Ideas for a simple "pc mouse jiggling construction"?

Hi!

I'm a Scrum Master/DevOps coach. At my last few customers, I have sometimes used an AutoItScript oneliner which simply instructed Windows to move my mouse pointer left and right every few seconds in an infinite loop. This keeps my machine busy, Windows unlocked, and my MS Teams status set to "Available" forever. I use it as a conversation starter about metrics for quality and productivity.

Well, my current customer environment requires very secure laptops, where we can't play around like that any more. So, looking at my old "Useless Box" (example on youtube), I'm trying to come up with an extremely simple hardware device to move the mouse back and forth every few seconds, that even hardware klutzes like me could build.

I came up with the following acceptance criteria:

  • It looks kinda crude and slapped together (intentionally)
  • It moves a PC mouse about 1cm to the left and then back to the right
  • It is not much larger than a mouse (e.g. max 15x20 cm)
  • It uses simple, cheap, easy to buy or build elements, e.g. a rubber band, a piece of rope, a shoelace, some glue or staples, small wooden blocks or lego bricks... You get the idea.
  • It can repeat the cycle as long as you want
  • It is somewhat durable (e.g. you can pick it up, shove it around a bit, put it in a laptop bag...)

I have some Arduino experience, but mostly with sensor reading, led strip control etc.. I have never done anything with motors, but I have a few of those simple stepper motors from an old Arduino car project, I'm sure I can google together ways to actually get it to work (or get back here with further questions). So I'm more looking for thoughts on the construction itself. I'm more of a software guy :slight_smile:

TLDR: What would be interesting hardware constructions to motorically jiggle a PC mouse in an infinite loop? Think "useless box", that level of looking intentionally and obviously redundant.

Thanks!

How about this: Get a cheap quartz clock movement with a second hand. Put a sticker on the second hand and mount the mouse above the clock so it sees the sticker go by once a minute.

For compactness, an old analog watch might also work.

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Now THAT is thinking outside of the useless box :smiley: It might even add to the point by blatantly referencing the actual time passage.

However, it fails the "can keep going forever" criterion, as movement would be only in 1 direction. Of course I could put two mice on the clock, which should even it out. And it would move max once a minute, and I'd prefer a solution where the mouse would move every few seconds, so it actually looks "busy".

This should be easy to do, so it certainly has that going for it! I am going to see if I can enthuse my kids to get this to work :innocent:

For a little more money ($8 on Amazon) you can get a quartz movement with a simulated pendulum. This wags back and forth every second.

That sounds better, but I'm not sure what you mean by "a quartz movement with a simulated pendulum".

Like, a digital clock with an LCD pendulum? Or an actual motor moving an actual stick? I'm not sure what to search for, but all I can find is actual big clocks of like > $80 up to several $100's, so I guess I'm using the wrong terms or am misunderstanding your idea.

As you have apparently found an actual product I could use, could you share a link?

Does the mouse jiggler need to be mechanical, or can it just be an arduino acting as a HID mouse?

Seems the laptop is somehow preconfigured to only accept certain HID devices for security purposes - doesn't even react to an Arduino being plugged in, or my phone, or my Jabra headset. However, if I connect my own keyboard or mouse they work. So could an Arduino be made to look enough like a USB mouse to make this work?

Anyway, I would prefer mechanical for theatrical purposes. But having this as a backup could be worth looking into.

Search for "pendulum" and "movement" and "quartz". I looked on Amazon. EBay and many hobby shops will also have them.

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Oh hey thanks! I set it to English and ordered by ascending price and now I see what you mean :relaxed: