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!
Hey Makerspace lovers! I did a radio show talking about what we do and what we are about. Its a pretty good listen in my opinion. There are 4 interview segments so don’t stop at the music breaks. Jack Driscoll also showed up to talk about his Jambulance.
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.
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.
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.
As a former teacher I am rather passionate about the value of good education to society. I believe this piece in the New York Times describes well my feelings towards our current dysfunctional system. It is hard to ignore that the innovators and leaders of the new technology economy in this country had to reject traditional schooling and unlearn many the bad lessons they received. We don’t need to be trying to teach everyone multivariate calculus; we need to revive the apprenticeship system.
I think that the Maker Movement has a large role to play in this idea vacuum in educational policy. I firmly believe that no student should be allowed to graduate high school without being able to make something. Be it a chair, a dress, a motor controller, or whatever. The root of success is failure. This needs to be taught in school, where currently teachers embrace mediocrity to avoid confronting failure. There is no shorter path to failure than to try to make something. The maker mentality needs to be incorporated into every student’s curriculum.
The learn to solder booth at Made in Milwaukee was a resounding success. So nice to see a child’s face light up with the joy of creation. The same goes for the adults that stopped by to give it a try. Never to old to learn something new. Participants assembled a very simple blinky circuit which doubles as a pin. Very Neat Indeed!
We here at the Makerspace are always looking for ways to reach out and raise awareness in the community of our existence. When an opportunity like Made in Milwaukee comes along, how can you pass that up. We will be at this festival (click image above for more info) all day showing off our inspiring creations and supervising hands-on maker activities. So please stop by our tent and show us some love!
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