Making my MaKeyMakey Beat Maker

When I first heard about the ‘MaKeyMaKey‘, I knew I’d have to get one, so when it finally arrived in January 2013, I was elated!! I went through several bananas, tested most things in the house for conductivity (including cats and dogs), and then thought about making a cheap ‘beat pad’. Here’s a short explanation of how I did that.

First, it’s probably worth visiting the site for a quick rundown on how it works, but I’ll attempt cover it in one sentence here: it’s a device that replicates ‘key-presses’ on a keyboard, but you can connect each ‘key’ to a ‘thing’. So you could type an ‘A’ onto the screen by e.g. touching a banana. Pretty cool. Check out the official site here:

To make this work for a ‘beat pad’, I had to find software that allows a sound to be played, when I press a particular key on the keyboard. Although there are many music/studio applications that would allow you to do this, I wanted something really lightweight, simple to use, and cheap/free. I found that Soundplant was simple enough to cope with the task at hand.

I searched the web for free drum sounds and samples, and found a range of sites offering free sample packs. I download a few, and started to assign these samples to the keys I needed to trigger sounds.

Now I needed to gather all the parts to make the actual beat pad.. The list:

A MaKeyMakey
A laptop
Aluminium Foil
Sellotape/Insulator Tape
A Shoebox
Some wire
Software used: Soundplant

I started by cutting strips of foil, then folding them into squares, leaving a little bit sticking out, so I could attach a wire clip to it. I attached these foil squares to the lid of an old shoebox, and gave the device a quick test. Here’s a little video of the device, going through its first proof of concept test:

I completed the top of the box with 12 pads, and connected each of these to an output on the MaKeyMaKey, using the crocodile clips provided. I used a lot of insulator tape to make sure that everything stayed in place, and also to make the device look a little neater! I had finished creating my MaKeyMaKey beat pad, and was ready to plug the MaKeyMaKey into my laptop via USB.

The next job was to prepare the samples I wanted to use, so I used the Soundplant app to do this. Once I had found all the samples, I saved the configuration file, and began to plan a demonstration video. Here’s the first take of playing a beat using my new MaKeyMaKey Beatpad:

And here’s a video of me playing a beat to some spoken word, a reading by Seth Godin, of his book ‘The Icarus Deception’, which is also a great book – a recommended read.

Big thanks goes out to @ericrosenbizzle and @wakeupsilver for inventing the #MaKeyMaKey and @ThisIsSethsBlog for the #Kickstarter Project that allowed me to get ‘The Icarus Deception’ on vinyl (I’m old skool!). Also gotta say thanks to @YogaShirley for putting up with the annoying samples playing over and over again while I created my masterpiece!

I hope you enjoy these videos as much as I do! Play, Share, and let me know what you think!


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2 thoughts on “Making my MaKeyMakey Beat Maker

  1. beat maker says:

    Thanks for some other informative site. Where else may just I am getting that type of
    info written in such an ideal means? I’ve a mission that I’m simply now operating
    on, and I’ve been on the glance out for such information.

  2. says:

    do you have any picture of the inside of the box?

    curious about the knob or switch looking thing on the right side..

    very cool project. Would love to see more pictures.

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