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Turn an Optical Mouse into a Scanner

CmdrTaco posted more than 8 years ago | from the because-you-can dept.

Technology 191

John H. Doe writes "This student was bored one day, so he decided to see what the world looked like from the bottom of his optical mouse. He jury rigged a few wires to his parallel port and wrote a program to take a look. And seeing as how one thing a mouse does is to detect motion, made it into a ghetto b&w handscanner. "

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191 comments

OUTGOING (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14421777)

HELLO WORLD
74282 74282
HELLO WORLD
69732 69732 93170 93170 14983 14983 26305 26305 34357 34357
84597 84597 74393 74393 54207 54207 55741 55741 52442 52442
91132 91132 34884 34884 29397 29397 82258 82258 66655 66655
70090 70090 85942 85942 81724 81724 90353 90353 77169 77169
03284 03284 25253 25253 59363 59363 55990 55990 76245 76245
50063 50063 00321 00321 79756 79756 60924 60924 21076 21076
39441 39441 91701 91701 66867 66867 01387 01387 38928 38928
52741 52741 71958 71958 19446 19446 28723 28723 27382 27382
89646 89646 39910 39910 47667 47667 89602 89602 58197 58197
70889 70889 07582 07582 45188 45188 43811 43811 55455 55455
43727 43727 20995 20995 01055 01055 93231 93231 94364 94364
88608 88608 08250 08250 98847 98847 53361 53361 86377 86377
04770 04770 59624 59624 47693 47693 01417 01417 90269 90269
68048 68048 95087 95087 32013 32013 32359 32359 47603 47603
76901 76901 84870 84870 64484 64484 98824 98824 94478 94478
58748 58748 21656 21656 16044 16044 30709 30709 88245 88245
33016 33016 57571 57571 48944 48944 07537 07537 64481 64481
07679 07679 99508 99508 16541 16541 84123 84123 04829 04829
41501 41501 27561 27561 01910 01910 03188 03188 55054 55054
81523 81523 03470 03470 97248 97248 92042 92042 07004 07004
44472 44472 87227 87227 00606 00606 35745 35745 77893 77893
19926 19926 74552 74552 50535 50535 40145 40145 66102 66102
69545 69545 95732 95732 47282 47282 08066 08066
K-BYE

Re:OUTGOING (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14421842)

Can someone please explain to me what the fuck these posts mean?

Re:OUTGOING (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14421896)

It means you're are stupid.

Re:OUTGOING (0, Offtopic)

Max Threshold (540114) | more than 8 years ago | (#14421904)

I think they are one-time-pad messages from terruhists.

Or designed to look that way.

Re:OUTGOING (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14421994)

It's is means you're are stupid.

I envy (5, Funny)

Irashtar (836973) | more than 8 years ago | (#14421781)

I envy this hacker's skills, B+W? I'd only see red.

Re:I envy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14422076)

so will this work with my old trackball? ;)

Re:I envy (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14422098)

Only if you manage to pull it out of your anus [wikipedia.org] .

Re:I envy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14422603)

This definitely wins the award for Most Random And Least Necessary Wikipedia Reference.

cool, but eh (1)

PlayfullyC1ever (944117) | more than 8 years ago | (#14421783)

Pretty cool, wish it could of had better results, image is crap and doesnt even look like there is anywhere you can go to make a cheapscanner from a $15 optical mouse, but interesting hack, might try it myself over the summer.

Re:cool, but eh (1)

Tx (96709) | more than 8 years ago | (#14421941)

doesnt even look like there is anywhere you can go to make a cheapscanner

Dunno, improving the software to match up successive images better should be prefectly possible, it's hard to say exactly how good a result could be achieved, but I'd say a lot better than the posted image. You could also hack in multiple coloured LEDs, and thus possibly make a colour scanner. Probably never actually be useful though, hard to say.

Re:cool, but eh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14421963)

Pretty cool, wish it could of had better results

I think you meant could have had.

ah yes, slashdot whiners (1)

subtropolis (748348) | more than 8 years ago | (#14422426)

wish it could of had better results, image is crap... So, which is more pathetic? The hack or this response?

Repost from hack-a-day (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14421784)

Are we just syndicating from Hack-a-day's RSS feed nowadays?

groovy (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14421786)

Groovy .. may come handy in places where scanners need special permissions.

Re:groovy (1)

Teun (17872) | more than 8 years ago | (#14422428)

places where scanners need special permissions

Indeed my first thought, paranoid security drones might find this a terrorists wet dream.

ya..Verry impressive and all... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14421789)

bu bu but does it run Linux?

Re:ya..Verry impressive and all... (3, Funny)

Musteval (817324) | more than 8 years ago | (#14421868)

The program is written in Visual Basic. So no.

Re:ya..Verry impressive and all... (4, Informative)

Helios1182 (629010) | more than 8 years ago | (#14421903)

It was a quick and dirty hack. He even said he doesn't like VB, but for a simple GUI it is easy. The source is available so you are welcome to port it to whatever language/plaatform you like.

Re:ya..Verry impressive and all... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14421907)

" The program is written in Visual Basic. So no."

As the author noted, he didn't write it for Linux because stopping to learn GTK or KDE would've turned an impulsive weekend project into a major undertaking.

Which is something that is unfortunately missing from Linux...a simple RAD environment which makes GUI development completely trivial for quick-and-dirty tasks. Borland's Kylix is probably the closest thing out there...any other systems that are worth looking in to?

Re:ya..Verry impressive and all... (1)

Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) | more than 8 years ago | (#14421972)

Which is something that is unfortunately missing from Linux...a simple RAD environment which makes GUI development completely trivial for quick-and-dirty tasks.

Uuh... Tcl/tk? Python?

Re:ya..Verry impressive and all... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14421983)

Well, it's not RAD, but very fast and powerful: Tcl/TK.

Wow (4, Insightful)

Q-Hack! (37846) | more than 8 years ago | (#14421798)

This is definatly the ultimate in low tech.

Still, it is ingenuis.

Re:Wow (2, Interesting)

non0score (890022) | more than 8 years ago | (#14422094)

Yeah...this low tech thing also reminds me of someone trying to use a sound card as an oscilloscope (through the mic)...or how someone used the sensor on a logitech trackball device to track how a fly walks (the fly walks on a light ball colored in such a way that the sensor could still read it).

Well (5, Interesting)

Z00L00K (682162) | more than 8 years ago | (#14421805)

At least this hack is a little funny. I have been wondering about a mouse with force-feedback and then I can't wait until I see the mouse wander over the edge of the table when infected by some strange virus...

What resolution is it possible to get with the laser mice that you can get?

MX1000 = 800DPI (1)

eddy (18759) | more than 8 years ago | (#14421821)

Logitech claims 800DPI for the MX1000.

Nevermind. (1)

eddy (18759) | more than 8 years ago | (#14421829)

Sorry, that's movement resolution (after whatever processing they do). Thinko on my part. I'm sure the sensor isn't all that. Still be interesting to "see" though.

Re:Nevermind. (1)

cnettel (836611) | more than 8 years ago | (#14421924)

One might be able to deconvolute (anti-anti-alias, so to say) the picture from the sensor, but I would imagine that to achieve a stable 800 DPI resolution, one would actually need a sensor with a comparable, or better, sensor... unless the 800 DPI figure is a VaporNumber (TM).

Re:Nevermind. (3, Interesting)

SharpFang (651121) | more than 8 years ago | (#14422591)

Actually, that's what the sensor+optics is. The mouse is likely to report movement by one pixel reliably, unless it does some good sub-pixel image comparison (which isn't impossible...).

Thing is you can get about any DPI you desire (up to the limit of light wave length) from such a rig by replacing the optics. You're still stuck with readout area of some 16x16 pixels though, so lower resolution = better, meaning less waving your hand to "wipe" whole area of the document.

Re:Well (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14421836)

What about the way that naked men turn Z00L00K's flaccid penis into a fully erect one, and then into a flaccid one again (with empty testes)? Is that a good hack?

Linux? (0)

mtenhagen (450608) | more than 8 years ago | (#14421817)

The software is written in VB, how ugly can it get.

So the question is not "Does it run linux?" but "Is there a linux version?".

And I'am curious if this site can be slashdotted.

confused (4, Funny)

digitalsushi (137809) | more than 8 years ago | (#14421843)

Are we supposed to send him a gift scanner? Clothes? Food? Matches for starting fires? :D

Ghetto? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14421847)

Yeah, all the niggas are converting their mouse to comeras, yo!

But the real question is... (5, Funny)

EdipisReks (770738) | more than 8 years ago | (#14421848)

could he turn a flatbed scanner into an optical mouse?

Re:But the real question is... (5, Interesting)

pesc (147035) | more than 8 years ago | (#14421940)

Or turn a camera-equipped mobile phone into an optical mouse? Preferrably with bluetooth support using the built-in phone BT chip! It should only be some programming to get it to work, right? Finally a sensible use for cameraphones.

Re:But the real question is... (1)

noidentity (188756) | more than 8 years ago | (#14422405)

"could he turn a flatbed scanner into an optical mouse? "

No, but how about a huge trackpad? Though it's be painfully slow. "DO NOT MOVE FINGER UNTIL SCAN COMPLETES"

Also, "DO NOT TOUCH COPY AREA DURING VIDI-COPY OPERATION"

Oh dear! (1)

Skiron (735617) | more than 8 years ago | (#14421869)

Now the cats out the bag, I expect the next generation of MS worms and viruses won't need keyloggers - they will just WATCH you type in your passwords/CC numbers etc...

Re:Oh dear! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14421885)

shut the fuck up

Re:Oh dear! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14421910)

Since when did you point your mouse at your keyboard, dumbass?

Interesting scan images (1)

TeleoMan (529859) | more than 8 years ago | (#14421870)

The second image looks like it reads: "WEINERS FRIS SUCXORS THIS TEXAS PAPR"

Just me, though?

It's useful enough... (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14421908)

...to make a cheap barcode scanner. Barcodes have checksums, and if every other pass works it's good enough.

It's all biological... (1)

creimer (824291) | more than 8 years ago | (#14421918)

I heard of building a better mousetrap... but hacking a mouse?! If you're going to experiment with biology, just hack a frog and leave the mouse out of this.

Re:It's all biological... (1)

neomunk (913773) | more than 8 years ago | (#14422352)

Ever had a teacher that says "there are no stupid questions except unasked ones"?

Well, I had a teacher like that in HS (my best teacher ever, btw), who's mind I changed about that. See, we were discussing when some scientist (I think Tesla, but I'm not sure) accidently made a spark between some metal object and a freshly dead frog's brain, thus making the frog's legs jump.

Of course, this being my computer science teacher (and physics, the class where this conversation was held), and added to the fact that we had been studying digital logic in hardware (TTLs etc, wiring up logic circuits for homework) for the past few months, I immediatly asked if it was possible to make a remote control frog.

Heh, he looked at me for a few seconds and said "Mr. *CENSORED*, what I said before about stupid questons was wrong, that would have been a smart question to leave unasked."

Just thought I'd share the flashback you inspired.

Re:It's all biological... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14422525)

i don't get it. how is that stupid? if brains use electrical signals to control muscles and electronics are based on electric signals, why wouldn't we be able to create a remote control frog once the brain is mapped out enough?

Jury rig? (1)

AkA lexC (939709) | more than 8 years ago | (#14421947)

Isnt it Jerry rig? as in botched german (Jerry) equipment in WWII

Re:Jury rig? (1)

Inda (580031) | more than 8 years ago | (#14422072)

Jury Rig is also correct. I have heard the Yanks say it before. I never made the connection to WWII but I suspect this might be true. Jerry Rig and Jury Rig sound so similar that the British accent to American accent translation probably has something to do with it too.

Re:Jury rig? (1)

AkA lexC (939709) | more than 8 years ago | (#14422135)

I can see a connection with jury rigging (as in fixing trials), and apparently the spare mast on a ship is called a 'jury-rig'. its a one size fits all so some alteration is needed to get it working as a replacement. i guess the jerry thing was a later corruption.. sorry guys.. i'll keep my mouth shut in future :#

B&W Handscanner? (1)

soulsteal (104635) | more than 8 years ago | (#14421951)

Seriously, who the hell needs black and white scans of hands? THE GOVERNMENT, THAT'S WHO!

Paranoid twin powers, ACTIVATE! Form of Tinfoil, shape of Hat!

Re:B&W Handscanner? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14422214)

"Paranoid twin powers, ACTIVATE! Form of Tinfoil, shape of Hat!"

Wow which anime is that from? I gotta see it :)

p.s. is it hentai?

The "sun-like mark" on the chip... (5, Informative)

CMiYC (6473) | more than 8 years ago | (#14421974)

... is from Agilent Technologies (which just spun off its semiconductor business). For 65-years Agilent was also known was "Hewlett-Packard." In late 1999, HP spun everything but computers and prnters off into Agilent. (This past Dec 1, Agilent's semiconductors became Avago.)

Just thought I'd throw that out there.

Further modifications=Barcode scanner? (3, Interesting)

Gizmoguy (818250) | more than 8 years ago | (#14421977)

With a bi more tweaking to the code, the mouse could possibly be made into a linear, perhaps even 2D :-)) barcode scanner. Barcode scanners can be expensive. Optical mice don't come cheap, but cost significantly less than a barcode scanner, could this be the next generation of the CueCat, made at home? Also, your killing two birds with one stone, as it's multifunctional. Mind you, it still isn't as good as that MP3 playing toothbrush I got for Christmas :-))

When I was a kid... (1)

slideroll (901934) | more than 8 years ago | (#14421999)

I turned my old Epson dot matrix printer into a scanner by mounting a CDS cell on the print head and wiring it to my Atari 1200XL paddle port and using BASIC to run the print head across the paper and take a reading. It was like 30dpi resolution, but I got some great scans of the cover of Rush' "Permanent Waves". I had no friends.

Would be alot cooler (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14422004)

if you hadn't stolen it from yesterday's hackaday.

What about barcodes (2, Insightful)

Senzei (791599) | more than 8 years ago | (#14422056)

When I first saw this I thought it would be useful to turn the mouse into a barcode reader. A quick look at prices shows them starting at around forty bucks. If this could be made to work roughly as well as the barcode readers it might be pretty useful.

Cue Cat (3, Interesting)

bangzilla (534214) | more than 8 years ago | (#14422060)

I seem to recall that something similar was done with that unmitigating disaster known as cue cat :-) Y'know - I don't really care how crap the images are - the point of this execise is all about hacking because it's there. I think this is pretty cool. Would I every replicate this hack or have value for it? -- probably not. But it's cool just for coolness sake. And one never knows when a cool hack will be something you would use (if not today, maybe tomorrow...)

scan-mouse? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14422061)

Some people are Sooo handy!

Seeds? (2, Interesting)

adolfojp (730818) | more than 8 years ago | (#14422071)

I wonder if this could be a cheap way to gather random seeds...

Off I go to tie my wireless mouse to my cat!

what ever happened to hand scanners (4, Interesting)

wcb4 (75520) | more than 8 years ago | (#14422150)

Its a shame really. Hand scanners seemed to ahve peaked in popularity before their time. I understand that they were popular because they were a lot cheaper to build that flatbeds, and as flatbeds came down in price, the hand scanners died away. Seems perfectly reasonable since the handscanner was a pretty ppor match for a desktop computer anyway. The only problem with this was that as the price of flatbeds fell, so did the price of laptops, now a lot of folks have laptops, and hand scanners would be perfect to throw in the laptop bag.... If you are in a library or somehwhere and need a quick scan, the hand scanner would have been perfect. But I have not been able to find a single color hand scanner that will run with XP, which is what I run on my laptop. If I could find one, I'd buy it in a heartbeat. The last time I needed a scan of something when I was not at home, I ended up puling out my digital camera (which I had with me for another reason, and snapping a picture. This was not the ideal situation, but it worked for what I needed. How often do you have a good digital camera with you (not the crappy one in your cell phone)

Does anyone know of a handscanner compatible with XP? I'd still like to have one.

Re:what ever happened to hand scanners (2, Informative)

Laplace (143876) | more than 8 years ago | (#14422271)

Does anyone know of a handscanner compatible with XP? I'd still like to have one.

Yes. My digital camera. (seriously, I've made digital copies of pages from books, contracts and artwork with my camera).

Re:what ever happened to hand scanners (4, Insightful)

SharpFang (651121) | more than 8 years ago | (#14422519)

Handscanners had LOTS of disadvantages compared to flatbeds. Poor resolution resulting from uneven movement speed (flatbed can go as slow as you desire. User moves the handscanner slightly faster and data gets lost.), small width - need for "stitching", poor absolute distance/shape quality (turn it a little, let it slide a bit etc), poor tollerance for uneven surfaces (try to scan a page in a thick book, the roll of the scanner falls off the book when the scanning element is still 5cm into the text) and quite a few other serious disadvantages. The guy advising you a camera is right. I have a Logitech handscanner and a cheap Canon camera, and the camera produces better images than the scanner. Not to mention it's vastly faster :) In great most cases camera suffices. Only if you need -huge- image in good resolution (I mean like 10000x10000px) the scanner makes sense, but you rarely do. And definitely not with a laptop, on a travel.
One more handy thing. You won't scan a 2mx3m train schedule hanging on the wall, no matter if you use handscanner or a flatbed. Camera is just right for that.

extra security measure.... (1)

3seas (184403) | more than 8 years ago | (#14422159)

besides barcode scanning possibilities, how about an additional login security measure....scan your thumb print plus password.

Plagiarism (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14422224)

This article is a direct rip from hack a day and should be removed. If the Slashdot crew can't come up with stories that are original, they need to go ahead and shut down.

Good Idea but.. (1)

earthstar (748263) | more than 8 years ago | (#14422383)

A very good idea... but its at nascent stage.....If some s/w companies are going to have a full fledged software to convert Optical mouse to scanner , it'll be great.Probably Google will do it.....Free Google Mousescan !

Optical Mouse Chips (5, Interesting)

Stigmata669 (517894) | more than 8 years ago | (#14422445)

You can use the chips for optical navigation too. I played around with one for an introductory robotics class, here [cmu.edu] .

Laser Mice (1)

JK1150 (897112) | more than 8 years ago | (#14422470)

I know laser mice are supposed to detect a clearer image of the surface below, would be interesting to see this done with a laser mouse.

Musical flatbed scanner (1)

lampiaio (848018) | more than 8 years ago | (#14422558)

That kind of "undocumented feature" reminds me of this [ganjatron.net] . I was stunned when I watched the video of the scanner in action; it's incredible how much "power" is hidden within most electrical devices!

Via USB? (1)

epheterson (854771) | more than 8 years ago | (#14422565)

Could it be possible to write a driver to be able to use this application through a standard USB or PS/2 connection, without the need to rewire it?

How hard, and what strategy to coordinate (1)

krysolid (933341) | more than 8 years ago | (#14422609)


the little pieces of each "saccade" of the mouse ... after
all that is what the human brain does ... it pieces all our
shaky random movements together into a steady picture of the
world ... any ideas?
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