Apple ADB Mouse Conversion

Here’s a little hack I did not long ago during the course of a weekend. I opened up an old, blocky Apple ADB mouse and swapped the internals with that of a newer USB mouse.

Unlike today’s injection molded, glued together, snap shut technologies, the Apple ADB mouse was no problem to open, with just had 4 standard Phillips screws on the corners of the underside. With the mouse open, two small circuits are visible. The circuit near the front of the mouse is where the pushbutton for clicking resides, and the other board tracks mouse ball movement and the ADB interface. Interestingly enough, the chip inside the Apple ADB mouse was made by Logitech, whose 2-button wheel mice I swear by today. I separated the two boards so that I could use the same pushbutton on the “new” mouse guts — the Apple ADB mouse has a distinct click, and I wanted to maintain that classic feel after the conversion.

Opening the USB mouse (an IBM one I bought a while back but didn’t like the feel of) was just as easy. After locating the left-click pushbutton and tracing the wires to the main board, I marked the points with a permanent marker and cut the ribbon cables, separating the USB mouse’s two boards as well.

The next step was to combine the old Apple pushbutton with the main board of the USB mouse. Since I marked the two points where the USB mouse was expecting a left-click switch to be attached, I soldered wires from the Apple switch to those points. In hindsight, I should have checked and made sure that both switches (old and new) were normally open or normally closed, but I got lucky — they matched.

The hardest step in this whole hack was cutting the right size and depth hole in the bottom of the Apple mouse plastic so that the optics of the USB mouse could fit and work properly. After much dremeling and hot glue, I was able to get the USB main board in a place that was stable and could “see” the desk. After testing the optics and mouse pushbutton, it was time to close the little guy up. I dug up a USB cable left over from another project that actually matched the Apple mouse color, attached it, and routed it through the hole used by the old ADB cable. A little more hot glue to keep everything in place, and I closed it up and put the original screws back. It’s not very pretty on the bottom, but it works. Not bad for a two or three hour weekend hack, I think.

Apple ADB Mouse Conversion

23 thoughts on “Apple ADB Mouse Conversion

  1. kaotica says:

    hehe i like it, i have my ADB mouse sitting on my desk at work wondering if i could retrofit a usb mouse in there for the old-skool look- i guess you beat me to it ;-)

    great job!


  2. Elliot says:

    You may be on to something here, what about retrofitting old macs (IIci’s, Quadras, etc.) with new Mac internals as a fashion throwback? Everyone loves nostalgia. What a guy


  3. You may be on to something here, what about retrofitting old macs (IIci’s, Quadras, etc.) with new Mac internals as a fashion throwback?

    I’m working on fitting a 266 Grape iMac into an LC III case, but I can’t seem to get video out yet. However, I do have it powering up and making the startup chime without the iMac monitor or power supply (I adapted an ATX power supply to power the logic board).

    Update: The iMac to LC III conversion is complete: Link


  4. J. Yoders says:

    Too cool. Wish I had an old ADB mouse and the “guts” of a mediocre optical mouse… ;-)
    … Same thing applies to the “1984” Mac mouse.


  5. Udnuttin says:

    To oldhan:
    Here r 2 sites u can get adapter 2 plug ps2 mouse into adb port. I’ve tried this adapter on old g3 mini-tower (beige) – it works. U can get adapter 2 plug usb into ps2 port – in theory this adb/ps2 adapter combined with the ps2/usb adapter should get results u r looking 4.
    The company site (2d on the listing) has a control panel to oper8 the right click, wheel (+ others I think).


  6. Lex says:

    I just did the same with the ADB II model (the ’rounded’ upgrade of the ADB mouse), using the guts of a Logitech Notebook mouse. I sawed the mouse’s button in 2 pieces and made a hole for the scroll wheel. Now I have a 13-year old optical Apple mouse with two buttons, USB and a clickable scroll wheel :)


  7. alex C says:

    I just made one of these… Mine doesn’t look as neat and tidy as that one.. I had to use glue instead of the screws… it’s a lot of fun though..,. right now, I’m working on a apple classic keyboard conversion to USB… I’ll let you all know when it’s done!


  8. macospat says:

    Would it work with windows 98, vista, or xp? or just mac. because it only has one button, or could you make 2


    1. @macospat: Since the guts are from a more recent mouse, it would work under an OS with USB support. The mouse did have two buttons and a scroll wheel, so it could be done, however some physical modifications would be required to click the second button. I was going for a “stock” look and feel here, so I didn’t go that far :-)


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