I’ve had a fair number of people ask about support for devices like the 3DConnexion 3D mouse for G-Wizard Editor.  I don’t use any such devices, but it has made me curious about how many of you are using something more than just a plain old mouse when working in 3D on your CAD and CAM software.

First, I want to talk a little bit about these devices.  The ones I hear most often about are 3D mice from 3DConnexion.  Here are some of the products in their lineup:

3d-connexion

A collection of 3D mice from 3DConnexion…

What is a 3D Mouse?

The first thing to know is that a 3D Mouse does not replace your regular mouse.  They’re designed to be used in conjunction with your regular mouse in a 2 handed style.  If you’re right-handed, the regular mouse stays to the right of your keyboard and is manipulated by your right hand while the 3D mouse goes to the left of your keyboard and is held by the left hand.  Without a 3D mouse, your lefthand is still normally used to navigate and manipulate a 3D scene–it’s just that it is pressing and holding various keys that modify the mouse’s behavior.  For example, G-Wizard Editor is set up to work like Rhino3D when manipulating the 3D backplot of the toolpath.  The right mouse will rotate the image, the zoom wheel zooms in and out, and Shift + Right Mouse will slide left/right/up/down.

With a 3D Mouse, a lot more is possible:

–  The knob gives you immediate joystick-like control over your 3D model.

–  Function keys give you quick access to specific views, Shift-Alt-Esc so you don’t have to touch the keyboard.

–  User defineable keys let you assign your most commonly used functions.  For example, in the video below they assign Undo, Toolbar, and Virtual Number Pad to enter numbers without the keyboard.

Here’s a short video showing some of these capabilities:

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=im-rbynZgZA[/youtube]

Alternate Input Device Survey

You can see where one of these devices might be useful, but how many of you are actually using one?  To find out, please participate in our Alternate Input Device Survey.  Just click the link and you’ll participate in a short survey after which you will see the results:

Alternate Input Device Survey

If there is enough interest, I will procure a 3DConnexion mouse and add support to G-Wizard Editor for it.

Postscript 2/26/2014

Took a look at the survey 2 days later.  The good news is it is very positive about the idea of 3D mice.  The bad news is that participation is pretty low for a CNCCookbook survey.  We would normally have gotten close to 100 by now.  A pessimist would conclude the non-voters are not interested in 3D mice enough even to say they’re not interested.  We’ll see what happens by the weekend after the weekly email newsletter has gone out and more people have had a chance to participate.

Meanwhile, I got a coupon code from 3DConnexion for 20% their 3D mice through end of February.  The coupon code is 3DX0220PROMO.  

 

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Survey on Alternate Input Devices for CADCAM
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