Last September, I posed the ultimate question (and one you’ve no doubt asked many times before): can you donate using a banana?

At the time, the answer was, “in theory”. But yesterday, after a bit of work, I made a breakthrough, and can now answer the question with a fully caps YES.

Here’s a quick instagram video as proof:   //instagram.com/p/bysL98QElR/

How did I do it?

Well, assuming you care (although I guess you would have stopped reading by now if not), I needed four things:

  1. A MaKeyMaKey. I first bought mine on kickstarter, but now anyone can buy one.
  2. A pinch of arduino programming
  3. Three bananas (fair trade, naturally)
  4. Our new (awesome) one-touch donation process

Step 1 – get your MakeyMakey

First off, I needed to setup the MaKeyMaKey, a clever little piece of kit that enables you to use anything that conducts electricity (like, I dunno, a banana) to use as an input device for your laptop by connecting them to the board using alligator clips (like so).

Makeymakey

As you can see, it includes cursor keys, space and mouse click controls. By default, this would not have worked for me, as you can’t donate using these controls alone. So I had to re-program the board to use different inputs – the carriage return and tab keys. This is because you can use our new donation process to give with just a return and tab key if you’re already logged in, which is awesome, as a one-click donate process has been a goal of ours for many years.

Step 2 – touch code (oh noes!)

This was the tricky part. I had to download arduino (an open-source electronics prototyping platform) and follow these comprehensive instructions to install some add-ins, tweak some code and re-program the MaKeyMaKey. After a couple of failed attempts, I managed to get it to work. To be honest, after scanning the instructions, it looked a bit daunting and I nearly didn’t try, but it wasn’t that hard in the end. The instructions were ace.

Step 3 – the potential banana skin…

…was getting some fruit to test with. Whilst we get a delivery twice a week, it usually goes in seconds (a hungry healthy lot here) so I had to act fast. But once I commandeered some bananas from the kitchen, all I had to do was connect them to the MaKeyMaKey and log in to our test site (I’m not made of money) to try it out. And, after a few goes at trying to capture it in the measly 14 seconds you get on instagram (didn’t even bother with vine), I managed to get it to work!

Er, what’s the point of this?

Mainly to see if it would work. This isn’t the best reason, I’ll grant you, but hey ho – it’s all in the doing. Having said that, I backed the MakeyMakey last year on kickstarter precisely to do this sort of thing and see if I could make any fun mash-ups (literally, in the case of bananas).

I’d quite like to test this out with some real people and see what their reaction is to using ‘different’ ways to donate, so if you have any suggestions of *things* to test to donate with (remember, must conduct electricity. And be non-weird. And legal) I’d love to hear them and maybe try them out.

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