Tuesday October 04, 2022

Ploopy and the promise to an open-source trackball

My Logitech trackball’s worst feature is its software. Every time my computer is restarted, the annoying Logitech software pops-up and asks me to adjust my system preferences. I never do. My trackball works exactly how I need it to and the software seems to only frustrate me. Ploopy, a small company started by Phil and Colin Lam, has created a trackball, also known as Ploopy. It doesn’t have annoying software. It uses QMK, an open-source firmware originally developed for keyboards. This stores all the important settings on the hardware and not the computer.
Ploopy was not the reason I bought one. Ploopy’s open-source trackballs appealed to me because they rely on a combination easy-to-source sensors and PCBs, as well as a lot of 3D-printed components. Ploopy was created by the Lam brothers with the hope that other geeks would be willing to contribute and create cool mods and tweaks. They were right.
The Vergecast will be airing a special miniseries on Tuesdays that focuses on creators who are creating cool gadgets and communities that larger companies might not want to invest in. Trackballs aren’t a hot commodity that the big gadget manufacturers are scrambling to make. But Phil and Colin have created an entire online community of trackball enthusiasts, me included.
This episode features Chris Person, a member of the community who has previously written about Ploopy here at The Verge. He’s made more than one trackball, and has also created many of his own mods. This includes a trackball that is based on a pool cue ball as well as one that uses a big steel ball bearing. We spoke first with Phil and Colin to discuss the reasons behind Ploopy’s open-source gadgets.

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