I always love a good DIY version of expensive devices.You learn while making it and learn by using it after. — Douglas
The Makey Makey is a great little device that emulates a USB keyboard and lets you make keys out of any somewhat conductive thing (aluminum foil, bananas, play dough, etc.), which can then be used as a controller for games and educational projects. The Makey Makey has two downsides: (1) cost and (2) the need for a ground connection.
This project is a cheap alternative using a $2 STM32F1 board and capacitive sensing. It only has 10 inputs as opposed to the Makey Makey's 12, but it has the advantage that in addition to emulating a keyboard, it can emulate a USB gamepad controller (digital joystick).
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An interesting link found among my daily reading