Milwaukee MakerFest!

Holy Moly what an event!  We had almost 600 people come through and enjoy all the excitement of interactive activities, demonstrations and workshops!  I gotta say we all had a great time and we have officially made this an annual event.  So you can start getting excited for next year.  Take a look at some pictures from the event:

mmfpics

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Milwaukee MakerFest

It’s time we put on a show for the people of Milwaukee. The Makerspace hasn’t had an event like this for about two years now! Shame Shame!

Please click on the logo above to head over to our Kickstarter Campaign.  There you will find out all about this event and the crazy awesome things we have in store for you.  Backing us generously would make us all very very happy, and would greatly enhance our ability to put on a fantastic event for you!

Find out more at www.milwaukeemakerfest.com

Why don’t you just die.

As I am finalizing my MagneTag prototype for a small production run, I have been looking into efficient ways to cut fabric.  Right now I trace by hand and and cut with scissors.  I’m currently thinking I may want to make several hundred of these initial units.

With that in mind I am going to try die cutting my design with a shop press.  Since I’m not exactly sure what my final product will look like aesthetically, I am reluctant to shell out a lot of money to have a die professionally fabricated. What’s the fun in that?  I figured I would try my hand at a home brew hacked version.

I laser etched my design into two different substrates: wood and acrylic.  Then a took an old rusty bandsaw blade and hammered it teeth down into the laser kerf.   Then I took a Dremmel and ground a sharp edge into the steel.

An initial test on a manual hydraulic press gave mixed results.  The wood is too soft to keep the blade from becoming embedded; the steel needs to pass all the way through the substrate.  The acrylic seemed to work better, and surprisingly did not break when I tried to use it.

There is still lots of room for improvement, but I’m pretty happy with this first attempt.

DIY Bandsaw Blade Cutting Dies.

DIY Bandsaw Blade Cutting Dies.

Gettin' my grind on.

Gettin’ my grind on.

P.S. This is the 500th post on this blog!

Arduino Programmer Shield

I gotta say I’m pretty proud of my design for a custom programmer shield.  The images below show the Arduino, programmer shield, and a target board (ATTINY85).  I made the boards using the laser cutter method (which you can find videos of on this site somehow).  The target boards slip right into the header pins I bent up for the purpose.   Makes a really handy programming and testing jig!

 

programmer2

 

programmer1

Belt Made from Raw Metal, Leather, Fire, and Light.

I have to say there are not many things that make me feel better than making something that I am really proud of.  A lot my time at Milwaukee Makerspace is spent lamenting the malfunction of my latest prototype, so I’m in a good mood today.   The belt pictured below was made completely from scratch using technology.  Some of it old, some of it new.  The buckle was drawn up in Sketchup by importing one of those “Keep Calm and Carry On” posters from WWII (Screenshot below).  The CAD drawing was converted to GCODE and fed into one of the Makerspace’s awesome CNC routers.  Using a tiny tiny bit, you can route out a pretty detailed design in carving wax.  The wax buckle was then sand casted into white bronze thanks to Frank (our Makership recipient), who taught us how to do it.  It is noted that the Makerspace if fully equipped to do spin casting with investment, and I tried my best to make it work but failed twice.  I have not given up though, for failure is the path to success.  The casting came out great.  It looked like some medallion from a sunken pirate ship.  It wasn’t until we decided that a pendant of that size would only look good on Flava Flav, that this casting became destined for beltitude.   The last step was to take some scrap metal around the shop and some solder and braise the functional pieces to the cleaned up buckle.

It is common knowledge that The Little Prince is a book densely filled with universal wisdom, written in prose a child can grasp.  Both XiaoQian and I are quite fond of the characters, so we chose to decorate the belt with quotes and animations from the story.  To do this we harnessed the deepest secrets of quantum mechanics to cause a population inversion in an inert gas in order to coerce 25 Watts of coherent light from the atoms.  In other words we laser cut some leather that was lying around, which worked much better than it did even in my imagination.

In the end we have a meaningful and personalized accessory, made with the tools, materials, and people from Milwaukee Makerspace.

 

How do you make the BADASS more badass?

Simple.  Add lasers.

Video of Vectorized Laser PCB Fabrication

The next generation BADASS board was too big to fit through the card laminator, so I figured I’d try my hand at Tom’s laser etching method.  By using the trace program included with CorelDraw I was able to make a vectorized path for the board.  One pass takes about 5 min at 50% speed.

Tiny Programmer Shield

 

Hold me closer Tiny programmer.

I heart Arudino.  But for my current project I need a distributed network of wearable microcontrollers. For this task I think the 328 chip is a bit overkill on the number of pins I need, so I decided to stretch my skills and try to program a different chip: the ATTINY45.  This chip is an 8 pin through hole, meaning I can make much smaller boards (and cheaper).  Since I was only just getting comfortable programming my Arduino, I found a very nice path of least resistance.  The interwebs turned up a very nice ATTINY how-to from MIT which I followed to the letter, and pleased to find out that yes it actually works.  So I can just modify my Arduino sketches to run on this new chip.  The SparkFun Eagle library has all the necessary components needed to whip up a quick schematic.  After a frenzy of press-and-peel, lamination, and etching I was able to fabricate this board from scratch in less than 90 min. Not a bad turnaround time.  The gallery shows a little documentation of the process.