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Videos / Makey Makey Hand Drawn Piano, Nice!

Makey Makey is the heart of thousands of fun electronics projects at home or in the classroom. In this project, Sam builds a pencil piano with a Makey Makey! While we've drawn a piano, you could use any picture with a similar outcome!

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Hello! How are you going? I’m Sam from Core-Electronics and today we’re going to be taking a look at a fantastic Makey Makey project for all ages, teachers, parents, educators, kids, anyone’s going to have fun with this. And today what we’re going to be doing is drawing our very own musical instrument, yes that’s right, drawing! We can use a pencil, now a pencil contains graphite and graphite is actually a conductor of electricity. So we can draw something, we can draw a circuit on paper, connect our Makey Makey up to it and it’s going to make the circuit using our body as well. And we can draw a piano, you can draw bongos, a guitar or whatever it is that you like but today we’re going to be making a piano using a web app on the Makey Makey page called Piano.

Now it’s really simple, all you need to do is to draw your layout and you need to ensure that there’s an unbroken line from wherever you’re going to be touching it to wherever you want to connect your alligator clips. That’s really all there is to it but you need to make sure that you get a really thick application of the graphite because any slight break in the trace, even if you can barely see it is going to stop electricity from conducting. So lay it on thick, really get in there and make sure it’s a complete unbroken line and I’ve drawn some pads here where I can attach my alligator clips and they’re going to give a nice secure connection and then I’m going to be touching the pads here. So, that’s really all there is to it.

You’ll need a Makey Makey of course, a pencil, a piece of paper, stuff you can find around the house and we’re going to use the Makey Makey in its traditional resistive touch mode. So if you’ve programmed it to work with capacitive touch for one of our other projects check out Resistive Touch tutorial which goes through how you can revert to the default firmware on this.

So go to, there’s a link in here to go to the Makey Makey web app page, click on that and you’ll find Piano. I’m switching to Google Chrome for this because it works a little bit better and you can see the Piano here. It’s fantastic and the arrow keys make sound which is really cool, so we’re going to use the arrow keys and the space bar on our Makey Makey to trigger these. So get the Makey Makey out, plug it in, now draw your piano, go ahead I’ve already done that to save a little bit of time and you don’t have to be a fantastic artist as witness of my terrible drawing skills. No artistic talent is required, you just have to make sure that you make a circuit, awesome, I’m triggering the piano already on Makey Makey!

So, go ahead and I can see that the “C” note on our piano is connected to the left pad, so connect that to UP. Hello! Alrighty, there we go, fantastic, so now get your other alligator clip on to the white pad, sorry the UP pad, its a white alligator clip. Oh shush you :-) Just bring a bit more of the pad exposed so it makes a nice connection with it. And then we can see the next one is the right arrow key so we want to connect that up. And the next one is our down arrow key, alright, actually I’m going to switch that around, all these accidental triggers when I’m accidentally making a circuit.

Alright, now finally we’ve got our green wire which goes to the space bar and connect your ground wire up now this is important because we’re going to be making a circuit with our bodies. So what’s happening is I am holding the ground wire and I’m touching one of these traces and my body is making the circuit. So when I touch one of these traces electricity, very, very small harmless amounts bear in mind, it’s minuscule amounts of electricity so small you can barely measure it with a micro controller sensitive enough to pick it up so it’s completely safe, is going from that pad and forming a circuit here where my body is completing the circuit and so when I hold this my body is completing the circuit. Pretty cool huh! It’s awesome fun, you can draw your own piano and play tunes. (music playing) and I ran out of keys but that’s ok, you don’t have to be a musician or know anything about music or anything about electronics or soldering or programming to get started with the Makey Makey.

It’s what makes it such a great platform for projects, this really simple project here was created with a lead pencil and one of our Makey Makey kits. So I encourage you guys to pick up one of these kits, get started with some projects and stay tuned for more awesome Makey Makey projects. That’s all for today guys, have a great day :-)