Section 20.2. Mouse Characteristics


20.2 Mouse Characteristics

Here are the important characteristics of mice and trackballs:


Mice are available that use the following mechanisms:


Mechanical mice use a rubber-coated ball that contacts the mouse pad. Moving the mouse causes the ball to move, which in turn causes one or both of the internal cylindrical rollers with which the ball is in contact to move. These two internal rollers are oriented at 90° to each other, which allows one to respond to horizontal mouse movement and the other to vertical mouse movement. Connected to the end of each roller is a wheel with many small notches around its circumference. As the wheel rotates, these notches alternately pass or block light from an LED aimed to impinge on a sensor. The rate at and duration for which the sensors see the light flickering correspond to how fast, how far, and in what direction the ball is moving. Most mice and all trackballs are mechanical. Modern mechanical mice are inexpensive and reliable, but require frequent cleaning.


Early mechanical mice provided limited resolution, were relatively unreliable, and required very frequent cleaning. Manufacturers addressed these problems by introducing optical mice, which substituted an optical sensor for the mouse ball. Reducing the number of moving parts greatly increased reliability. Because the optical mouse was a sealed unit, cleaning was needed much less often. The sole drawback was that the sensor of an optical mouse required a special mouse pad that contained an embedded mesh of very fine wires and was easily damaged. Improvements in mechanical mice and the requirement for a special mouse pad have made optical mice less popular than they once were.


Microsoft's newest mice and trackballs use what Microsoft calls IntelliEye technology. IntelliEye mice are essentially optical mice, but with a much more sensitive sensor. By using a relatively high-power laser diode, IntelliEye mice are able to illuminate any mousing surface sufficiently well to detect very minor variations in surface texture, allowing them to work on nearly any surface from a standard mouse pad to a bare desktop. In fact, they work on everything we've tried except a mirror. We've even used them successfully on the featureless beige surface of a computer case and on an unmarked sheet of white copy paper. Because they are sealed units, they do not require routine cleaning, which is a blessing for people who eat, drink, or smoke at their desks. The sole drawback of IntelliEye mice is that they are more expensive than mechanical mice. Even that is of little concern to most people. With nearly permanent rebates in effect, office supply stores and mass-market merchandisers sell basic Microsoft optical mice for $15 to $25, only $5 to $15 more than a basic Microsoft mechanical mouse.

Number of buttons

Unlike the Macintosh world, where one-button mice are the rule, PC mice typically have two buttons, and some have three or more. In addition, many recent mice have a scroll wheel, which can function as another button. Using anything beyond the standard two buttons requires that both the driver and the application support the additional buttons. For example, the extended functions of the Microsoft Wheel Mouse are available only in applications that are specifically written to implement those extended functions, and only then if the enhanced mouse driver is installed to replace the standard mouse driver.


Mice have been produced in four interfaces. In relative order of current popularity, these interfaces include:


The PS/2 mouse uses the same mini-DIN physical connector as the PS/2 keyboard, and interfaces to the PC using a second msi8042. But the mouse port uses IRQ12 versus IRQ1 for the keyboard port which means that the mouse port and keyboard port are not interchangeable. All ATX motherboards provide a PS/2 mouse port on the I/O panel. Modern AT and BAT motherboards provide a PS/2 mouse port in the form of header pins on the motherboard, and use a port extender cable to jumper the header pins to a port connector on the back panel. The arrangement and pinouts of that header pin connector are not standard. We have seen motherboards that use five-pin in-line connectors, six-pin in-line connectors, and 2 x 3 rectangular connectors. Even motherboards that use the same physical connector may use different pinouts. Most AT motherboards include a matching port extender. If yours does not, verify the pinouts in the motherboard manual before purchasing an extender.


A USB mouse uses no special resources beyond those claimed by the USB host controller itself. Unlike USB keyboards, USB mice do not require BIOS support because they need not be accessible until the operating system has loaded. They do require an operating system, such as Windows 98/98SE/Me or Windows 2000/XP, that supports USB. Many current mice offer the USB interface, and usually include an adapter to allow the mouse to be connected to a standard PS/2 mouse port.


Most AT and Baby AT motherboards from 1995 and earlier do not include a PS/2 mouse connector. With these systems, you normally use a serial mouse. A serial mouse uses a standard DB9F connector, and connects to a DB9M serial port connector on the PC. A serial mouse uses no special resources other than the standard serial port resources for the port to which it is connected (IRQ4 and base address 03F8-03FF for COM1, or IRQ3 and 02F8-02FF for COM2). You can connect a serial mouse to either serial port. When the mouse driver initializes, it detects which port the mouse is connected to and uses the appropriate IRQ and base address to access it.


A bus mouse (also called an InPort mouse) is so named because it connects to an adapter that plugs into the expansion bus. Bus mice were introduced to allow connecting a mouse to a PC that had no free serial ports. The adapter card is an 8-bit ISA card that provides selectable IRQ (usually 2, 3, 4, or 5) and base address settings. However, as an 8-bit card, it is limited to using 8-bit IRQs, most or all of which are already in use on a PC with two active serial ports, which is the reason for using a bus mouse in the first place. Ordinarily, the only available choice is IRQ5. If the system has an 8-bit sound card installed, IRQ5 is also occupied, which leaves no alternative unless you are willing to disable the IRQ for LPT1.

None of these interfaces are compatible with any of the others, although some mice are designed with autosensing circuitry to allow them to work with more than one interface. Dual compatibility is usually listed on the bottom of the mouse, e.g., "Serial and PS/2 compatible." In particular, be careful about interchanging PS/2 and bus mice, which use the same connector. Connecting a PS/2 mouse to a bus mouse port or vice versa can damage the mouse, the PC, or both.


    PC Hardware in a Nutshell
    PC Hardware in a Nutshell, 3rd Edition
    ISBN: 059600513X
    EAN: 2147483647
    Year: 2002
    Pages: 246

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