Sound Tubes With Makey Makey



Less than 1 hr

Introduction: Sound Tubes With Makey Makey

About: I make things and I help others to make things. Twitter: joshburker

Build a simple tilt switch to use with the Makey Makey. Tilting the tube back and forth closes the switch and can make things happen in Scratch or other projects. You will create a tilt switch “Makey Makey Tube” with a ground and a key connection. First you will make the marble conductive. Next you will connect the completed tilt switch to the Makey Makey. An example Scratch project reacts to the closing of the circuits detected by the Makey Makey.


Makey Makey Classic, Makey Makey (up to 12 Makey Makey Tubes could be connected to a single Makey Makey and individually programmed to each do something different), Alligator clips, two for each Makey Makey tube, Section of 3/4 inch PVC tube, approximately 8 inches long, Conductive copper tape, Aluminum foil, Glass marble that fits inside PVC tube, Electrician’s tape, Scissors, Computer running Scratch (either version, optional Needle nose pliers, optional Pen

Step 1:

Tear pieces of copper tape approximately one inch long. Tear enough tape to make a pad on which the the marble fits.

Educator Tip:

Note on Standards
These lessons were developed with the idea that teachers all over the globe and a variety of grade levels could hack the lesson plan to meet their students' needs. Therefore, these are just some of the standards the lessons are based on, and not an all-inclusive list.

Step 2:

Remove the backing from the conductive copper tape. Using needle nose pliers and a closed pen or your fingers, carefully adhere the tape to the inside of the PVC tube parallel to the length of the tube. Continue placing pieces of copper tape next to the other strips, trying to make each strip overlap slightly the strip next to it.

Step 3:

Tear a piece of copper tape approximately four inches long. Remove the backing. Adhere it to the pad of copper tape inside the PVC tube. Continue affixing the copper tape to the PVC tube over the lip and down the exterior of the tube a couple of inches. Finish off the copper tape by doubling it over on itself to leave a flap of copper tape.

Step 4:

Cut a small piece of electrician’s tape with the scissors. Apply the electrician’s tape over the conductive copper tape at the lip of the PCV tube. You want to insulate the copper tape where it leaves the pad of copper tape inside the PCV tube and crosses over the lip of the tube. Make sure you leave the copper tape pad uncovered by electrician’s tape.

Step 5:

Fold a piece of aluminum foil until it is a small strip. Roll the strip into a coil and test how it fits inside the PVC tube. You might need to add additional strips of foil to the coil to make it fit snugly inside the PVC tube.

Step 6:

Wrap the marble in even strips of conductive copper tape. It is easiest to wrap the marble along the circumference, turn it, and repeat two more times. This covers the marble sufficiently and does not waste conductive copper tape.

Step 7:

Clip one alligator clip to the copper tape on the side of the PVC tube. Clip the other end of this alligator clip to the Earth on the Makey Makey. Clip another alligator clip to the aluminum foil in the PVC tube. Clip the other end of this alligator clip to the Space key on the Makey Makey.

Step 8:

Connect the Makey Makey to the computer with the USB cable.

Step 9:

Place the conductive marble in the PCV tube. Tilt the tube. When the marble reaches the aluminum foil “plug” at the end of the PCV tube, make sure the ground copper tape pad is at the bottom of the tube, facing the floor. The marble will be in contact with both the copper tape pad and the aluminum foil, completing the circuit. Confirm that the green light illuminates above the “Space” key on the Makey Makey.

Step 10:

Open your web browser and load Create a new project. Connect blocks like these to react to the Makey Makey tube being tilted.

Here is an example you can remix:Scratch link

Click here to remix this project in Scratch

Step 11:

One use for the Sound Tubes is as a simple musical instrument. Tilting the Sound Tube one way can produce one sound, while the opposite way can make a different sound.

Step 12: Extensions (Optional)

  • Build an variety of Makey Makey tubes. The lengths of the tubes could be different. Why would the length of the tube matter?
  • Build a second ground and switch at the other end of the Makey Makey tube. Program the other side to do something in Scratch.
  • Compose a song that you play with your Makey Makey Tubes. The sound of the marble moving in the tube could be part of your composition.
  • Mount Makey Makey tubes perpendicular to one another. Now you have a four axis tilt switch. What can you make with it?

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