3D Controller

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3D Mouse, Space Mouse, Space Ball, 3D Controller…are they right for me? I’ll answer this questions like I answer most: “It depends.”

A space mouse

If you spend most of your time just working in drawings or if your parts are rather “blocky”, your controller will likely act as a paperweight -taking up room on your desk.

If you work in assemblies or complex parts, your controller will be your best friend. If you disagree with me, you are wrong. (I never lose an argument when I bring out that tough logic!)

When I first got my 3D controller I hated it. I forced myself to use it for a day and I noticed after several hours I did get the hang of it. By the end of the week I could not work without it. Now whenever I am on a machine that does not have a controller, I feel a twitch in my left arm wanting to reach for it. They really do become an extension of your body.

I hear you ask: “Okay Engineering Data Specialist Man, which controller is right for me?” I think there are two considerations:

  1. Ergonomics
    • Obviously the more hours a day you spend designing the more important this will be to you
  2. Function/Command buttons
    • Function buttons allow you to send commands to SOLIDWORKS through the controller rather than the keyboard (i.e. “Zoom to Fit”, “Look normal to selected face”, “Create sketch” …) Some controllers have very few if any buttons, others have a button for every finger on every hand in your entire office. On some controllers, these buttons can be context sensitive, meaning they can even be mapped to do multiple commands depending on what is on your screen. For an example if you are in sketch mode it might start the line command, but if you are in an assembly, the same button might start the mate command. If you are the type of person who has customized every key on your keyboard to do a different SOLIDWORKS command, consider one of these fancy controllers. If you did not know you could customize your keyboard, the most basic models will be all you need.

This is a link to few examples.