Blog

This blog is about all the little aspects that together make the worlds lightest gaming mouse.

No marketing speak.

So far we have written about thirty blog articles. The following three however together are what the core essence of Zaunkoenig is all about: «Optimal weight of a gaming mouse», «Optimal grip for a gaming mouse» as well as «Ergonomic Fingertip Grip gaming mouse design».

Did we mention «no marketing speak» already?

A closer look at the carbon fiber unibody design of the Zaunkoenig M2K

Design and manufacturing of carbon fiber parts is tightly integrated at Zaunkoenig, which comes hardly as a surprise since it is essentially one and the same person. Although I have manufactured a fair bit of carbon fiber parts in the last two to three years, for this new production process I had to consult a few people that I consider to be among the very best Germany has to offer when it comes to carbon fiber knowhow.

Zaunkoenig M2K compared to Zaunkoenig M1K

After many years of development, the Zaunkoenig M1K got revealed in June of 2019. Almost two years later, in March of 2021, we revealed the Zaunkoenig M2K, the successor of the M1K. Much has changed. The following is an overview over both the M1K as well as the M2K.

Two Flew Over the Lion’s Den

Two days ago, on March 29, we were in the German version of «Shark Tank». The shows name in Germany is «Die Höhle der Löwen» and the concept is very simple: entrepreneurs pitch their business to a small group of investors. As you maybe know «Zaunkoenig» is the name of a very tiny bird that likes running through the undergrowth as if it were a mouse. Neither, small birds or mice, are particularly fond of cats. And lions basically are big cats. Sow how did that all work out for us?

Hellforge

The last Zaunkoenig M1K batch sold out in February of 2021. After having made five hundred M1Ks (the highest serial number out there is 516, by the way) we decided to stop M1K production. So – what is next for Zaunkoenig?

Five percent reloaded

Back in July of 2020 we wrote a Blog article about feedback from actual Zaunkoenig M1K buyers. The general theme of the article was that the M1K was really good for aiming, but since it was so puristic it was not for everyone. In fact, we ended the article with a quote claiming that the M1K, with its lack of a scroll wheel, was so puristic that it only made sense for five percent of gamers.

One year in production hell

When we launched our Kickstarter back in 2019 we were not quite sure what to expect. The Zaunkoenig M1K not only was the most spartanic gaming mouse ever made, it also was not exactly cheap. What if only ten people backed our Kickstarter? Luckily that fear quickly evaporated when we reached our Kickstarter funding goal of $10,000 in just two minutes. Our Kickstarter barely had started and our goal already had shifted from «proving demand for the M1K» to «actually making hundreds of M1Ks». This was the start of our very own production hell.

The beginning of the end of RGB LED gaming mice

Logitech is not exactly a niche gaming mouse brand. They are the worlds biggest gaming mouse producer and about as mainstream as it can get. That is why when Logitech announces a new flagship gaming mouse it has significant repercussions for the gaming mouse industry as a whole. And just two weeks ago Logitech announced the «Pro X Superlight» in which the RGB LEDs were removed in order to save weight. Is this the beginning of the end of RGB LED gaming mice?

The rise of Fingertip Grip

It finally has happened: The Zaunkoenig M1K no longer is the only dedicated Fingertip Grip gaming mouse in town. Chinese gaming mouse company G-Wolves has announced the «HSK», which already is being called «The poor man’s Zaunkoenig». We have gotten a bunch of emails asking as whether we would be mad at G-Wolves for «being inspired» by the M1K. We are not.

Enough marketing bullshit is enough

Traditional gaming mouse marketing is all about «moar CPI is better». For a while however it seemed that the CPI craze was cooling down and actually important gaming mouse attributes like low weight and low input lag would be replacing it. But then, in October of 2019, Razer announced a 20,000 CPI sensor and in September of 2020 Logitech upped the ante and announced a 25,600 CPI sensor. Enough already?

Zaunkoenig M1K weight in review

In June of 2019, when the first Zaunkoenig M1K prototype was revealed, its weight on the scale showed 23 grams. Henceforth, the M1K became known as «the 23 g mouse». Little did we know at that time if we would actually be able to reliably reproduce the weight of the M1K precisely to 23 grams. Especially the carbon fiber production was a big unknown. We also weren’t sure if we needed to do some minor design changes or not. Today, a couple hundred M1Ks into production, we have a better idea of how things come (weigh) together. For those who are curious as to what weighs what in the M1K, here we go.

The gaming mouse for the five percent

While the Zaunkoenig M1K has been well received by professional Youtube mouse reviewers Beardedbob, BT and Menismyforte all the way back in September 2019, we were anticipating the feedback of our Kickstarter and Indiegogo backers just as much.

The first batch of Zaunkoenig M1K is sold out

Our Kickstarter went live on September 19, 2019. We offered 333 M1K and today, on June 24, 2020, the last of these 333 M1K was bought on Indiegogo. So – whats next for Zaunkoenig?

We sent an M1K to the most remote island in the world

The first time I glanced through the printed out Kickstarter shipping labels and came accross «Åland Islands» as well as «Bouvet Island» I thought to myself: «Awesome, even people on islands want the M1K.»

The Zaunkoenig M1K feedback I have been aiming for for 19 years

I still remember the day when I decided to play StarCraft competitively. The year was 2001 and I attended my first big LAN party called «Dimensions». Competing for the first prize in the StarCraft tournament were three legendary players: [pG]Korn from Germany, NTT from the Netherlands and ElkY from France.

The effect of Corona on M1K production

Back in February I boldly posted an update on Kickstarter stating that Corona could not affect M1K production. Back then I thought that Corona was limited to China. And because at Zaunkoenig we do not produce in China, but in Germany, Corona could not affect M1K production. Right?

Quality control at Zaunkoenig

We are currently in the midst of putting together lots of M1K for our Kickstarter and Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign. So this is a good opportunity to talk about quality control at Zaunkoenig.

Zaunkoenig M1K PCB

The printed circuit board (PCB) of a gaming mouse is what makes a gaming mouse tick. You can compare it to the motherboard of your gaming PC. Our goal for the PCB of the Zaunkoenig M1K was to make the lightest gaming mouse PCB ever, because when you want to make the worlds lightest gaming mouse you have to look at every single component of the mouse.

On the Tesla Cybertruck, design and the substance of things

The word «design» is among the most misused words in the English language. Most use it to describe how something looks. Design is about more than just looks however: it is about the substance of things. The Tesla Cybertruck drives this point home very clearly.

On gaming mice with speed holes and red sports cars

Ever since Tt eSPORTS first released a gaming mouse with speed holes all the way back in 2014 (who do you think pioneered speed holes in gaming mice?), followed by Mad Catz in 2015, many other copy catz have followed suit. Why though?

3D printing advice for mouse modders

Long before we designed and produced our own printed circuit boards (PCBs), we were 3D printing custom designed mouse shells. Back in the day, we ripped apart existing gaming mice, discarded the plastic shell but put the PCBs into our own shells. That is an easier and cheaper way to mod a mouse as compared to starting off by manufacturing a custom designed PCB. In the past seven years I have printed hundreds upon hundreds of mouse shells. This article is the distillation of what I learned along the way.

Successful Kickstarter

On September 25 our Kickstarter campaign for the Zaunkoenig M1K went live. Our funding goal was $10,000. We achieved this goal in two minutes.

The carbon fiber process

We received a lot of mails asking us about carbon fiber. So, let’s talk carbon fiber. What’s the process, how do you do it and why is it so difficult and time consuming to produce?

Zaunkoenig M1K Firmware

You do not need to install any software for the M1K. Even though the M1K has only two buttons, you can conveniently configure your CPI (same as DPI, by the way) with them. The firmware, the software that is running in the microcontroller unit (MCU) of the M1K, is open-source and is optimized for extremely low latency.

You may not like it, but this is what peak performance looks like

The above meme is what a Reddit user posted as a reaction to the first public picture of a Zaunkoenig M1K prototype in the wild. I think it sums up the M1K pretty well.

The story of Zaunkoenig

Back in 1998 I was fifteen years old and obsessed with two things: StarCraft and mice. StarCraft is an insanely demanding game when it comes to mechanics. Just moving your army across the map is harder than most eSports, as Artosis likes to say. I quickly realized: the mouse was the most important piece of equipment for StarCraft. This realization pretty quickly developed into my second obsession: mice. And it ultimately resulted in the founding of Zaunkoenig, together with my brother Dominik, over a decade later.

Optimal gaming mouse cable

A good gaming mouse cable has to be good at a couple of things. The four most important areas in my opinion are: flexibility, slickness, low weight and durability. Spoiler alert: a gaming mouse cable should not be braided.

Carbon fiber gaming mice

In our blog post about the optimal weight of a gaming mouse we formulated the hypothesis that the ideal weight of a gaming mouse is «zero grams». Actually engineering a zero gram mouse though is heavy going for anyone not named Tony Stark or Elon Musk. However we can get pretty close to zero by using a material some might consider overkill for a gaming mouse: carbon fiber.

Ergonomic Fingertip Grip gaming mouse design

The majority of current gaming mice are made for Palm Grip first, Claw Grip second and sometimes Fingertip Grip third. It is unsurprising that these mice are not optimal for Fingertip Grip. The optimal Fingertip Grip mouse needs to be developed only for Fingertip Grip. The following are our thoughts on such a dedicated Fingertip Grip design.

Optimal grip for a gaming mouse

As of 2019 Palm Grip and Claw Grip are the two most commonly utilized gripping techniques for gaming mice. Hence the following hypothesis will step on a lot of toes: Fingertip Grip is far superior to Palm Grip and Claw Grip. What follows is a bunch of arguments supporting this claim.

Optimal weight of a gaming mouse

When it comes to selecting a gaming mouse too many just look at the sensor or the number of buttons. One of the most important aspects of a gaming mouse however is frequently ignored: its weight. But what is the optimal weight of a gaming mouse?