Reach out and touch the net with TouchDevelop and MaKey MaKey


Today we're continuing with our "How can I keep my kids (and myself) busy this summer" Monday series, with a hardware/software combo that will blow your kids minds.

It comes to us from Friend of the Blog, Ray Chambers, and someone we've highlighted a number of times on the Kinect Gallery, Gareth Ritter (of

Makey Makey and Touch Develop

So it’s been a while since I’ve written a blog post, but I wanted to share what I have been doing with Touch Develop and Makey Makey. In the new computer science curriculum students need to know a little more about how computer hardware works. I had thought about how difficult it can be for kinaesthetic learners to understand how things work. This article will aim to show you what we have done to our display boards at Uppingham Community College. We’ve turned our classroom into something similar to what you might find in museums.


With the work that I had been doing with Touch Develop, I thought that I could do something which would allow my year 7 students the opportunity to physically touch the hardware but also find out some information about it. Using touch develop I used the MakeyMakey library. Unfortunately, it only allowed you to complete the Up,Down,Left,Right and Space keys. I have had to modify the library to get it to work a little better with Touch Develop. As a result, I ended up with this application which doesn’t have any sound yet….. (it’s on the way). Click Here – If you have a Makey Makey kit, you can run this application on your surface if you have clips connected to Up,Down,Left,Right,Space,W and S. The video shows how it works and you can see that using the Surface, the screens are changing each time you touch the hardware. Some of the hardware I haven’t been able to mount on the wall, however smaller items such as the CPU are conductible and work with the Makey Makey kit.

Now that the computer science curriculum has come in, it’s important not to lose our learners with the jargon, this display and the use of the software will allow us to help out our visual learners.

I have attached an example of the code below. ...


What is Makey Makey

Makey Makey is an electronic circuit board which uses electricity from the USB to make signals which represent keyboard presses. By using a Makey Makey kit you can connect anything up to the board. For example, you could make a banana keyboard in your music lessons. It might make things more interesting for those disengaged learners. You could create apps using Touch Develop that would look for the key presses. You could get students to develop their own game controllers for games they make in your computing lessons.

[Click through to see the code and more]

Gareth Ritter's Makey Makey Post

The MaKey MaKey – by Jay Silver and Eric Rosenbaum, made by JoyLabz! enables you to play games on the internet using Play-Doh or Piano on Bananas? Alligator clip the Internet to Your World. MaKey MaKey is an invention kit for the 21st century. Turn everyday objects into touchpads and combine them with the internet. It’s a simple Invention Kit for Beginners and Experts doing art, engineering, and everything in between!

How Does it Work? Alligator Clip two objects to the MaKey MaKey board. When you touch the object for example an apple, you make a connection, and MaKey MaKey sends the computer a keyboard message. The computer just thinks MaKey MaKey is a regular keyboard (or mouse). Therefore it works with all programs and webpages, because all programs and webpages take keyboard and mouse input. Make + Key = MaKey MaKey!



Who is MaKey MaKey For? Artists, Kids, Educators, Engineers, Designers, Inventors, Makers… Really it is for everyone.

What materials work with MaKey Makey?
Any material that can conduct at least a tiny bit of electricity will work. ...


[Click through for a bunch more examples and videos]

MaKey Makey


What Can I Make?

That's up to you! First, load up a computer program or any webpage.
Let's say you load up a piano. Then, instead of using the computer keyboard buttons to play the piano, you can hook up the MaKey MaKey to something fun, like bananas, and the bananas become your piano keys


Seriously, I Am a Geek, Tell Me All the Krazy Tech Stuff

MaKey MaKey is a printed circuit board with an ATMega32u4 microcontroller running Arduino Leonardo firmware. It uses the Human Interface Device (HID) protocol to communicate with your computer, and it can send keypresses, mouse clicks, and mouse movements. For sensing closed switches on the digital input pins, we use high resistance switching to make it so you can close a switch even through materials like your skin, leaves, and play-doh. We use a pull-up resistor of 22 mega ohms. This technique attracts noise on the input, so we use a moving window averager to lowpass the noise in software, saving money on hardware filtering. There are six inputs on the front of the board, which can be attached to via alligator clipping, soldering to the pads, or any other method you can think of. There are another 12 inputs on the back, 6 for keyboard keys, and 6 for mouse motion, which you can access with jumpers via the female headers, paper clips, or by alligator clipping creatively around the headers. If you wish to use a different set of keys, or otherwise change the behavior of your MaKey MaKey, you can simply reprogram it using the Arduino environment. By cutting a trace on the back of the board, you can disconnect the large pull-up resistors if you want to, which would be necessary in a small minority of Arduino projects. Have more geeky questions? Post them in the forums and we'll answer them.

Interested yet? See what I mean about something that will blow your kid's minds? Now get building!

Some of our recent TouchDevelop posts;



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