Makey Makey Floor Piano

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Step 1: Makey Makey Floor Piano

Who doesn't want to dance around on a giant floor piano like Tom Hanks in Big?

There are many great Makey Makey piano tutorials on the web. We wanted to make a version that really looked like a piano and that worked without participants having to hold on to a wire to ground themselves. This is what we came up with!

Step 2: Gather Supplies

You will need the following supplies:

  • 4 Foam exercise tiles
  • Makey Makey
  • Aluminum foil
  • Duct tape
  • White tarp
  • Wire
  • Arduino, keyboard, mouse, and speaker OR laptop

You will need the following tools:

  • Wire stripper
  • Scissors
  • Level
  • Measuring tape

Step 3: Prepare the Piano Overlay

Lay your exercise tiles on the floor and measure the dimensions. Measure and cut the appropriate amount of white tarp. Be sure to leave some extra on the sides to fold under the tiles.

Create the piano keys by adding black duct tape to the tarp. Use a ruler and a level to make sure that the keys are evenly spaced and straight. You can have up to 12 keys per Makey Makey.

Step 4: Prepare the Software

We used the free, Open Source software program Scratch. It's super easy to use and gave us the ability to customize our sounds. For example, we made our last piano key play a cat's meow!

To get organized, you might want to make a diagram of piano keys and decide where each key will be wired to the Makey Makey. Then, it will be easy to make the program in Scratch.

For example, based on our diagram, we coded when left arrow key pressed, play not 60 (C) for .5 beats and so on for each note.

Step 5: Wire It Up!

First, prepare the wire.

We used network cable wire, so we had to strip it first. Strip the wires so that you have 2 inches of wire on one side and 6 inches of wire on the other side. Make sure the wires are 2-3 feet long so that you have space to run them from the keyboard to the Makey Makey. You will need 2 wires for each key--one wire to ground the key and one trigger wire.

Second, attach wires to the keys.

Using the tarp as a location guide, wire your first key. To do this, lay down the side with the 6 inches of wire on the exercise tile. Cover it completely with a layer of tin foil. Cover the tin foil completely with a layer of duct tape.

Lay another wire on top of the duct tape. Cover it completely with tin foil. Secure the tin foil to the tile with duct tape. This layer of duct tape does not need to cover the tin foil completely.

One of these wires is your trigger wire and one is your ground wire. It does not matter which wire goes to ground and which is the trigger.

Repeat these steps until you have the right number of keys on your exercise tiles.

Third, attach your wires to the Makey Makey.

Using your diagram as a guide, attach the wires to the Makey Makey.

For example, using our diagram as a guide, we started with the far left key and attached one wire to the left arrow and the other wire to the Earth on the Makey Makey. The next key, we attached one wire to the up arrow and the other wire to the Earth, and so on.

Finally, attach the Makey Makey to the computer.

We used an Arduino and a speaker because we left our piano out in a public space and didn't want to worry about securing a laptop. You can use an Arduino or a laptop--whatever works for you!

Step 6: Put It All Together and Play!

Move the tarp on top of the tiles and wires. Fold three sides of the tarp under the tiles. Duct tape the ends of the tarp to the ground.

You're done! Play some tunes on your awesome Makey Makey floor piano!

License: Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike.

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