Please consider a donation to the Higher Intellect project. See or the Donate to Higher Intellect page for more info.

Space Ball

From Higher Intellect Vintage Wiki

What is a SpaceBall ...?

The Spaceball was a series of 3D input devices made by Labtec and that is used on a variety of workstations, of course including Silicon Graphics systems.

Configuration under IRIX

At least on IRIX 6.5, you need eoe.sw.optinput installed. The confidence tests do show button responses for my sb2003, but that's the only piece of software I've seen that has built-in support for it. They've been supported in IRIX since at least 3.3.2, but I guess nobody bothered incorporating native support into Performer or ivview, etc!

It was written: Configured it according to input(7) on my Octane runing IRIX 6.5.20m, pluged it in, restarted the Xserver, run confidence(1) and it worked. I started powerflip and I can move the model around with the Spaceball.

Check that eoe.sw.optinput is installed... In a shell paste the text:

  versions eoe.sw | grep optinput

You might see something like:

  I  eoe.sw.optinput      03/10/2010  Optional Input Devices

If you see nothing, then you need to install optinput with inst or swmgr (Software manager from ToolChest) ... You need to install it from 6.5 foundation 1 and from overlay 1 of 3...

Once you have Optional Input installed, open System manager from ToolChest and go to Hardware manager and then to Serial Devices.

Add a new serial device, choose "Other Devices" follow the prompts and choose Next and then finally "OK".

From ToolChest choose confidence tests.

Choose Spaceball

Zoom around with it.

Additional Install Tips

  1. plug the spaceball in one of the tty ports
  2. download the xdriver from 3dconnexions
  3. su to root, mkdir /usr/magellan
  4. run ./xdriver -new -global as root to make a global installation on the machine

It should start the installation program, automatically finding the spaceball and ask you how to configure it (inittab, local, ...).

Applications that use it

The confidence tests in ToolBox do show button responses

  • Blender
 The is rumors of some support of SpaceBalls in Blender, possibly a custom build of Blender.
  • Pro/E

Spacer 5000 with a serial connection here, known to work with

  • Pro/E

Listed in the 3D Connexion driver :

  • CADDs5
  • Catia
  • I-DEAS
  • IcemSurf
  • Unigraphics
  • Proe/Engineer

... a bunch of other CAD apps

the ones more people here might be interested in :

  • Maya
  • Studio Paint
  • Alias 8.5
  • Animator 5.3

here's the really interesting one :

X Window driver version 3 That seems like if the application has spaceball support in X-Window then it should work ?

Applications which support the Spaceball (via LibSBall code)

  • FreeWRL:

VRML/X3D browser, FreeWRL input device driver

  • VMD:

The molecular visualization program VMD uses libsball for all of its Unix versions.

  • White Dune VRML97 Editor:

White Dune Home Page

  • VRPN:

VRPN Home Page

  • FreeVR library:

FreeVR Home Page

  • NCSA CAVE library:

The NCSA version of the CAVE library incorporates a modified version of the libsball code.

  • Tachyon parallel ray tracer:

An OpenGL previewer and a spaceball-fly feature for Tachyon which allows you to fly around in a scene using the Spaceball. Its done using a first-person view, and was the code that was simplified in order to write the "sballfly" demo which is included with libsball.

Programming notes

There is some support in GLUT.

There is a libsball in the See Also section.

There is a SBallFly program include in the libsball library.

Change the /usr/lib to /usr/lib32 in the Makefile and compile with the MIPSpro compiler.

Warning: its really twitchy..

See Also

  • at least some later models of Spaceball) are available from Be sure to check the box next to "Also show archived* software" when searching for IRIX drivers. You also may need to register first (whatever that may entail) before you can actually download anything.