Piano stairs

At a Princeton hackathon a while back, Bonnie Eisenman did something rather wonderful to a flight of stairs using a Raspberry Pi, some lights, an Arduino and a handful of photoresistors.

Bonnie, I can’t believe you only won second prize. This is amazing.

A while later, Bonnie made build instructions and code available on Instructables – and since then, some other people have been posting video of their own staircase piano hacks.

This one, from Alyssa Zachariah, is from Halloween, when she made the stairs up to her front door into a piano for trick-and-treating kids.

And there are home applications too: here’s William Kreutinger’s family staircase, piano-fied.

There’s a little soldering involved, but soldering is easy, and this is not a hard build – in fact, it’d make a really good first project if you’re new to hardware hacking. Fancy making one yourself? Head over to Instructables for a how-to, and let us know how you get on!


Anthony Ball avatar

Do you know about the kickstarter to bring a games developement kit to the Raspberry Pi? It will inlcude a complete IDE and the ability to target the Pi itself, Android, Apple and Windows devices.

There is a week left in the kickstarter and less than £1000 needed in order to reach the Raspberry Pi stretch goal.

I’ve tried contacting YOU (head of comms at the Raspberry Pi foundation!) about this and have had no response – not even a single line blog enrry or a reply to our emails.

A group of coders have decided to support the kickstarter by giving away full Pi versions of their Android/iOS games if the stretch goal is reached – there are over 20 games in the list.

Here is a link to the Kickstarter (the Raspberry Pi is stretch goal 1):

[Mod removed after user subsequently posted really abusive posts from this account, now deleted]

Please help support this, one week left….

Liz Upton avatar

Thanks Anthony. Probably not the right place for your post: the forums might have been more appropriate.

I simply can’t reply to every email I’m sent – I get hundreds every day. There are also many hundreds of Raspberry Pi Kickstarter projects; we can’t feature large numbers of them on this blog because it’s important things don’t get repetitive – and that’s especially the case if Raspberry Pi compatibility is only a stretch goal.

Anthony Ball avatar

Whilst I can appreciate that you can’t reply to all your emails personally, that is no reason not to reply to them at all. I was not the only person who emailed you about this.

I also appreciate that you can’t feature hundreds of Pi kickstarter projects. But this is not a ‘fresh’ project. It is an existing professional IDE and devkit already in use by hundreds of people. The fact that the Pi was a just a stretch goal is unfortunate, but now it’s the actual goal as the main target has been reached.

I would have thought that getting a system that actual games developers use would be great for the Pi. If you take a look at it them I’m sure you will find it worthwhile at least writing a blog post about it.


– Anthony

Billy Ebullient avatar

I agree! It’s a disgrace that you can’t even blog about one of the 146 Kickstarter projects mentioning Raspberry Pi. Each of them should have their own blog each day – if you start tomorrow you’ll be finished on June 4th, Angelina Jolie’s birthday, now THERE’S someone who respects her fans and answers every email even though she lives in an adobe hut in Africa with a 33k dial-up connection made of twigs.

You say you can’t answer every email but then you take a holiday for Christmas! That nice Gary Barlow is singing at every wedding in the country this year just because people asked on Twitter and promised him cake but you can’t even make a simple stretch goal happen or make dreams come true, how selfish is that! You should be ashamed of yourselves.

Peter Ryan avatar

Piano stairs = want! now!

Matt Richardson avatar

One of the most rewarding things about documenting projects online is seeing how others execute them on their own. I loved seeing the two iterations on Bonnie’s original project.

Ian avatar

Anthony – you come across as either a very spoiled teenager or a very entitled adult. Either way, try and think about other people for once. It’s not all about you. I think that if you changed your attitude and tone people would respond better.

Pithagoros avatar

I like this fun idea very much, I think I might modify it slightly to make the step light up a different colour too as the foot lands on it.

aremvee avatar

and the distance away from the lights a form of touch response, or other MIDI controller.

now in conjunction with holding the handrail, maybe a portamento?

Bonnie avatar

Thanks for the writeup, Liz! Seeing other people make the stairs is a real treat for me, so if any of you do, please do post a video!

Liz Upton avatar

Hi Bonnie! Thanks for dropping by. We’re thinking of adapting your project to make a schools resource too (making sure you’re very visibly credited, of course!) – I have a feeling that piano stairs in kids’ schools would go down an absolute treat. It’s a lovely project; thanks ever so much for sharing it.

William Kreutinger avatar

Thanks for featuring my video! The kids loved it. If people post questions on the instructable I usually answer pretty quickly too, this is a great project utilizing both raspberry pi and arduino.

Jonathan avatar

this is a really clever idea
i cant wait totry this myself :-)

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