I started this project as a follow up to a challenge this summer to make a Floor Piano during a 5 Week STEAM Camp. The Piano was part of the Showcase and was a hit. You can find this on Instructables at this location - https://www.instructables.com/id/2x-MakeyMakey-Flo...
Please note that this project is not a Beginner Project as it requires some knowledge of computer network cable wiring. This project also involves (2) MakeyMakey devices and the Inputs must be remapped. I've found that up to (3) devices on one computer have been tested. I do need to try 3+ devices for next year's projects (https://sites.google.com/site/makeymakeyk12/resources-from-makey-makey/faq.)
If you want to add this Project to the Floor Piano, you can use some of the existing parts and skip some steps. Reusing the Testing Leads (Alligator Clips) and Console is advised, unless you want to have two devices working together.
The project was inspired from my own interest in the Native Instruments MK1, MK2 and MK3 as well as the Machine Jam. Point Blank Sound has some great tutorials. If you are unfamiliar with Midi Controllers and Beat Composition Devices, feel free to check out this video.
It should be noted that the Makey Makey devices can only sense an ON / OFF condition. They do not have the ability to register VELOCITY. With any Midi Controllers, you can be expressive by tapping or hitting the pads hard to change the loudness of a sample. This is similar to playing on a Velocity Sensitive Keyboard, which allows more expression in a piece of music.
Teaching Concepts - Hardware, Software, Operating System:
When teaching these concepts it is difficult to switch between. I find myself pressing harder on the Makey Makey Invented Devices and forget about the lack of velocity.
On the topic of Music and Technology, there are many great resources available out there on the Internet.
I found these to be helpful or interesting for expanding on the subject. I have yet to get into the Make resource yet:
- David Byrne's How Music Works 9/2012 -
- Make: Analog Synthesizers - 5/3/2013 -
- Fred Welsh's Synthesizer Cookbook - 2006 -
- Nicolas Collin's Handmade Electronic Music - 4/15/2009 -
- I Dream of Wires Documentary -
If you were to create this in a classroom I would advise that students develop the following skills:
Working in Metric and SAE Units (SAE = Society of Automotive Engineers)
Basics of Soldering, especially soldering copper wires to aluminum foil -
How to Punch RJ45 Cat5 Network Cables -
Like Items from the Makey Makey Floor Piano:
- (2) Makey Makey -
- (4) Cat5 Data Cable (8'-0"L) - You can adjust the length as needed -
(4) RJ45 CAT 5 Connection -
(4) Packs of 18"L Low Voltage Test Leads -
- (1) Low Voltage Data Box -
- (1) Gang Quick Port 6-Port Wall Plate -
(1) Black Acrylic Paint (to fill in the color of the Drumpads) -
(1) 1" Foam Brush -
(1) Piece of Wood for a "console" to attach the RJ45 Cat5 Box and Nails for the wiring of the Makey Makey
(1) Pack of 1.25" Steel Underlayment Nails -
(1) Pack of Drywall or Wood Screws (used to secure the Low Voltage Data Box (#5 above) to the piece of wood (#10 above).
(1) 12"W x 75'-0"L Plastic Packing Foam (conductivity isolation) -
(1) 3M 1.88"W x 150'-0"L HVAC Metal Tape - Acrylic Adhesive (conductivity material) -
- (1) 6 pack Copper Foil Tape - Adhesive (conductivity material) - https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07FLX2594/ref=p...
(1) 3M 1.88"W Blue Painter's Tape (conductivity isolation) -
(1) Bottle of Cooking Oil (this is used for the soldering of the Cat5 Copper Network Wire to Aluminum Foil)
(1) Roll of Aluminum Foil (if you are familiar with using a Makey Makey, this is a standard material to have with you at all times :) )
(1) Scrap Cardboard to use as a Measurement Jig - a pizzabox is a perfect size for this task. This is helpful in keeping accurate marks on the Canvas and Foam.
NOTE: If you have unprimed canvas you will have to purchase GESSO to prime the canvas to accept Sharpie Marker and Black Paint for the black keys -
NOTE: Instead of the Plastic Packing Foam (#10 above), I did consider
using Carpet Padding Foam, but it was cost prohibited. It is thicker and that should be considered in the fold of the canvas. After using the piano, I think I might upgrade to get a better "squishy feel" when playing. I was concerned that with the amount of "squish" from stepping on the keys that there might be a possibility that the canvas could tear. This is something to test and update in this Instructable.
Unique Materials to the Drumpad:
- (1) Mural Canvas Primed (5'-0"W x 3'-0"L) -
- (1) 3'-0" Aluminum Straight Edge -
- (1) Black Sharpie Marker (to designated the lines of the piano keys)
- (1) Data Crimper Tool to crimp the Cat5 Network Jack -
Teachers! Did you use this instructable in your classroom?
Add a Teacher Note to share how you incorporated it into your lesson.
Step 1: Mapping Out the 16 Drumpads
- Take the 5'-0"W x 3'-0" Canvas and lay out the measurements for the Piano Keys. NOTE: Make sure this is primed with GESSO if you happened to be starting with blank canvas. I folded the 5'-0"W in half so I had a 30"W x 3'-0" area to work with. This provided enough space for a typical 4 x 4 (16 Pad Grid). This size worked well, but any other size could work. This provided a PAD WIDTH of 6.25" with 1" spacing around the Pads and 1" Margins on the Canvas.
- Working in the CAD / Illustration software of your choice, you can layout the piano as a diagram. This helps to get the overall layout of keys. Please feel free to use this image for the main measurements. Please note that this is in Metric.
Once I had the measurements, I then used the Aluminum Straightedge and
Sharpie to layout the shapes. The sharpie will do a good job, but the GESSO and Canvas will wear down the tip.
Step 2: Painting the Drumpads
- Once the piano has been drawn out on the canvas you can work to paint the canvas.
- I found that a 1" foam brush was sufficient to paint the Drumpads. The black Sharpie ink was sufficient for demarcating pad edges.
- Be sure to use a paint stir to properly mix the paint before applying.
- Keep an old rag handy for any accidental spills or overruns.If you make a mistake, try and clean up the paint. If not, let it dry and reapply the GESSO.
Step 3: Building the Console
- I used an old 2X8 x 1'-0" piece of wood for my console. It was something that I had laying around the basement. You can use anything that has substantial weight so it won't flex.
- I went back to Sketchup and duplicated a piano keyboard model and scaled down the project to the length of the Wood Piece. This gave me a "mini piano replica" to help with wiring and explain concepts.
- Using the Sharpie I transferred the measurements onto the Wood Piece.
- Taking the 1.25" Underlayment Nails, I hammered them into place in the middle of the keys. See photo.
- The Low Voltage Data Box was screwed to the Wood Piece using Drywall/Wood screws.
- The 6 Port Cat5 RJ45 Wallplate to the Low Voltage Box.
Step 4: Wiring the Console
- To wire the Console, I cut (4) 1'-0" pieces of the Cat5 wire. This would be used to connect the Data Jacks back to the nails.
- First go through the wiring of the Jacks, but I would advise to hold of on installing them in the Wallplate until the very end. You might have to make some adjustments.
- Once the Jacks are wired up, you can connect the Cat5 Network Wire back to the Underlayment Nail
NOTE: It is important to keep track of the color of wires. Because of I used Networking Jacks, it is easy to get wires swapped. Having a logic to this is important. I followed the typical wiring for the cables and I adjusted for wiring on the Console and Piano. Setting up a logic for the Low Voltage Test Leads on the Console is also important.
NOTE: In my IT wiring setup I have a Dummy Jack setup to test the wiring for any of my Makey Makey projects. This has been extremely helpful.
Step 5: Building the Keyboard Wires - Soldering Copper Wire to Aluminum Foil
I have to admit that this was the most time consuming of the build. It takes a lot of patience to achieve a good bond between the Cat5 Copper Wire and Aluminum Foil. This is achieved by breaking up the Oxide layer. Thankfully I had a good reference from Youtube, thanks to the 2015 video by North Carolina Prepper -
- You can go and watch the video for the process.
- Basically you will use the Oil to breakdown the oxide layer on the Aluminum, but you have to be pretty active to try to lay down a drop of solder. it took me a couple of times to get a bond. Even then when I thought I had a strong bond, it broke and I would have to start over.
- This takes practice.
- In the end, after the ends were soldered, I folded the Aluminum Foil tightly around the Wire. I was worried that the connection might break during any use of the piano or during transport. I haven't had any issues yet.
- One thing that helps is to use the HVAC Metal Tape to secure the Wire to the Canvas. We'll talk about that in the next Step.
Step 6: Wiring the Drumpads
This part takes some adjustment and I made a cardboard Jig out of a pizzabox. This helped me to accurately lay down the "Connectivity Zones" where the HVAC Metal Tape would touch to trigger the note. It also helped me to layout any Cutouts for the Foam.
I do not have specific measurements for all of this as it is subjective to each design. In an Educational Environment, is an opportunity to discuss Design Thinking and see how Electrical Circuits are run efficiently in many of our modern electronics.
If you are unfamiliar with the Makey Makey it works on conductivity and when the metal tape of the top and the bottom touch, the Makey Makey thinks that a key is triggered.
- On the inside of the Canvas, I used the Aluminum Straightedge to mark out the locations of the Drumpads that were on the outside face of the Drumpads. These marks are useful to help get a proper alignment of Metal HVAC Tape.
- Using Cardboard I measured out openings to make a Jig that I used to mark both the Canvas and Foam.
- This allowed me to be accurate for the location of 16 Drumpads.
Bottom Layer - Earth:
- For the EARTH / GROUND, I ran (4) long runs of HVAC Metal Tape to connect the Rows of Drumpads (running HORIZONTALLY).
- All of these would be connected with (1) Vertical Run of HVAC Metal Tape and become the run of Earth/Ground. This would be connected back to the Earth/Ground on the Makey Makeys.
- I protected any connections with Blue Painter's Tape. This is easy to maneuver and adjust as a temporary hold. I am planning to glue things down and use adhesive Velcro to keep the TOP and BOTTOM LAYERS in position when the piano is being played.
Top Layer - Individual Drumpads:
- Use the Copper Tape to place straight runs to each Drumpad. Make sure that they do not overlap or touch, or that will cause Double Triggers of sounds/drumpads.
- Make sure that the end overlaps with the Lower & Upper Earth/Ground tape runs.
Once that is done you can get the (4) Cat5 Network Cable that has Aluminum Foil soldered to the ends.
- Take the Cat5 Wires and logically run the wires to connect each of the 16 Pads. Depending on your design, you might have a different number of inputs.
- I stripped the outer casing and left the Copper Wire running long as a precaution. I built this in a week on evenings and weekends and I tried to plan for errors.
- Use the Blue Painter's Tape to keep the Cat5 Wires in place. I added some Gorilla Tape (black tape) for added support.
Step 7: Padding the Drumpad
After all the physical connections of the Drumpads are done, you can move on to adding the Foam spacing.
- Using another piece of Scrap Cardboard, I created a Jig to cutout the openings in the Foam.
- The 12"W foam can be run in (2) 12" strips to cover (2) sets of (8) Drumpads.
- Taping this down with Blue Painter's Tape helps to keep it in place. I haven't had to adjust this too much.
- The trick to this is to make sure that everything lines up so the TOP LAYER of HVAC Metal Tape can be pushed to the BOTTOM LAYER when stepped.
- NOTE: I have considered changing this out to Carpet Foam to make the Keyboard more "squishy." This might be an upgrade for an MK2 prototype.
Step 8: Connecting to the Makey Makeys
This was a critical step because it tests all the connections.
While building this project, I only did (1) set of Cat5 Wire as a prototype.
- Connect the Cat5 Network Wire to the Low Voltage Data Box. It helps to mark the Jacks 1-4 so you know where they are originate on the piano.
- The next step is fun, but can be a wiring nightmare. This is the real test of the logic of your initial wiring. Any sketches that you did in a Design Journal help.
Use the Test Leads (Alligator Clips - Makey Makey) to connect the Console to the Makey Makey.
I advise to apply some logic to this process. I set my project up so that Makey Makey #1 was the Lower Octave - with lower C starting at Key "Z" and run through 18 inputs.
This is where you need the Makey Makey Remap website - https://makeymakey.com/pages/remap
I created a Google Doc to document the Keyboard Remapping.If I had to do it again.
I setup the Makey Makey #2 to be mapped out following the Garageband Typing Keyboard map. This is helpful if students wish to work in Garageband or Logic Pro - https://makeymakey.com/pages/remap
Another type of mapping could follow the MidiMidi mapping. Thanks to Hauke Menges at Feel Your Sound for this wonderful addition to the Makey Makey use - https://makeymakey.com/pages/remap
Step 9: Program in Scratch
As with the Makey Makey Floor Piano, this is where I have the most fun. I tried to figure out how to pay homage to Native Instruments https://www.native-instruments.com/en/ for their devices. I also wanted to show the Asbury Park, NJ Inspire Life STEAM Camp students how all of this connected to the real devices.
I created a new Project that had some initial fake boot load (I should mimic the Maschine Messages) before the Drumpads in Scratch fill with a color. This was done by Pressing the Space Bar in the code. With my meticulous nature I did a screen capture from the Maschine 2.0 software to I could get the correct color values for the typical 16 colors that Native Instruments uses.
When the Project "boots up" the colors are assigned randomly to each of the Drumpads. I haven't gone back to assign colors by Kits. That is planned for the next revision.
The great thing about this build, is that once you have the Main Console built, you can continue to add more musical instruments to wire up to the (2) Makey Makeys. The only regret is not making the Wood Console bigger so I can attach the (2) Makey Makeys. I might try and find a good solution. Part of my likes to see a everything neatly packaged in a box, but that defeats the purpose of the learning of circuits.
Also it is fun to watch students discover how to trigger/play the Drumpads / Floor Piano by touch the Nail Heads. it creates an interesting dialog when the Drumpad or Floor Piano "plays by itself."
As with the Floor Piano Instructable, I hope that you have found this to be helpful and inspiring. It is my goal to help students get past the "magical nature" of our devices just to understand the Systems Thinking within them. This builds Digital Literacy and helps them to see patterns in the world around them and in the music they create in the future.
Please comment on any updates that you think I should consider. These projects would work great in pairing up a Technology Ed and Music Appreciation class. What is important in trying this are getting the right collaboration of Teachers. We continue to speak of the 4Cs of 21st Century Learning - Communication, Collaboration, Critical-Thinking and Creativity. It starts with teachers who can model this and be comfortable in the Design Thinking process.
Scratch Maschine MK3 Drumpad 190816 - https://scratch.mit.edu/projects/324078917/
Please feel free to follow any of my other Scratch Project each year - https://scratch.mit.edu/users/lifethrutech/