This post deals with some of the practicalities of DIY reverse engineering. I’ll go through the way the mouse was measured and modelled, talk about some of the tricks and pitfalls, and the things I’d do differently next time. As I mentioned in the previous post, the scenario I’m working to is that of someone reasonably skilled at CAD modelling but without access to expensive 3D scanning equipment. That person models the mouse and makes the files available for download by others. To simulate this I’ve only used commonly available tools for measuring. To make the CAD model I’ve used Solidworks, which I admit isn’t the most readily available bit of CAD software, but my argument would be that anyone committed enough to reverse engineer a product in this way will be able to get their hands on a copy, one way or another. My own copy is legit, just in case you were wondering.
Measuring the Mouse
Tools for disassembling and measuring
In no particular order, the tools I used for disassembling and measuring the mouse were as follows:
Ruler: actually not used that much, because it’s not accurate enough. But okay for checking measurements quickly.
Vernier Calipers: the most used item. These are analogue so not quite as easy to use as digital, but they’re cheaper, and just as accurate once you know how to use them.
Torx Screwdrivers: in truth these weren’t needed for the mouse, which has been assembled using pozidrive screws. That was a bit of a surprise, and I’d expect that anyone reverse engineering consumer electronics products would find themselves needing these pretty quickly.
Scalpel: for cutting through and removing adhesive labels
Mini Screwdriver set: for unscrewing small screws, as if you couldn’t guess
Anti-Static bag: once I’d removed the pcb I kept it in here. To be honest I’m not sure how necessary this is – I’ve never destroyed a pcb just by handling it. But it’s a cheap enough precaution if you want the product to work when you rebuild it.
Earthing strap (not shown in the picture): again a cheap precaution, wear it around the wrist and attach to a radiator pipe.