Introduction: Kid-proof Makey-Makey Box

Picture of Kid-proof Makey-Makey Box

This instructable was inspired by Cory Jeacocke's YouTube video.

This past cyber-monday, I picked up a Makey Makey (MM) from Sparkfun for under 25 bucks. If you're unfamiliar with it, it's a wonderfully simple device that allows you to turn almost anything conductive into an input device like any old keyboard or mouse. That means that if you've ever wanted to make fruit and veg-based instruments, or musical art, its easier than ever before. (If it was even possible before)

Despite the coolness and infinite possibilities the device offers, in the end, it's a printed circuit board. With reservations, I gave it to my 7-year-old son, and while he was able to hook everything up and make his first banana piano, it was with much effort and a bit of damage to the MM.

The main difficulty he had was with the alligator clips. He just couldn't squeeze them hard enough to get them to secure to the MM board.

My first thought is that someone had to have made something commercially available that would protect the board, and make it a bit easier for kids to use. I was wrong. All I found was this, and although it protects the MM from small drops and the like, it doesn't solve the 'gator clip problem.

Then I came across Cory the Aussie's vid on YouTube. After watching it, I marveled at his ingenuity, and started gathering parts.

The whole thing cost me around 12 bucks, which beats the other MM case (~$14 shipped) hands-down.

Step 1: Materials and Tools List

Materials

Insulated box - I used BUD Industries PN-1337

~15ft Hookup Wire - I used 22AWG MTW, but anything around 22 to 30 gauge, stranded copper will suffice.

18 banana plug sockets - Preferably with conductive tops, color is your choice

Mini-USB extension with right angle male connector

5 alligator clips

Small piece of aluminum - To make a support bracket for the USB - I cut and bent a piece salvaged from a CD-ROM drive.

Tools

Soldering iron

Solder

Phillips screwdriver

Drill

Drill bit - same size as banana sockets (about 6mm or about 1/4-inch, check yours to verify)

Drill bit - approximate size of the USB female plug

Hobby knife/box cutter, or the like

Hot glue gun or other adhesive

Step 2: Assembly

Picture of Assembly

Take your box and mark out the holes for all the banana sockets. I used a piece of graph paper cut to size and taped to the lid of the box. Then I marked the hole placement on the paper and used a softly-tapped center punch to make the marks on the lid. Then I removed the paper and drilled the holes.

Next, use the female end of the USB extension cable to mark out where you want to plug it in. I placed mine on the front of the box as one would read the labels. After marking the spot, Drill two holes very close to edges of your marks, and then use a hobby knife to cut the hole to size. Check fitment often as you go, the tighter it fits, the better.

Now that all of the holes are drilled, it's time to cut and tin all 18 of your connection wires. The wires should be long enough to allow the lid to come off while they're connected, but not so long as to prevent the lid from closing around them.

Take 5 of your wires and solder alligator clips to one end.

When you have all of your wires ready, solder one end to each banana socket. Be sure to trim off any excess wire and watch the placement of the tabs to prevent shorts.

Trim the opposite ends of each wire so that they fit into the headers on the MM without leaving any bare wire.

Carefully place all of the wires into the proper header positions (Keyboard: WASDFG, Mouse: Up/Down/Left/Right, Left-click and Right-click, Earth) and attach the alligator clips (Keyboard: Up/Down/Left/Right and Space) to the MM.

Before putting the MM in the box, do the final fitment of the USB extension cable. If you made a support bracket, hot glue it the the female end, and then hot glue that assembly to the box.

Hook the box up to a computer and test it. (Don't forget to touch the ground to complete the circuit)

Label all of the banana sockets.

Now never worry about connecting those annoying 'gator clips, or stepping on your MakeyMakey again!

Step 3: Final Thoughts

After using the MM to make everything from banana and marshmallow drum sets to water-tub DDR to stair pianos, I must say that this box makes it all the more enjoyable. My son and my 15-month old daughter can make all of the connections themselves, bringing their own ideas to fruition without me having to take the lead. I just get to sit back and marvel at THEIR ingenuity, and that's awesome in my book.

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