For this week’s blog I thought I would dig back into my archive of stuff and share this how-to write up. About a year ago I was introduced into Makey Makey. If you’re not familiar with it, here’s a video.
Playing with Makey Makey can cause you to venture into many rabbit holes. But in a good way! There are so many things you can do with Makey Makey. You can make a banana piano, a control joystick, and a dance floor. I had seen a tutorial on site on how to make an operation game.
Using Scratch programming language, I set out to make my own version of the operation game, but with a galactic twist. I give you the Makey Makey Yoda Operation game! Let me share with you the steps I took to make it.
On a scale of 1 to 5, I would give this project a 3. Building the board and pieces is time-consuming. Took me about two to three weeks (off and on) cutting, gluing, taping, etc. Be ready for that! I’ve included photos to help explain the steps. Note, I did use an X-Acto blade, some adult supervision may be required if you have minors creating this project. Working with Scratch can take some time to fine tune the script. But there are plenty of tutorials for help.
Making this operation game takes a lot of parts. Fortunately, many things are free because they can be laying around your office or home. The recycle bin is a great place to look! I did end up buying some supplies; probably spent $5 total.
- Laptop/computer (download Scratch software or use online Scratch)
- Electrical wire/telephone wire
- Cardboard box (cereal box, laptop box, iPad box)
- Cardboard (spare)
- Markers or acrylic paint
- Wire stripper
- Sharpee pen
- X-Acto knife
- Aluminum foil
- Glue stick
- Clear Scotch tape
- Hardening clay, PlayDoh, oe Sugru (pricey)
- Hot glue gun
As mentioned above, I used Scratch to work with my custom Yoda Operation board and the MaKey MaKey. I built my Scratch project to detect a key press via the MaKeyMaKey. The script will trigger audio and visual cues when you fail to remove organs safely from the “body cavities.” Variables can be setup in Scratch to track the Yoda’s “Jedi powers” and remove a point for every time the player touches the sides while trying to remove pieces of Yoda, (midichlorians). Yes, I am a Star Wars nerd!
Here is the link to my file so you can use it. Yoda Scratch Project File
One of the first pieces you will need to build is the operation box. A cereal box will work. But I found that a sturdier box, like a laptop box or an iPad box holds up better over time.
You can be creative and design your own artwork. This can be part an art project for classrooms. For time sakes, I found an image of Yoda that I wanted to use and printed it.
When you print or draw your artwork, you will need to glue it on the box. Use a pencil to gently outline where you are going to cut holes in the character. It is difficult to cut holes in your nicely painted box but you need the holes to play the game! Use the X-Acto knife to carefully cut out the holes. (Adult supervision recommended for young ones).
Measure the interior of the cardboard box in the previous step. Carefully use the scissors or X-Acto knife to cut a piece of cardboard just slightly smaller than the width and depth of the box. This will serve as the motherboard to which you connect the MaKey MaKey. Place the motherboard inside the box and hold it so it is flush with the top of the box. Trace the holes onto the cardboard piece (motherboard).
Cutout 3/8″ strips of aluminum foil. These strips will be the leads to which you attach the alligator clips. Use tape to secure the leads from the edge of the motherboard to the traced holes. Be sure none of aluminum foil strips touch one another if you plan to map to multiple keys on the MaKey MaKey. Leave the areas in the circle uncovered.
Next, cut out circles of aluminum foil that are roughly the size of the holes from the box that you traced. Use glue stick to tape aluminum foil circles to the motherboard; make sure the circle is in contact with the foil.
Now, measure strips of cardboard to the number of holes in your box. The strips of cardboard need to be equal in width so the motherboard sits flat against the inside top of the box. Bend the cardboard into the shape of the hole you traced on the motherboard.
Cut strips of aluminum foil to cover the cardboard pieces. Use a glue stick to glue aluminum foil to these cardboard strips. Use tape or a hot glue gun and hot glue to attach the “body cavities” to your motherboard.
Insert the motherboard with the body cavities into the box. You will need to cut slots for the alligator clips. Mark off enough space and use an X-Acto knife to cut the openings.
Using a pair of chopsticks, you will create a set of tweezers used to retrieve that game pieces from the body cavities. Roll up the packaging paper in which the chopsticks are packaged and place the roll between the chopsticks to create a pivot. Use a rubber band to secure the chopsticks with the paper between them.
Next, using a pair of wire strippers, strip the plastic sheathing from both ends of your wire. Wind the wire around the chopsticks, starting at the base of chopstick all the way up near the pivot area. Twist the exposed ends at the top (this is where the Earth/ground alligator clip will be placed).
Use pieces of aluminum foil for each end to secure the wire and to create a larger conductive surface at the end of your chopstick.
Now lit’s time to play the game! First, attach the black alligator clips to the twisted wires at end of tweezers. Attach the alligator clips to the aluminum foil leads on the motherboard. Attach all the other ends of the alligator clips to corresponding keys on the MaKey MaKey board. Make sure your Scratch project uses the same key to trigger the audio and visual feedback.
Plug the MaKey MaKey into your computer’s USB port.
Open your MaKey MaKey Scratch Operation project and press Start. Can you remove the Yoda’s Jedi powers without closing the circuit and subtracting points?! Do or do not, there is no try! Have fun!
Yoda © Lucasfilm Ltd.
Gould, Grant. Yoda. 2008. DeviantArt. DeviantArt. Web. 22 June 2015. http://www.deviantart.com/art/Yoda-83171410.
Scratch – Imagine, Program, Share – MIT.” 2007. 6 Sep. 2016 https://scratch.mit.edu/