MaKey MaKey Cat Photo Booth
As you probably know, water is conductive (hopefully you didn’t learn that the hard way). What this means, among other things, is that you can actually use water as a MaKey MaKey trigger. Leave a connected alligator clip in a vessel of water, ground yourself and stick your finger in the water, and boom!* Water button.
*I promise, it’s quite safe. No actually booms or zaps will occur.
One of the inventions demonstrated in the Kickstarter promotional video for the MaKey MaKey that utilizes the conductivity of water is bucket DDR pads. Another is a “cat photo booth” which uses computer image capture software and the MaKey MaKey kit to snap a picture of a cat when it takes a drink of water from a bowl (see featured image).
Amelie is somewhat obsessed with water and never fails to investigate an unattended drinking vessel, so I knew I’d have a willing participant. I filled a wine glass with water and suspended an alligator clip that was mapped to the left-click button on my computer, with the cursor trained over the shutter button on my webcam software. The key to getting this setup to work is grounding the cat by maneuvering her to stand on an alligator-clipped foil-wrap pad (reused from the DDR pads). This is where we mostly went wrong–Amelie took plenty of drinks but wasn’t quite standing on the pad, and before I could rearrange things she got bored. Eventually, though, I managed to convince her to come back and have another drink. Ta da!
There was in fact one more (fun) hiccup: because I had my cursor trained on the shutter button, and because Amelie didn’t just take one drink, the computer didn’t just take one photo of her–it snapped a photo every time her tongue hit the water. So I ended up with a series of shots that, when played in sequence, make a stop-motion video of Amelie doing her favorite thing: drinking: