I’m becoming more and more annoyed with my mouse/mice, and have long contemplated getting a trackball. It’s going to be a big shift for me, though, so I was thinking if anyone here has experiences with it, especially with the transition from mouse to tb, that they want to share??
I use Kensington Expert Mouse which is a sizable trackball. If want further precision you would also need to start using a graphic tablet too.
How long did it take before you got used to rolling the ball while holding down buttons? That always seemed like the biggest hurdle to me, but I never stuck with trackballs for very long…
Well I got used to it quickly, but I also have a large Wacom tablet. That is not the only device I use for work.
I never thought of combining trackball and tablet, always thought of them as either or. I’ll look into that, thanks! So you control the pointer on screen in two ways at the same time? I use my touchpad for precision now and then, but I never thought of “dual wielding” as a standard M.O., I must admit!
Well I do not use them at the same time, it is my general to go pointing device. I use my tablet for modeling, animating etc. But this trackball has a nice controllable ring, so you can program it for multiple things for Blender.
So the trackball is not for modeling or animation?
I use a track ball for everything. I have a Kensington too but it’s the two button model. Left, right and both together programmed for right click. I use the right button as a click and hold, good for dragging stuff around. I use a graphics tablet for painting, and probably sculpting if I sculpted. I get irritated using a mouse for anything these days.
I use it in Blender as well, it is just that I seem to use my tablet more than the trackball inside Blender.
Utilizing a trackball in Blender really depends on the type of approach you have with creating assets. To me it feels very good with general box modelling type stuff, think of it like using it in Wings3d.
Who needs a track ball nowadays I use one of these cheap small mouses and am pretty happy with it.
I used to have a more expensive razor but it was too big and heavy for my sake, so I opened it, took the high quality, high dpi board out and cut one of those cheap mouses in half with a tooth saw and glued everything in place. It was 3 wonderful months with my custom mouse until it broke and I couldn’t put together
Can’t do without mine. I’ve used track pad, mouse, 3D mouse and track ball; and I much prefer the track ball. The flexibility of the assignable buttons and the natural motion make it my favorite.
Well, looks like I need to get my trackball on. The idea of programming one button to be “and hold” seems to solve one of my worries, too. I just get frustrated with the imprecisions with my mouse and how the pointer jumps around unpredictably if there’s a slight bump in the underlaying pad! The whole ergonomics bothers me, to be honest. And I have NONE of the customization skills you have, Jeacom, because that just sent me into fetal position at the first use of the word “cut”
Feeling inspired by this thread, I picked up a Logitech MX Ergo trackball yesterday. I’m definitely in the throes of the adjustment period, but I’m picking it up quicker than I thought I would. I’ve got a 15 day return window if I’m not happy, so I’ll be using it exclusively for the next two weeks. I’ll try to hop back in with updates on my process.
5 days in to my trackball experiment and things are going well. It still feels a little awkward, but it’s getting easier every day. I can find buttons and popups pretty quickly, and generally I don’t notice the difference as much as I did the first couple days. It does seem a little slower overall, but the potential for accuracy seems higher. I have 2 decades of mouse practice and 5 days of trackball practice, so there is certainly room to improve in both speed and accuracy.
One thing in particular that I notice improving accuracy is the fact that clicking has no effect on the movement of the cursor. Sometimes the slight movement of clicking is enough to move the mouse, which is enough to move the cursor, at least a couple pixels. Sometimes that couple pixels matters though. With the trackball, it has a solid rubber base, so the device itself is hard to move accidentally, But even if you do manage to move it slightly, the cursor doesn’t move.
Also, not needing to grip the device reduces a fair bit of muscular tension on my right hand.
Overall, I’m pretty happy with it. I still have 10 days left in my return window, but I think I’m going to keep it.
I’ll post more updates as time goes on.
Just caught this thread. I’ve been using a trackball as my primary pointing device for over a decade. Absolutely love it. For nearly that entire time my go-to trackball has been the old Microsoft Trackball Explorer. It’s especially nice because it has a large thumb button as the primary mouse button and you use your forefinger to move the ball. Fantastically ergonomic. Unfortunately, they don’t make it anymore and you want to try and buy one new it’s absurdly expensive (like nearly $600… when I got mine while they were out, it only cost $60).
A button on one of mine (yeah… I have two) ended up shattering in transit recently so I had to hunt around for alternatives. A couple weeks ago, I found one that has a similar layout the “Huge” from Elecom. So far, I’m really pleased with how it’s performed.
And yeah… @SterlingRoth, your points about precision and reduced tension on the hand are two of the main reasons I’ve loved working with my trackball. A mouse just feels uncomfortable now.
Just finding this thread now… what are your thoughts after a year has transpired?
Oh wow, blast from the past there, yeah! I decided against it. A feew trials made it clear that there were no significant enough advantages.
Awesome thanks for reporting back. I’m on the fence but think I’ll stay the course for a while.
I am using this trackball full time now. Post pandemic I am working on a laptop a lot more, and I find the flexibility of use very convenient.
I have a separate lap desk I use (just a glorified piece of plywood with a mousepad on one side) Since the trackball has a rubber base, it is much more stable, even at awkward angles. It really feels no different as far as usability goes, ergonomically, I do think it is an improvement, but the best would probably be to use both mouse and trackball, mixing up the positions and muscles you are using helps to reduce RSI, and it keeps the mind limber.
My main problem with the trackball was how clumsy it felt to hold down a button while moving. Maybe just a matter of building habit, but…