loading

Hydrophobic music, dubstep windchimes, Smash Smash Revolution and etc @ Knox Makers Build Night w/ MaKey MaKey!

Wow, what a month at Knox Makers!

We were absolutely invaded by MaKey MaKeys at our hackerspace all throughout January. To start us off, we released a freebie project a little early to help out members and guests get some ideas, to drum up local support for our events, and to offer a fun + easy starter project for the other spaces participating:

Oversized Music Chest

This ended up getting featured in Electronics! It leaves a lot of room to add extra components and tote the MaKey MaKey around, and we turned ours into a musical advertisement for our first Build Night, a mystery hack night about music.

Mystery Hack Night: Music!

What a blast! Talk about a weird time..

One family brought a theremin and a circuit bending kit for kids; another group brought an amp and speakers, a suitcase of effect pedals and circuit bent instruments, and a 4 channel mixer; we had a random component table for open hacking; an acoustic and broken ukulele was converted into an electronic instrument; we had painters painting music instrument for the MaKey MaKey with conductive paint; there was a table with our hydrophobic drum pad, bananas, an eggplant, flowers, and a grappling hook all controlling a set of browser based drums through the MaKey MaKey; we had members hooking up tactile buttons and levers to MaKey MaKeys; and we closed with the weirdest jam session this side of Alpha Centauri with all the things playing all the sounds at the same time.

Mystery Hack Night: Video Game Controllers!

This was a fun night, and we had a few new people show up. We tinkered with a platformer adventure game called Fancy Pants Adventure, where we assigned each person one button. At one point, the whole table was controlling the game's protagonist. Somehow, we made it pretty far into the game, considering. A few people commented that this type of exercise seemed like a really useful team building exercise, so we might look at creating some tutorials with this in mind. We also had individuals and small groups testing out their own inventions and games, again revisiting concepts like conductive ink or simple conductive objects. A two person team tinkered around with some simple fighting games that only use one button for each player, there were people playing Tetris and other games with their inventions, and we again offered a random hack table with an assortment of items and components to rummage through.

MaKey MaKey Build Night I: When MaKeys Attack..

We had a nice turnout for this event. This was an introduction to the basic concept behind MaKey MaKey, how to remap the beta v1.2 boards using the web remapper, different applications that make a MaKey MaKey naturally awesome to use, and a few sample projects. We opened up the floor to open hacking, and that day our Adafruit group buy had just come in. We were able to add to the random hack table some awesome components, such as: male/male and female/female jumper wires, various diffused LEDs, slow and fast cycling LEDs, conductive thread, flat LED panels, sewable LEDs, tactile buttons, and other items. We wrapped up and one of our newest members stayed late to craft a thin copper wire into a flat copper instrument using a mallet. He ended up using a breadboard with the MaKey MaKey and Wolfram software to write his own music program. As with our other Build Night events this month, we also had people working on side projects in the background which added to the creative energy of the room. For this event, one of our members tested out a Gocupi that managed to draw Rear Admiral Grace Hopper and Albert Einstein on the whiteboard in dry erase marker using continuous lines.

MaKey MaKey Build Night II: Big Projects!

We had a decent turnout for this event, but mostly the attendees were there for their own big projects unrelated to MaKey MaKey. We got a few MaKey MaKey projects in around good company, though. We had members working on a large geodesic Airolite boat, someone showed up to work on their 3D printer and print out their first scale model of a scanned person, our Facilities Director was able to get some critical inventory done, a couple members mounted new shelves that had been donated that day, and one member's daughter wanted to play around with hydrophobics. We also were able to get electronic musical wind chimes made that work very nicely with the MaKey MaKey, and the same member who tinkered with Wolfram software at the prior event made more progress on some of his own MaKey MaKey ideas.

MaKey MaKey Build Night III: Advanced Reprogramming!

This was one of the build nights I was most excited about, and we had a nice turnout. We walked members through reprogramming the older MaKey MaKeys using the MaKey MaKey sketch for Arduino IDE. We bested Windows and its infernal resistance to unsigned 3rd party drivers, and we advanced onward. We looked at basic reprogramming of the settings.h key bindings, and we also looked at other Arduino programming such as delay, Keyboard.print, Keyboard.press, Keyboard.release, and some other concepts. A father team duo that are also involved in a local high school robotics club showed up and schooled us a little on Arduino with some tricks they had up their sleeves, another father son duo showed up to experience the MaKey MaKey for the first time together and it seemed to blow their minds, and we talked about the new web remapping tool for the beta v1.2 boards.

Mad Science Bingo

For one of our educational outreach events, we attended hijacked bingo night at a local senior citizen community center. We let everyone have their bingo fun without interruption, but as bingo concluded we invaded with a MaKey MaKey, our hydrophobic drum pad, fruits and veggies, and some flowers. The senior citizens loved it and have invited us back. At one point, we had three participants record themselves singing into a Scratch program that we mapped to the flowers. The room erupted with laughter when the community center manager went to touch the flowers and they sang at her in her patrons' voices. She even lent her voice to be recorded, which sent the room into mad howls. We also made a chain of about dozen people between ground and the triggers. We didn't really invent anything unique here, but it was a fun bonus event for the community center patrons. We ended up tinkering around a little with hydrophobics and electronics.

So far after all our events, we ended up with a few more Build Night projects:

Hydrophobic Drum Pad (featured in Science and then Homepaged!)
annoy friends with this party game: Wonky Pong
Smash Smash Revolution ...
black acrylic, conductive paint, and conductive thread Electronic Windchimes
sewable Cardboard Feet DDR (featured in Video Games!)

We've also set out our MaKey MaKey kits for space use now that our January Build Nights are over with. We have a few members with projects they are still working on at the space, a few projects that are still being documented to upload to Instructables, and a few people batting around their own ideas. If we come up with anything else, we'll be sure and update.

A couple "lessons learned" here:
  • Random hack tables are awesome. But.. if they are too chaotic and without the right presentation, these can be intimidating to beginners that may want more direction.
  • Multiple Build Nights rule! But.. it is probably best not to hijack every Saturday of a shared workspace like a hackerspace. This could have been orchestrated a little better (my fault).

Overall, this was a blast to participate in. Thanks to Joylabz and Instructables!

PS.. with two features and one homepage, that gave us 1 and a half years of Pro. One got used, but we're giving away the remaining year of Pro and 3 months of Pro. The bounty: quick connect projects for MaKey MaKey. Ends 3/1 EST. You know what to do..