MaKey MaKey Powered Piano Foot Pedals

Introduction: MaKey MaKey Powered Piano Foot Pedals

The banana piano has become perhaps the most iconic use of the MaKey MaKey, alongside of turning various other household objects into pianos. Now I'm no piano expert, but pianos I've seen have these pedal things for your feet. Not really sure what exactly they do sound-wise, but I happened upon these piano pedals in the trash. So I might as well use them for something.

Supplies:

-A set of piano foot pedals.

-A MaKey Makey (I used the Classic, but the Go variety probably works too).

-Two SPDT switches. Just about any will work, but I used these.

-Wires. A little more than 15 feet in total. Gauge doesn't really matter.

-Some scrap 2x4. Mine was more like 1.5x3.5, but almost any scrap wood works. You'll need a little more than a foot of it.

-Assorted screws. I didn't measure these and wouldn't know how to, I just had them lying around.

Tools:

-Drill.

-Screwdriver.

-Soldering Iron.

-Saw (doesn't matter what kind, for cutting the 2x4. I used a hand miter saw).

-Measuring and marking equipment (just a pencil and a measuring tape, but this sounds fancy).

Optional:

-A zip tie and one of those cable management things that you put zip ties through.

-Electrical tape.

You need feet also. And hands. I mean, you could make it without feet, but how would you use it? I guess maybe as a gift or something.

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Step 1: Disassembly

So at first I thought I might be able to just use the switches already in the pedals. Unfortunately, the switches stayed in the closed position and opened the circuit when the pedals were pushed, which would have resulted in the user having to apply constant pressure and release the pedals to use them. This seemed stupid, so the first step is to remove the pedal guides (in red) and the electronics (in blue). You should also remove the screws which contact the switches (in green), as we will be replacing these with longer screws.

TL;DR: Take apart the pedals.

Step 2: Modify the Switch Brackets

Although I wasn't fortunate enough to just be able to plug the pedals into the MaKey MaKey, the mounting brackets for the old switches somehow fit the replacement switches almost exactly. They do, however, need to be modified a little so that the new switches align with the trigger screw. To do this, first flatten the bottom bend where the bracket attaches to the pedal frame, so that the new switch would now sit upright. Then, mark out and drill two new holes so that the trigger will contact the switch when the pedal is pressed. This takes some guesstimation, but isn't too difficult to figure out. It's easiest to do if you first insert new, longer trigger screws. I happened to have some that were the right thread and diameter, but you could probably just use glue to attach some dowels if you don't have any that fit. Then, adjust the screws and the positions of the switch brackets until everything aligns, and mark out the holes. You may also need to enlarge one of the holes at the top of the bracket, depending on how you plan to mount the new switch. The finished brackets should look like the third picture.

TL;DR: Make the switch brackets look like the third picture.

Step 3: Wiring

A forewarning: there is some soldering involved. However, the electronics part of this project is made really simple by the MaKey MaKey. All you need are four lengths of wire, three of which are the same length. These should be long enough to reach from the floor to the top of your desk, so that they can be connected to the MaKey MaKey (my wires were each 5ft long, and I used three different colors for right, left, and ground). The fourth wire should be fairly short, and is just used to connect the two common pins of the switches together, so that both can be connected to ground through one wire. For the sake of cable management, I braided the three long wires together. Solder the wires to the switches as shown in the above picture, and you can optionally cover the connections in electrical tape. Then, to keep the solder joints from being broken, you can tie a knot in the braided wires and secure them with a zip tie and cable mount. You should also attach the switches to the brackets in this step. This can be done with a screw with threads large enough to bite into the plastic switch casing. You may need to use pliers to cut the screw shorter so that the assembly fits into the finished pedals. Then mount the switch assembly back onto the pedals. Finally, put a small amount of solder on the ends of the long wires, so that they won't fray when plugged into the MaKey MaKey (this is called tinning).

TL;DR: Follow the pictures to attach the wires and mount the switches to the brackets.

Step 4: Making the Support Structure

The pedal assembly currently doesn't sit level on the floor, and will tip when the pedals are pushed. To prevent this, cut a foot of 2x4 and mark out the center. Align these marks with the holes in the middle of the pedals and one end of the board with the back end of the pedal assembly, and use short wood screws to attach the wood foot to the pedals. Then, take a small length of the 2x4 (around two inches), cut it in half down the middle, and attach these pieces to either side of the assembly. These will keep the pedals from tipping side to side.

TL;DR: Make a frame with 2x4 to support the pedals.

Step 5: Undisassembly

Reattach the pedal guide and adjust the new trigger screws until you are satisfied with how they contact the switches. Then, you should fix the screws in place. Threadlocker is preferable, but I had super glue, so I used super glue. Optionally, you can scrub the pedals with some rubbing alcohol or glass cleaner to make them less nasty and more shiny. But if you like to touch pedals with years of elementary school student foot residue, more power to you.

TL;DR: This is like the shortest step! I know these are pretty long, but come on. Just read it.

Step 6: Enjoy the Useless Yet Satisfying Result

That's it! Just connect the ground wire to the MaKey MaKey's ground, the right and left wires to the desired keys, and the MaKey MaKey to your computer. You can choose any of the keys on the back of the MaKey MaKey, or go here to reprogram these connections to different keys.


Epilogue:
I actually couldn't think of anything to do with this, so I gave it to my brother. At first he asked why he would ever need foot pedals, but after pressing them a couple times he told me that he liked to click it without having it plugged in, like a kind of fidget toy for your feet. So at least it's useful for something.

Sidenote: This is my first published Instructable, so be sure to tell me all about the numerous things I surely did wrong. Any feedback is appreciated. Just, like, be civilized please.

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    3 Discussions

    0
    MakeyMakey
    MakeyMakey

    5 weeks ago

    SideProject! What a fun and wacky project! We absolutely laughed outloud at your sense of humor. You sound like one funny human! This is actually a really cool accessibility project for someone who may literally not have the use of their hands, and they could now use these feet pedals to navigate a computer. Or it could even be used in Occupational Therapy (or even physical therapy!) for patients that need to work on this movement with their feet. Great work! Congrats on publishing your first project!

    0
    SideProject
    SideProject

    Reply 5 weeks ago

    I didn't even think about accessibility as a use for this project! Seems obvious now. Thanks.