Get the fox out (Part 1)

My good friend Librarian Bunny asked me to help out at an upcoming Maker’s Day at the West Orange Public Library. Primarily to do something fun for people to interact with using the MaKey MaKey since it’s fun and easy for people to wrap their minds around.

To pull this off in time for the date I will have to work fast, and keep this in a relatively small scope so that it’s complete yet fun. And also not keep me up every night working on it.


Experience Assumptions

The experience will use the game mechanics from the operation games; the goal being to remove an object without letting your tools touch the side of the hole. The theme will center around a local topic: foxes. In West Orange there are a number of wooded areas that wildlife live (outside of the zoo, of course). One of the animals I have personally seen are foxes.

Yes, there are foxes walking about West Orange. They have been nonaggressive so they aren’t doing any harm that I know about. People complain more about stray cats.

Technology Assumptions

Again, trying to keep this as simple as possible to leave time for the fun enhancements that will hopefully make this a fun experience.

Last December I picked up a very inexpensive WinBook tablet running Windows 8.1. It was a really great bargain (cheaper over the holidays then now), thought I have not really had a use for it since purchasing it. This project seems like a good opportunity to put it to the test running a WPF or Unity program. The WinBook will function as the display for the project as well, saving me from having to tote a larger screen or putting something together from components.

Players will need a tool of some kind to extract the models from the holes. Constructing some form of tweezer-like device will be in order, one that us tethered to the MaKey MaKey ground connection so we can detect it touching the sides.

Cabinet Assumptions

The final build will be more a game board than a cabinet, but since there will be electronics and some machining I am more familiar with thinking of this as a cabinet.

My blog, my terminology.

The cabinet will need to house:

  • WinBook in an upright position as display
  • MaKey MaKey board
  • Models that users will be extracting
  • Wiring going from holes to MaKey MaKey
  • Wiring going from MaKey MaKey to WinBook
  • Ground wire going out to player tool
  • Optional: Contacts to place extracted models

The MaKey MaKey will have a fair number of wires coming from it, so cable management will be important. This will have to be in the design files from the start.

Next Post

My next post about this will detail progress of the project as I test some of the assumptions made here. There is still a fair amount of work to be done for this to come to fruition. Pairing down the project is the right idea but one never truly knows what will happen when things kick off, especially since I’ve never done a project with this tablet or the MaKey MaKey before.