Recap of CAD mouse post

A while ago I wrote a post called Quest for Input Device, and then another one called Design Challenge: Ultimate CAD Input Device. This was all started by a pain in the arm I had last summer, and my search for a better CAD input device (while I wait for a practically priced full size touch screen). I”ve been using the Logitech Trackman, shown on the right for three months now, exclusively, with no mouse backup (except when I use my laptop, which is a couple of times a week). It”s not a bad device, because I have to say that the pain in my arm is gone. On the other hand, it”s not a great device either, because its accuracy and control is not very good.

There were a couple of very nice surprises about using the trackman.

  • the pain in my arm is gone (yeah!!)
  • it was cheap ($50)
  • materials are pretty good
  • you can hold down the scroll wheel with one finger and roll the trackball with two other fingers to rotate the SolidWorks screen.
  • it runs on dead batteries almost forever.
  • its really not bad for covering a large area (two large screens) once you get used to it

Unfortunately, there were even more things I didn”t like about it.

  • the precision of control was pretty poor. I noticed it especially when doing screen shots with SnagIt, because SnagIt uses a magnifying glass that blows up the area around the cursor, and you can really see that the resolution is about 3 pixels. Even with the enhance pointer precision option on – although it kept turning itself off.
  • left click with the thumb? doesn”t work for a couple of reasons. First, thumb is clumsy, second, the force is nearly horizontal, and you have to oppose it with force against the trackball if you don”t want the device to move.
  • I really don”t like the domed out buttons. That shape really wears on the finger pads after a while.
  • the scroll wheel clicker is way too harsh, as are the button clicks
  • long drag-and-drops are difficult
  • getting any drag-a-box selection correct is difficult – again blame the clumsy thumb

Oh, and I need to add probably the most inconvenient thing about this device is that if my cell phone came within a couple of inches of either the receiver or the trackball itself, the trackball wouldn”t work. It took me a while to figure this out.

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