Tech Tips - Fixing a Flaky Logitech M570 Wireless Trackball

In what is now an article being written out of necessity, rather than choice, I show how you can get around potential problems that may occur with your hardware. This particular problem I am writing about had been cropping up for a while for me, yet the solution I had quite embarrassingly only recently stumbled upon.

So it seems that after four years of 9x5 use, my bulletproof Logitech M570 Wireless Trackball has developed an issue. My left mouse button, or rather the micro switch inside, has malfunctioned. The end result being erratic double-clicks happening even when only a single button press is made. Why is this a potentially serious problem and how can you remedy it? Read on for the full story.

BACKGROUND:

My previous pointing device of six years had been a similar trackball - a wired Logitech Trackman Wheel USB version. This had stood up well to the punishing use it was put under. The switches in that trackball were solid, and had never shown signs of fatigue even after what I'm guessing was close to 6 million clicks over the course of all those years.

The newer M570 went under more than a cosmetic redesign. It's apparent immediately that only the left/right buttons use micro switches, the scroll wheel and back/forward buttons use the lesser quality rubber dome assemblies. This was disappointing for me to some point, because I am aware of just how good a durable micro switch is under years of heavy use.

And yet while I haven't seen issues with either the scroll wheel or the back/forward buttons, it's ironically the micro switch in my M570 that has been acting up. More specifically, the heavily-used left mouse button has been making erratic double-clicks, even with just a single button press. That can make using your system not only difficult, but introduce some serious problems as well.

DETAILS:

Double-clicks are great for when you want to quickly open a directory/file, minimize a window, highlight a word or start a program. The idea is that you just press a button once for it to happen instead of clicking twice with the left button on your trackball/mouse. Sounds great and works great in practice, but it can be more than a headache when it doesn't work properly.

In my case, I actually prefer a double-click pressing the left button twice, just out of old-school habit when I began working with computers, and mice from back in the day didn't have the feature. I tried using the middle button as a double-click, but it didn't feel right for me, so I've left the scroll wheel button on my M570 at it's default rapid scroll setting, handy for flying up/down a long web page.

Now you can imagine the difficulty of having that left mouse button working the opposite, doing double-clicks when only a single click is what I wanted. Trying to move windows became maddening as they would go full-screen as soon as I tried to drag them. Clicking on links would take me places that I didn't want to go, or open two browser tabs. Editing text became difficult, as instead of placing the cursor I would highlight an entire word/paragraph.

Even worse was the possibility of doing some real damage when clicking the send button on emails - I would get duplicate entries showing in my sent box, and my recipient would get sent the same email twice. That's not the way you want to look good communicating with important clients.

But the most dangerous result of all can be when doing financial activities online. Double-clicking on a submit payment button can do more than just ruin your day. It's bad enough being double-charged and then correcting the error after the fact. Such mistakes can affect a line of credit, and if it's items being shipped to you, getting them returned to the merchant. Transferring funds from one account to another? You definitely don't want to jerk around with your bank and appear to not have sufficient funds in the account.

THE FIX:

It's unfortunate that problems like these only raise their head after extended use. By then any warranty on your device is long expired. But before you run out and buy a brand-new replacement, or smash your M570 against the floor in a fit of rage after seeing your finances wiped out, there's a relatively easy fix that you can do thanks to Windows.

Tame those erratic double-clicks
If you open Control Panel and click on Mouse you should see the window here. Notice the slider for double-click speed - this was set right in the middle for me. Testing my left mouse button, I found that I could fix that erratic double-clicking behavior by dragging the slider all the way to the left (slowest) position. This way the unwanted clicks being made by my problematic micro switch aren't registered as a double-click. Once you've changed this setting, hit apply and then hit ok.

This method has taken care of my M570 for the time being, and I'm hoping it will work well enough to let me keep using the trackball without having to buy a replacement.

In reality, though, I think Logitech needs to take a serious look at the quality of the parts they are using and the reliability of their products. It's one thing for advancements in technology to make their way into newer devices. But that shouldn't come at the cost of making what once was an extremely solid and reliable product into something that looks prettier, yet fails prematurely. My wired USB Trackball was still working fine after six years of use, this model is already having issues after just four.

A company that compromises on quality is a company that will fail. And that's even without the damage done by bad press.

MAINTAINING YOUR TRACKBALL'S PERFORMANCE:

It's important to take care of your trackball as it will not only maintain it's performance, but keep it working in top condition.

Many users new to trackballs complain of stiff friction on their ball. Every new trackball will need a few weeks use to "break in". If that ball is feeling a little stiff out-of-the-box, it's only because it hasn't been fingered an awful lot. Give it a few weeks and that coarse feel will eventually become smooth.

The same is also true for the scroll wheel. If the friction is a little tight or the detents too hard it's again only because it is new and hasn't been used. I noticed after a few weeks that the wheel would roll much easier than when new, and the detents would soften out.

Being that we are talking about trackballs, it's very important as well to regularly remove that ball and clean the three tiny bearings that allow the ball to spin freely. Residue from skin will over time accumulate around these spots, and left there, will impede the bearings and make the ball harder to move, or jam it up entirely.

It's a relatively simple affair to pop that blue ball out by sticking your pinkie in the hole provided underneath, or if you have sausage fingers, the end of a pencil. Once removed, you will see where the gunk is, and again using a finger nail, easily pry away the offending material. Hey, it's from your own skin, so don't be repulsed by it. This would be a good time too to check the area where the sensor is and make sure that is free of any obstructions as well. Once done, pop the ball back in and regain your smooth trackball.

I recommend using the power button to preserve your trackball's battery, especially if you carry it often and have it stashed in a bag. But if turning it on doesn't get your trackball working, it may just be a sign of a bad contact. You can pop the bottom cover off and just rotate the battery a little or take it out and re-seat it. You'll know you're good when the light comes on. If you have a blinking light, though, it's time to replace the battery with a fresh one.

CONCLUSION:

As big a fan I am of the Logitech M570 Wireless Trackball, any reliability issues will quickly turn that opinion around. I was impressed with the six years of performance of the wired USB model, so that experience should also be expected of the newer version.

Keep in mind as well that out of the five M570 trackballs I have scattered around me and in use, TWO of them have problematic micro switches, one of which is maybe only 2-3 years old. True, I put heavy use on my trackballs, more than the average consumer. But a 40% component failure rate is very high and would concern me as a manufacturer.

It's important to give a manufacturer the opportunity to address any concerns and correct products that don't perform as intended. I'm hoping that the folks at Logitech read this, and their product engineers make the necessary tweaks to their button and micro switch assembly. I would hate to have the M570 end up being the topic of discussion again... in my Shame File.

8 comments:

  1. Nice! I was having trouble with mine not registering clicks near the bottom of the screen. Never even thought it could be gunk build-up related but after reading this I figured it couldn't hurt. It is working better. The only remaining issue is when it gets REALLY sluggish. It seems turning it on and off a couple of times often helps.

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    1. Sluggishness could be due to a problem USB port too. I noticed some intermittent behavior with mine recently with the summer temps, but it was because my notebooks USB port sits shotgun to the CPU heatsink's metal which was pulling 85C. Evidently the little dongle doesn't like high temperatures, and may fail over a sustained time at those temps.

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  2. Long time trackman user.

    Here's a tip. To make the ball roll smoothly right out of the box, place a very light 'dab' of plumbers grease OR petroleum jelly on the three 'dots' the ball rolls over.

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    1. The problem with lubrication is the oil then gets on the ball, and then ends up on your thumb. That's like eating greasy food and then touching your mouse. Your hands should always be clean and the ball kept dry.

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  3. Thank you for the info on the double-clicking! This has just start cropping up on my M570 the last couple of months, so I will try to follow your recommendation on slowing up the double-click speed. I love the M570 as I use it a crucial piece of equipment which makes my Chartplotter Programs for my boat very user friendly as well as in regular day to day usage. Thx again!

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  4. Why does this buildup have to be constantly cleaned every couple of hours?

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    Replies
    1. Not every couple of hours, but checking it every two weeks or once a month is good.

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