We’ve been getting a lot of emails on the Hackaday tip line about the Makey Makey. This business-card sized circuit board turns everything – bananas, Play-Doh, water, and people – into a touch interface.
There have been a ton of blogs that have written about the Makey Makey Kickstarter and debut at the Bay Area Maker Faire, but Hackaday has been mum on the pending release of the Makey Makey. There’s a reason for that: [Jay] and [Eric], the MIT Media Lab rats who came up with the Makey Makey, offered to send a demo board out to somebody at Hackaday. Well, here’s the review of all the cool stuff you can make with the Makey Makey.
The Makey Makey is a simple device that is designed to make everyone an inventor. On the front of the board are a couple holes for alligator clips to plug into, and on the back is a USB plug. Plug an alligator clip into anything conductive, and attach the ‘Earth’ lead to your body to turn anything into a touch sensor. On the back there’s a bunch of easily-breadboarded headers that expand the six inputs on the front to 16 inputs that can send any input to a PC.
What you can do with it
Already, the standard “first thing” to make with the Makey Makey is the banana piano. In fact, it’s the first example listed in the Beta instruction manual included in the package [Jay] and [Eric] sent me. Even Hackaday’s own circuit god [Sprite_tm] built a clone of the Makey Makey banana piano, so I figured I’d give it a go.
Yes, shakey cam.
To rig this banana piano up, all I did was attach a few leads to a hand of bananas, plug them into the Makey Makey, and ground myself with an improvised ESD ankle strap made out of aluminum foil. Load up the Makey Makey demo piano page and I have a banana piano on my desk. I’ve really got to hand it to [Jay] and [Eric] on this one. This thing is a blast.
After that, I decided to step things up a notch and make a giant Super Nintendo controller out of bits of aluminum foil:
I had a Genesis growing up. Obviously.
I honestly can’t say enough about how cool the Makey Makey is. It’s a completely open toolbox to build anything you want. I was giddy when I put the banana piano together, and I’m sure my blood pressure was rising during my many preliminary tests of Super Mario World.
It wouldn’t be a Hackaday review without at least a paragraph on the hardware. The Makey Makey is loaded with an ATMega32U4 (the same microcontroller found in the brand-new Arduino Leonardo), is compatible with the Arduino IDE, and fully reprogramable through the 6-pin AVR header. The USB port operates just like any other USB HID device, so if your computer can use a USB keyboard it can use the Makey Makey.
On the reverse side of the Makey Makey, there are 16 female headers that breakout into sensors for additional keys. Currently the Makey Makey will send WASDFGHJ, up, down, left, right, left click, and right click to your computer, but that can be easily remapped in the Arduino environment when the Makey Makey source is released ([Jay] says they’ll release the source at least by the time they ship, if not sooner). In total, the enterprising maker has 18 touch-sensitive inputs that can be mapped to any USB input.
The Makey Makey is friggin’ awesome. Think of just about any project you’d like to make – musical beers, for instance. You can do that with the Makey Makey. It’s a fabulous toy that is the perfect introduction for that inquisitive elementary school student you’re in charge of, and more than enough to get even the most jaded teenager interested in building something cool. It’s more than worth the price of admission, especially when there’s so much you can do with it.