Introduction: Makey Makey - Early Warning System for High Wind

This "early warning system" design challenge would be given to a group of students. The objective is for a team of students (two or three per group) to design a system that warns people to seek shelter from winds that are becoming dangerously high. The solution shown here is just one way to solve this design challenge. There are many more ways to solve this challenge.


Step 1: Build the Wind Sensor

Wire # 1
  1. Shape one of the wires into an "L" shape so that you can hang a piece of aluminum foil from it. It's best if this wire is not insulated (no coating) because the aluminum foil needs to touch the wire.
  2. Bend the base of the wire so that the clamp can easily grab it.
  3. Connect an alligator clip to the base of the "L" and the other end of the alligator clip to "earth" on the Makey Makey.

Wire # 2

  1. Shape Wire # 2 in a curve (refer to photos). As before, shape the base of this wire such that it's easy for the clamp to grab it.
  2. Connect an alligator clip to the base of this wire and connect the other end two "space" on the Makey Makey.

Step 2: Test With the Fan

Depending on the speed of your fan, the size of your aluminum foil "curtain", and the distance between your fan and aluminum foil, you'll likely need to adjust the size of the aluminum foil. The goal is to make the aluminum foil curtain touch the wire connected to "space" when the fan is on the highest setting (blowing strongest).

Adjust the aluminum foil curtain by folding the aluminum foil so it catches more air or less air depending on your situation. You may need to add weight to the curtain and this can be done easily by adding paper clips as shown in the video.

Step 3: Write Your Code

Create a program in Scratch that triggers an audio warning. Here's the simple program I wrote HERE. Depending on your command of Scratch, you can also create a visual warning.

You'll notice that I've assigned the audio to the "space" bar on the Makey Makey.

If you'd like a tutorial on how to record a unique audio sound and assign that sound to a specific key on the keyboard then watch the instructional video HERE.

Step 4: Connect Your Makey Makey to Your Computer

Connect your Makey Makey to your computer and test your early warning system.

Step 5: More Ideas

The inventing of early warning systems can be applied to other Design Challenges. For example, imagine creating an early warning system for rising water or waves that are growing in size or earthquakes. How about an early warning system that tells you when you've been sitting at your desk too long and then encourages you to get up and do some exercise?