Are you using an optical mouse right now? Ever wanted to see your desktop through the eye on the bottom of it? Me neither, I already know I have to clean my desktop :-)
People get bored sometimes, and when I get bored I sometimes open up stuff to find out what makes it tick. One time, I did this with an old optical mouse. Well, a mouse only has 2 chips inside: the optical sensor and a chip for the usb/ps2-interfacing. I looked up the datasheet of the optical sensor (which is an ADNS2610) and it told me the sensor has a tiny 18x18 CCD, which can be read out using the serial port (the one which normally interfaces to the PS2/USB-chip).
So I start Visual Basic (I usually do my stuff under Linux, but I'm no
star at using anything graphical like QT or GTK, so for this quick'n'dirty
project I fell back in my old habits) and hack something up using a few
wires to the trusty ole parallel port. The result: crisp lo-res b&w imaging :-)
As you can see, the mouse was over some text with an 'e' in it.
One of the more obvious features of a mouse, however, is that it can detect
movement. Combine this with the just-aquired imaging features, and
we have a ghetto b&w handscanner. This is a 'scanned' piece of a receipt:
I can understand you can't wait to have such a handy scanner yourself. And now, you can! The software is downloadable here. The software works on mice which use an ADNS-2610 optical sensor, recognisable by the eight pins, the sun-like mark and the text 'A2610'. I've seen this sensor in most cheap optical mice that aren't too old. To hook it up, check out the pinout in the datasheet, then on the PCB cut the traces running from the sensors SCK- and SDIO-pins to the rest of the mouse. Then connect the sensor, using a diode, to a parallel port, like this:
12----------+------SDIO 5 -----|<|--+
Plug in the USB/PS2-plug (or apply 5V to the Vcc-pin of the sensor), run the software and you should be OK.
I got a few questions about whether it would be possible to get the image from the USB or PS/2-port of the mouse, so you can view the image of an unmodified mouse. The answer is: In theory, it could be possible, if the microcontroller between the port and the sensor-IC supports some kind of pass-through-mode so you can use it to talk directly to the sensor. In practice though, I don't know of any chip that supports that kind of mode, so the answer would have to be: Nope, as far as I know, it can't be done.
By the way, if you search for datasheets, it seems that Agilent has spun off their optical division to a new company called Avago.
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