50 Replies Latest reply on Aug 28, 2015 10:33 AM by Sam Worthington

    Spacemouse Alternative

    Sam Worthington

      wpaca49571_05_06.jpg

       

      For the last few years we have been working on the Wing. The aim was to develop a new 3D computer input device, something beyond what is on the market now. We now have the fully working prototype shown in the photograph and are sorting out some of the details for manufacture.

       

      Originally this post was looking for help with sorting the CAD drivers but we've finally managed to get it working with most CAD programs as an alternative to a Spacemouse. It gives you both mouse pointer and 3D view control with one hand leaving the other free to use the keyboard

       

      The photograph above shows an early prototype but the polished aluminium lost it's shine a bit so we now get the parts ceramic anodised. Here it is in blue.

       

      140612212443_2 Side View & Wing Logo.jpg

       

      There are some more details on the Worthington Sharpe website and Facebook page.

       

      All the best,

       

      Sam

       

      Message was edited by: Sam Worthington

        • Re: Spacemouse Alternative
          Anna Wood

          Interesting....  Looks a bit like what the Lexip 3D Mouse will do.  http://www.lexip.fr/pro/en.html   I wonder what they are using for software?

           

          Cheers,

           

          Anna

          • Re: Spacemouse Alternative
            Chris Challinor

            your link did not work, but this one did http://www.projectalphawing.com/

             

            BTW, I WANT ONE!!!! That is nice.

            • Re: Spacemouse Alternative
              Walter Fetsch

              Sam,

               

              If you're interested in hiring someone to do the work, I know the right man for the job.  Send me a private message and I'll put you in touch with him.

              • Re: Spacemouse Alternative
                Sam Worthington

                Thanks for the replies.

                 

                Anna,

                 

                Both Lexip and ourselves are aiming in a similar direction. We spent a lot of time designing it so the 3D functions wouldn't detract from the standard mouse functionality. - We wanted to make sure the internal mechanism keeps the upper part solid while just moving around on the desk and pressing buttons. As far as I know, they've written proprietary CAD drivers themselves (3D Connexion do this) we could go down this route but want to focus on the engineering, hence the interest in developing an open-source solution.

                 

                 

                Chris,

                 

                Thanks for letting me know about the link. (I've found it helps if you spell things right and have sorted it out now.) Glad you like the design, it's been a lot of work getting this far.

                 

                 

                Walter,

                 

                As I mention above, we are still planning on developing something open-source but are willing to hire someone to keep up our side of things.

                 

                Cheers,

                 

                Sam

                  • Re: Spacemouse Alternative
                    Chris Challinor

                    Its not just me liking the design.........but absolutely think it is one of the best ideas I have ever seen.

                     

                    It took me a while to figure out the yaw and why you chose to do it that way, but once I "got it" it became very clear. Be very proud of your design, you have every reason to be.

                     

                    When do you think you will go to market, as I want to be one of the first to own one. And truthfully I can wait for the CAD plugins, I want this for my gaming PC!!!!

                     

                    Being able to use it for SolidWorks will be great.......being able to PWN the gaming world with a great interface control......priceless.

                     

                    I am not a facebook fan (wont use it, never will), but if you have an e-mail newsletter list I would love to sign up for that.

                     

                    And the best part, its a British design!!!

                      • Re: Spacemouse Alternative
                        Neil Larsen

                        I hate to say this considering the enthusiasm here but I feel this product doesnt really have that much appeal for CAD. Leap Motion is where its at at the moment I'd say. Really looking out for some cool app for SW for that. Drawing 3d splines and surfaces and such holds a lot of appeal. Hope SW will provide something in SW2014/15 for it. What is shown here reminds me of a Microsoft Sidewinder I have in my bottom drawer. It was kind of cumbersome and tiring to use but hey this thing might be quite a bit better...

                          • Re: Spacemouse Alternative
                            Sam Worthington

                            Neil,

                             

                            I know what you mean about the likes of Leap Motion, it is impressive. I'm quite aware that whoever says something will never happen, is likely to be proven wrong before too long by that very thing happening. That said, I do have concerns with the practicalities of motion capture for everyday design work. - I can't see myself waving my arms about at a CAD screen for 37 hours a day.

                             

                            That is what is so good about the standard mouse. It just sits there on your desk where you left it, you can use it and drink a brew at the same time, use it for very precise work, or just push it around casually with your feet on the desk. Right from the start we've made sure these features people probably take for granted with a mouse aren't lost with the addition of the 3D functions.

                             

                            I assume the Sidewinder product you are talking about is the Strategic Commander? We took a different approach in designing something to replace, rather than complement the mouse.

                             

                            ----------------------------------

                            www.projectalphawing.com

                            Facebook Page

                          • Re: Spacemouse Alternative
                            Sam Worthington

                            Thanks for the words of appreciation Chris, we're more than a little bit pleased with what we've got but to hear it from other engineers means a lot.

                             

                            I can't say I blame you with staying away from Facebook. We don't have a e-mail newsletter yet, but if you send me a private message with your e-mail I will add you to the list.

                             

                            We are aiming at launching the product at Gamescom in August. That said, the feedback from CAD users has been really good. If we get enough positive feedback then it might be worth shifting our focus more on getting the CAD drivers sorted and starting with the professional rather than the gaming market.

                             

                            ----------------------------------------------

                            www.projectalphawing.com

                            Facebook Page

                            • Re: Spacemouse Alternative
                              Joe Kuzich

                              I'm right there with you Chris.  The couple draw backs I would see is that it looks corded and delicate.  I would be afaid that I might be a little to agressive to use it gaming.  I know it doesn't make buttons work better to hit them harder but that doesn't stop me from inadvertanly doing it. 

                               

                              What's the intended price range for this puppy?

                                • Re: Spacemouse Alternative
                                  Sam Worthington

                                  Joe,

                                   

                                  You're right about it being corded. We would have liked to have made it cordless but had enough problems to sort our without having to find space for batteries and ensure the data-transfer rate was fast enough. These problems are all routine, so we certainly intend to release a cordless version a little later down the line.

                                   

                                  Hitting buttons as hard as possible is a tested method of making the electrons move a little quicker, so we made sure it's far from delicate. The major parts are machined from aluminium and the prototype has passed a few accidental drop-tests already. We also made sure the spring tension to operate the pitch is greater than that required to press the buttons, so it stays fairly solid when you hammer away at the trigger.

                                   

                                  The price is a difficult one; The long term plan is to get the parts die cast and then we can bring the price right down. To start with we are gettting all the parts machined and then the price will reflect the batch size. I can't give you any figures until we start to get an idea of the demand. We were considering operating a pre-order system based on a visible counter - as the number of orders reaches certain thresholds, the price drops.

                                    • Re: Spacemouse Alternative
                                      Chris Challinor

                                      Sam Worthington wrote:

                                       

                                      The price is a difficult one; The long term plan is to get the parts die cast and then we can bring the price right down. To start with we are getting all the parts machined and then the price will reflect the batch size. I can't give you any figures until we start to get an idea of the demand. We were considering operating a pre-order system based on a visible counter - as the number of orders reaches certain thresholds, the price drops.

                                       

                                      I call # 1 on the pre-order, I also know a few places that can get you to the die casting stage fairly quickly and for a good price. For that matter even mass producing by machining can be done reasonably too.

                              • Re: Spacemouse Alternative
                                John Burrill

                                By the way, man, I loved you in Avatar!

                                • Re: Spacemouse Alternative
                                  Seth Ruhan

                                  3D applications  typically use a the Middle mouse as 3D rotate or Pan. Instead of creating a plugin for each application like you said, you could use the 'driver' to use the Joystick function on a selected active application to manipluate the same out put a middle mouse button incombination to the cursor moving (of cource having the mouse pointer not update on screen), then release the middle mouse button click and set the cursor to the same position it was before.  You could do this several times a second.

                                   

                                  Alternatively you could create an API so that a Fan programer could write their own interface for their selected application,  TBH creating a program specific addon it not a great task, even if is 15-20 programs, as navigation API on most programs are pritty simple.

                                   

                                  I love this idear and can not wait to use one, having one hand on the mouse & the other on the Space mouse is such a pain when it comes back to using keyboard command & inputting numbers.

                                    • Re: Spacemouse Alternative
                                      Sam Worthington

                                      Seth,

                                       

                                      We had a go at using Joystick 2 Mouse to emulate pressing the middle mouse button and moving the mouse. As you suggest, the problem is keeping the cursor still.

                                       

                                      The API approach is appealing, do you know anyone who might be able to help? Or anywhere we could look to find someone? The problem for us is that we are engineers and so the programming side of things is largely unknown territory.

                                       

                                      Sam

                                        • Re: Spacemouse Alternative
                                          Chris Challinor

                                          Have you asked at http://stackoverflow.com/ to see if someone there could help you guys out?

                                          • Re: Spacemouse Alternative
                                            Chris Challinor

                                            Checking to see if there has been any progress?

                                              • Re: Spacemouse Alternative
                                                Sam Worthington

                                                Chris,

                                                 

                                                Thanks for your interest. I've not posted anything on stackoverflow.com yet but plan to do so. In an earlier post here, Walter Fetsch mentioned he might know someone. We have now spoken to his contact and he is looking into how he might be able to help.

                                                 

                                                We are also looking at more niche applications as a starting point, and are demonstrating the prototype to some materials science people who use 3D visualisation software for looking at material structures from 3D tomography results.

                                                 

                                                On the engineering side of things, we've been looking into different coatings. Anodising would be good, but there might be EMC implications, and we are concerned about it's durability. Irridite NCP is also an option but I would be keen to hear from anyone who has experience with it or other potential suitable coatings.

                                                  • Re: Spacemouse Alternative
                                                    Chris Challinor

                                                    Anodizing, depends on the process. http://www.anodizing.org/Anodizing/what_is_anodizing.html

                                                     

                                                    We use alot of aluminum parts at work, every one of them used in high wear locations. Never had a finish failure either.

                                                     

                                                    MIL-A-8625, Type III, Class 2 black, 2.0 mil coating thickness is what we call out for most every part we use. Type III is hard anodizing, it seems to hold up the best in high use areas and with thickness of 5 mil or greater can be used as an insulation (not need mica) for transistors in amplifiers (you must train the assemblers not to scratch the surface and make sure it is clean).

                                                     

                                                    Black is the color of most of our parts but we have used red, gold, clear (polished, aka "Bright Dip"). Red tends to fade in sunlight over time. Black fades, but not as badly as red. Gold and silver seem fine long term.

                                                     

                                                    Do you want some really cool looking anodizing, http://www.valmont.com/valmont/valmont-coatings-site/north-america/george-industries

                                                     

                                                    You will be amazed at what can be done with their process.

                                                     

                                                    Irridite, that is something we reserve for parts that are not seen or touched. Internal parts. The "feel" of it is not nice nor is the look.

                                                     

                                                    Other coatings, Aluminum will take powder coating as long as it is prepped right. Paint could be done but wont hold up over time. Plastic over-molding / rubber over-molding might work, but will add a thick layer over your aluminum base. Over-Molding could be done to only the "touch areas" though.

                                                      • Re: Spacemouse Alternative
                                                        Sam Worthington

                                                        Chris,

                                                         

                                                        Thanks for your comments on anodising. If we can sort out the potential EMC problems then I think it will be a good solution. I think you are right about the durability, even without resorting to hard anodising, I'm pretty sure it will be fine for our application.

                                                         

                                                        We've been speaking to some virtual reality providers recently and had some good feedback. At the moment there is gap between 2D control methods and fully immersive VR. The people we have spoken to think they could use our device for instructors to manipulate 3D environments, while users are using motion tracking devices and 3D headsets.

                                                         

                                                        It appears there is no obvious solution to CAD integration but hopefully we'll manage to sort something before too long.

                                                         

                                                        Sam

                                                          • Re: Spacemouse Alternative
                                                            Chris Challinor

                                                            EMC issues.

                                                             

                                                            Make sure your grounds are solid, you may want to connect the mouse body / base to the shield of the USB cable thru a capacitor / resistor / ferrite. Star grounding seems to work well, sometimes better than a ground plane. PCB layout is key, keep all the noisy switching circuits away from other traces using a ground trace / plane in-between them. De-bounce all switches when possible. You may even want a "ground strap" between the body and base of the Alpha-Wing.

                                                             

                                                            Ferrite on the actual USB cable helps, some newer keyboards, USB headphones, mice, and other PC accessories already do this. Personally I think big beads on the cable are a Band-Aid, but sometimes necessary when all else fails.

                                                             

                                                            Software can also help clean up EMC, a software routine that monitors the switch bounce and provides adequate settling time before making a reading / decision is a common solution.

                                                              • Re: Spacemouse Alternative
                                                                Sam Worthington

                                                                We have grounded the boards and got some provision for debouncing in the firmware. The aluminium body should certainly help too. My concern was that the annodising would insulate the joints between the parts, breaking what would otherwise be an almost complete comductive shell around the electronics.

                                                                 

                                                                In terms of software drivers, I found the Spacenav open source project. I think it will probably provide most of what we need. Another possiblity is Glovepie. If anyone has any experience with either of these applications, it would be good to hear from you.

                                                                  • Re: Spacemouse Alternative
                                                                    Chris Challinor

                                                                    Yes, the anodizing could insulate the separate parts. But you can specify that certain areas need to be clear of anodizing and or have the anodizing removed during assembly of the product.

                                                                     

                                                                    Personally I would rather have a "ground strap" provision. Either by an actual wire / braid or by a part that is forced in (hinge pins, springs, screws) that will electrically connect the separate parts.

                                                                     

                                                                    You could go the "sub-housing" route. A shielded housing that fits tightly around the electronics (faraday shield, metallic plastic housing, etc.), this housing would connect to the ground plane of the PCB. Think radio / UHF circuit boards..... http://www.ferrishield.com/html/RFAbsorbers_PCBShields/PCBshields.html

                                                                     

                                                                    Still cant wait to get my hands on one of these mice!!!!

                                                                      • Re: Spacemouse Alternative
                                                                        Sam Worthington

                                                                        We have had some good feedback from the supplier we have lined to help us through the CE / FCC marking process.

                                                                         

                                                                        While it is not possible to release a product such as ours to EU open markets without going through the CE marking process (or FCC in the US) apparently it is possible to release a product before certification under certain circumstances. The Raspberry Pi was, for example originally sold as a kit for developers.

                                                                         

                                                                        The first batch of products we make will be development products intended for people to explore different ways the Wing can be used, and this will help shape any further development as we gear-up to larger volumes. As long as we make it clear that the product has not undergone compliance testing and is being sold for development purposes only, we can delay the compliance testing until we decide to release on the open market. Apart from the delaying the testing costs, this means we can start to get the device to people sooner so they can start exploring the posssibilities.

                                                                         

                                                                        If anyone is interested in this for their own product, there is quite a lot of information on the Raspberry Pi website.

                                                      • Re: Spacemouse Alternative
                                                        Sam Worthington

                                                        We've just opened our web shop for this. Delivery is stated at 4-weeks but let me know if you need something quicker and I'll do what I can.

                                                         

                                                        Wing 3D Input Device

                                                         

                                                        Cheers,

                                                         

                                                        Sam

                                                          • Re: Spacemouse Alternative
                                                            Greg Hynd

                                                            I was interested... until I saw the price .... WOW.

                                                              • Re: Spacemouse Alternative
                                                                Greg Hynd

                                                                Nice mouse though.

                                                                • Re: Spacemouse Alternative
                                                                  Andy Sanders

                                                                  You're not kidding about the price.  That would eliminate our dept. for sure.  I barely got our management to buy into getting us about 10x $99 Space Navigators.

                                                                    • Re: Spacemouse Alternative
                                                                      Greg Hynd

                                                                      I'm not even going to ask, I know what the answer would be. Kind of priced the bigger companies out I think, as who would by one for every seat in a large company? 50 seats... over 32 grand on mice? . Will keep dreaming though.

                                                                        • Re: Spacemouse Alternative
                                                                          Sam Worthington

                                                                          We'd love to be able to bring the price down, and that's not just because we're lovely people. The trouble is we don't have the capital to do much more than build them to order and machining like this doesn't come cheap.

                                                                          DSC_0024.JPG

                                                                           

                                                                          If you order 50 though I think we could probably do something with the price.

                                                                           

                                                                          Cheers,

                                                                           

                                                                          Sam

                                                                            • Re: Spacemouse Alternative
                                                                              Greg Hynd

                                                                              Fair enough! Should give dragons den a visit...

                                                                              • Re: Spacemouse Alternative
                                                                                Seth Ruhan

                                                                                Mouse looks great. Like the others mentioned price is way high for most companies\people to even consider. However have you considered following the same lines as pretty much every other mouse and use plastic in a lot of components? The batch ordering casings etc in 200+ orders would be easily affordable then. Even if you offered the plastic version as the entry level. Also as some one who would love to see this mouse become main stream I will make the comment. Update your websites layout\features. All the content is there, it just looks tacky\DYI website for a hobbyist. First impressions are every thing!

                                                                                  • Re: Spacemouse Alternative
                                                                                    Sam Worthington

                                                                                    Thanks for the comments Seth. I realise the price is prohibitive for most people. It's not bad when you compare it to the price of the earlier spaceball products but things have moved on and the Wing is more than double the price of the Spacepilot.

                                                                                     

                                                                                    We did start off by going to a plastic injection moulded route but the tooling cost means a massive investment upfront. While we did sort most of the design for injection moulding problems before we changed tack to machined aluminium but I fear that switching back would give us big delays. Even with machining we can do a lot with the price if we can get the production volume up. Beyond that we looking at cast magnesium to bring the part price right down.

                                                                                     

                                                                                    It's all about the production volume and the difficulty is raising the cash to buy stock.

                                                                                     

                                                                                    Kickstarter is an option and we could perhaps drop the cost by say 50% (to around £325 or $525). I'm concerned that is still a lot of money for an unknown product. Any thoughts?

                                                                                     

                                                                                    We have generally had good feedback about our website but so your last comment is interesting (but welcome). Is there any particular part that you think lets it down?

                                                                        • Re: Spacemouse Alternative
                                                                          Sam Worthington

                                                                          Thank you all for your feedback so far. We've created a short (four question) survey to try and get a general overview and I'd be very grateful if you could complete it.

                                                                           

                                                                          Wing Survey

                                                                           

                                                                          Many thanks,

                                                                           

                                                                          Sam