Bay View Boo!

I’ve lived in Bay View for the past 9 years and I have always loved trick-or-treating night here in the neighborhood (despite the fact that it isn’t actually on halloween!).  After I got some good photos of great costumes last year, I wanted to run a photo booth in front of the house on trick-or-treating night.  Add some procrastination, python and a couple of arduinos to a good idea and voila: Bay View Boo! was born!

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I started by building a shelf to hold the photo booth (and double for an extra shelf in the garage for the other 364 days of the year).  On the shelf, I set up an HDMI monitor, driven by my laptop and a logitech webcam for the camera.  The electronics were simple: I had an orange sanwa arcade button attached to an arduino to trigger the photo to be taken and another Arduino connected to a thermal printer from Adafruit to print out a link to the photo.  On the computer, i had a Processing sketch to drive the display, perform the countdown when the button was pressed and send the filename to the printer.  I also ran a little python app that pushed the images to Google Cloud Storage.  An AppEngine app displayed the photos.  I was in a bit of a rush to finish Saturday as I spent half the afternoon at Fantasticon and in my haste I forgot to add page navigation links to the front page.  Oops!  Ah well.  I had the site updated after i tore everything down for the night.  I had one trick or treater ask me if I had “like a Raspberry Pi in there or something” and I said, “Nope, but i have a couple of Arduinos!”.  “Cool”.  Cool, indeed.

None of the individual pieces of the project were very difficult and it all came together pretty nicely.  The most gratifying part of the night was hearing from people that they had heard from other people to come over and get their photos taken.  Word spreads quickly in Bay View!  I’ll be posting all the code to a github repo shortly and I’ll update this post with the link when I’ve done that.

For next year, I plan on making a couple of changes.  First, I want to have a nicer enclosure for the photo booth and something more permanent to mount the button and printer in than the white cardboard box i cut holes in with an X-ACTO knife.  The second thing I want to do is make some interchangeable front pieces for the booth.  I could use this for lots of events and it would be great to be able to bolt on something that was more thematically appropriate than a painter’s drop cloth with holes cut in it and secured by shiny duct tape!  Ah well, it got the job done and after a while it was dark enough that no one could see my shoddy craftsmanship!  That brings me to my final change for next year: lighting. I had one 250W light ready for when it got dark and it basically sucked.  To everyone who showed up in awesome costumes once it was dark: I’m sorry.  I’ll have better lights next year so everyone can get a great looking photo, even if you don’t come out before the sun goes down!

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Here are a few of my favorite photos from the booth.  I hope everyone who stopped by had a good time and enjoyed your photo!  I’ll see you again next year!  In the mantime, head over to Bay View Boo! to browse all the photos from the evening!

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An etched copper presentation certificate

Five years ago, a dear friend designed the logo for my business, which I subsequently protected with a service mark. Although I paid her for her work I wanted to say thank you with more than just money.

Having an interest in decorative etching (among other steampunk pretensions), I decided to etch the service mark from the patent office into a 9 x 12 sheet of solid copper. After trying to transfer etch resist to the plate a number of ways (transparency and newsprint and a hot iron didn’t give sufficient quality), I finally hit on success after BrantH suggested I spray paint it, and remove the paint with the laser cutter. Here’s the process from start to end.

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Dynamic Sculpture – Update 1

I am collaborating with the Betty Brinn Children’s museum to create something similar to this.

This sculpture has 844 balls hanging from strings wound around a pulley on a DC motor shaft. Ours will feature somewhere between 320 to 500 balls. I am currently working on a prototype to test and qualify different electronic and control platforms. It’s made out of 40mm x 40mm aluminum extrusion, laser cut wood motor mounts, 5V steppers, and ULN2003 based stepper drivers. I have been using an Arduino mega for now to test the motor and drivers.

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The next step is to write software to create “voxels” with instructions akin to G-code. Additional software will be necessary to simulate the animation. G-code like instructions will be used by microcontrollers to control steppers in order to create an animation.

Baby Burrito… Gone!

Baby Burrito Gone!

There’s no denying we had fun at Maker Faire Milwaukee, but we did have one sour note during the weekend… Our oldest still functional Power Racing Series car disappeared!

We hauled Baby Burrito to the fairgrounds to tool around on during the event, and race it if needed. Tom managed to get a flat tire (!?) and left it somewhere (!?) and the next day when he went back to get it, it was gone. (!?!?!)

Baby Burrito Gone!

Be on the lookout for this slow moving vehicle. Also, it has no brakes, though you can “fire the retro-rockets” to stop it, which involves hitting the reverse button quickly to stop the forward motion.

Baby Burrito Gone!

If you know the whereabouts of Baby Burrito, please let us know. We aren’t out to prosecute anyone, we just want our silly car back.

You may remember it from such events as the South Shore Frolics 2014 parade. (Though you won’t see it in the video, because I was driving it and had the camera on my helmet!)

Maker Faire Milwaukee Recap

If you haven’t heard, we co-hosted the Maker Faire Milwaukee last weekend. Over 26,000 people attended the inaugural event at the Expostition Hall at State Fair Park! Here’s a few highlights from the event.

Karen with her spinning wheel

Karen with her spinning wheel

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Tesla Coils

UFO

UFO

B9 Robot

B9 Robot

Harem's Race Car

Hiram’s Race Car

Nerdy Derby

Nerdy Derby

Megamax 3D printer and it's proud Dad

MegaMax 3D printer and its proud Dad

Ben Nelson's Electric Motorcycle

Ben Nelson’s Electric Motorcycle

Nerdy Derby Construction Area

Nerdy Derby Construction Area

Milwaukee Makerspace Booth

Milwaukee Makerspace Booth

Brant's scale model of the Milwaukee Makerspace!

Brant’s scale model of the Milwaukee Makerspace!

Join us for Doors Open Milwaukee 2014!

This is your invitation to get out and explore Milwaukee!
We’re just one of several dozen buildings that will be open this weekend for guests to come and visit.  We will be giving tours both Saturday and Sunday this weekend, between 10 AM and 5 PM.  If you visit, please enter at the north side of our building which is on Otjen Street.

You can our building and all the events going on this weekend at the Doors Open website:
http://doorsopenmilwaukee.org/

A phone with a frickin’ laser!

My recent acquisition of a Meade ETX-90 telescope with computer go-to system for locating objects in the sky got me thinking that it would be nice to have a system to locate objects in the sky when you’re looking through binoculars or a telescope that doesn’t have a computer and motors to drive it.  To that end I came up with the idea of mounting a green laser pointer, commonly used by astronomy nutz to point out objects in the sky to noobs, on a cell phone or tablet running a program such as Google SkyMap or Skeye.

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CAD rendering of the parts

After much thought and a few prototypes I came up with a system that allows a laser to mount on a phone and that assembly to mount on a tripod, a handle, or a telescope.  The tube that holds the laser has adjustment screws to allow the laser to be aligned with the SkyMap on the phone.  It also has to slots that fit over standard gun sight rails.  On one side I have a phone/tablet bracket that has a gunsight rail and slides into the laser tube, and the other side can be used for a rail that mounts on a tripod or a handle.  Extra rails can be mounted on telescope tubes.  I haven’t yet designed a binocular mount, but will soon.

 

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Parts printing on MegaMax

I printed the parts on MegaMax with Octave fluorescent red filament (that’s why the colors vary in the photos- the flash apparently excites the fluorescence in the picture with the handle).   All the parts fit VERY tightly together but I included screw holes for extra security.  The phone/tablet mounts on the bracket using velcro tape.  I think it may be better to print or buy a cheap case to fit the phone than screw it to the phone/tablet bracket.  I’ll be posting the design files to Thingiverse shortly.

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Phone and laser mounted on handle

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Phone and laser on a tripod

 

 

Laser Cut Cocktail Recipe Coasters!

Years back, I used to throw a lot of cocktail parties.  Between myself and two good friends, we owned five cocktail shakers and 35+ martini glasses.  During the parties, we’d typically be the only three people shaking martinis for all the guests.  Though that’s awesome, it also means we missed out on much of the socializing and mingling during each party.
blog21In preparation for a recent birthday party, the solution came to me: Use Lasers!  So, I laser cut ten coaster-sized pieces of basswood and then laser engraved my twelve favorite Martini and Champagne cocktail recipes on them.  I also cut stands for them that had a laser engraved “best practices” guide for shaking Martinis – you know, the things that bartenders are typically too busy to do for you: Chill your glass before pouring your drink into it, shaking your drink until it is sufficiently cold, etc.  The drinks have recipes that taste better than what most bartenders will make for you, because they include things like an amount of lemon or lime that they’re too busy to squeeze into your drink.
blog22The party was an even more awesome experience for me, because I wasn’t only shaking drinks all night.   It was also even more awesome for the guests, as they found that great cocktails are super easy to make!  And who doesn’t like to make things? blog26 Also, the carbonated Gin & No tonic is real crowd pleaser!  See my previous post about home carbonation for more info, and note that all types of inappropriate things can be carbonated:  Gin, Ardbeg Corryvreckan, grapes, etc!