a nice smooth zoom.

       

      The newest software update made things even better. Now, you can program three different input styles to buttons (standard press, double press, long press) and have different actions bound to each. Add in the ability to shift the function of the vast majority of inputs, and that's a total of six different shortcuts bound to nearly every button.

       

       

      Don't believe me? Right now I have 58 separate keyboard shortcuts bound to the controller. I still have at least 26 unused inputs just waiting around for something to do.

       

       

      If you can install Steam on your computer (I had to get our IT department to make an exception for me), this is definitely worth a shot. If you tell Steam that SW is a "non-Steam game," you can even get the controller to switch automatically from your SW configuration to your general desktop configuration by opening SW through the Steam interface.

       

       

       

      Edit:

      I'm having some trouble getting the time to film myself making a part, a drawing, and an assembly. Work's crazy busy at the moment and I just don't have the time at home (for real; moving to a new place). In the meantime, here's a copy of my bindings and the video of the gyro controls in action that I previously posted in replies.

       

      Message was edited by: Katie Hildebrandt- added attachments

        • Re: Using a Steam controller with SW
          Dave Laban

          You my friend, are an absolute genius.

           

          Any chance of a video showing the gyro control in use?  Or a general demo of a basic workflow?

           

          How do you find it when you need to be inputting dimensions from the keyboard?

          • Re: Using a Steam controller with SW
            J. Mather

            Katie Hildebrandt wrote:

             

            Has anyone else had this idea?

             

            I use SW every day,

             

            bindings.PNG

             

             

            Don't believe me?..

            Call me skeptical.

            Let's see the videos (5-6 hrs into the workday).

              • Re: Using a Steam controller with SW
                Katie Hildebrandt

                Can do. Give me a day or two.

                • Re: Using a Steam controller with SW
                  Katie Hildebrandt

                  Here you go, shot at the absolute end of the day-

                    • Re: Using a Steam controller with SW
                      Chris Dordoni

                      How easy is this to use in one hand with a mouse in the other? ... one thing I like about the SpaceMouse is using it simultaneously with the standard mouse.

                       

                      I think the SpaceMouse lacks a natural feel though ... I've just never warmed up to the pressure sensitive stick. After trying it for a short time, I just went back to the rotation controller that's available with the standard mouse.

                       

                      Would be great if there were some other options ....

                        • Re: Using a Steam controller with SW
                          Katie Hildebrandt

                          It would depend on how you set it up. Aside from the buttons vs. the stick, it's completely symmetrical. One of the haptics has a raised D-pad, but it doesn't have to be set like one. You can program it just like the one on the right, and you can set the stick to function like the ABXY buttons.

                           

                          I really don't even need to use the vast majority of the controller outside of Solidworks. On my general Windows/desktop configuration, I've got the right haptic set to control the cursor and also bound to the return key when pressed, the right trigger is set to left click (sounds counterintuitive, but I'm right handed, so that's how I'd use a mouse), the left is set to right click, the grips are forward and back, and the left haptic functions as a mousewheel. I've got ABXY set to copy, paste, save, and undo, and they shift to cut, print, save as, and find. The stick is bound to the arrow keys and to the delete key when clicked. I left the other default desktop settings as they are, but I find my bindings are the only ones I really need to use on a regular basis.

                           

                          Between shifting already-used buttons and setting things to function differently depending on how they're pressed (and the ability to shift that as well), it'd actually be very easy to bind all of that to one side of the controller. Like I said, you could even have the controller bring up a keyboard to type with (and I believe it has predictive text options, as well), but I'd just rather use a keyboard for that.

                        • Re: Using a Steam controller with SW
                          J. Mather

                          I don't understand how this would help me do my work?

                          Maybe for a boardroom presentation - but even then it didn't look useful?

                          But what does it do for me at my desk that makes it even comparable to micro-motions with a 3D Connexion device and mouse combo?

                            • Re: Using a Steam controller with SW
                              Katie Hildebrandt

                              The whole reason I decided to give this a try is that I can't afford a 3D Connexion device, and the company I work for sure as hell isn't going to pay for one. The cheapest one I found online was $100. If you can get it on sale, a Steam controller costs as little as $35. Normally, it's $50.

                               

                              Probably my favorite benefit is that I get to do my job leaning back in my chair with my feet propped up on my backup power supply. I've got pretty severe scoliosis and sitting up all day is very hard on my back. If I had a wireless keyboard, I wouldn't need to touch my desk except to write on paper.

                        • Re: Using a Steam controller with SW
                          Tom Helsley

                          Hey, that's very clever!  So, how does it work with sketching and editing?  Do you go back to the mouse and keyboard then?

                          • Re: Using a Steam controller with SW
                            Scott Stuart

                            Katie, this is a really cool idea. Thanks for sharing.

                              • Re: Using a Steam controller with SW
                                Katie Hildebrandt

                                Thanks! Unfortunately, I'm having a bit of trouble getting a video of it in action, as we've been pretty busy at work and I have little opportunity to stay late for the next few weeks, but I'm going to try to pull someone aside later today to shoot something for me. Hopefully, I'll be able to upload it this evening before I leave.

                              • Re: Using a Steam controller with SW
                                Scott Stuart

                                Sounds like all you need now is a bluetooth number pad for dimension input. Strap it to the armrest on your chair, and you can work with your feet up on your desk! Here's one for $15.

                                • Re: Using a Steam controller with SW
                                  Mitch Lund

                                  I really like this idea! I'm struggling with how to bind the gyros to rotate the part and panning.  How did you go about getting the controller to rotate the part?

                                    • Re: Using a Steam controller with SW
                                      Katie Hildebrandt

                                      I have it set to off by default and enabled when I hold down the right grip. Here are my specific settings--

                                       

                                      Input style: joystick camera

                                      Output: relative mouse

                                      Stick response curve: relaxed

                                       

                                      Under additional settings:

                                      Smooth joystick: off

                                      Invert axes: off (totally user preference, and I often invert the vertical axis on games, but it didn't seem to be as intuitive here.)

                                      Sensitivity vertical scale: seven clicks to the right of the default setting

                                      Output anti-deadzone: one click up from all the way to the left

                                      Output anti-deadzone buffer: completely off

                                      Gyro steering axis: roll

                                      Gyro pitch neutral angle: You're gonna have to tinker with this. It all depends on how you naturally hold your wrists. (I really wish they'd put up a graphic in the settings to show what the damn bar indicates... a horizontal slider is not the best indication of this sort of thing.)

                                      Mouse sensitivity: Again, a huge personal preference. I've got mine at the default setting right now, but it's a bit slow and I might change it.

                                       

                                      The thing I've found really great in tandem with this is using a long press binding on < and > to scroll up and scroll down, with hold to repeat/turbo enabled. Makes for a decent zoom, although it's a bit jagged since it's technically inputting an individual click of the mouse wheel over and over. You can set the repeat rate to control the speed. It will focus the zoom on the cursor, so keep that in mind when you use it, as you can move the cursor while you zoom.