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MaKey MaKey DDR Pads

I’m back to share with you the very first contraption I rigged up with my MaKey MaKey kit: dance pads for playing Flash Flash Revolution more like the game it imitates.

(If you missed my first post that explains the concept of the MaKey MaKey, you should check it out here: Making Keys with MaKey MaKey!)

Flash Flash Revolution is an online flash version of the dance video game Dance Dance Revolution. As with DDR, you pick a song and as it plays, patterns of arrows drift down the screen. The goal is to use the game controls to match the arrow keys in time with the music. DDR is played with a pad on the floor with arrows that you stomp, so playing the game makes you dance (or flail madly, depending on your level of skill). FFR is played with the arrow keys on your keyboard–not quite as satisfying and definitely not as much of a workout.

So, I decided to use my MaKey MaKey to create my own floor pads. Video and explanation after the jump!

Whereas real DDR pads work using pressure, mine would work by conducting a charge. I covered cardboard in tinfoil to make the pads, taped them to the floor in a compass configuration, and then connected each pad to the corresponding arrow on the MaKey MaKey panel using alligator clips. The panel was connected to my laptop and my laptop was hooked up to my TV, so that I could see the game more easily.

Don’t forget about staying grounded! In order to make the whole contraption work, I needed to be connected to “earth” so that when I stepped onto the pads a circuit would be completed. If I’d had a long enough cable I could have help it or affixed it to my wrist; as it was, I just stuck a clip between my toes and hoped it would stay put. (Note that the game would only work with bare feet.)

And, that’s it! With the foil-covered cardboard mapped to the arrow keys on my keyboard, I could step onto them to activate the FFR game controls. The system I built wasn’t especially durable–the foil started tearing pretty much right after that video ends, and the short cables I have didn’t allow for enough movement, but I’m calling it a success.

Anne S

Anne Sauer is an atheist with an appetite for science, good food, and making connections between the two. She is currently pursuing her MBA in Sustainable Management at Presidio Graduate School in San Francisco. Her favorite foods are salted caramel ice cream and chicken tikka masala. You can find her on twitter @aynsavoy.

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