Bay View Printing Co.

The Milwaukee Makerspace is about to get an exciting new neighbor!  Ashley Town, a former professor at the Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design (MIAD) has recently purchased the > 100 year old Bay View Printing Company @ 2702 S. Howell Ave, less than a half-mile from our space!

Ashley is taking over a print shop with a rich heritage as well as several beautiful presses, a Linotype machine and dozens of wood and metal typefaces.  She plans on doing custom work as well as running classes and building up a community around the lovely art of printmaking.

Bay View Printing Company is in the final days of its fundraising drive on IndieGogo to raise money to pay for some renovations to the space to make it more amenable to Ashely’s goal of making this a community-driven space.  The IndieGogo campaign has some great rewards like private lessons on the Vandercook press.  I’m so thrilled this is coming to Bay View that I have challenged Makerspace members to donate and will match up to $500 in donations!

Bay View is extremely lucky to have a new creative space!  If you want to support them, hurry up, though!  The IndieGogo campaign ends at the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Eve, 2014.  As of this writing, they have raised $7,635 out of the desired $11,000.  Let’s help them out and welcome our exciting new neighbor!

Read a bit more about the space at these local outlets:

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!


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!


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!









The Return of the Ridiculously Large Jacks!

Ridiculously Large Jacks

(photo by Mike Massie)

The Ridiculously Large Jacks made another appearance at this year’s Great Milwaukee Race!  Members Jason Hillesheim and Mike Massie helped me run 64 games of jacks with teams from the race and a couple of families that stopped by to see what the hubbub was all about!

The Great Milwaukee Race is an annual scavenger hunt race that sends teams of 2-4 sprinting across downtown Milwaukee after decoding clues to various locations where they will be asked to do various challenges.  Some stations had teams exercising, putting together an outfit from thrift store clothes, making funny poses, rock climbing or playing games of giant jacks!  The Makerspace has been a proud sponsor and participant every year.

This year we were at a super location – in front of “The Calling”, Mark di Suvero’s sculpture near the Milwaukee Art Museum.  As you can see from the photo above, “The Calling” looks like a giant jack, so we were particularly pleased!

Knock Knock

We have a pretty sweet access control system at the space. Former President Royce Pipkins put it together for us and it controls all the exterior doors at the space. One problem we have with it right now is that we have to log into a linux machine and tail the log to see interesting info about how many makers are badging in and when.

Well, we used to have that problem, anyway.

I spent some time today with the lovely (if a bit limited) Cosm api. You may know Cosm by its former name, Pachube. I wrote a simple python script to parse out interesting, anonymous data from our access server logs and send it up to Cosm as a new feed, called Milwaukee Makerspace Access Control System with four data streams:

  • Number of Unique Makers Accessing the space in a day
  • Number of Unique Makers Accessing the space in an hour
  • Total number of badge-ins per day
  • Number of Access Denied messages per day

Cosm made it easy to graph the data and to send up new data points, but is limited to a gauge-style timeseries.  I can’t submit raw data events and use Cosm to aggregate them up by date or hour, so i had to do that in my local python code.  Their REST API is very simple, clean and well documented, though, which makes up for the limitations a bit.  They provide a graph-builder, but i didn’t like the way the graphs looked so i pulled the JSON data in and used the Google Chart Tools to produce some pretty graphs like this one:

Access Control System Stats

Screenshot of the Access Control System Stats.

The stats are updated from our access control system every hour and are publicly available at

We’re looking at doing some more fun stuff with the logs from the access control system at the space, like displaying the names of the members who have most recently badged in, making sounds when someone badges in or a key is denied.  I’m sure whatever we come up with will be noisy and large.