Single White Nerd Seeks A Special Gamepad
September 7, 2007 12:02 PM   Subscribe

Windows Gamers / Programmers: How can I get a trackball to work as a game controller?

I have a project at work which requires a dedicated hardware interface to control a camera's pan/tilt/zoom/focus/iris. I could build my own with potentiometers and a usb DAC, but I thought it might be easier (and cooler) to use an off-the-shelf game pad.

Unfortunately, I need something with an trackball and/or scroll wheels (ie, I want something that rotates gradually, but I don't want it to snap to center when you let go). Have any mefi gamers heard of such a thing? Alternatively, is there a way to convince a trackball that it's a gamepad (as far as windows is concerned), and not a mouse?
posted by Popular Ethics to Computers & Internet (7 answers total)
You could take a page from the MAME crowd and use an i-pac. You would have to build your own housing most likely and it does interface to the mouse controller. You can get a trackball at happ. In fact, they may have a different type of controller that interfaces as a gamepad, but I'm not sure.
posted by kookywon at 1:02 PM on September 7, 2007

on second view this might be what you're looking for if the USB connector uses a different driver than the mouse driver.
posted by kookywon at 1:04 PM on September 7, 2007

That i-pac looks interesting, as does the slikstik listed on the happ website. Unfortunately neither site has much technical info. Do you know how the software interface to these controllers work? Do they just emulate keyboard strokes?
posted by Popular Ethics at 3:43 PM on September 7, 2007

I just found these too:

Which could work I think. It would still be nice to find a mouse->game controller driver utility though, since there are some pretty nicely packaged trackballs out there already.
posted by Popular Ethics at 3:55 PM on September 7, 2007

Linux "/dev/input" treats mice and joysticks (and keyboards and ...) all uniformly. If you plug in a second mouse, you can issue a EVIOCGRAB for its /dev/input device, at which point it won't act like a windowing-system pointing device but will allow you to read "delta" events as the mouse is moved around.

You don't say what system you are using, but surely this is possible on the macs and winpcs as well.
posted by jepler at 4:57 PM on September 7, 2007

It's a shame the Windows drivers for the cheap Spaceball controllers are a dead-end.

It looks like there's software to remap game input and it appears to handle mouse and joystick motion. No personal experience with it.
posted by Myself at 9:32 PM on September 8, 2007

jepler: I heard that Linux does that intelligently, but I don't think the same thing can be said of windows.
posted by Popular Ethics at 10:55 PM on September 8, 2007

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