Hello and welcome! In this project, you'll learn how to create a box with directional keypads made from fabric. When you're done, you can hook this box up to any computer and use it to navigate simple scrolling games, such as Mario.
First off, here's a list of materials you'll need to build this project:
- A 14x14x14 cardboard box ($5.00)
- A roll of packaging tape ($3.00)
- Six sheets of colored felt ($.033 a sheet)
- Sowing needle ($2.00)
- A bundle of sowing thread ($1.00)
- A Makey-Makey device ($50.00 on Amazon)
Okay, now that you have all the materials you need, here are some helpful hints before we get started!
- Make sure the needles you purchase are thick and sharp enough to pierce through the cardboard. For this project, embroidery needles were used.
- Make sure the sheets of felt you buy are thin enough that someone using the Control Box can still make contact with the wires beneath them. If the felt is too thick, you can still always pierce the wires through the felt and someone using it will definitely be able to make contact with it.
Okay, now let's get started on building the Control Box!
Step One: Choose a side to tape together, this will be the bottom end of the box. Now choose a side of the box you want to cut open. Be careful not to cut it all the way off! You'll be using this portion of the box as a flap to place the controls on (See first image).
Step Two: Take out a full sheet of felt and sow the Makey-Makey board onto it. Since we're only using the W, A, S, and D circuits on it, you can sow through the ground circuits, but be careful! Leave two ground circuits open for the ground wire. After you've done this, sow the same sheet of felt into the center of the cardboard box. Make sure yo sow it near the flap, so the wires can rest on the flap where the buttons will be placed. Go ahead and place wires into the W, A, S, and D circuits. Next, cut out an opening at the back of your box for the USB wire that will connect to the computer (See second image).
Step Three: Cut out four arrow shapes from different colored sheets of felt. Whip out another full sheet of felt and sow the arrow shapes onto it, an up arrow for W, a left arrow for A, a down arrow for S, and a right arrow for D. This may sound strange, but don't sow the arrows completely onto the felt! Leave a patch open for the wires to feed into from the Makey-Makey. When you have the arrows sowed onto the sheet of felt, go ahead and sow it onto the flap near the first sheet of felt (See third image).
Step Four: Almost done! Now we just need to create the ground. Get out two more full sheets of felt and place them on top of each other. Then, wrap them together to create something that looks like a simple arm brace. Sow it through the middle to hold them together and around the outside, but just like with the arrows, leave a space open for the wires to feed through. Place the ground wire in-between both sheets of felt, after sowing them together, and make sure the wire can make contact with the arm. There, now you're all done! (See fourth image).
Now that you're finished, here are some creative workarounds to creating the Control Box!
- While a cardboard box is easy to work with, it doesn't have to be a cardboard box! It can be styrofoam, wood, or plastic! The shape doesn't even need to be a square either, as long as it can easily hold the main components and be easily and safely transported inside.
- While using arrow shapes is pretty standard, the shapes you use for as the keypads don't have to be arrows! They could look like anything, such as a moon, a stop sign, alphabets, a person jumping, or any other shape you want them to look like!
- Feel free to stylize the box! Stencil in characters around it, your name, or just color it just to add your personal touch to it!
- The ground component doesn't have to be a bracer, it could be anything, such as a ring for a finger or an activation stick you can hold onto! Get creative!