Plug In the MaKey MaKey

N00B Challenge 3.1 [20pts]


In this Challenge you will explore the MaKey MaKey, a device that can be used to bypass your computer’s hardware input devices to open up creative opportunities for design.

The MaKey MaKey is a printed circuit board. Electronic components like resistors, capacitors, microchip, processors, and ports are connected to a plastic board. Metallic wires are printed right onto the board to connect the components.

Hold the MaKey MaKey by it’s edges at all times and take caution not to lay it down on any conductive materials, like metals. Take a moment to closely inspect the circuit board before we begin.


STEP 1: Plug It In

Plug In the MaKey MaKey Board USB

The MaKey MaKey connects to your computer receives power through USB. It shouldn't matter which USB port you use, but if you run into trouble later, try switching ports.

STEP 2: Connect to Earth

Plug In the MaKey MaKey Board USB
  • Find the area on the MaKey MaKey labeled Earth. It's a strip of holes along the bottom of the circuit board.
  • Connect one end of an alligator clip to a pair of holes along the Earth strip... stick one row of teeth into each hole.

STEP 3: Connect to You

Plug In the MaKey MaKey Board USB

The current used in the MaKey MaKey is very low and it is safe to touch the exposed wires and aligator clips we'll be using. Go ahead and grab hold of the other end of the alligator clip connected to Earth.

Never touch an exposed wire unless you are absolutely sure that the electronics are low current, low voltage, or disconnected from power!

STEP 4: Activate It

Plug In the MaKey MaKey Board USB
  • Open up any program where you can type, like a Google Doc, a Thimble editor, or an email client.
  • Using the regular keyboard, type the words MaKey MaKey into the editor, increase the font size if you can.
  • Position the cursor (the blinky vertical line | in the editor) between the two typed words.
  • While you're still holding the aligator clip connected to Ground on the MaKey MaKey, touch the round Space pad on the MaKey MaKey.
  • You should see a green LED light up on the MaKey MaKey, and your computer will think the space bar was pressed.
  • Connect the other alligator clips up to the other button pads on the Makey Makey.

STEP 5: Take it for a Spin!

Fantastic! You've connected and activated the MaKey MaKey. Now let's take it for a little spin around the block.

Can you figure out what the rest of the board can do?

  • Connect alligator clips to other points on the MaKey MaKey board.
  • Click on the green flag in the Scratch Piano window below.
  • Can you figure out how to play the piano with the MaKey MaKey?
The piano above was made with Scratch, an animation coding platform that you can learn more about in the Level 4 challenges.