Blender is the free open source 3D content creation suite, available for all major operating systems under the GNU General Public License.
Information presented here was last verified with Blender 2.71
- As of Blender 2.59…
- Native support for spacemice introduced into the Blender trunk.
- As of Blender 2.64a…
- Rotation and translation axis can be inverted separately.
- The zoom function can be placed on the Y or Z axis.
- Rotational and translational sensitivity settings are now separated.
- Translational movement NO LONGER requires holding down the shift key.
- As of Blender 2.66…
- Default settings have returned to using SHIFT modifier for translational movement.
- Added option in User Preference —>Interface for 'rotate/zoom around selection'.
- This feature will override translational spacemouse movement.
- Free-Flying ability can be restored, but at the expense of this new feature
- See bottom of page for how to regain the 2.64 FREE FLYING MODE as default
ATTENTION WINDOWS USERS
Any setting made in 3dconnexion's control panel will be ignored by Blender.
All settings involving the sensitivity, axis/motion reversal, or the key-mapping of buttons on your spacemice must be done from within Blender's preferences.
Once these settings have been changed, DO NOT FORGET to save them.
These are the models which we were able to verify ourselves. Several are marked as 'Should Work'.
If you can confirm that these models work with Blender, please contact us.
History of Blender Support (a users POV)
Spacemouse support was brought to Blender in version 2.46, when 3DConnexion released a plugin, which would allow the use of their devices with Blender. This plugin worked until the end of the 2.4x series when Blender developers decided to do a ground up rebuild of the entire project.
With the old plugin no longer working with new builds of Blender, users did what they do best… they complained. At the time, Blender developers were, understandably, more concerned with core stability of the new API, rather than on niche features lost from the previous version. It is a testament to Blender's redesign team, that users were willing to use the NEW incomplete alpha/beta versions, even without spacemouse support.
Requests for a new plugin, to work with the new Blender API, also appeared on 3DConnexion's forums. 3DConnexion appeared disinterested in any form of direct support (ie: a plugin), though in retrospect, Blender's API was going through so many changes during the 2.5x series, it would have been a major headache to maintain compatibility. In the mean time, 3DConnexion released a new beta version of their own drivers which helped a little. The new driver allowed their spacemice to emulate any keyboard/mouse combination, thus allowing rotations and movement in Blender based on already existing keyboard/mouse commands. It worked, but was nowhere near as smooth and fluid as the original plugin had been.
During Google's Summer of Code 2010, Mike Erwin decided to tackle implementation of 3D Mouse support in Blender. His code was incorporated into Blender's source code for the 2.59 release and has been in a state of refinement ever since.
Legacy Device Support
The spacenavd project is working to bring an open-source solution, for the support of 6DOF devices on Linux and Windows, focusing primarily on the older devices which 3DConnexion no longer supports in their own drivers.
How to make 'FREE FLY MODE' the default behavior…
Step 0: Open User Preferences…
Step 1: Make sure 'Rotate Around Selection' under the 'Interface' tab is disabled.
Step 2: Under the 'Input' tab, expand '3D View' and then '3d View (Global)'
Step 3: Scroll down to the NDOF settings
Step 4: Expand 'NDOF Orbital View with Zoom' and 'NDOF Move View' and swap the modifier key .
Step 5: Dont forget to Save User Settings or you will get to do this all again when you restart Blender.
How to access the '3DMouse Setting Menu' with your spacemouse…
By default, the 3D Mouse Settings Menu in Blender is called by pressing the 'Menu' key found on the latest spacemice. (Explorer, Pilot, PilotPro, MousePro). However, the Space Navigator and most older spacemice do not have a specific Menu button. Here is where to find the option to change the keypress which calls up the settings menu in Blender…
Step 1: Open User Preferences
Step 2: Under the 'Input' tab, expand 'Window' then scroll down to 'Call Menu' [NDOF]
Step 3: Change the keypress to one of the buttons on your spacemouse.
Step 4: Save User Settings