Convert a toy piano to work as a midi device and use it with Synthesia

Picture of Convert a toy piano to work as a midi device and use it with Synthesia
Goal of this project:
Convert a cheap toy piano to work as a midi device and use it with Synthesia (
Other programs that use midi inputs can also be used.

The pushbuttons of the piano are used to make a simple pull-down circuit for the arduino mega. The arduino interprets the keystrokes and sends serial midi data to the pc. Then this data is send to a virtual midi port with "serial-midi converter". This midi port is connected to Synthesia via "MIDI Yoke". MIDI Yoke is a driver that creates virtual ports. Each port has an input and an output which are connected. With MIDI Yoke you can couple different midi programs without any physical hardware.

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Step 1: Parts and tools

Picture of Parts and tools
List of the parts needed for this project:

- Toy piano
- Arduino mega (This project van also be done with an arduino uno but you should use an line decoder to expand your arduinos inputs.)
- Flat ribbon cable (from old pc)
- Connectors (1 for piano and 1 for arduino)

List of tools needed: 

- Soldering iron
- Desoldering pump or wick
- Ohmmeter
- Hot glue or any other strong glue

Step 2: Hardware

The pushbuttons of the piano keys are used to make simple pull down circuits. The internal pull-up resistors in the atmega IC are used so we don't need extra external pull-up resistors. 

- Open the toy piano and locate the pushbuttons corresponding to the piano keys.
- Check if all the buttons have a common line. This is the ground line.
- Locate and remove the main IC. Solder wires to all leads going to the buttons including the ground wire.
- Check you didn't make any shorts while soldering. (ohmmeter)
- Solder the other ends to the connector for the flat ribbon cable.
- Make a cutout in the housing of the piano for the connector.
- Reassemble the piano.
FueGoDj1 month ago


Girts1 year ago
So,as I understand,i can use this not only for toy piano,but for whatever buttons I want,right?The red wire whitch isn't connected to the flat ribbon cable is the +9V Lead?
Thank You.
Luke7412 (author)  Girts1 year ago
You can use this for whatever buttons you want. I've seen a simular project where they used pieze sensors to monitor the strokes on a xylophone and convert these to midi.
The red wire is connected to ground. This is because i used the internal pull up resistors of the arduino. If you press a button, you will pull the voltage to ground. (Inverse logic: button pressed is LOW, button released is HIGH).
danjovic1 year ago
You can do this also with a Standard Arduino (UNO, Diecimila, etc) and a bunch of shift registers.
Luke7412 (author)  danjovic1 year ago
It should be possible. You will have to use extra hardware because these standard arduinos don't have a lot of I/O ports. The most obvious thing to do, would be to use a IO port expander ( There also exist keypad encoders like the EDE 1188 ( but I am not  sure you could use them for this application.