difference in spaceball models

Questions and answers about 3Dconnexion devices on Windows.

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gr8sc077
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difference in spaceball models

Post by gr8sc077 » Mon Apr 02, 2007 12:50 am

I have e-mailed 3dconnexion a couple times about compatability in spaceball 4000/5000 models, but now I am getting really confused. So far I see combinations of 4000, 5000, serial, USB, FLX, 6094-051, 41L6030, and 33L3252.

What are these different names and how can I relate them to combatability in programs? Are those last three subgroups of 4000 or 5000? Is there a fine or blurry line between thses? Such as comparing a 5000 serial to either a 4000 serial or 5000 USB. Also, what does IBM have to do with 3Dconnexion?

I've been trying to read up but different people are saying different things abour different models. Its apples and oranges.

Bottom line is so far, my favorite programs are sketchup (5&6), CAD, photoshop, 3dMAX, and revit. Is there a definant way to seperate these different models so I know which are compatible with these? Is there a list of compatable programs for each of these models? Would anything happen if I were to plug a 4000 into sketchup? Its still a 3D environment right?

Anything to clarify these different models would be helpful. I have no idea how long I've been trying to figure out these differences so far.

Thanks for the help!

agoenczi
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difference in spaceball models

Post by agoenczi » Mon Apr 02, 2007 7:34 am

Hi gr8sc077

The SpaceBall models are different generations, the earlier models having lower model numbers, the last released model was the SpaceBall 5000.

You have also to know that 3Dconnexion discontinued the support for serial devices (as many computer manufacturer did as well).

The last SpaceBall which is supported for now in the new 3DxSoftware generation (v3-x-x) is the SpaceBall 5000, but only the USB version.

SketchUp has support for the SpaceBall 5000. Adobe Photoshop CS3, 3DS Max 8 and 9 has support as well (for SpaceBall 5000 USB), but not anymore for other (earlier manufactured) SpaceBalls.
agoenczi

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Post by jwick » Mon Apr 02, 2007 7:45 am

Hi gr8sc077,

I'll try to clarify the Spaceball models for you.

In a galaxy far, far away... <G>

There have been a few companies over the years that have manufactured Spaceballs. They were all related and some employees travelled with the technology. The company ownership and name has changed from Spatial Systems, PTY LTD, to Spatial Systems Inc, to Spaceball Technologies Inc, to Spacetec IMC Corp, to Labtec, to Logitech and now finally 3Dconnexion (a wholly-owned company of Logitech). In addition, the device was sold through other companies that put their own name on it: Silicon Graphics, Intergraph, Evans & Sutherland, IBM, HP, and others in Europe and Japan that I have forgotten about). You might find any of these names on the products.

There were several commercially-produced models:
1003 -- serial, truly huge, 2 rows of 4 buttons + 1 inside the ball
2003 -- serial, much smaller, 1 row of 8 buttons + 1 inside the ball (for the most part--there were other variations)
3003 -- serial, quite small, just a ball and a palm rest, 2 buttons
SpaceController -- serial, PC version of the 3003
4000 FLX -- serial, the modern look but a more flexible ball
Spaceball Avenger -- serial, hand-held game product -- small production run
SpaceOrb 360 -- serial, more popular hand-held game product
ASCII Sphere 360 -- Sony Playstation version of the SpaceOrb 360
SpaceBall 5000 -- two serial verisons (5000 & 5000A) and one USB version. These differ from the 4000 by having a 3Dconnexion-developed sensor inside. The same sensor used in the SpacePilot, SpaceNavigator, SpaceExplorer. The difference between a 5000 and a 5000A is completely different and incompatible firmware between the two.

The 6094 numbers are IBM OEM units. As I recall the -030 was a 2003, the -040 is probably a 4000, the -051 is probably a 5000A (which is firmware compatible with the 4000).

The FLX was a ball that had more movement and was more robust than its predecessors. It was introduced with the SpaceOrb and subsequently used on the 2003FLX, the 3003 FLX and the 4000 FLX. This ball did not have a button inside it.

The 41L6030 and 33L3253 model numbers don't ring a bell. Perhaps they are HP OEM model numbers ???

The good news is: if you use the 3DxWare driver all device dependencies are taken care of. You program to the API. The API doesn't change. You don't need to know which device is attached. If you want to display the device name or number of buttons or such, to your user, you can get that information from the driver.

The bad news is: from time to time, ancient devices will drop off the supported devices list. Just like graphics card companies, we can't constantly test devices that were manufactured so long ago that we can't even find cables for them <G>. For instance, a recent version of 3DxWare on Windows (version 6) dropped support for all serial devices. this means that people buying ancient devices on eBay had better get a ancient version of the driver with it, or they will be out of luck trying to make it work with their modern application. They had better hope that the Windows 95 version of the driver runs on Vista too...

3Dconnexion is constantly doing its best to drive the prices of these devices down, and the quality and reliability up. Buy new!

For compatability, all you really need to determine is whether your application uses the 3DxWare driver. This is almost 100% of all applications. A few laboratory applications may directly use the serial port for something like a robotics app, since they don't run Windows/Unix/etc. I think there is a visualization application that also uses the serial port only. Those apps will be tied to a very specific device.

Let me know if I can answer any other questions.

Jim
3Dx Software Development

gr8sc077
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Post by gr8sc077 » Mon Apr 02, 2007 10:32 am

WOW! Thats a lot of great info! Thanks! I had no idea that there was so much history in the company. I still have a few more questions though. Bare with me because I am still new I this. Just a couple months ago I accidentally discovered spaceball while looking for a trackball. Sadly, in this entire school of architecture, where almost everyone does 3D computer models of thier buildings, no one knows what a spaceball is. Not even my CAD/FormZ/3Dmax/Sketchup/revit professor has heard of one. So Im pretty alone in learning all this. You are helping me so much though! Thanks! So I have just a couple more questions.

You mentioned OEM and API, what are those and how do those work.

Also, 3DxWare. How does that work? I can't even wrap me head around that one yet. Im still having trouble figuring out how all these devices that look the same yet interact so differently, lol.

Also, another interesting thing I ran into was I saw a sticker underneath labled: SPACEBALL 4000.... model: 5000A (I can't recall if its USB or serial). This one is still confusing me. Which is it? I ask myself. I think I might have asked you about this, but I still find it confusing.

I would also love to buy a nice new spaceexplorer. However, being in architecture school, I need sleep and money more =-(
And as nice as the over two smaller devices are, they dont have much in shortcut buttons meaning I'd still have to go back and forth between the keyboard or toolbars, putting my efficency back where I started =-(

Well, thanks again for being such a great help!

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Post by jwick » Mon Apr 02, 2007 10:55 am

gr8sc077 wrote:Sadly, in this entire school of architecture, where almost everyone does 3D computer models of thier buildings, no one knows what a spaceball is. Not even my CAD/FormZ/3Dmax/Sketchup/revit professor has heard of one.
That is sad. You can be the prophet who changes it all. 10 minutes spent with Google Earth or Sketchup will change them forever.

gr8sc077 wrote:You mentioned OEM and API, what are those and how do those work.
OEM = Original Equipment Manufacturer. This is a relationship between a technology supplier and a distributor. For example, when your Dell machine comes with a Logitech mouse. It says Dell on it, but the mouse is actually made by Logitech.

API = Application Programming Interface. This is a software interface between two separate cooperating and communicating applications. For example. between the 3DxWare driver and Sketchup. They agree on specific functions and parameters that allow them to be developed separately, yet cooperate once delivered.
gr8sc077 wrote:Also, 3DxWare. How does that work? I can't even wrap me head around that one yet.
3DxWare is the name of the driver software that puts up the GUI that you interact with and manages the 3Dconnexion devices. It gets installed to make your device work.
gr8sc077 wrote:Im still having trouble figuring out how all these devices that look the same yet interact so differently, lol.
They should all interact the same if you have the driver running. The only difference you should notice is the number of buttons.
gr8sc077 wrote:Also, another interesting thing I ran into was I saw a sticker underneath labled: SPACEBALL 4000.... model: 5000A (I can't recall if its USB or serial). This one is still confusing me. Which is it? I ask myself. I think I might have asked you about this, but I still find it confusing.
This is probably an IBM unit. It is compatible with the earlier Spaceball 4000 FLX, thus the label. In fact it is completely different technology inside, thus the other name 5000(A). This would be a serial device. If that is what you have, it is a dead end. Serial devices aren't supported anymore by the new generation of drivers. That means that you will have a very difficult time installing drivers for things like Sketchup & Google Earth, and that difficulty will only get more difficult as time goes on.

gr8sc077 wrote:I would also love to buy a nice new spaceexplorer. However, being in architecture school, I need sleep and money more =-(
And as nice as the over two smaller devices are, they dont have much in shortcut buttons meaning I'd still have to go back and forth between the keyboard or toolbars, putting my efficency back where I started =-(
I'd certainly consider buying a SpaceNavigator for 59 Euros if I were you. You will find that you will spend quite a bit of time navigating, examining your model. Much more time than before. That is the real value of the device. That is what is going to save you the most time -- fully understanding your model. ... Or better, yet, get one of your friends to buy it. Then you can try it out for free. ;)

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