Optical Interfaces

How to interface Happ optical devices via a hacked mouse


Happ's spinner & trackball all use the same optical sensor board.  I'll show you how to wire it up to a mouse so you don't spend $50 on an interface.  

Each Axis uses 1 board, so a spinner only uses one, but a trackball uses 2.  The rotating joysticks probably use the same board as well, although I don't have one (yet :).

And here it is:

The +5V & Ground are wired to either the host system's power supply( which is what I did), or you can get a 5 volt adapter from someplace like Radio Shack.

Left, Center and Right refer to the pins on the mouse board.  I know these are not the technical terms, but if you were into the tech stuff you wouldn't need to read this page.

Get a cheap mouse and completely disassemble it. I used a PCConcepts Combo Mouse. Remove the optical wheels, and pull the board out.  You'll need some very basic soldering skills here.  Locate the axis you want to hack to.  

You'll find 2 components, one on either side of where the wheel was.  One is the emitter, the other is the detector.  They may have a plastic housing over them which you will need to remove.

The Emitter (an IR LED) is usually clear.  There may be a part number marking near it on the board such as IR1 or D6.  Leave  this part alone.  we are interested in the detector.

The Detector is usually black, but not always.  There may be a part number near it on the board such as Q3.  It should have 3 leads.

Turn the board over and find where they solder onto the circuit side.  

Unsolder this component, all 3 leads, and remove it from the circuit.  The three holes, if held so they form a row, with the emitter above them, are the left, center and right referred to in the interface hack diagram.

(Note the 3 solder points just under the left of the optical wheel slot. This happens to be the Y axis)

Here you can see the 3 wires soldered in where the detector had been removed. This is the X axis, currently used for my spinner.

The soldering is a bit sloppy, but it works.

The is where they are soldered onto the optical sensor board on the spinner.


This was a PCConcepts Combo mouse.  It's running my trackball via the PS2 port.  I removed the switches for the left & right mouse buttons and ran wires to buttons on the control panel.  Note the 2 pairs of wire in the upper left & right.

Also, note the clear emitter on the lower right. The detector has been removed, and this time I ran the wires from the component side of the board.  Much cleaner.