Sound Steps




Sound Steps is an audio installation designed by Chelsea Stewart and Eden Lew at the School of Visual Arts Products of Design MFA program. In their Making Studio under the guidance of Becky Stern, they explored the use of arduinos in rapid prototyping of new product interactions. Inspired from their recent move from to New York, the team decided to collect sounds around the city. Sound Steps invites people to walk barefoot across the platform to discover the city audibly. After building the platform prototype, they also collected a drum sound kit to change the installation into a physical music making machine. This instructable will teach you how to make your own Sound Steps.

Sound Steps from Eden Lew on Vimeo.

Video by Eden Lew. Instructables Instructions written by Chelsea Stewart

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Step 1: Materials Needed

1 Bare Conductive touch board.

9 Conductive fabric squares.

up to 12 Sound recordings in mp3 form (We used 9 recordings)

1 4’x4’ MDF material to create the platform top.

4 1.25" by 3 ft Wood Pieces.

1 package of nails, preferably an inch tall or a nail gun with nails.

1 drill with a standard phillips head, 1/8 and 1/2 drill heads

9 - 12 various lengths of wire preferably different colors to indicate zones.

Step 2: Recording the Sound

Think about what you want your board to sound like. It is a city, drum kit or a pow wow? These are just examples of what you could do with you sound steps.

So go out and record 12 unique sounds. Make sure the files are .mp3s. If not, use an online converter to create mp3s of your recording. Cut down the sounds using your favorite sound editor and export them to mp3s.

Programs you might want to use:

Adobe Audition
Garage Band

We also looked at sounds on for examples of interesting sounds.

Step 3: Set Up Your Bare Conductive Board

We learned how to use and create our own sound steps project from the Bare Conductive website. Follow the set up instructions and after completing the board, upload the mp3s to the board.

You need to test your board with extra materials to make sure it works property before moving on.

To connect the board to the platform, we soldered long wires to the touch input pins on the board and strung the other ends of the wires through the top of the board.

Step 4: Making the Frame

Once you have fully tested the board with you uploaded sounds. It is finally time to make the frame. It takes four 1.25 x .75 x 6 ft boards to create it and with some of the extra pieces we created interior bracing. You will have to cut two of the pieces 4 ft. even and the other two pieces cut 3.95 ft. This will keep you project corners at their necessary right angles.

The frame corners consist of a butt joint with a 3 x 1.25 block of wood to create the corner bracing. Each corner (4) needs this bracing mechanism. It will help keep your frame from collapsing while in transport and use.

After you create the frame start to measure and cut your bracing materials. For ease, keep your bracing materials at a right angle of the frame materials. This will create a strong joint in-between the open spaces.

You will need to use a drill or a nail gun to properly fasten each piece.

Then we created the frame platform top. Buy a piece of MDF larger then 4 ft square. Accurately measure frame size. This will be different according to how you built your frame.

Draw out your cuts and use a table saw to cut the pieces down to size. Use either screws or a nail gun to ahead the top to the frame.


In the front platform of the frame, drill 9 small 1/16" holes where you want the touch points to be. You will string wires through this later.

Step 5: Connecting the Conductive Squares

After stringing the wires through the front of the board, we taped down the wire ends with copper tape. Then we created a larger surface area to make contact with the conductive fabric. We used double stick tape to set down the conductive fabric.

Step 6: Finailzing Your Project

Now your large touch board is complete! We imagined it for many different uses from sound paths to a Dance Dance Revolution type of mechanism to a physical foot drum kit! Let us know what you create!

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    11 Discussions


    3 years ago

    wow great, i am just of making something like this, a board on which my 3yr oold jumps and it flashes leds and creates various sounds via buzzer.

    2 replies

    Reply 3 years ago

    Hi ArifSae,
    Thanks for your comment! The Bare Conductive board is amazing and has so many possibilities. You should also look into conductive paint! Would love to see how your project turns out!


    Reply 3 years ago

    Made it :)


    4 years ago on Introduction

    Its a wonderful project... But I wonder... If the platforms are nine, why do we need twelve sounds...?

    2 replies

    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

    Thanks for finding that ikr! The touch board has the ability to store and play 12 sounds, but for this project we only used nine. I will make that change in my instructions! I'm glad you like the project!


    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

    aw its no problem... :D so the board can handle twelve.. That means that if we make a 4 x 3 structure, all sounds can be employed, right? :)

    Bare Conductive

    4 years ago on Step 6

    Thanks for sharing a great project! We're happy that the Touch Board was handy. We'd love to see the images on our website too if its good with you! Email us -

    Nice work!

    1 reply

    Thank you so much BareConductive! We love your board and we look forward to doing more projects with it! I'll send some pictures over now!


    4 years ago on Introduction

    Well this just looks fun! I love the idea and implementation! Anytime that anyone can make something inanimate make noise is always a great time. Great Job!

    Though you might want to either add something to step 7 or get rid of it compleately.

    1 reply

    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

    Thanks Tomatoskins! Our newbie-ness to instructables is showing, but thank you for the find! We look forward to seeing how physical movements + sounds can be pushed further!