Posted on 21 January 2003
So I was walking around a toy store waiting for my wife to finish looking at the Barbie toys one day (before anyone asks, yes, she is more than eight years old and I love the fact that she is still into toys) and I saw this cool looking toy of the aircraft carrier Enterprise. I looked closer at it, and thought that it might be big enough to hold one of those great Mini-ITX motherboards from VIA. Since the toy was only $19.99, I decided to get it.
Upon getting home, I ripped open the box and confirmed that the width of the toy at it's largest area was a little over 17cm wide. The Mini-ITX would be a tight fit, but it would work.
I could see it all now - runway lights, planes on the deck, control switches on the command center - it looked great. All that was left was the planning, cutting, building, painting, and tweaking. No problem!
In reality, it was a 4 month project that was more difficult than many would claim just by looking at the mod. Let's go over the individual pieces and show what it took to create the mod.
At first, I bought a cheap ball mouse with the idea to paint it like a ship. I would have a "missile bay" on the back by placing rows of red/white/blue LEDs. I also masked off alternating sections of the white mouse cable and dyed the cable as well, leaving some sort of a warning tether.
After doing all this, it worked but it didn't really look like a ship to me. I loved the way the cable looked, however.
Another trip to the toy store and I found a small police hydro-foil ship. I bought it, took it apart, bought another mouse (optical this time), and transferred the guts into this new toy. The result is a little strange and different, but cool (I think).
There were several challenges along the way. For example, the guts of the optical mouse were way too long and wide. For the length, I cut off the sections for the buttons since I would be using my own buttons anyway. The problem with the width was more difficult. I used my Dremel to grind away the outer traces on the circuit board and used bits of wire to reconnect the traces.
A toy I purchased at my local toy store.
The top piece with some sheet plastic added to cover the holes, some putty & sanding, and a slight coat of primer. I've also drilled holes for some LEDs and some buttons.
Optical mouse electronics. It was too big - I had to cut off the pieces with the buttons and reroute some traces with wire and grind away the side of the board.
The electronics housed in the mouse, with all the tweaks. It still works!
This is how it's held. The front button is the left mouse button, the one behind is the right. It looks strange, but doesn't feel that bad.