Weekly Maker Spotlight #4 – Jon Hughett

Jonhughett

How did you first find Milwaukee Makerspace?

I first heard about the Milwaukee Makerspace from a poster that was displayed at American Science and Surplus. I was a regular haunt at the store so I often saw the sign hanging there. At some point I found out about the first open house when the ‘Space was at Chase Avenue location. It was a great and interesting time. It was the first time I had seen a Power Wheels race. My interest was definitely piqued, but for some reason I didn’t pursue joining at the time. The next time I attended, was after the move to Logan avenue, unfortunately.  I didn’t read the webpage close enough and I tried to return to the Chase location only to find locked gates. Thank goodness for Smart Phones! I got to the meeting late but still in time to get a tour.

Why did you decide to join?

At my first visit to the Logan Avenue building, I decided that I couldn’t afford not to. I really wanted to join and started waffling about it. I thought I would go home tell the wife about it and then hem and haw and return an see about joining in the future, and that’s when I figured I should just join and quit agonizing over something I was going to do anyway.

What do you do at Milwaukee Makerspace?

I guess I should start off by saying I’m the area champion of the Jewelry Area. I’m working on getting a proper workspace for Jewelry construction going. Everything from simple processes to brazing, lost wax casting, hydraulic forming and more. Currently we are expanding the area to include Watchmaking. Aside from Jewelry, I use the Laser Cutter a lot for various projects, something I hadn’t foreseen as an interest in when I joined. I do a little Blacksmithing on the forge. I spend a bit of time on building tools to use to make jewelry.

What would you like to tell others about Milwaukee Makerspace?

Just come down to one of our Tuesday night meetings to check things out and Welcome to Wonderland!

What do you plan to work on in the next few weeks?

I am finishing work on a twenty ton hydraulic press for jewelry forming. I have an ongoing project to finish a magnetic finishing machine. I am working with a number of people at the ‘Space who are going to be building Daleks from the Doctor Who series.

Weekly Maker Spotlight #3 – Tami Weiss

IMAG3166

How did you first find Milwaukee Makerspace?

I don’t know. Which is a terrible answer, I know. But I had heard something about shared work spaces, and through some means or another had directly heard about Makerspace, because I know I eventually searched for the name Milwaukee Makerspace. It was like it was floating in the ether but I’m not exactly sure what source it came from.  I know I dallied about for a year before finally acting on it.

Why did you decide to join?

The tools! Yes, that sounds mercenary. It is. A frustration I often had is just that I can’t afford every tool I need to make the things I want to make. And Makerspace has all the tools I might want, and so many more! I never knew I wanted to use a laser cutter or 3D printer, but gosh darn it, that’s an option now.

What do you do at Milwaukee Makerspace?

When I first joined, Brant and I had a lovely conversation where he referred to a condition afflicting some members where they have “an allergy to finishing projects.” I groaned, because that’s me. I am so embarrassed to say that is me and I haven’t finished one thing yet. I’ve started some lovely things, though. I can say that.

Most of what I do there revolves around my primary hobby, which is breeding seahorses. And while I haven’t really finished a project at the space yet (though I’ve started many), I have used the space to do little things that add to projects I’m working on at home; painting something in the winter, working on a wood stand with my husband to put fishtanks on, sending him to make something I need, etc.

The biggest problem I have is that I walk into Makerspace and it’s such an endless world of possibilities, that my project idea list has tripled since joining.

The other thing I like to do though is just go there as a place to hang out. I went there for a while regularly while working on a freelance project when I needed to get out of the house. I’ve gone there just to hang out on the couch and think. It’s that kind of place.

What would you like to tell others about Milwaukee Makerspace?

I probably sound like someone with a gym membership who never goes, but I love Makerspace and couldn’t imagine not being a member. It has some of the nicest, most helpful people there doing insanely creative things. I haven’t run into any egos or crazy politics that many groups succumb to. Everyone is excited to be there. And there is so much potential at the space. My biggest hurdle is the distance to Makerspace – we live just far enough away that it can be a hassle to go there without a lot of planning. But I’m looking to move to Bay View or a nearby neighborhood specifically because I want to be nearer to the space. That’s the kind of place Makerspace is.

What do you plan to work on in the next few weeks?

Really boring stuff. I wish I had a really cool project to talk about. I need to clean up some mistakes I made on painting some aquariums for my fish room expansion. I painted the wrong end, so I need to clean and repaint the other end. I’m using glitter spray if that makes it sound more interesting! It’s part of a larger project since I’m expanding my fish room to make more space for more species, and to semi-automate some of the processes for raising the babies.  I’ll be using peristaltic pumps and an Arduino controller. That’s like a 6 months to a year timeline though because I have a lot to build before I can get that far.

 
 

Weekly Maker Spotlight #2 – David Heino

davidh

How did you first find Milwaukee Makerspace?

I forget how I first heard of it. I made several trips to the space when it was in the complex off Oklahoma Avenue.

Why did you decide to join?

A big factor was I could afford the dues after the big change. I think of myself as a life-long maker, although I tended to use the older term, craftsman. I joined because I wanted to explore.

 What do you do at Milwaukee Makerspace?

Just now, I’ve been using the space to prepare for an upcoming exhibit. I make paintings and things you might call sculpture.

What would you like to tell others about Milwaukee Makerspace?

In my opinion, it is a very good and interesting make. It’s most valuable asset is the variety and depth of knowledge and skill to be found amongst the members.

What do you plan to work on in the next few weeks?

Once I’m done with the exhibit, I want to:
1. take advantage of the opportunities the space offers to expand the tools and technologies I can use in my work.
2. I wish to work on objects that make interesting sounds that can be “played” by the user’s movement.
3. I want to work on a projector capable of producing large scale lighting effects.

 
 

Weekly Maker Spotlight #1 – Mike B.

 

We’re adding a new feature to our blog!  We’ve started sending brief surveys out to our members at random.  Each week, we will select one and publish it on our blog.  Our first participant is Mike B.!
 

unnamed

How did you first find Milwaukee Makerspace?

I believe I met Tom G and Ben who were speaking about their home made electric vehicles at a Barcamp.

Why did you decide to join?

I joined up because I had a couple projects where I needed a little advice/training to get me over the hump.

 

 

What do you do at Milwaukee Makerspace?

So far, woodworking and metalworking.Testing p1

What would you like to tell others about Milwaukee Makerspace?

You’re guaranteed to find someone with some experience in any skill or technique you’re looking for.

What do you plan to work on in the next few weeks?

I need to do a little basic electrical work to build an EXIT sign lamp. I’m also looking at a welding project to build a bench with a coat rack for my apartment.


See Mike’s blog posts here:
Building Patio Furniture For Fun and Profit
How to Build a Kitchen Table in an Assortment of Easy Steps

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/

$5 Upcycled Desk Clock

Last summer I came across a collection of car parts at a garage sale; instrument clusters, lights, gauges, and some digital clock displays.  For $5, I became the proud owner of a JECO Japan, vacuum fluorescent clock display.  The plastic housing held all the clock electronics, membrane buttons for setting the time, and a four-pin connector.  After powering it up, I realized one of the pins could be used to dim the display, which is a pretty nice feature to have.

I’ve worked on it off and on for a few months, but finally decided to finish it this weekend.  On Saturday, I tweaked some dimensions and laser-cut the final enclosure.  I wasn’t happy with the button holes and text I had on the front of the first iteration, so I got rid of them for the final.  You can adjust the time by slipping a jeweler’s screwdriver or a paper clip through a gap in between the plexiglass sides and pressing the buttons to add hours or minutes. 

I added a small single-pole, double-throw toggle to switch between bright and dim, then soldered the connections before closing it up.  The whole thing is clamped together by a single #10-32 machine screw and a wingnut.  The final result doesn’t look half bad.

DIY Exterior Ashtray

For the longest time, members and guests were treated to this gorgeous sight:
0523141537a

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We can do better! All it took was some scrap metal, an old light fixture, and scrounged hardware. Grinding, welding, drilling, done.
0523141708

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ninety minutes later, I had chucked the vile plastic bucket in the dumpster and this hotness was bolted to the wall. One project done and a great way to start the Memorial Day weekend.
0523141747b

Laser Cutter Venting System, Version 5.0

Sometimes solving one problem creates a few new ones! As part of the Laser Cutter Room Reconfiguration, the exhaust system got an upgrade. A new, bigger, more powerful fan meant we needed a new way to control it. The previous system (Version 4.0) was a simple on/off switch. That just wasn’t going to cut it for this industrial grade blower. Tom G., Tony W., myself and others spent the holidays installing this new two-horsepower beast above the ceiling in the Craft Lab. Once it was hung from the roof joists with care, Tom got to work ducting it over to the Laser Cutter Room. Finally, when all the heavy lifting had been done and the motor drive had been wired up, all we needed was an enclosure for the switch.

The request went out on the message board. Pete P., Shane T., and I all expressed interest, but life got in the way and it soon became a matter of whomever got to it first would be the one to make it. I ended up devoting the better part of last weekend to this project (much more time than I anticipated) but I can honestly say I’m pretty happy with the result.

LCEC01

The goal was fairly straight-forward: make an enclosure for the switch Tom had already provided. It was a color-coded, 4-button, mechanical switch that had been wired to provide four settings: OFF, LOW, MEDIUM, and HIGH. The more laser cutters in use, the more air you’d need and the higher the setting you should choose. There’s four duct connections available for the three laser cutters we currently have.

There’s a saying: “Better is the enemy of done.” Truer words have never been spoken in a makerspace.

At first I wanted to build the enclosure out of acrylic. Then I remembered this awesome plastic bending technique that Tony W. and some others told me about. I found a video on the Tested website and got inspired. (If you don’t know about Tested, please go check it out. You’ll thank me later.) Unfortunately, my bends kept breaking and melting through, so after a few hours of tinkering I moved on.

Thankfully, we have a small cache of plastic and metal project enclosures on our our Hack Rack. I managed to find a clear plastic, vandal-proof thermostat guard. It looked workable.

I tried laser cutting it, but the moment I saw the plastic yellow and smoke, I knew there was probably some nasty, toxic stuff in it, so I moved to the CNC router. About an hour later I had my holes cut.

Then came the wiring. Up until this point I had been focused on the control box itself. Now I wanted to add a light!

No, two lights! Yeah!

One light to tell you when everything was off, and another that lit whenever the fan was in use. People could look at the lights from outside the room and instantly know if the fan had been left on. (It should be noted that the new fan, despite being twice as powerful than our last, is actually much quieter. Tom added a homemade muffler to the inlet of the blower and shrouded the whole contraption in 3″ fiberglass batt insulation. The best way to know if the fan is running is to open a slide gate damper and hear air being sucked in.)

OK, I totally got this.

Draw myself a ladder diagram and get out the wire connectors… Remember that I need to isolate the signals from each other so any button doesn’t call for 100% fan… A few more relays… Some testing… and done!

Wait a second… the motor drive doesn’t have a ground for the control signal.

Hmm.

Guess I can’t power it from the drive. I’ll just tie into the drive’s ground. Nope, that didn’t work.

I’ll read the motor drive manual. OK, it has a set of “run status” contacts I can monitor.
….and they’re putting out a steady 0.4 volts DC. That’s enough to light up a single LED! …except, no. It’s not lighting. Doesn’t seem to be any real current.

I’ll just use a transistor! That’s the whole point of a transistor!
….well nothing I tried worked.

I’ll build a voltage multiplier circuit!
….and this isn’t working either.

On Day 3 of this “little project” Ron B. made a comment about using a pressure switch of some kind.

Wait.

We have a Hack Rack full of junk and I know there’s this old bunch of gas furnace parts. It couldn’t be that easy…

LCEC02

Yeah. So, three days (and a few frustrating epiphanies) later, this all came together. Press the beige button, get some air. Press the other buttons, get some more air. Any time there’s suction, the red light comes on. The indicator light is powered by its own 24 volt DC wall pack. The pressure switch has both normally open (N.O.) and normally closed (N.C.) contacts so it would be totally feasible to add another light at some point. The controller could display “OFF” or “SAFE” or whatever as well as “ON” or “FAN IN USE” or whatever. The text is just a red piece of paper with words printed on it, then holes laser-cut out to fit. We can trade it out with different words or graphics if we ever feel the need. I was just glad to have it done, so I called it. Better is the enemy of done, indeed.

LCEC03

You can learn more about the evolution of our laser cutter venting system on our wiki!

Lighting Control Upgrade!

IMAG3517In an effort to make the lighting control system more user-friendly, the original board-mounted switches have been replaced with a laser-cut zone map! Instead of looking up which zone number corresponds to a particular bank of lights, each location is now identified by a green LED pushbutton.  You can read more about the lighting control system and how it’s been evolving on our wiki: http://wiki.milwaukeemakerspace.org/projects/mmlc