That’s a silly name
What are they?
Ploopy is a company that designs and produces open-source trackballs and mice.
Having been a Trackball enthusiast for a while, and not being able to find one that I really liked, I figured I’d give this a shot. One of my gripes in general has been that most of the trackballs out there are either great functionall but have shitty ergnomics, or have great ergonomics and awful functionality/drivers. Most recently prior to this I had a Kensington Expert which I used for about a year. It was fine, but the ergonomics were awful and it gave me more wrist pain that it saved me.
With Ploopy everything, including the circuit board design, is both open-source and user-serviceable. If something breaks, just 3d print a new part or pop in a new Snooker ball. If something could be improved, just update the design and print a better version. This speaks to me.
So how are they?
You’re paying a pretty significant margin for the cool/niche factor it seems. If you buy the kit, you’re getting raw 3d prints, where you need to remove the structural bits, do your own soldering, etc… which is all fine (and reasonably fun).
The sensors for these trackballs are outstanding. Almost too good, in fact. Very difficult to track very minor movements, but Mac OS mouse acceleration helps out significantly. Challenging on Windows, TBD on Linux.
Roller bearings are loud, as advertised, but super smooth compared to any static bearing trackballs you may have used in the past.
As they’re 3D printed, the weight is very low. With the feet on them, however, no issues with movement on my desks, at least not on the desk mats I have. You could always add some more bulk to the inside of the case if you wanted.
Buttons/switches feel good, though getting them angled just the way you want can be tricky. N/A on the Nano as it has no buttons.
Balls being standard sizes are also a plus after coming from the Kensington Expert.
The scroll wheel is… bad. It can’t handle extremely fast scrolling (i.e. turning it quickly) and it’s smooth so there’s little feedback with it. That said, after lubricating it with some GPL205 it’s reasonably pleasant to use, but it’s still by far the weakest point of the trackball (something well understood by the designer).
- Super cool, homegrown product
- 100% open source and user repairable
- The sensor is fantastic
- Probably one of the best trackballs that I’ve come across
- You’re paying a lot of money for something that costs likely < $10 to produce, and dealing with some of the jank that comes with 3d printed parts while doing so.
- Scroll wheel is a resounding “meh” and will likely require regular re-lubrication to remain usable at all.
- Flashing new firmware is… let’s just say it’s not really a thing that’s feasible to do and leave it at that.
3.5 / 5 balls, would click again.
Recommended for enthusiasts or open source fans, but not for someone expecting a super refined product. Despite that score, still probably the best overall package I’ve found for a trackball so far.