Introduction: Marshmallow Keyboard

People are always talking about the various ways they try to create secure yet memorable passwords. I decided it would be both fun and useful to make a password entry device using Makey Makey.

To build it, I used

  • Makey Makey Kit
  • bag of marshmallows (plenty of leftovers for mayhem)
  • 24" x 12" 5mm sheet of plywood
  • spare telephone or ethernet twisted pair cabling
  • food dye
  • wood glue

Tools:

  • Laser cutter (not strictly necessary but I wanted a nice box)
  • wire cutters and strippers
  • clamps

Step 1: Build the Box

I wanted a nice box for the project so I design it online at http://boxmaker.connectionlab.org/ .

I pulled the resulting PDF into CorelDraw and then used copies of one side to make the cross slits. I also added 3mm holes to thread the wires. If you obtain 5mm plywood, you can use my design file.

Glue the box together and clamp the edges. Let it dry overnight.

If you don't have access to a laser cutter or wood shop tools, get a cardboard box about 8 inches across, cut it down to 1.5" tall and glue the dividers in. You can carefully pop the holes out with any sharp object..

Step 2: Prep the Wiring

I took a 4 foot length of old cat 5 cabling and stripped the sheath. I cut it in half giving me 16 pieces of twisted pair wire about 18 inches in length.

After I untwisted the wires, I stripped one end of each wire.

It's important to use solid conductor wire for this step because the stranded wire will be hard to work with. If you only have stranded wire available, tin the ends and make sure they're small enough to insert into the headers on the Makey Makey board.

Step 3: Install the Wires

Before you feed any wires, group them into bundles of four making sure that each bundle has four uniquely colored wires.

I pushed one stripped end through the bottom of the box in each section and taped it down from underneath so they would stay in place.

There are a couple of tips I'd like to share to make your life easier.

Start at the hole furthest from where the wires will come out of the box. Tape the wires you've already run alongside the new wire. By the time you get to the bottom of the column, you'll be taping four wires into place. Once you have all four wires for a column, twist them together so that they are manageable.

Trim the longer wires so that the bundle all terminates at the same distance. This will make it easier to put the wires into the Makey Makey board. Go ahead and strip the ends and tin them carefully if you used stranded wire.

Make sure you have a different color wire for each of the four spots in each column.

Step 4: Insert the Marshmallows

Insert the marshmallows into the wires in the box compartments. You want to be sure to get the bare part of the wire into the gooey centers.

For fun, we etched the leftover marshmallows and had some tasty treats for a snack. With our 60W laser, we etched at 100% power, 50% feed to get a nice contrast. Etching one entire surface caramelized the entire treat and made it a bit crunchy.

Hook your wires into the headers on the Makey Makey. If you want to use all 16 characters, you'll need to remap the keys with this method or by editing the settings.h file and rebuilding the embedded application on the board. If you won't want to remap the keys, you can connect two wires together and they can be the same key. You'll need to do this for four of the wires.

It doesn't really matter which headers you use for each wire because you're memorizing a pattern rather than specific letters or numbers. Nevertheless, you may wish to label the box so that you know which letters each marshmallow represents.

Open Notepad or some other text editor. Test each key. If you plan to label the compartments. this would be the time to do it. If any keys aren't working you may need to adjust the lead in the marshmallow or lick your finger to improve conductivity.

Step 5: Putting It All Together

Once it's all working, I put a drop of food dye onto each marshmallow to make it look nicer. Be creative. If you're really good, you'll be able to remember the colors for your password and be able to play them back like a Simon game. Sadly, you can't use this to login into a Windows computer. Windows won't enable the Makey Makey until after you've logged in. However, it works great logging into websites using your favorite browser or into other applications on your desktop.

When you reset your password, just press the pattern you want to use, verify it and you're off and running. Be sure each keypress registers so that you don't lock yourself out of your accounts!

Comments

author
EvolvedAwesome (author)2015-03-06

Haha, this is awesome! This is a really cool idea! Excellent use of the Makey Makey!

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