Introduction: Wonky Pong


Wonky Pong!

For more projects and a summary follow up from our January build night, please see this thread!

This is a fun and easy Instructable that anyone can make with parts laying around the house. This comes with a custom version of Pong created on Scratch made just for this controller.

This project does use a MaKey MaKey, so you'll need one of those. You will also need a drill and a small drill bit, some tape, a lot of wire, cardboard or anything you can fashion into a pair of makeshift ping pong paddles, and some foil. You will also need a computer that has an available USB 2.0 port as well as an Internet connection.

The MaKey MaKey is a neat USB inventor's electronics kit. The kit lets you trick your computer into thinking you are typing on a keyboard or moving and clicking a mouse just by closing simple connections.

You can find out more here:
MaKey MaKey homepage


Our custom Pong game on Scratch

Step 1: Materials and Tools Needed


  • Drill and small drill bit (1/8" or smaller, depending on wire size)
  • Wire strippers
  • Computer with USB 2.0 port and an Internet connection
  • Ladder?


  • MaKey MaKey
  • Lots of wire
  • Cardboard
  • Cheap ping pong ball
  • Tape

Step 2: Prepare the Ping Pong Ball!

This is a very easy step, like most of the steps in this fun project.

Simply drill a small hole all the way through the center of a ping pong ball.

Careful not to drill through your hand, that would be bad.

Try a small drill bit size like 1/8" or smaller. If you need to step up your drill bit, that's OK. We're looking for a hole that we can feed wire all the way through.

Step 3: Wire the Ping Pong Ball!

Another fairly easy step, but it can be a little tricky.

First, you are going to need a long piece of coated wire hanging from your ceiling or a tree or similar. Grab a ladder, be careful, and make sure whatever the wire is hanging from will leave enough clearance so that one end of the wire can freely hang about face height of the players.

One end will lead back to the MaKey MaKey, so make sure there's enough wire to get back to approximately where your computer will be. Go ahead and wire that end into "ground" or "earth" on the MaKey MaKey, actually.

The other end needs to have a good three inches or so stripped from the end of the coated wire so that the wire is exposed. That sounds like a lot, but we need it.

Feed the wire through both holes in the ping pong ball, splay the wire as shown in the picture, and wrap the strands of wire around the ping pong ball.

We're doing this with stranded wire so that we have multiple points of contact.

Step 4: Wrap the Ping Pong Ball in Foil!

This is a very easy step.

No that the ball is wired to MaKey MaKey, hanging from the ceiling, and the exposed wire is wrapped around the ball, take a bit of aluminum foil and wrap the ball and exposed wire with it.

Try to press firmly so that the foil ends up pressing up against each individual wire strand.

Step 5: Make and Wire the Paddles

This is not an exact science, you might want to toy with a different method. We prototyped this in a very short amount of time together and it worked well enough to play around with and have fun. You might be able to get it working more reliably, though.

If you want to recreate our steps, fashion strips of cardboard into a pair of ping pong paddles by:

  1. wrapping and taping foil all the way around one end,
  2. taping exposed wire to the foil on one side of each paddle,
  3. folding the cardboard strips in half so that the exposed wire is on the inside of the fold,
  4. taping the folds shut,
  5. and finally, wiring to the "a" and "s" keys on the MaKey MaKey.

Make sure that the "front" contact side of each paddle is free of tape.

Now that the ping pong ball and the paddles are wired to the MaKey MaKey, open up a text editor and see if you can type "a" and "s" by swatting at the ball with the paddles.

If not, check your connections. Check to make sure the MaKey MaKey is plugged in and otherwise working. Check to make sure you have not wired anything differently than desired. You can also try to check and make sure that your MaKey MaKey has not been remapped.

When you get things working, it's on to the fun.

Step 6: Play Wonky Pong

  1. grab a friend,
  2. load this up: Meatball Pong (for MaKey MaKey)
  3. try to time it so that you hit the ping pong ball you wired up right before the pong ball on the screen gets to your side,
  4. and wait for your friend to curse you and your infernal inventions.

A few notes here:

  • The game has a Wonky Pong mode using the "a" and "s" keys. This mode is designed for this custom video game controller. Whenever players press "a" or "s," the players' respective paddles will instantly teleport to the vertical position of the pong ball at the time they press the button and will only follow the ping pong ball on the screen as long as the button is pressed. Timing is everything here.
  • The game is normally designed for two players to play our version of Pong as intended, where each player has an up/down button. You can play the game this way, too. The only difference is the pong ball moves a little erratically and is shaped like a meatball.
  • Try your own variation of this and be sure to use the "I Made It!" feature if you take pics!