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Space Navigator


Moving 3-dimensional models in Chimera is done with the mouse using different mouse buttons for rotation and translation. Alternatives input devices offer more natural, familiar and comfortable means of moving models.


Space Navigator is an inexpensive ($60 academic) USB input device from 3Dconnexion for moving and rotating models in 3 dimensions. You move the knob on the device exactly as you wish the on-screen model to move.
Space Navigator demonstration


The Space Navigator device works with Chimera on Windows and Mac OS platforms but not on Linux (details). It requires installing the manufacturer's driver and plugging in the device. An example use is shown in this animation (8 Mb) docking a phage enzyme (PDB 1v0e) into an electron microscopy map (EMDB 1333) using a space navigator and mouse.


The Space Navigator is a pleasure to use, inexpensive, and nicely made. It takes about 15 minutes to get used to it, except for those under 10 years old who pick it up immediately. It requires untraining your mouse reflexes -- pushing the knob forward moves the object away from you (z direction) while the similar mouse motion would move it up the screen (y direction).

The drawback is that a mouse is still needed to operate menus and buttons, and the keyboard is still needed to type commands. Operating 3 input devices with 2 hands is annoying. Everything we have tried with the Space Navigator can be done with the mouse.


Excellent for those with 3 hands. Others will have to decide if the pleasure it offers outweighs the aggravation of juggling three input devices: mouse, keyboard and Space Navigator.

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