Make Skeeball-inspired Games Using Pizza Boxes, Party Favors, and a PC




Introduction: Make Skeeball-inspired Games Using Pizza Boxes, Party Favors, and a PC

These steps will help you make Skeeball-inspired games from post-party materials (to satisfy the morning-after crafter in you). We'll recycle some party favors such as plastic cups, plastic bottles and pizza boxes to create something that gives you new ways to play and interact with your computer. The game that I use as an example in this instructable constructs virtual pizzas on a PC based on which hole a player rolls a ball into. Each hole has a label listing a pizza topping. When a ball rolls through a hole, the ingredient on its label is added to the on-screen pizza drawing.

The video clips below show the pizza box Skeeball controller in action.

Step 1: Gather Your Supplies

The lists below draw from basic tools that I keep at home and supplies that I collected the morning after my housemates had a party.

You will need:
(Things you might intercept on the way to a trash can)
- 1 pizza box (grease is optional)
- 3 plastic cups (it is a good idea to wash them out first)
- 3 1-Liter plastic bottles
- 1 to 3 balls (I chose tennis balls, but a foil ball of similar size and weight would suffice)
- Extra sacrificial cardboard (the collection should amount to roughly twice as much as your pizza box offers)

(Things to which you might already have access)
- A marker
- A ruler (although rough estimates are fine for this project)
- 3 pushpins
- Tape
- A boxcutter (to be used carefully around your floor and body) or a pair of scissors
- 1 external keyboard (unless you're comfortable with hurling things at your main keyboard)
- 1 computer
- The ScratchScratch programming environment (optional, and free)

Step 2: Construct the Pizza Box’s Base

As you build your base, you'll be using your supply of non-pizza-box cardboard. One or more of the images will correspond with each bullet point of this step:

*Start by selecting some cardboard to serve as the base.
(Feel free to tape pieces of cardboard together until you have a piece as wide as the pizza box and longer than the opened box.)

*Mark and cut the lines that represent what will become your pizza box ramp support structure. Fold them upright when cut.

*Lift the lid of your pizza box to about 45 degrees. Find a piece of cardboard that matches the width of your pizza box and is a little taller than the lid you're lifting.
Cut a hole in the bottom of that piece that will fit your keyboard. Remove notches from the top of it so that it can function as a slot in a tab you'll make in the next step.

Note: I tinkered with an initial prototype of this project until I arrived at a structure that satisfied me (just stable and reliable enough). I built the more-stable version I'm describing by looking at the parts of the initial prototype. I did not work from exact measurements. I do not mention many measurements in this instructable as I hope that the pictures will help you "eyeball" measure the materials you find. You'll notice that I try to refer to the size of most parts with respect to the things to which they connect.

Step 3: Convert the Pizza Box to an Inclined Skeeball Alley

Performing the actions shown in these pictures will give you a reasonably strong structure to withstand your ball rolling.

-Open the pizza box and turn it upside down so that the logo faces upward (not the grease).

-Cut a tab in the lower half of the pizza box that you can slide into a slot you cut in the baseboard in the last step.

-Mark and cut the necessary holes in the pizza box. A set of slots for the ramp support, the ramp outline, and holes into which you'll place the cups.

Step 4: Make Room for the Holes

In this step, you'll be removing the bottom of each cup. You'll also cut slots into cups so that they can rest on the notches in the holes.

Step 5: Connect Your Holes to Your External Keyboard

In this step, we'll direct balls falling through the holes to keys on the keyboard. You'll want to start by inserting your keyboard. Then, we use the 1-Liter plastcic bottles to guide the tennis balls to a key and then launch them to the side.

We mate the bottom part of the bottles with the now-bottomless cups. To mate the bottles with the keyboard keys, a pushpin in the lid and some tape do the trick.

One way that I tested my connections between the holes and the keys was to type into a text editor. I used a very large font, rolled balls into cups and checked to find out how often the ball would strike the intended key.

You could use the text editor as a way to keep a tally of your rolls, but the next step might be more fun for you.

Step 6: Control a Computer Program

You can start by thinking about what you want each hole to represent. In traditional Skeeball, each hole is worth a certain number of points. People play to achieve a high score. In an example I explain below, the objective is to make a pizza.

There are many computer programs that let you trigger events when a person presses a particular key on a keyboard. I used the Scratch programming environment. It is available at as a free download. (Part of my role on the Scratch design team is to make new ways for people to interface with Scratch in a more physical way - extending the keyboard is one of many ways.)

You can download the pizza_overflow project on the Scratch website at:
The page includes notes about the project and a link to download it's code. You can learn about how to get started using Scratch from support materials on the website if you'd like to extend this example, modify it, or make your own.

To make the pizza_overflow project work with your pizza box Skeeball controller's keyboard, there are parts of the program that you might need to adjust. The program contains three command blocks that allow you to select which key a particular part of the program will respond to. I set the default project to use the numbers 1,2, and 3 for each topping. In Step 5, you connected each hole of your pizza box Skeeball controller to a number (or letter) on your keyboard. Please adjust the Scratch command in the image below to your keys. Do so for the sauce, cheese, and topping object.

Step 7: Modify or Make a New Computer Program to Control

There are many elements of this project that you can tweak to your taste. Have fun trying out different games (the pizza box lent itself to pizza-related games, but the cups also suggest beverage-based themes as well). Perhaps you will add more holes. Perhaps you'll create different programs (using Scratch or your application of choice). Better yet, you'll create a new type of post-party games. Have fun!

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    Reply 12 years ago on Introduction

    To guide the tennis balls out of one side, I attached three modified 1-liter plastic bottles under the holes (the red plastic cups). I cut the bottom off of each plastic bottle and taped them to the bottom of the red plastic cups in such a way that the tennis ball would roll through the cut-off cup into base of the 1-liter plastic bottle. I cut a hole in the neck of the plastic bottle large enough to let a tennis ball roll through it. I pointed each of these holes toward the side of the pizza box. When the ball rolls through skeeball hole, it enters the bottle. Then, the curve of the neck guides the ball out of the tennis-ball-sized hole toward the side of the pizza box.


    12 years ago on Introduction

    Everytime I go to a arcade this is the first thing I look for! Now I can make a home-made version! AWESOME! Next time we order pizza im saving the pizza box and makin' one of these. Very creative, can't wait to make one! :D


    Reply 12 years ago on Introduction

    If you order pizza as much as I do, you'll have one of your own in no time :) Enjoy the pizza and the process. Thanks for the comment.


    12 years ago on Introduction

    I find it interesting that you did it in Scratch. It's a great program!


    12 years ago on Introduction

    Very clever, a great adaptation using everyday materials! I love it!


    12 years ago on Introduction

    I was looking at this thinking to myself "Yeah, real cheap once you buy a bunch of sensors" but you used the keyboard. Keep it simple! Very clever says my cynical self!