RAT 7 with degraded rubber surface

Death to Rubber

I am putting my foot down. No more rubberised surfaces for me.

This is something that has been nagging me at the back of my head for some time. Rubberised surfaces have never survived well in the tropical climate where I live, and yet I keep buying new products with them. The old Xbox steering wheel. Rubber grips on pens. More recently, the Logitech MX Revolution and the Cyborg RAT 7. In all these cases, the rubbery parts degraded after a year or two, became sticky, and refused to let go of any dirt or dust that got stuck to them.

It is easy to say “well, just clean the damn things then”, but quite another to actually do it. I kept the Xbox wheel in my storage closet for a couple of years when I stopped using it, and how often do we take out unused things from the storage closet to clean them? Besides, the RAT 7 mouse degraded while I was still using it. Once the rubber surface turns sticky, there’s nothing you can do to reverse it. Cleaning it with solvents usually just degrades the rubber surface even more, and cleaning with water is ineffective.

I’m sure these devices survive just fine in more temperate climes, but why do so many device makers not fix this inherent flaw for products marketed and sold in tropical regions? This is a particularly sore problem for products marketed at gamers. It seems the only way that these unimaginative companies can give their products a better grip is to slap a cheap rubber surface on them. Well, I’m swearing off such products from now on.

RAT 7 with degraded rubber surfaceRAT 7 with rubber surface removed

For those with degraded rubber-surface products, here’s what I did with them: Degrade the rubber further and remove it. This works better on more heavily degraded rubber. I just use isopropyl alcohol with plenty of gauze swabs, attacking the rubber coating until it comes off, revealing the stock plastic underneath. It worked pretty well for my RAT 7.

G700 image

For now, I’ve found a better product that has found a more ingenious solution. I really loved the thumb buttons and thumb wheel on the old Logitech MX Revolution, and since then have been buying only mice with thumb buttons and a thumb wheel. The Logitech G700 does not meet this criteria, but has four thumb buttons instead—an acceptable alternative to this button-thumber. It also has a scrollwheel that switches between click-scroll and freescroll at the press of a button, a feature I sorely missed on the RAT 7. And out-of-the-box support in Linux was pretty fantastic, with no issues causing it to become unuseable, unlike the RAT 7.

Best of all, it does not use rubber surfacing anywhere on the mouse, except for the gripping strip in the middle of the scroll wheel. Instead, on the left and right sides of the mouse, Logitech used a grippy sand-textured plastic surface that actually works amazingly. More mouse companies really ought to be doing this.

As I’ve done for previous mice I own, this is the xbindkeys config I use for the G700, using xdotool, with button mapping information from gavingc. No xorg button remapping was necessary! The G4–G10 buttons mentioned below are labelled on the mouse buttons.

###########################
# xbindkeys configuration # For Logitech G700
###########################
#
# Version: 0.1.3
#
# A list of keys is in /usr/include/X11/keysym.h and in
# /usr/include/X11/keysymdef.h
# The XK_ is not needed.
#
# List of modifier (on my keyboard):
# Control, Shift, Mod1 (Alt), Mod2 (NumLock),
# Mod3 (CapsLock), Mod4, Mod5 (Scroll).
#
# This file is created by xbindkey_config
# The structure is :
# # Remark
# "command"
# m:xxx + c:xxx
# Shift+...

#keystate_numlock = enable
#keystate_scrolllock = enable
#keystate_capslock = enable

#Ctrl-PgDn: G7 button
"xdotool key ctrl+Next"
m:0x0 + b:11
Control+Mod2 + Next

#Ctrl-PgUp: G6 button
"xdotool key ctrl+Prior"
m:0x0 + b:10
Control+Mod2 + Prior

#Alt-Left: G4 button
"xdotool key alt+Left"
m:0x0 + b:8
Alt+Mod2 + Left

#Alt-Right: G5 button
"xdotool key alt+Right"
m:0x0 + b:9
Alt+Mod2 + Right

#Vol-down: Wheel left tilt
"xdotool key super+bracketleft"
m:0x0 + b:6
Super+Mod2 + bracketleft

#Vol-up: Wheel right tilt
"xdotool key super+bracketright"
m:0x0 + b:7
Super+Mod2 + bracketright

#Ctrl-F4: G10 button
#"echo 'KeyStrPress Control_L KeyStrPress F4 KeyStrRelease F4 KeyStrRelease Control_L' | xmacroplay :0"
"xdotool key ctrl+F4"
m:0x0 + b:14
Control+Mod2 + F4

#
# End of xbindkeys configuration