Thursday Night Time Lapse

A time lapse video complied from the Milwaukee Makerspace CCTV system. 7 hours of video compressed into 4 minutes. All events took place between 4:30 and 11:30 PM Thursday, September 29, 2011.

Activities include:
– Rich welding
– Chris and Rich working on their electric cars
– Chris driving his electric car in and out of the shop
– Tom, Adam, and Royce working in Diptrace
– Bret, Rich, Royce, and Adam blacksmithing items with the forge
– Various people working on misc. projects and chatting
– Royce, Brant, and Adam etching and tin-plating circuit boards
– Pete working on his Makerbot 3D printer

Builder’s Night Out – September 29th

In addition to the usual hackery and makers working on their electric cars, Bret fired up the forge again last night.  Rich turned some horseshoes into hangers, Adam flattened a steel rod, and Royce folded a metal bar.

In preparation for BarCampMilwaukee6 (this weekend!) Royce and I have been mass producing circuit boards for a “learn to solder” class we’ll be holding.  The boards are 1.5″x1.5″ square and include a battery, two resistors, traces in the shape of our logo, and two red LEDs for eyes.  The copper traces were tinned using “Tin It” to prevent oxidation and make it easier to solder.  We’ve made 65 of the “tie pins” so far and the project gave us an opportunity to tweak our methods for PCB etching.  We prefer etching with ferric chloride, but muriatic acid and hydrogen peroxide are looking more attractive as they’re cheaper chemicals, can be obtained locally, and etch much faster without heating.  Also, red Sharpie markers seem to work really well at cleaning up traces with the muriatic acid solution.  Specifically red, not sure why.


September 27th Meeting Minutes

A total of 14 members and 1 guest attended the meeting.

BarCampMilwaukee6 is this weekend!

If you haven’t yet, go visit their website at

Membership Promotion

Jason proposed that we actively engage the public and recruit new members.  He volunteered to lead a small group and make contact with people at area schools and colleges.  More to come shortly.

Jumpstart Sponsorships

Rich presented an idea to sponsor people who regularly attend meetings and help out at the space, but lack the disposable income necessary for membership.  Candidates would be eligible for two or more months of part-time or student level membership.  A fund has already been set up using donations from other members.

Jason noted that PS:One and other groups offer incentives to bring in materials, clean the space, teach classes, etc. and earn points which can be redeemed for merchandise, discounted dues, and more.  More details to come.

Doorbell Project

It was noted that Shane, a regular at the space but not quite a member, was left waiting outside in the rain last Friday without anyone to let him in.  People were in the space, but did not know he was out there.  The group discussed the need for a doorbell to alert occupants to the presence of guests waiting outside.  Ross volunteered to help build a system with a bell and lights and began working shortly after the meeting.

Electric Car Club Meeting October 9th

As usual, the Electric Car Club will be meeting on the second Sunday of the month.  Tom asked for a few volunteers to come to the space and help direct any guests that attend the meeting.  People will hang out between 10:00 AM and 4:00 PM with the meeting somewhere in the middle.  Tom noted that Ben is working to make the group an official chapter of the Electric Automobile Association.

September 20th Meeting Minutes

A total of 13 members and 4 guests attended the meeting.

Introductions – Guests Welcome

This week Royce asked the guests how they found us.  Answers included seeing the Arduino float in the South Shore Frolics Parade, recommendations from co-workers, our website, and like-minded  maker group and reseller websites.

Upcoming Events

The group voted to proceed with plans to create Milwaukee Makerspace LED blinkies in time for BarCampMilwaukee6.  The blinkies will be part of a “Learn to Solder” class that will be offered at the event.  There is not enough time to have professional custom PCBs made in time for the event so Royce has agreed to design a circuit in-house and Brant to etch and drill them.  Tom is currently putting together a Digikey order for the parts.  If anyone wants to combine orders from Digikey, respond to the mailing list thread ASAP.

Brant asked who from Milwaukee Makerspace will be teaching sessions at BarCamp this year.  Ron B. is planning to host a session on CNC CAD/CAM programs like CamBam.  Other sessions TBD.  For more information visit

Power Wheels Kickstarter

Donations for the Power Racing Series Kickstarter Project began Tuesday.  See the post immediately below this one for more information.


Bob D. noted he had started to build a 2-seater hovercraft and has ribs for sale if anyone is interested.  Inquire on the mailing list.

Electric Watt Hour Meters!

American Science & Surplus is selling residential style electric watt hour meters. Awhile back I picked up this analog one from them for $14, but they also have digital ones for less at their tent sale going on this weekend.  I finally found some time to play with it and I managed to get it working.  I’ll probably turn it into a lamp or something!

Electric Watt Hour Meter

Electric Watt Hour Meter from AS&S

Electric Watt Hour Meter Disc

Electric Watt Hour Meter Disc

Electric Watt Hour Meter Connections

Electric Watt Hour Meter Connections

September 13th Meeting Minutes

A total of 14 members and 5 guests attended the meeting.

Introductions – Guests Welcome

Bookkeeping Items

Tom indicated that we have paid the fee for Made in Milwaukee and we will be cutting a check to sponsor BarCampMilwaukee6.  For more information visit The group agreed to put donations from members toward the sponsorship and pay the remainder out of organization funds.

Upcoming Events

This Sunday, September 18th from 1-3pm Royce will be teaching a class on the DipTrace printed circuit board design software.  You can RSVP on Facebook.

The First Annual Wisconsin Science Festival will be held in Madison September 22nd-25th.  Milwaukee Makerspace is not actively participating however the event has been shared on the mailing list.

BarCampMilwaukee6 is scheduled for October 1st-2nd and many of our members will be in attendance; a few will even be teaching!

Wiki and Website Content Discussion

There is a discussion on the mailing list about starting a Makerspace Wiki.  Jason, Ross, and Royce led most of the discussion in the meeting Tuesday.  While it is not clear if members would maintain or use a wiki, blog posts are being made often so the website is staying fresh and up-to-date.  Is it also not clear at this time if WordPress has “collaboration” style pages like Drupal did with the former website.  Brant volunteered to port the old cleanup task list and recommended vendors list over to the new website.  Brant and Jason expressed interest in tagging the equipment with QR codes or something similar to track relevant information and possibly maintenance.

Current Projects

The group went around the room and shared what projects they are currently working on:

  • Royce P. – Gyro Belt/E-Textile Project for Dancers
  • Rich N. – Electric Ford Ranger Conversion & Restoring the Craftsman Lathe
  • Chris H. – Electric Ford Escort Conversion, transmission work
  • Ron B. – Wants to build a large electric clock using wooden gears, plans to level the CNC milling surface soon
  • Tom Gr. – Tweaking the Electric Dodge Neon, battery monitors and “smart” battery chargers
  • Mike K. – Temperature control circuit for an ATV, motor controller, possibly a Tesla coil soon
  • David R. – Motorcycle repairs, RFID audio plane
  • Jack D. – Continuing work on the ambulance, siren and PA coming soon
  • Jason G. – Coaching a FIRST Lego League Team
  • Matt N. – Looking to fabricate aluminum porch post covers
  • Ross O. – LED scrolling display hacking, analog synthesizer, repairing various test equipment picked up from yard sales
  • Brant H. – Scoreboard clocks, video projector hacking, making a key for the TP dispenser in the Women’s Room
  • Brett – Continuing work on the forge, needs to make tools and casting forge, also a LilyPad bicycle illumination project for night riding


Smartboard Projector Hacking

Several Smartboard projectors arrived at Tom’s warehouse recently sans the whiteboard parts. The devices consist of a “Smartboard Unifi 35″ computer with various video/audio connections and a projector mounted on the end of a telescoping arm. The whole rig is mounted on the wall above a touch-sensitive whiteboard and the projector beams the image back at the board. Unfortunately, without the whiteboards, the projector won’t display anything more than a prompt telling us to connect the board.

I immediately took interest in this project as I’ve been using boards like these at work for a few years now.  So with the help of several other makers, we’ve managed to cobble together some ideas on how to make use of the projector portion.

The best strategy we’ve come up with so far is to substitute the video signal from the original computer with our own.  In order to do so, we’ve built three DVI breakout boards to pick individual pins from one device or another and feed them into the projector.

We’ve spent $0 and about 20 man-hours of labor so far.  It would be less but my DipTrace and PCB etching skills are rusty.  The boards took all day Saturday, 9/10 to design, etch, drill, solder, and test, but around midnight I got to check my first two hypotheses:

  1. Substitute the (6) data link 1 pins from our own source and connect all the rest from the Unifi 35
  2. Substitute the (6) data link 1 pins from our own source and TMDS shield/clock pins and connect all the rest from the Unifi 35

Sadly neither worked, but after some research on various protocols (see: EDID, DVI, TMDS, etc.), swapping additional pins may give us what we want.

If none of this pans out, we’ll probably look into faking the whiteboard signal.  I’d hate to think the projectors are useless without the whiteboards.  These things are just too cool to scrap.

September 6th Meeting Minutes

A total of 14 members and 4 guests attended the meeting.

Made In Milwaukee – Event Recap

Several members attended ‘Made In Milwaukee’ last Saturday, downtown at Cathedral Square.  The event was a great success despite the rain.  The soldering classes went well and the group discussed plans for soldering projects at future events.  Royce agreed to look into pricing custom PCBs with traces that form our logo.  A discussion has started on the mailing list.

Power Wheels BBQ – This Weekend

Saturday, 9/10 we will be joining PS:One and others in Chicago for a picnic and gathering.  A few of our makers will bring their cars along and plan to discuss the 2012 season, rules, and have fun.

Doctor Who Party – This Weekend

Ben Nelson will be hosting a Doctor Who-Themed birthday party for his brother this weekend.  For more information on time and location, check the mailing list.

New Books in Library

Ron Bean noted that he’s added three books to the Library bookshelf:

  • There Are No Electrons: Electronics for Earthlings by Kenn Amdahl.
  • The Art of Electronics, by Paul Horowitz and Winfield Hill
  • Electrical Engineering 101 by Darren Ashby

Members are welcome to use them, but please refrain from taking them home.  Ron plans to use them while at the space.

Miller Welding Sponsorship

Kevin called Miller again this week to inquire about a sponsorship or possible equipment donation to us.  We had contacted them months ago, but never heard back.

Cheap Electric Welders

After Kevin’s update, Tom and Rich noted that they had found some cheap DC welders for sale with options for TIG, MIG, and pulsed current for aluminum.  The group seemed interested, either for the space, or personal use.  Tom agreed to look into the sale further.

Welcome Guests

Four new guests joined us for this meeting and expressed interest in memberships and various projects.  One guest, Andor, shared information on the upcoming Harvest Moon Festival and Sustainability Fair 9/24 and 9/25.  More info can be found on their Facebook page.  Another guest, Dan, was looking to meet Jason and discuss his FIRST Lego League Team.

Soda Run

Kevin and Tom mentioned they planned to go on a soda run later this week, possibly after the meeting.  There were requests for Diet Pepsi, Dr. Pepper, and “strange, unique” sodas to bring with to PS:One this weekend.

Forge Ready

Brett announced that the forge was ready.  After the meeting, the group watched as he fired it up.