Beetle Blocks Makey Makey Controller


Less than 1 hr

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

Explore the 3rd dimension with Beetle Blocks (, programmed by Makey Makey co­inventor Eric Rosenbaum, and this custom Makey Makey controller. Learn to build a switch.

Learn about conductivity and the conductivity of different materials, Learn to incorporate an off the shelf switch into a Makey Makey project, Build an alternative input device for a computer.


Makey Makey Classic, See supplies list on Step 1.

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Step 1: Supplies You'll Need

  • About 9 inches of 1/2” PVC pipe
  • About 18 inches of 3/4” PVC pipe
  • Saw or PVC cutter
  • One 1/2” PVC cap
  • Two 3/4” PVC caps
  • Permanent pen
  • Power drill and bits
  • Wire cutters/strippers
  • 22 gauge solid or stranded wire, preferably in two colors
  • Masking tape
  • Scissors
  • One 1/2” PVC Male MPT x S Adapter
  • One 3/4” x 3/4” x 1/2” PVC Side Outlet Elbow
  • One SPST Switch
  • Copper tape with conductive adhesive
  • Small zip tie
  • Safety glasses
  • Soldering iron and solder
  • Needle nose pliers
  • Alligator clipsEducator Tip:

    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:

    Cut the PVC pipe to nine inch lengths. Fit the caps on one end of each PVC pipe.

    Step 3:

    Screw the PVC male adapter into the the side insert elbow.

    Add the three PVC pipes as shown.

    Step 4:

    Use the permanent pen to make a mark on both 3/4” PVC pipes near the caps. Make a mark on the 1/2” PVC pipe near the adapter. Make a mark in the center of the 1/2” PVC cap. Make a mark in the center of the PVC cap of the pipe on the left, if you are looking at the controller straight on.

    Step 5:

    Use a drill to drill a pair of small holes parallel to one another in the ends of the pipes.

    Step 6:

    Using a series of increasingly larger drill bits, work up to a 1/4” hole in the 3/4” inch PVC cap. Work up to a 1/2” hole in the 1/2” cap.

    Step 7:

    Use copper tape with conductive adhesive to build a pair of parallel strips along the length of the three PVC pipes. Make sure the strips do not touch and form a short circuit.

    Step 8:

    Start by wiring the Earth, or ground, copper tape strips. I used green wire for these strips. Feed the wire through one of the holes you drilled. For consistency, use the hole in the same position on the other two PVC pipes.

    Step 9:

    Label each wire with a small piece of masking tape and the corresponding PVC pipe. The vertical pipe is Z, the pipe on the left is X, and the pipe on the right is Y.

    Step 10:

    Route an extra ground wire through the hole in the 1/2” PVC cap on the vertical pipe. This wire will be used to connect the momentary switch.

    Step 11:

    Wire the other pads with a different color wire. Label each wire with masking tape and the corresponding X, Y, or Z axis.

    Step 12:

    Carefully route the wires through the 3/4” PVC cap and secure the cap to the end of the PVC pipe.

    Step 13:

    Use a small zip tie to bundle and secure the wires at the hole in the PVC cap.

    Step 14:

    Strip the insulation from the wires where they overlap the copper tape.

    Step 15:

    Put on your safety glasses. Use a soldering iron and solder to carefully solder the wire to the copper tape with conductive adhesive. Cover each soldered wire with another piece of copper tape with conductive adhesive.

    Step 16:

    Carefully strip 1/2” of insulation from the ends of the wire coming out from the PVC cap. Tin the ends of the wire with solder if needed. Use the needle nose pliers to gently bend the wires into loops to make them easier to clip onto with alligator clips.

    Step 17:

    Connect alligator clips to the ground wires. If you pair the wires, you can connect all four to the Makey Makey using two alligator clips.

    Step 18:

    Load in your web browser. Download the example Beetle Blocks project from above. Navigate to the file you downloaded and open it.

    Step 19:

    Bridging the two copper tape pads will make the beetle rotate around that axis and move five steps. Pressing the button will start the beetle extruding. Pressing the ’s’ key will stop extrusion. Use the controller to get your bearings how the beetle moves, then modify the project to help you create a 3D printable STL model.

    Step 20: Extensions (Optional)

  • Add a second button to stop extrusion.
  • The Beetle Blocks sample project is incredibly simple and intended as a demonstration of the most basic movements in Beetle Blocks. Improve the Beetle Blocks project.
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