The idea was simple: make something to help keep track of our supplies so we know when we’re running low on the essentials. After weeks of kicking the idea around and various rough doodles, this project finally took shape. Two days after the first cut on the laser cutter, it was complete.
Made from multiple layers of acrylic, cardboard, and wood, the “Milwaukee Makerspace Consumables Super Analog Status Board” is a clipboard-sized device with nine sliders installed in enclosed slots. Sliding the tabs right displays more green to indicate “full” or “lots” and sliding left reveals the red acrylic below to indicate “empty” or “low.” The user can carry the board around the Space with them as they check on supplies and when done, a large hole centered at the top allows the board to be hung up and displayed on a wall.
The hardware holding the whole thing together can be loosened and the layers disassembled. The cardboard insert that the text resides on can be swapped out should we decide to change the list of items we want to keep tabs on. The supplies being tracked currently include:
A digital version may or may not be planned for future release.
Update: Due to some unforeseen events, tonight MKEUX is cancelled. It will be rescheduled for a later date at our space. Thanks!
Mike Massie will be presenting on an intro to Ambient Intelligence and how sensors can give the user super powers.
“As shrinking technology allows us to cheaply put hardware eyes, ears and touch sensors on everyday things, the data now readily available can offer a magnitude of information without the user even lifting a finger. Some are calling 2013 the “Year of the sensor”, and it giving passage to the Internet of Things and Big Data; aside from buzz terms we’ll talk about how these tools will offer the ability for more interactions to get out of the way.”
When: 6:30pm – 8:30pm, Monday, May 20th, 2013
Participants: Mike Massie (Host)
In addition to the obligatory refrigerator full of soda (or sometimes empty of soda, depending on whether anyone’s filled it recently), we also have a water cooler that takes the big 5gal water bottles. They also sell coolers that can be plumbed into a water line, and a while back I discovered that they’re actually bottle-type coolers that come with a conversion kit. The kit consists of a float switch and a solenoid valve, and a mounting bracket that takes the place of the bottle holder.
There isn’t a conversion kit for the cooler we have, but it looked simple enough, so I made one from scratch. I don’t like float switches, so I used two other methods of sensing the water level (I wanted a backup sensor because certain failure modes could result in an unlimited amount of water on the floor, which would be a Bad Thing). Instead of trying to find the “best” way to do it, I used the components I was interested in learning about.
After a year’s work designing, building, scrapping, redesigning, building, and working through software and firmware issues, the MegaMax 3D printer is now functional. It has some common 3D printing issues like printed objects peeling up off the glass printbed. Tweaked settings in Slic3r, ABS “juice”, and Aquanet hairspray have all been tested with moderate success in attempts to improve adhesion to the printbed. Finally, have_blue gave me a block of foam out of the Stratasys printer to try out and it seems to work better than the other methods and doesn’t require heating the bed! Further experiments to be conducted post-haste.
We’re doing it again! For a second year in a row, we want to provide a local maker with a chance to become a member this summer, and do something awesome.
Milwaukee Makerspace is proud to be a part of Milwaukee and to provide a shared workspace where people can explore their passions in making things, whether it be art, technology, electronics, alternative energy, or rapid prototyping and fabrication. Our members are eager to share their skills and equipment with others, and we recognize that we learn better when we learn together, so we’re introducing a “makership” program, which will allow a local maker to become a full member though a sponsorship from the group.
If you’re interested in joining us and gaining access to our space, our tools and our community, come up with a killer idea and apply today!
I’ve made some progress on the Raspberry Pi based traveling mascot for the makerspace. I’ve figured out how to connect the GPS unit, and configure the software on the Pi to read the data. The makerspace’s metal roof well insulates the inside of the building from the GPS frequencies, so the device doesn’t receive location data in the electronics lab. The wooden roof of my home is much more transparent to these frequencies, so I’ve tested the GPS at home. I’ve got the C libraries loaded, and started a program to check and record the current location of the mascot.
Unfortunately I’ve run into a few setbacks. For some reason it keeps corrupting its file system, and failing to boot. A few times it’s happened has been when I made a configuration change and then rebooted. So I blamed myself. But today the Pi wouldn’t boot. The last time I used it I properly shut it down before tucking it in its box and putting it away. I had the Pi configured to register itself on the network so I could work with it remotely. It wouldn’t come online. So I grabbed the monitor and keyboard to figure out what’s going on. The monitor showed the Pi would start booting, but pause with a “PANIC: No init found.” message. A bit of web searching found that other people have had similar problems and fixed it by using different keyboards and different SD cards. Trying a boot without the keyboard and mouse plugged in gave the same panic message. So I think I need to try another SD card.
My son has a Raspberry Pi of his own, and a few SD cards he’s had success with. He has agreed to let the mascot project borrow one of his cards to figure out if this card is the problem. I’ll post about my results after I try with the different card.
Once I figure out the file system corruption problems, I can continue writing the C code. After that I’ll work on the other parts of the project. These parts include the website, battery pack, camera, and body. I think those denim monsters some members will be making in an upcoming sewing class could make a great form for the mascot. Would any of those members be interested in making a custom one for the mascot? Would any members be interested in helping out with any other part? Would any members just like to play with the Raspberry Pi? If you want to help, participate, or just check out the project talk to me when I’m at the space, or post a message on the mailing list.
We have a pretty sweet access control system at the space. Former President Royce Pipkins put it together for us and it controls all the exterior doors at the space. One problem we have with it right now is that we have to log into a linux machine and tail the log to see interesting info about how many makers are badging in and when.
Well, we used to have that problem, anyway.
I spent some time today with the lovely (if a bit limited) Cosm api. You may know Cosm by its former name, Pachube. I wrote a simple python script to parse out interesting, anonymous data from our access server logs and send it up to Cosm as a new feed, called Milwaukee Makerspace Access Control System with four data streams:
Number of Unique Makers Accessing the space in a day
Number of Unique Makers Accessing the space in an hour
Total number of badge-ins per day
Number of Access Denied messages per day
Cosm made it easy to graph the data and to send up new data points, but is limited to a gauge-style timeseries. I can’t submit raw data events and use Cosm to aggregate them up by date or hour, so i had to do that in my local python code. Their REST API is very simple, clean and well documented, though, which makes up for the limitations a bit. They provide a graph-builder, but i didn’t like the way the graphs looked so i pulled the JSON data in and used the Google Chart Tools to produce some pretty graphs like this one:
We’re looking at doing some more fun stuff with the logs from the access control system at the space, like displaying the names of the members who have most recently badged in, making sounds when someone badges in or a key is denied. I’m sure whatever we come up with will be noisy and large.
If you happen to be out and about on Friday, April 19th, 2013 you might want to swing by Milwaukee Makerspace at 2555 S. Lenox St. in Bay View.
While we aren’t officially part of any gallery night events this time around, we’ll be open to the public on Friday from 6pm to 9pm for anyone who wants to stop by and take a tour, or check out some of the art (and art making tools!) we have at our space.
And if you want to see us in full art swing, you’ll only have to wait until the end of May. ;)
I’ve always been impressed with exercise bike generator displays at renewable energy exhibits. So, a while back, when I saw a classic Schwinn exercise bike at the thrift store, I nabbed it with the plan to make it into an EXERCISE BIKE GENERATOR!
Earth Week is only a week away, and since our local eco-group is hosting a BIKE-THEMED event this year, I thought I’d “get in gear” and quick put together a bike generator.
I really already had all the parts needed. Mostly, that’s a bike and a permanent-magnet motor. Besides that, it’s just some scrap wood, a bolt, nuts and washers and a bungie-cord.
At the heart of the project is a 12V electric motor. I still had a few parts left over from my electric car conversion project, including the electric radiator fan. My electric car didn’t need an engine or radiator, so I set the fan motor off to the side for future use. I pulled it out for this project. First, I had to remove the plastic fins, which were practically cast in place. I managed to remove them, and get it down to an aluminum hub mounted on the motor shaft.
Next, I cut a scrap of plywood, and used a hole-saw to make a hole in it big enough for the motor to sit in. I put the motor in place, and attached it with three small wood screws.
I drilled a 3/8″ hole through the corner of the plywood, and ran a long bolt through it into the front frame of the cycle. That way, I was able to test alignment of the motor shaft with the front wheel. It matched up pretty well. I would just need to smooth out the hub on the driveshaft and add a stabilizer and tensioner to the motor.
The hub on the driveshaft was bumpy, which made a lot of vibration on the exercise bike tire, and the gear ratio was just a hair off. If I could trim down the diameter of the hub a bit, it would smooth out the ride and allow me to pedal just a tad slower while at the right speed for 12V charging.
I did NOT have a lathe handy, so I thought it would be pretty tough to smooth out the hub. That’s when I realized there was nothing stopping me from JUST SPINNING THE MOTOR. So, I clamped the motor down to a work-table, grabbed the jumper cables from my truck and a 12V battery, and just spun-up the motor! I then used an angle-grinder (with a flapper disc) to smooth down the hub, and reduce its diameter a bit. Because it was spinning at high speed, it came out perfectly concentric and balanced. Not bad for an improvised “poor-man’s lathe”.
I put the motor back onto the cycle and added another piece of plywood opposite of it and a cross-piece to made a basic box shape. This holds the motor solid and lets it swing up and down but NOT side to side.
At that point, all that was left was a tensioner. I added a drywall screw to the wood and attached a bungie-cord from it to the base of the cycle. That applies a light, but steady, force of the motor against the wheel.
I clipped my volt-meter to the two wires coming off the motor and pedaled. Sure enough, it was pretty easy to pedal at a rate that gave me an output voltage between 12-14 volts, what’s needed to charge a 12V battery.
After that, I hooked it up to my Fenix Intl. Ready Set – a 12V battery with built-in charge control and 12V and 5 outputs. It also has a nice charge indicator light on it, and universal power input on the back, meaning I could just run my bare wires straight in and tighten them down without even needing tools. I then only have to pedal fast enough until the “Now Charging” light comes on to know what speed I need to maintain for 12V charging.
This isn’t exactly a fancy or high-power exercise bike set-up, but it sure was easy to build. I did some testing, and it’s simple to output 10 watts of energy. That’s just about perfect for charging an iPad. That also means it’s pretty easy to do something like designing a setup where if you want to watch a movie on the iPad, you have to pedal to make it happen!
Just think how much more fit the average American would be if we all had to pedal to watch TV!
This project took about an afternoon of work and cost me $8, the cost of the cycle at the thrift store. I already had the motor, nuts and bolts, bungie-cord and scraps of wood. All in all a nice little weekend project.
Have you built your own exercise bike generator? What do you power with it? What did you do different on your design? Let us know!
Take care, and keep pedaling!
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