Introduction: 3 Ways to Build a Makey Makey Floor Piano

About: Computers are going bananas! Use #makeymakey to practice invention literacy and connect the world to your computer.

Choose your own piano adventure. Learn to build a quick floor piano, an oversized portable piano, or even add flat/sharp notes for a fully functional full scale!

Supplies Needed:

Build One:

  • HVAC tape (Available at Home Depot, Lowes, Hardware store)
  • Makey Makey

Build Two and Three:

    Step 1: ​Option 1: Super Simple Floor Piano

    This super simple floor piano only takes about 10 minutes to set up!

    Grab some HVAC tape from your local hardware store. Please also note that the edge of HVAC tape can me be very sharp!

    Use this aluminum tape to make 6 piano keys on the floor. Then run a strip of foil tape along the bottom to be your EARTH connection. We ran the tape on the bottom and folded the corner to run our EARTH to the top, so the alligator clips would all be out of the way when people are playing this piano with their feet. You need to fold the tape and not tear it as the adhesive is not conductive on HVAC tape. (Picture 1)

    To make it look more like a piano and protect other players from the sharp edges of the tape, use duct tape to cover the sharp edges and run one piece of duct tape across the bottom.between the key presses and EARTH. (Picture 2)

    Attach an each alligator clip to each foil strip then match each piano key to the piano app. Then make sure to connect EARTH to the grounding strip. The template in picture 3 should help you with your set up. When you step (in socked or bare feet) on a piano key with your heel on EARTH, you will play a piano note! Step on each key to play each note.

    What songs can you play?

    Step 2: ​Option 2: Movable Floor Piano

    This large scale (see what we did there?) piano takes about one hour to set up. It works great on Eric's MK1 Sampling Keyboard for Makey Makey or this Scratch game.

    Create a background for your large scale floor piano with a large piece of cardboard and butcher paper. This will make your whole set up transportable!

    Grab a roll of kitchen foil to make piano keys. We pulled out about 24" and then cut that piece in half to make our keys. (Picture 1)

    Space each foil out on your background before attaching!

    Make sure none of your foil keys are touching, then use a glue stick to adhere each key to your background. (Picture 2) Wrap each key press around to the back side of your backdrop.

    Attach a wire to each key press at the top edge of the cardboard as in picture 3. Use a small white hook up wire from your Makey Makey kit for each key press. Use some conductive fabric tape or copper tape to attach the metal part of the wire to the aluminum foil key press. (Note: You cannot use the HVAC tape for this as the conductive is not adhesive. So make sure the conductive tape you use also has conductive adhesive. This will ensure a good connection.)

    Create an EARTH strip with HVAC tape. Each key press will be activated when a socked foot (or barefoot) steps on the earth strip and the key. So make sure your EARTH is close to each key, but not touching. To keep our wires safe, we ran the EARTH strip under neath the key presses, then folded the corner at the end and ran EARTH to the top of our backdrop. You can elbow patch two pieces of HVAC tape together with conductive fabric tape to make your EARTH strip wider.

    NOTE: HVAC tape is sharp on the edges! Make sure to smooth it down or cover the edges of the tape with Duct tape.

    Step 3: Hooking Up Makey Makey to the Full Scale Piano

    To hook this up to Eric's MK1 Sampling Keyboard for Makey Makey or this Scratch game, follow the template in picture 1.

    Attach your STEM pack extra long alligator clips to the exposed end of your hook up wire and attach each key to Makey Makey as indicated in picture 1.

    Insulate each key press with duct tape and hook up to your computer to start playing! (Picture 2)

    Step 4: ​Adding Sharps: the Template and Overview

    Check out this template for adding sharps to your piano in picture 1. You'll have to remap a few keys to be letter presses on the back of your Makey Makey. To prepare follow this remap guide to make the mouse movements on the back right header into key presses.

    The first step is to insulate your previous piano keys. You'll use the black duct tape to insulate your previous keys and BONUS it will make your piano look even more like a piano! (Picture 2)

    To make the connections for your sharp/flat keys, you'll be making a different type of connection. We will run an EARTH strip to each key press. (This is actually how a circuit board is made for a keyboard! On a keyboard, when your finger presses a key, it makes a connection across two conductive traces. That sends a signal to the computer that you've pressed a key. You'll be doing the same thing with your feet for these piano keys! See picture 3 for a close up of what the conductive traces look like for the flat key and what it looks like to insulate your previous circuits with duct tape.

    We are using 1" conductive fabric tape for these key presses, if you have a the Inventor Booster Pack, there is a skinnier version of this tape in the kit. It has conductive adhesive, so it is good for making this more complicated circuit.

    Step 5: ​Option 3: Adding Sharps

    First off, you need to run an EARTH strip along the top of your piano. Make sure you've insulated your previous circuits with duct tape.

    For each key press, you'll put down a conductive tape trace like in picture 1. Then using an extra long hook up wire, place conductive tape on top of the stripped wire to attach it on the top and the bottom to your key press tape trace as seen in picture 1. By sandwiching the wire you are ensuring connectivity. Especially since others will be stepping on these piano keys!

    Cover your conductive tape and wiring on the top of your piano with black duct tape. This will insulate your circuit AND keep your wiring in place. In picture 1 and picture 2, you can also see where the EARTH connection is visible. In picture 2, we have NOT connected the EARTH connection for this key press to work yet. Notice that the black duct tape insulates your flat/sharp key press from your previous circuits. Also notice that this EARTH will run across the top of your piano to your previous EARTH connection from your oversized piano. For each flat/sharp key press, you'll run a tape trace down from this EARTH tape trace so that when someone steps on top of both, their foot will complete the circuit.

    Run your EARTH tape trace next to your key press as in picture 3. Make sure you connect to your EARTH strip on the top of your piano AND that this circuit trace runs parallel to your key press. Don't let these two conductive pathways cross or you will have a continuous circuit.

    You've made a sharp key now! Use duct tape to insulate your earth connection as seen in picture 4.

    Step 6: ​Wiring and Insulating Sharps

    Repeat step 6 for each sharp key. Make sure you have a wire connected to each key press and you cover the exposed wire with conductive tape. Also make sure your key press does NOT touch EARTH. In picture 1 you can see how we are about to wire the next key and that EARTH is connected to the EARTH tape trace.

    In picture 2, wiring is in place and secured with duct tape. Then we insulated EARTH in picture 3 by placing duct tape over the top and further securing our wiring.

    Repeat until all of your sharps are wired. Run the extra long hook up wires to the back headers of your Makey Makey. If you didn't already, make sure to remap the mouse movements on the back right header to key presses. Here is that remap guide if you need it!

    We remapped two pins to the letters j and k. Then plugged in all the sharps with the extra long hook up wires from the STEM pack. Make sure you label all your wires in case they come unplugged!

    This piano works with this Scratch piano coded to be a full octave including sharps/flats!

    Step 7: ​Hook It Up and Play!

    Hook up all of your keys to match this Scratch piano with full octave including sharps/flats!:

    Or create your own piano in Scratch! Consider creating some laminated sheet music so your friends can attempt some simple songs.

    Step 8: ​Extensions: Staircase Piano or Roll Up Piano?

    Once you've made your piano, you can start dreaming up other pianos. You could use the ultimate stomp pad guide to create switches for piano keys, or even put a piano on a stairwell. But make sure you hold on to the hand rail!

    We also created a roll up piano (similar to this roll up maze by Frazer McKay) on a yoga mat so we can take it everywhere we go! Make sure to share your remixes in the gallery of this guide! We want to see how you #makeymakey a piano!

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