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Picture of Project Aurora: a Smart Gaming Mousepad for 20€

The basic idea is, why spending 50$ for a RGB mousepad which only features light shows? Okay, they are cool and ultra-thin, but they also add a software on your pc to customize light colors which is not exactly "lightweight" if you consider it just handle a bunch of leds and does nothing else... So I want to take RGB mousepads a step further, adding "some" other features:

  • capacitive buttons to fire macros (customizable via software)
  • oled screen to display real time statistics about your CPU/RAM usage or anything else you want to (because why not?)

I had some goals in this DIY:

  1. must be affordable, which means, must not exceed 30€
  2. must be easy to replicate with common tools as not everyone out there,
    specially students like me, don't have a workshop (obviously...)
  3. must be as much customizable as possible

  4. must be thin. Nobody wants a 2cm thick mousepad
  5. all the electronics must be inside the mousepad. No external adapters or proprietary cable
  6. total cost must be competitive to other rgb mousepads already on the market

Okay so, are you ready to start? Let's go :)

Step 1: Parts and Tools

Picture of Parts and Tools
photo_2018-05-15_16-02-54 (2).jpg
  • Plexiglass. I took 2 rectangle slabs with different thickness, 2mm and 4mm. The thicker is for the middle layer where light shines through by edge lighting; you will "sandwitch" it with the thinner slabs, making 3 layers. 2.50€ each, so 5€ from local diy store
  • A chinese Arduino Micro. 2€ from aliexpress
  • OLED i2c screen. You are free to choose the size, there are 2: 128x32 or 128x64... I had both, so I decided to use the first one. 4€ from aliexpress
  • WS2812B RGB led strip. I already had a 30leds/m as leftover but you may also go with the 60leds/m one. You'll get a more even light diffusion as result. 4€ from aliexpress
  • 1 m plastic adhesive wrapping. It's better if you choose car wrapping paper because it's vinyl and features special channels anti-air bubbles so it will result in a easier application... however my local paint shop had these wrappings wich are a cheaper version of said wrapping paper so I decided to try it. 0.50€
  • sand paper, 180 and 240 grit. I took one sheet for each one, it's more than enough. 0.50€
  • 4x 1,5MOhm resistors, maybe more, maybe less depending on how many capacitive buttons you want... I decided to put 3, but I'm not sure you will find someone who sells you 3 spare resistors as they cost nothing.I bought a 10-of resistors set for 0.20€.
  • Some wire, thinner is better (0.10mm is perfect). Few months ago I took apart an old radio (already broken) to see if there were some parts in a fairly good condition to save... I only saved wires.
  • Soldering iron. I already have one, bought from Amazon and guess what? It was one of those soldering kits from china. It is ultra cheap, but does its job.
  • Hot glue gun (I already have one)
  • 2 sided tape. 2.50€ from local diy store.
  • Cutter. I used one I already have, even if the blade is very worn.
  • Standard adhesive tape.
  • Permanent marker.
  • A pair of tweezers as you need to be precise. They came with the soldering iron kit I bought.
  • Tin foil. Steal some from your kitchen.

Note: I already had a dremel so I decided to try cut the plexiglass by myself. However, some local diy shops have a cutting service charging you something like 1€ so if you don't have one, it's not a problem.

Note2: I omitted that you'll need a computer to program your arduino, as well as a cable to plug it but I think it's obvious... Also, in the first time I used a breadboard to test everything, specially the oled screen and the led strip.

total cost: ~19€ (let's say 20€ to add some gap)

I think the price is fair considering for the same price you can buy a chinese rgb mousepad that isn't even software controlled, IF Amazon puts it on sale.

To what extent do the top and bottom layer have to be Plexiglass? Can I also use metal?
kaira66 (author)  RamakrishnanM123 days ago
Remember that metal is conductive and because of this, if you use it for the top panel it would cause the capacitive buttons not to work properly. Bottom side is another problem because LED strips have some contacts exposed on their bottom, this translates in a short circuit. That's why I went with plexiglass, but you can use wood or something like that (non conductive)
Alright, I don't quite understand how this capacitive sensor works. I have googled it and come to know that the finger interferes with a (magnetic?) field and therefore creates an output. Is this accurate, if so, where is this "field" created in our sensor? Also, to fire the macros - is the intent to just tap on the upper layer plexiglass to trigger the (* 3)sensors in some sort of rhythm?
Sorry if I may seem a bit troublesome, this is my first project anything electronically related on my own. And I wish to gift this to a dear friend - so perfection is key ;)

Thank you
kaira66 (author)  RamakrishnanM123 days ago
No fields involved. Basically your finger acts as the second plate of the capacitor (the first plate is the little tin foil square), and is connected to ground by your body. So you increase its capacitance and... That's it. No electricity through your body of course nor sparks or anything. The plexiglass between your finger and the tinfoil is a dielectric so it also prevents the two armatures to short.

Regarding the macros, this is an hardware and software thing so it is also supposed to have a software part. Via software you are able to set the colors and also set the macros, but unfortunately I don't have enough time to carry on the software thing so I kept everything as a "super early stage" in my IDE.
Luckily is super easy to build your own software to control the leds and all the stuff involved in here, maybe the only "problematic" thing is to define a protocol to send bytes to arduino but there are some libraries out there that should take care of this problem.
1.Is the top of the mouse-pad soft? like mouse-pad like?
2. And under Step 5: Am I right to understand that the middle layer is the only layer that has the housing for LED's? How come in step 5 (which you have labelled as Upper and Lower layer) there is a plate with housing? Which layer is that? See your image I have attached
darkath1 year ago
BeltránC1 year ago

How can I open the files you left in GitHub?

KrisA351 year ago

Did you power the LED's from the arduino?

kaira66 (author)  KrisA351 year ago

yes, as you can see from the schematics in step 2. I didn't put a capacitor on Vin line not only because I didn't have one, but I'm powering everything from a USB plug, so I don't think there will ever be power surges nor needing to smooth out the input (my pc has a powered usb 3.0 port, so it should already take care of everything)... And however is very easy to reopen it and change the burnt led (you know, just in case... lol)

A truly awesome build! I would actually like to build it myself. Would it be possible for you to link some of the materials which were used?

Great, thanks! Looking forward to building this :)

kaira66 (author)  AzharRanderee1 year ago

yes I can, however please remember that I purchased them from a local DIY store so prices may change a lot. I guess you asked for the links just to be more sure on the exact things I used, sooo... here they are:
led strip -

arduino nano v3.0 -

oled display -

plexiglass - (as you can see, it's really just a common plexiglass panel... but clear, of course. Choose the cut depending on the size you want the mousepad)

And this is it, the materials I used are very basic... I'm assuming you know what double sided tape is, as well as tin foil, soldering iron and hot glue gun :)

Very very beautiful build my friend. This build is also listed in my to do list. Fantastic build this is.
kaira66 (author)  AMbros Custom1 year ago

thank you so much :)

Guddi111 year ago
That’s some awesome project, you got here!! I’m definitely considering doing it after finishing my 3 pending projects...-.-
But definitely thumps up, especially as it is your first project.
kaira66 (author)  Guddi111 year ago

thank you! If you're going to do it, I'll be glad to help!

raphan1 year ago

Really interesting, thanx for it.

kaira66 (author)  raphan1 year ago

you're welcome :)

Awesome first Instructable!

kaira66 (author)  DIY Hacks and How Tos1 year ago

thank you! :D