Introduction: Makey Makey Piano

About: We love playing with and writing about cool toys.
I built a Makey Makey Veggie Piano to bring to the "Believe In People Summer Celebration" Music Festival at Woodwynn Farms on Vancouver Island in BC, Canada (a short drive from Victoria, the capital city of BC). The farm focuses on helping homeless people develop work skills and self respect, along with a deep understanding of sustainability and community living, with a goal of reintegration into society.

The Makey Makey Veggie Piano fit the musical theme and the goal was to have fun and make people smile. Success!

This project took me about 10 hours.

Tools and parts required:

Makey Makey
USB cable, and alligator clips (comes with Makey Makey)
Computer running Windows, MAC or Linux
VMPK Piano software
VMPK keymap file - Attached to this step - "Makey Makey 18 Key Veg.xml"
Makey Makey Arduino program
Acrylic or wood to mount your piano parts to
Ruler or straight edge
Exacto knife or box cutter
Hinges (optional)
Bolts and Nuts
Glue (optional)
22 AWG solid core wire
Wire cutters
Wire strippers
Antistatic wrist strap or velcro cable strap (if you are using a Velcro cable strap you will also need tin foil and scissors)
Painters tape
Solder and soldering gun
Soldering flux
Heat shrink
Finishing nails
Drill &1/4" drill bit
Loud computer speakers
20 vegetables + a few extra - I used carrots and green/yellow zucchinis 
Arduino Software (PLEASE use Linux to program the Makey Makey; Windows requires drivers, which means going into the hardware manager and updating the drivers before it updates itself while trying to upload to the Makey Makey... believe me when I say that using Linux is much easier!)
And don't forget your Instructables sticker ;)

Submitted by Mobile Makerspace for the Instructables Sponsorship Program

Step 1: Makey Makey Arduino Code

Read the Intro to Arduino Instructable if you are not familiar with the Arduino.

Instructions to program your MaKey MaKey are provided by Sparkfun:

You will need the Arduino Add on Files from Sparkfun (follow the instructions they provide you)

If you are a Windows user you will also need the driver (which I found difficult so I booted into to Linux and found it much easier). The driver, add on files, and instructions can be found on the Sparkfun website:

When you reprogram the Makey Makey, use new Arduino code by replacing the settings.h code with the code provided in the Carrot Piano (A MaKey MaKey Project)  by jimbob1996 instructable. Do NOT use the piano keymap configuration on that Instructable. There are plenty of instructions on how to program an Arduino, which is what a Makey Makey is with a few modifications.

Step 2: Find Some Acrylic

I picked up these two pieces of scrap acrylic from my local plastics store... and I need to mention the name because it is so awesome... they call them selves "Plexy-Klass"!!!  Klassy! They have a large bin of scraps and the public is welcome to come in, go through it and take what they want. Check to see if your area has a similar store, or use your own source to find some acrylic or something similarly suitable for this project.

I found a large sheet as a base and a piece that was formed like a channel, so I grabbed them both thinking I could keep the wires and Makey Makey inside the formed piece and mount the veggies the on top.

Step 3: Drill Holes

Using my straight edge, I made 1" marks from one end to the other, then proceeded to drill holes on those spots and clean them up with a box cutter.

Step 4: Position the Base and Hinge

Position the base and the top part of acrylic where you want them, then position the hinge. If you are going to use a bit of glue to help keep the hinges in place, use some painter's tape to keep it from spreading. I find that acrylic can fracture over time - especially near hinged holes.  I used a bit of glue and it spread the pressure on the spot to make it last much longer.

Once you have put your tape on the acrylic, then remove the hinge and use a box cutter to cut where the two pieces of acrylic meet, separating the tape.

Step 5: Glue and Clamp the Hinges

I used a bit of Gorilla glue on the hinges and clamped them in place on the top of the piano, allowing them to dry for about 4-5 hours. Remove the tape and clean up any extra glue after it has dried.

Step 6: Drill Some Holes and Insert Bolts

Once your glue has set and you have cleaned it up, drill some holes for some bolts through the holes in your hinges. I waited to drill the holes so they would line up perfectly. Clean up the holes with a knife if there is any left over acrylic from the drill bit.

Insert your bolts through the holes but be sure not to tighten the bolts too tight; otherwise you will crack the acrylic. You can use some Loctite, nylon threads, or even a bit of Gorilla glue on the nuts to keep them from coming off if they are loose.

Step 7: Time to Run Some Wires!

Now that your hinges are attached, open your "piano" up and start running wire from the center, starting with the end hole and working towards the center running wire through every second hole, giving about 6" to 10" of wire sticking out of each hole and plenty of loose wire inside the piano so when you open it nothing will pull.

Strip both ends of the wire exposing about 1" of wire on the top side and about 1/4" on the inside.

Step 8: Solder Finishing Nails to Wire

I wrapped the 1" of exposed wire around the head of a brass finishing nail and soldered them on to all 18 wires then used some heat shrink to cover the exposed wire.

Step 9: Organize Your Wires

Gather your wires and get your Makey Makey ready. I used some double sided tape to position the wire and will use it to position the Makey Makey once everything it setup.

Step 10: Plug in & Sugru

Plug all the wires into the the Makey Makey making sure you are using the correct spots mapped to the keyboard file that was provided in the beginning of this Instructable.

Bend the wires down to allow clearance when the lid is closed and use some zip-ties to bring the wires together to organize them.

Run the USB wire out the top middle hole. You may need to make the hole larger to fit the USB cable through this opening.

Use some Sugru to hold the wires in the Makey Makey and use some double sided tape to hold the Makey Makey in place.

Step 11: Insert Your Tip-Ties

Insert the tip of the zip-ties up through the bottom of the lid and back down into the same lid using the first and second hole from the end to form a loop. Then do up the zip-tie very loosely (one or two clicks only - don't tighten too much!) to allow room for your veggies. Repeat, moving to the center of your piano making 8 loose loops on each side. You need to keep them loose to allow enough room to tighten once you have inserted your veggies.

Step 12: Install Veggies!

Veggie installation is a highly technical job and requires someone with patience and precise hand eye coordination. This new field could be very lucrative if you master the following techniques. ;)

1. Grab your veggie
2. Jam it in the loop made by the zip-ties
3. Tighten the zip-ties
4. Stick the corresponding brass nail into each vegetable
5. Make sure the vegetable are not touching each other

Now you are a certified Makey Makey piano veggie installer. 

Step 13: Make an Antistatic Wrist Strap

You need to be grounded to play the Makey Makey, so having bare feet works great - otherwise, you need an anti-static wrist strap. You can make an anti-static wrist strap from a Velcro cable strap.

I cut a piece of tin foil about 4 times as wide as the Velcro strap and folded it so it is the same width, then used a regular needle and thread to sew it into the inside of the Velcro strap. It was large enough to fit on the fingers of adults and the wrists of children.

Step 14: Load Your Key Map

Open VMPK and load your key map file ("Makey Makey 18 Key Veg.xml") provided in step 1 of this Instructable. Go to Edit >> Keyboard Map, and a new window will open called "Key Map Editor". Click the "Open" button and browse for the key map that you saved on your computer, open the "Makey Makey 18 Key Veg.xml", and click OK.

Your piano should now be set up with middle C as the first key on the right side of the keyboard.

Step 15: Festival Time

Now that everything is set up and mapped out, bring it to a music festival or gathering to have some fun!

We took the Makey Makey Veggie Piano to The "Believe In People Summer Celebration" Music Festival at Woodwynn Farms and it was a big hit providing lots of fun for kids and adults, with "repeat customers" coming back again and again!  

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