The quadrature detector, the black block on the left, is oriented with its lens (and, thus, the actual detectors) pointed away from the IR emitter. I thought it might be an assembly screwup, but it’s actually worse: the PCB layout is wrong.
A note from Tristan in NZ explains the situation:
So I have a later model than yours. It has a 2nd PCB chunk between where the legs normally would be. Just a floating piece with two holes for the legs, holding the legs from the board […] to the main board.It is also pointing the correct way (with the lens towards the three leg emitter).
The new quad detector has only three pins and no convex lens, but the active area now faces the emitter across the gap.
Because the interposer PCB occupies the space previously devoted to the emitter & detector leads, Kensington apparently soldered the new parts directly to the top surface without any clearance:
It’s like they failed to put through-vias to the rear or didn’t route them to the bottom another way, hence the solder is under the component
Tristan managed to wreck the detector while attempting to re-solder the intermittent joints, a situation I’m painfully familiar with. He replaced it with a quad detector harvested from a mid-90s optical mouse and it’s back in operation.
So I think the correct “fix” for the old-style PCBs (without the new interposer) is to unsolder the detector, rotate it so the lens faces the emitter, then somehow rewire the pins to the original pads. This won’t be easy and definitely won’t be pretty, but as long as it’s pointed in the right general direction it should work:
mine works off axis quite a bit
Should either of my Expert Mouse trackballs fail, now I know what to do
Many thanks to Tristan for reporting his findings!