Banana piano. Play-Doh game controller. Pencil and paper keyboard. We first saw the incredible projects that the versatile and easy-to-use MaKey MaKey board made possible at Bay Area Maker Faire in 2012, where creators Jay Silver and Eric Rosenbaum of MIT delighted the crowd and took home an editor’s pick. Shortly after that, it blasted to Kickstarter success with more than $500,000 in funding.
Since then, the diminutive, Arduino-compatible board has been released to the world and has quickly become one of our favorite products. It’s the perfect tool to inspire kids and adults alike, and has been used for an incredible array of creations. Here are ten of the our favorites, from incredible music instruments to a target range to a banana-controlled drone.
You can get MaKey MaKey in the Maker Shed — it makes a fantastic holiday present.
Nerf Blaster Auto-Scoring Shooting Range
Various dangling targets connect to complete a circuit and add points to your score. Uses a simple macro in Microsoft Excel to add and display the point total.
DIY Harp Guitar
A traditional harp guitar is a hybrid instrument that merges a typical acoustic guitar with a second set of of thick bass strings, played simultaneously for a robust sound. Curtis Thorpe uses a MaKey MaKey and five quarters to add a bass component to his guitar to replicate the harp guitar effect, and wonderfully so.
Seven buttons and a grounding node that connects to the player’s chin, this digital instrument by Adriano Parracciani is an ongoing work in progress. Don't miss his latest version for some impressive advancements with additional range and playability.
MaKey MaKey/Scratch DJ Setup
Using a handmade paper turntable and the incredibly simple Scratch programming package, Ed McPadden’s aspiring DJ daughter can tweak the sounds of any sample in her online library.
MaKey MaKey and Hummingbird
The Hummingbird robotics kit is a great companion to MaKey MaKey. The interface lets the user map the robot kit's servos to any input that you desire.
MaKey MaKey works by using the inherent conductivity of various substances, from water to pencil led to different types of food. Maddi H. won an award at her 7th grade science faire with a project that lets you test if different items are conductive or not. Way to go Maddi.
Sure, moving around, digging holes, and building structures in Minecraft can be done with keyboard and mouse clicks, but wouldn’t it be cooler if your actual movements controlled the action on the screen? Check out this sweet rig that does just that.
Interactive Dance Floor
Bring your next party to life: Sensors on foam flooring connect the MaKey MaKey to Ableton Live to trigger different effects and samples in the music in real time.
Digital Wind Chimes
Any conductive item can turn connection into sound. These foil-wrapped silverware chimes have been connected to the music/multimedia software Max 6 to play peaceful, relaxing tones whenever they bump together.
See all of our Shed picks here.