Introduction: Making Strange Game Controllers With Makey Makey

In January 2015 the Leicester Hackspace held a Makey Makey workshop with goodies provided by Instructables and here is one of the projects one of our members did:

The shape of a games controller affects the playing experience of games. There is a reason why control pads have evolved towards having two analogue sticks, a d-pad, four buttons on the right hand side, and some shoulder buttons, and that's because it's a flexible design which covers a wide range of different games. However awesome that setup is for most games, it is a little boring. How can we fix this? Well, in the Makey Makey advert a Nintendo controller is shown made from Play-Doh and I thought I could do something stranger.

Step 1: You Will Need

- A Makey Makey kit

- A cube (I used a food container, but a Rubik's Cube would be ideal)

- Something conductive. I used copper tape which is good for a permanent soldered conenction, but you can also use aluminium foil.

- a pair of scissors

Step 2: Stick Copper Tape on the Cube

Apply tape to the cube to make up, down, left, right arrows. I added the arrow buttons in a row around four faces of the food container in the order: left, right, up, and down. The precise order doesn't matter too much, but will affect how much you have to rotate the cube around to affect the game.

Optionally add extra buttons for space and left-button mouse clicks. Again I placed these on the top and bottom of the food container.

Step 3: Wire It Up

Wire up the buttons to the Makey Makey. Initially it was possible to use the crocodile clip leads that came with the Makey Makey kit clipped onto the copper tape lifted off the surface. For a more permanent job it would be better to solder flexible wires to the tape.

Then attach the MakeyMakey to your computer

Step 4: Load a Game

Load a game which uses the arrow keys and two buttons that you can configure such as Super Mario World running inside an emulator. I used an old Python Pygame demo which uses the arrow keys to move a square around the screen and use the cube!

Step 5: Next Steps

If using a transparent or translucent container place some LEDs inside such as an Adafruit Neopixel ring. This will made the container light up and look really cool when gaming in the dark.

You could also use these principles with more copper tape to make other strange controllers. What about placing some conductive material on the edge of a tray which are connected to the Makey Makey and rolling a large ball bearing or ball of aluminium foil around to control movement in a game?