I was working on some comic updates and found myself really wishing for a pen instead of a mouse. How much more fluid could working with computers be if you could simply just use a pen? Then I could just write on the desk or trace a sketch into the computer while using different brushes, colors and textures. No carpal tunnel strain, no paints and inks to spill and no need to constantly replace worn-out brushes.
Now, I understand that I could use a Wacom or Cintiq tablet, but I don’t want to be tied to a special tablet or drawing directly on a screen. I want to be able to take a napkin doodle and trace it out using the mouse-pen. Or take a photo and eke out the major features for a caricature. And while I could do that if I first scanned it, added a layer, traced the subject on the new layer, deleted the subject layer and then saved the tracing layer. Finally, I could then get to work. It would really be much easier to have a mouse in the shape of a pen than to do all that.
So I started sketching to explore the idea, with the hopes that I could find a way to _make_ a mouse-pen. Even if it was just a kludgy, cheap one.
I mean, it’s a mouse-ball on a stick, right? So you’d need a way to keep the mouse ball at the end of the pen and those little wheels to transfer the pen motion to mouse movement. Then put two buttons, one toward the bottom for left clicks and the other button above it for right clicks (or maybe on the top so you could ‘click’ the pen to make it right-click.) Inside the pen would be a thin circuit board and the wire to plug it in to a USB port. One one hand it sounds easy enough to do but it might also be a big undertaking, but I betcha there’s a not-wide mouse out there somewhere with its longer but very thin circuit board inside. It would be easy to take that out of its mouse-shell. Other than that, maybe use a little smaller mouse-ball and I’m pretty sure there are mini-mice out there too. So the parts are available…I just lack the technical know-how to accomplish it.
Then, FINALLY, it occurred to me. Why not Google for it? If I had this idea, then someone else probably had it ahead of me. Way ahead of me. I’m not always the brightest bulb. I found three of them pretty quickly: Ergo-Items, Wow-Pen, Zyonshop. (More now exist.)
And one of them I found on-sale for $53.00 (at the time of this article’s creation) but fifty bucks for a mouse on a stick? One of them comes with extra software which I don’t want or need. Another looks pretty darn clumbsy to use and the other doesn’t seem like it would fare much better. Maybe I expect too much. It doesn’t seem like such a thing needs to be complicated, does it? Maybe, just maybe the top of the mouse needs to be a little wider to accomodate the card or the whole mouse-pen itself is about as wide as a large marker. I mean, it’s just a mouse on a stick, right?
All the mouse-pens I can find act like pens and not a simple drawing instrument. The styluses (stylii?) attached to tablets can’t act as simple mice (as far as I know.) My wife helpfully suggests that I just make it then force all you folks to buy it from me. Please don’t make me do this myself. I don’t want to learn a bunch of electronics stuff, create and test prototypes and then have to mass-market and sell it to you just so I can have a cheap, inexpensive but very useful mouse-pen. I’d much rather plunk down my $5.00 at Wal-Mart, go home and draw – so someone ought to invent this thing. (This means you.)