EDITOR’S NOTE: A few community members suggested re-publishing this gift guide on #makeymakeymonday because of all of the folks gifting and soon to receive their MaKey-MaKey — here goes! I have removed the holiday shipping schedule as it no longer applies.
If you haven’t seen these darling little “invention kits” before, the abbreviated description would be that it is a device that turns the objects in your environment into a controller much like a keyboard. In fact, like a keyboard, the device sends simple keypresses to your computer so you can use the MaKey-MaKey to trigger almost anything that you can assign a quick key or macro to, or use an application that remaps your MaKey-MaKey (or your keyboard) to perform even more functions!
The kit is ready to go out of the box requiring nothing beyond a computer with a USB port. But it is the process of exploring the lightly conductive properties of objects in your environment and dreaming up mischievous purposes for the keypresses that makes this kit so much fun.
Before you do anything, spend some time scrolling through our #makeymakeymonday series for a few ideas. We’ve done our best to collect all of the most interesting uses of the MaKey-MaKey that we could find, sharing them each Monday to inspire those approaching this fun inventors kit for the first time. Check out the list below for some suggestions culled from the series for things you might want to grab to do more with your MaKey-MaKey!
Available At Adafruit!
MaKey MaKey by Jay Silver and Eric Rosenbaum – Made by JoyLabz: Here’s where you start! Ever played Mario on Play-Doh or Piano on Bananas? Alligator clip the Internet to Your World. MaKey MaKey is an invention kit for the 21st century. Turn everyday objects into touchpads and combine them with the internet. It’s a simple Invention Kit for Beginners and Experts doing art, engineering, and everything in between. MaKey MaKey was invented by Jay Silver and Eric Rosenbaum & Made by JoyLabz. Find out more details at makeymakey.com or watch the video. (read more)
Copper Foil Tape wth Conductive Adhesive – 25mm x 15 meter roll: Here’s a handy way to create a pad to “EARTH” on a table or other surface for operating your MaKey-MaKey! Plus, copper tape can be an interesting addition to your toolbox. The tape itself is made of thin pure copper so its extremely flexible and can take on nearly any shape. You can easily solder to it, and the tape itself can carry current just like a wire. On the back is an electrically conductive adhesive. The adhesive can’t carry significant current but it is very handy for sensing applications where you don’t want to solder the copper tape. (read more)
Conductive Fiber – Stainless Steel 20um – 10 grams: This solid stainless-steel conductive fiber is super interesting! It’s great for felting and could also be spun into yarn if that’s your thing. We tested many different fiber thicknesses for needle felting and found that this one (20um fiber thickness, 316L steel, straight fiber) is the most pleasurable to work with. Use about 0.2g of the stuff to make a felt touch button suitable for use with the MaKey MaKey or capacitive touch sensing circuit. Make felt controllers or felt buttons onto an existing wool sweater! (read more)
Pocket Autoranging Digital Multimeter: The pull ups on the MaKey-MaKey can trigger a key press even with a pretty high resistance, but that doesn’t mean you can trigger with a piece of brick (that isn’t wrapped in foil). The best way to test which fruit, vegetables, tin cups, cymbals, metal shelves etc have a low enough resistance for triggering is to have a multimeter in your pocket! When we’re on the go, we like to keep a multimeter in our purse and this model is by far the best pocket meter we’ve found. It’s so good you’ll end up using it as your main multimeter! First up, this meter can measure nearly everything: it’s got DC and AC voltage, resistance, diode, and beeping continuity test, capacitance, frequency, and current (both AC and DC in micro-Ampere and milli-Amp ranges.) There’s also an alkaline battery test – essentially a fixed range voltage test with a bigger drain to get a realistic load reading not just a floating voltage reading. And that’s not all! It’s also auto-ranging, has a data-hold button and turns itself off automatically after about 15 minutes to preserve the battery life. There’s a removable fuse inside for the current sensing side – cheaper meters have the fuse soldered in. (read more)
Premium Male/Male Jumper Wires – 40 x 12″ (300mm): For those looking to flip their MaKey-MaKey over to take advantage of the headers on the other side, grabbing a nice set of jumper wires is a quick and easy way to go from your MaKey-MaKey to a breadboard — or right to a custom connection you are making to a conductive substance. Use a little female socket and some copper tape to make a quick patching point on your MaKey-MaKey components. (read more)
Fruit, Vegetables, Legumes, Mushrooms, etc: Head to the grocery store, my friend, with your multimeter in tow! Making a banana piano is one of the iconic “first projects” usually attempted by MaKey-MaKey first time users. If anyone gives you a hard time — bring a Geiger counter and let them know you are the citizen inspector, there to inspect. (Or maybe don’t do this — what would you do with all of that radiation data you would collect? European readers will have less to worry about, I suspect.)
Play-Doh: Another MaKey-MaKey classic — Play-Doh game controller buttons and “squish circuits.” From the MaKey-MaKey How-To: “Play-Doh, Model Magic and other clays work very well as long as they stay moist.”
Glockenspiel / Xylophone kits: There are a number of kids toys and DIY carpentry kits out there to help you build simple mallet-based musical instruments. Well, when you can find uncoated/painted plates you have a great conductive surface to wire up for your MaKey-MaKey!
Junk Store Magic: Do you know what you get when you walk into one of those junk/antique stores with a multimeter and a couple of bucks in your pocket? Something strange and potentially inspiring that is also conductive in just the way you need it. Gifting a MaKey-MaKey and a strange tin toy might be the difference between a kid using a MaKey-MaKey solely to play Canabalt and coming up with a unique interactive invention.
Mod Podge: Mod Podge is the most popular brand a type of “modge podge” non-toxic glue+sealer+glossy finish substance used by millions of children and crafters to shellac various bits of stamps, paper, etc onto wood, clay ornaments, etc.. While I have been focusing on conductive treats for your MaKey-MaKey fun, it is actually going to be the use of substances like Mod Podge to seal over (comfortably for your hands and for your brain as it harmlessly air dries) the parts that you want to NOT conduct. Inventive uses this plus Play-Doh or other wet malleable clay substances — and the use of ground graphite to turn some of the clay into a very conductive (for MaKey-MaKey) traces — is an excellent way to make a squish-circuit that is easier for younger kids to operate without bridging across all of your hard routing work.
Plaster of Paris and paper mâché: There are hundreds of air-setting clays and powders that you can consider for bulking out the volume of a MaKey-MaKey invention — but plaster of paris and paper-mâché are classics that tend to be easy to work with. Unlike with the Play-Doh and other “wet”/moist clays that you might want to use to conduct electricity, you can use these substances to build the parts that do not conduct. Make sure to leave time for these to dry thoroughly — and consider sealing them over if you are going to apply moist clays to the surface (or these substances will wick all of the moisture out of what you need kept wet).
PlastiDip: This stuff is pretty amazing, though do not let kids loose with the stuff as it tends to stick around for a few decades. This is a great choice if you are looking to insulate part of a metal rod or plate for easier handling — or to take a wild and wooly experimental project and clean it up to be nice and compact, with all of the conductive bits nicely separated from each other. Also a great way to turn parts of a rough wooden box into a gentle container for a fragile project.
Every Monday is Makey Makey™ Monday here at Adafruit! The MaKey MaKey – by Jay Silver and Eric Rosenbaum, made by JoyLabz! Ever played Mario on Play-Doh or Piano on Bananas? Alligator clip the Internet to Your World. MaKey MaKey is an invention kit for the 21st century. Find out more details at makeymakey.com or watch the video at makeymakey.com. Turn everyday objects into touchpads and combine them with the internet. It’s a simple Invention Kit for Beginners and Experts doing art, engineering, and everything in between! If you have a cool project you’ve made with your Makey Makey be sure to send it in to be featured here!