The Makey Makey introduces the concept of using everday objects like fruit, lead pencil drawings, play dough etc. to interact with your computer via USB. The Makey Makey acts like a HID device over USB, which means that it behaves just like a keyboard or mouse, without any drivers or special software required; you plug it in and it just works. The standard firmware that the Makey Makey ships with allows you to use all the pins and pads as inputs using ‘Resistive Touch’.
What is Resistive Touch?
Resistive touch input means that the input pin will trigger when the state of the input pin changes. When it isn’t connected to anything, the pin sits there and does nothing, but when you connect it to the circuit ground (via any of the ground/earth pins), it forms a complete circuit, allowing current to flow, and telling the board that the pin has been trigger. It then sends the corresponding signal to the computer; ‘right arrow’, ‘space bar’, ‘left mouse click’ etc.
This means that if you want to trigger a Makey Makey pin, you need to find a way to connect it to the ground pins. If you connect a lead from an input pad, and touch it, nothing will happen, however if you hold a lead connected to the ground pad with one hand, then touch the lead connected to an input pad, your body creates the link in the circuit to allow current to flow (a barely measureable amount that is completely safe), triggering the pin. The same goes for any conductive material, as long as a circuit is formed from the input pin to the ground pin.
image source: www.sparkfun.com
The best way to use the Makey Makey is to be creative with what you use. Find everyday items and connect them up to see if they work with the Makey Makey. Imagination and creativity yield fantastic results when paired with platforms like the Makey Makey.
For some uses, resistive touch is ideal, however for some projects the need to either hold or connect the ground pads can be limiting. Fortunately there exists a method to trigger the inputs simply by touching the input leads by themselves, nothing else. This is called capacitive touch, and can easily be implemented by reprogramming your Makey Makey using the Arduino IDE. For more info on this, check out our Capacitive Touch with Makey Makey tutorial.
For great project ideas and info on our kits, check out the rest of our Makey Makey tutorials.