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Trackball For Raspberry Pi (Explained)

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    ✅ Fact Checked
    Updated on January 15, 2023
    John Chad, Bachelor Computer Science Degree & Computer Engineering.
    Written by
    John Chad, Bachelor Degree in Computer Science & Computer Engineering.
    Russel Collins
    Fact Checked by
    Russel Collins
    John is a certified IT & Computer Engineer with a Bachelors Degree. He has worked for a International Insurance Company in the IT department before deciding to become a full time blogger to help his readers. Holds a Bachelors Degree in Computer Science from Stanford University.

    Fun Fact
    Did you know that the first trackball was invented by Tom Cranston and Fred Longstaff, two Canadian engineers working at the Canadian National Research Council in 1952? It was initially created as a tool for the Canadian military to control radar displays and it was called the “Trackball”. The first commercial trackball was developed by Doug Engelbart and Bill English in the early 1960s and it was called the “X-Y Position Indicator for a Display System”.
    Hey there, my friend! Have you ever wanted to take your Raspberry Pi to the next level? Well, I’ve got just the thing for you. Introducing the trackball – the ultimate pointing device for your Raspberry Pi.

    Think about it. With a trackball, you can easily navigate your Raspberry Pi without having to constantly move your arm or hand. It’s perfect for gaming, media center control, and other applications that require precise cursor movement. Plus, it’s easy to set up and use.

    But don’t just take my word for it. In this article, I’ll walk you through all the details of using a trackball with your Raspberry Pi. From hardware and software requirements, to step-by-step instructions and tips and tricks.

    By the end of this article, you’ll be a trackball pro and your Raspberry Pi will be operating at peak performance. So, let’s get started and take your Raspberry Pi to the next level!

    1Setting up a trackball on a Raspberry Pi

    Alright, so you’re ready to add a trackball to your Raspberry Pi setup. Great choice! A trackball can be a more ergonomic and space-saving option compared to a traditional mouse. But before we get into the nitty-gritty of setting it up, let’s go over the hardware and software requirements.

    Hardware requirements: First and foremost, you’ll need a trackball. Make sure it’s compatible with USB, as that’s how it’ll connect to your Raspberry Pi. Some popular options include the Logitech Trackman Wheel and the Kensington Turbo Mouse. Next, you’ll need a USB-to-USB cable, which will connect the trackball to your Raspberry Pi. And that’s it for hardware!

    Software requirements: On the software side of things, you’ll need to make sure your Raspberry Pi is running the latest version of Raspbian. This is important because the trackball may not be recognized by older versions of the operating system. Once you’re sure you’re running the latest version, you’re good to go.

    Setting it up: Now, let’s get the trackball up and running. First, connect the trackball to your Raspberry Pi using the USB-to-USB cable. Give it a second to recognize the new device. Now, open the Terminal application. Type in the following command: sudo nano /etc/X11/xorg.conf.d/50-trackball.conf This will open a text editor where you’ll add a few lines of code. Don’t worry, I’ll walk you through it.

    Add the following lines to the text editor:
    “`
    Section “InputClass”
    Identifier “Trackball”
    MatchProduct “Trackball”
    Driver “evdev”
    Option “ButtonMapping” “1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 0 0 0 0 0 0”
    EndSection
    “`
    Press CTRL + X then press Y then ENTER to save the changes.

    Now type in the command sudo reboot to reboot your Raspberry Pi. Once it’s back up and running, your trackball should be all set. Try moving the cursor around and clicking the buttons to make sure everything’s working properly.

    And that’s it! You’ve successfully set up a trackball on your Raspberry Pi. Now you can enjoy a more ergonomic and space-saving input option. Happy computing!

    2Using a trackball with a Raspberry Pi

    Alright, so you’ve got your trackball set up on your Raspberry Pi. Now it’s time to put it to good use! First things first, let’s go over how a trackball can be used as a pointing device. Essentially, a trackball works just like a mouse, with the main difference being that the ball is located on the top of the device, rather than on the bottom. This means you can control the cursor by rolling the ball with your fingers, rather than moving the entire device around.

    Applications: Now, let’s talk about some of the different ways you can use your trackball with your Raspberry Pi. One popular use is as a gaming controller. Many emulators and games can be configured to work with a trackball, giving you a more tactile and precise way to control your characters. Another great use is as a media center controller. With the right software, you can use your trackball to navigate through your media library, adjust the volume, and even control playback.

    Tips and Tricks: To get the most out of your trackball, there are a few things you can do. One tip is to adjust the cursor speed to your liking. This can be done through the Mouse and Touchpad settings in the Raspberry Pi’s Preferences menu. Another tip is to use a mousepad or other smooth surface to help the trackball roll more easily. This will make controlling the cursor feel more natural.

    One more thing, you may consider using a trackball with a built-in scroll wheel. This can come in handy when you’re browsing the web or working with documents.

    All in all, a trackball can be a great addition to your Raspberry Pi setup. It’s a versatile and ergonomic pointing device that can be used for gaming, media control, and more. Happy experimenting!

    3FAQ

    How do you get trackball to work with RetroPie?

    So you’re ready to relive the glory days of arcade gaming on your RetroPie, but you want to take it to the next level with a trackball? No problem! It’s actually pretty easy to get your trackball set up and working with RetroPie.

    First things first, you’ll need to make sure your trackball is plugged into your Raspberry Pi via USB. Once that’s done, you’ll need to open up the RetroPie configuration menu by going to the RetroPie menu, then selecting RetroPie Setup, and finally Configure Input. This will bring up a menu that allows you to configure your controllers.

    From there, you’ll want to select Trackball. This will bring up a screen that will let you map the buttons on your trackball to the corresponding buttons on your controller. Once you’ve got everything mapped, you’re good to go!

    Just fire up a game and start playing with your trackball. It’s that easy! You’ll be reliving those arcade memories in no time. And the best part is, you’ll feel like you’re back in the arcade, with the added precision and control that a trackball provides. Have fun!

    Can you use a mouse with RetroPie?

    Hey there, you’re wondering if you can use a mouse with RetroPie? The short answer is yes, you can! And it’s super easy to set up.

    First, you’ll need to plug your mouse into your Raspberry Pi via USB. Then, you’ll need to open up the RetroPie configuration menu by going to the RetroPie menu, then selecting RetroPie Setup, and finally Configure Input. This will bring up a menu that allows you to configure your controllers.

    From there, you’ll want to select Mouse. This will bring up a screen that will let you map the buttons on your mouse to the corresponding buttons on your controller. Once you’ve got everything mapped, you’re good to go!

    Just fire up a game and start playing with your mouse. It’s that easy! It’s a great way to play games that originally used a mouse as input, like PC point-and-click adventure games. And the best part is, you don’t have to carry around a separate controller, you can use your trusty mouse! Have fun!

    How do you connect a trackball?

    So you’ve got yourself a shiny new trackball and you’re ready to put it to use, but you’re not sure how to connect it? Don’t worry, it’s easy!

    First, you’ll need to make sure your device that you want to connect the trackball to, whether it be a computer or a gaming console, has a USB port. Then you’ll need a USB cable to connect the trackball to your device.

    Once you have those two things, simply plug one end of the USB cable into the trackball and the other end into the USB port on your device. Give it a few seconds for your device to recognize the new hardware and voila! Your trackball is now connected and ready to use.

    It’s that simple! Now you’re ready to roll, scroll, and click to your heart’s content. Have fun!

    Which arcade games use a trackball?

    So you’re ready to relive the glory days of arcade gaming, but you want to know which games used a trackball? Well, look no further!

    Some classic arcade games that used a trackball include Centipede, Millipede, Crystal Castles, Missile Command, and Super Breakout. These games were released in the 80s, and they all relied heavily on the precision of the trackball to control the on-screen action.

    Centipede and Millipede were both shoot-em-up games where players use the trackball to move a cursor around the screen and shoot at incoming enemies. Crystal Castles is an action game where you play as a crystal collector and use the trackball to navigate through mazes, Missile Command is a strategy game that uses the trackball to aim and fire missiles, and Super Breakout is a classic arcade game where players use the trackball to control a paddle and keep the ball in play.

    All these games were hugely popular in arcades and remain a favorite among retro gaming enthusiasts today. So go ahead, give them a try and see how well you handle the precision of a trackball! Happy gaming!

    4Conclusion

    To conclude, you’ve learned how to set up a pointing device on your Raspberry Pi and the benefits it can bring to your computing experience. From the hardware and software requirements, to the step-by-step instructions for setting it up, to the different ways it can be used and the tips and tricks to get the most out of it, you now have the knowledge and tools to make the most of your Raspberry Pi setup.

    A trackball can be a great alternative to a traditional mouse, offering more precision and ergonomics. It can be used for gaming, media control, and more, providing a more tactile and precise way to control your cursor. With the right setup, a trackball can be a valuable addition to your Raspberry Pi.

    So go ahead, experiment with your new trackball and discover new ways to use it. Remember to adjust the cursor speed to your liking and use a mousepad or other smooth surface to help the trackball roll more easily. Happy computing!