The Marriage of Makey Makey and Scratch

The Scratch Pseudo-Recorder

Since I got my Makey in from Amazon I have wanted to tinker with it… the time has come! For this project I am using an inexpensive musical recorder as the input device for the Makey and Scratch as the sound generator.

Before going into the construction and program details this is first of all a learning tool. While initially I had hoped to actually finger the recorder as it would normally be played but due to limitations in Scratch I settled for (for the time being) one finger on note. The notes chosen are a five note or pentatonic scale. All in all this is not a bad fall back as students learning about music created in pentatonic scales are common in a number of cultures. Songs like Negro Spiritual Swing Low Sweet Chariot, pop classics My Girl and Stairway to Heaven are all played on a pentatonic scale.

The input method show here is not the only input method as other instruments could be modified or new instruments made as input devices. Additionally, the instruments chosen in Scratch to create the sound can easily be changed to suit the learner. For this project I used instrument 13 the wooden flute as it sounds much like a recorder.

finger_contacts  mouthpiece

As the Makey needs a common connection (Earth) I placed a contact on the mouthpiece then to complete the circuit there are contacts at each finger hole. Copper foil tape forms the contact and another piece holds the wire in place so contact is made thus alleviating the need to solder.

The wire used is some old CAT 5 solid core that is 24 AWG and perfect for the receptacle on the Makey board.

Materials Used:

  • Inexpensive recorder, wooden spoon, wooden dowel rod (Don’t have to use a recorder… I considered using a wooden spoon. None of this required soldering…)
  • Copper foil tape – find in the stained glass section of Hobby Lobby. You need to have some anyway as it is very useful for human interface. (use a piece for finger contacts and a second piece is used to hold the wire in place – the adhesive is really strong)
  • Several feet of ≈22-24 awg solid (rather than stranded) wire.
  • Electrical tape

A diagram can be found here:pseudo-recorder

This video gives some of the what and how

The Scratch Code may be found here:


Problems encountered:

Does not play like a regular recorder as multiple keys cannot be read at the same time.

Cannot play a chromatic scale as only six inputs work reliably with this… The arrows often revert to moving the cursor.

Lessons Learned:

Really do need a block that allows for concurrent multiple keypresses… it might look something like this:scratch_block My original intent was to have a recorder playable without having to blow into the instrument. Not finding a way to test for multiple concurrent key-presses I settled for single key-press.  The interface is very flexible and we’ll see what comes next.

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