Author Topic: DEC VSXXX-AA.C03 prototype (Hawley Mouse Mechanism)  (Read 12190 times)

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Offline ch_123

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DEC VSXXX-AA.C03 prototype (Hawley Mouse Mechanism)
« on: Wed, 01 September 2010, 16:56:30 »
The Hawley Mouse was a type of mouse mechanism designed in the 80s by Jack Hawley, one of the engineers involved with the development of the mouse at Xerox. In addition to being sold by his own company, his design was licensed and produced by Honeywell, and in this case, the Digital Equipment Corporation, who licensed it for use with their VAX, MIPS and Alpha VMS and Unix workstations, and quite possibly on their X terminals too.



DEC used a hockey-puck shaped mouse. Unlike the infamous Apple iMac mouse, this one is quite large and well contoured, and thus relatively comfortable to use. It doesn't provide much support for the back of the hand, but it may be more comfortable for someone with smaller hands. Other vendors of the Hawley design had normally shaped mice, and DEC also made a standard ball version of this mouse with the part number VSXXX-AA. Size comparison with standard Logitech 3-button ball mouse -



The back view showing the DEC product information, the Hawley Mouse logo, and the two wheels. The sticker points out that this is a prototype mouse - this was intended for use with the prototype DEC keyboard I got (which I will be reviewing later). As far as I can tell, the only difference between this and the regular production mouse is that the keyboard and it use a common bus, somewhat in the style of ADB. The mouse plugs into the keyboard, which uses the same style of cable to plug into the computer. The cables use a four pin SDL connector.





The regular ones used a seven pin mini-DIN. As far as I know, the prototype bus was never actually incorporated onto production DEC systems... their later Alphastation systems used standard PS/2.



The top half of the mouse is held on to the bottom with three tabs. To remove, you press in the two side ones and hinge up on the back one. This is the underside of the top half... nothing noteworthy.



The innards. The mechanism is so startlingly simple that it's a wonder why balls were ever put into mice. In a regular optomechanical mouse (pictured below) the ball turns two arms - one representing the X axis, the other the Y. These turn a wheel with little slits on them. An optical sensor (on the Hawley mouse, it's the black boxes positioned near each wheel, on the Logitech, it's the pink unit that is located across from a clear plastic target/reflector) tracks the amount of slits that pass in front of it during movement. In the Hawley mouse, the ball is eliminated, and the arms are turned by the wheels on the bottom of the mouse. Neither wheel is straight - the one for the X axis is inclined vertically, and the one for the Y axis inclined horizontally.





Keeping with the prototype status - the PCB is marked 'FOR INTERNAL USE ONLY'



At the current moment, I do not have any means of interfacing it with a modern PC, but by rolling it around on a mousepad and comparing with a Logitech and an IBM ball mouse, I found the movement of the Hawley mouse smoother, easier and quieter. In addition, the mechanism isn't going to get clogged up with dirt the way a regular optomechanical mouse would. The buttons were also quite nice, giving an affirmative tactile click. It's a shame they didn't catch on better than they did.
« Last Edit: Wed, 01 September 2010, 18:41:05 by ch_123 »

Offline TexasFlood

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DEC VSXXX-AA.C03 prototype (Hawley Mouse Mechanism)
« Reply #1 on: Wed, 01 September 2010, 17:17:01 »
I think I've seen something like that before.  I wonder if I have one in a box in the basement? If so I doubt it was labelled as a prototype.  But I really don't remember, I'll have to dig around and see what I can find.  I am pretty sure there is a PCs Limited mouse down there somewhere as well so I should find one or the other, :wink:.

Offline cogburnd02

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Re: DEC VSXXX-AA.C03 prototype (Hawley Mouse Mechanism)
« Reply #2 on: Thu, 24 May 2018, 11:56:24 »
> DEC also made a standard ball version of this mouse with the part number VSXXX-AA

>  As far as I know, the prototype bus was never actually incorporated onto production DEC systems... their later Alphastation systems used standard PS/2.

The bus (is this the same one you're talking about?) was used in the production version of the VT330 video terminal. (I got one fairly recently.)

I was wondering if anyone here has any information about this (7-pin) mouse bus? Ideally, I'd like to get enough information so that I can build an arduino-based device to connect a USB trackball to my VT330, kind of like the LK201 emulator, but for a mouse rather than a keyboard.

I figured I might as well ask here before buying a $30 mouse off eBay that I don't particularly want, trying to reverse engineer it, then re-selling it.

Offline cogburnd02

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Re: DEC VSXXX-AA.C03 prototype (Hawley Mouse Mechanism)
« Reply #3 on: Sat, 26 May 2018, 09:49:29 »
Okay well nevermind. Haha, I just found the information I needed:

http://bitsavers.org/pdf/dec/qbus/vcb02/AZ-GLGAB-MN_VCB02_Technical_Manual_Feb86.pdf
http://manx-docs.org/collections/hcps/104aatm1.pdf
and
https://github.com/torvalds/linux/blob/master/drivers/input/mouse/vsxxxaa.c
have everything I need.

I figured I'd leave this here just in case someone else comes across this thread from Google (as I did) and also wants the information I wanted.


Offline ch_123

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Re: DEC VSXXX-AA.C03 prototype (Hawley Mouse Mechanism)
« Reply #4 on: Mon, 30 July 2018, 18:24:57 »
Yep, learned much later that this is the ACCESS.bus interface which was used on certain models of the MIPS-based DECstation

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ACCESS.bus