We help in all departments!

Becky Tesch

We’re currently in the process of moving to our new space, but we had our last Tuesday night meeting of the year this week and we had a few guests stop by looking for help with some projects.

Becky’s a local artist who works in “duct tape & bike parts” making unique recycled jewelry and other things. (You can check out some of her work on Etsy.) She was interested in using the laser cutter for some of her pieces. While we didn’t get a chance to do any test cuts due to some laser downtime, we grabbed some inner-tube rubber and we’ll be giving it a test run for her.

The Artery

While talking to Becky, a guy named Jacob showed up and asked about cutting some stencils to sandblast things for rewards. Rewards? Yeah, he’s one of the guys involved in a recent Kickstarter campaign. Check out Matireal in this OnMilwaukee story. We gave Jacob some good advice and a member offered to cut the stencils he needs. Pretty cool! (And yeah, it did seem a little weird that we had one person who works with old inner-tubes and another who works with old car tires, but we love recycling too!)

So yeah, we like helping people who like making things, and even if the laser is down or we’re in the process of moving the entire Makerspace, we’re glad to help!

Meetings Canceled!

Crazy Calendars!

We all love making, and we all love meeting each week and talking about making and updating the group on our latest projects, but the holidays are here, and people have a lot of other commitments, so in the interest of taking a break, we’re going to cancel the next two weekly meetings.

So on Tuesday, December 25, 2012 and Tuesday, January 1st, 2013 don’t come to the Makerspace! Well, you’re welcome to come, but know that there may be no one there, and we won’t be having meetings. (And if anyone is there, they’ll probably just be moving things.)

Happy Holidays, Maker! See you for the next weekly meeting in our new space at 2555 S. Lenox Street some time in January 2013!

Hot Stuff! Aluminum Pour Night.

 

To quote the Iron Worker on THE SIMPSONS,  “Hot stuff, coming through!”
I was pretty excited that I finally made it down to the Milwaukee Makerspace last night to attend an aluminum pour! I’ve seen a couple of the videos and really wanted to get in on some of that hot metal casting. I have what’s called a “speed-ring”, a metal ring that holds a soft-box for photographic lighting, and I wanted to make a copy of it.

So far, much of the casting has been using a “lost-styrofoam” method. A shape is carved from foam and set in sand, and the aluminum melts the foam as it’s poured in. But I wanted a COPY of an existing item. I asked Bret about it, and he said we could try an experiment of pretty much just pressing the ring down into some sand. An X channel was then added in the middle as a point for the aluminum to pour into and spread out into the shape.

I built a wood box for my item, and we filled it with oily sand, packed it in there, and added the X-trough. My item didn’t pull out of the sand quite as well as I had hoped, but hey, it’s an experiment…

Outside, the aluminum furnace was roaring away, heating aluminum to a delightful orange liquid. The first pour made it through Kevin’s FEAR art piece, my piece, and another members. Later, a second pour took care of Phil’s hand-casting series (which turned out great!)  and the rest went into an ingot mold.

Once my piece was cool enough, we pulled it out to take a look at the results. Not perfect, but not bad for a first time, and an experimental casting at that. There was quite a bit of extra metal, but most of that could be easily trimmed off with the bandsaw. Other members were taking photos of their work. It was obvious that everyone was pretty proud of their individual castings. Even without being the one pouring out twenty pounds of molten metal, it was still a pretty macho experience just to be part of.

If you too want to come play with crazy hot metal, come on down to the Makerspace next time we do an aluminum pour!

Halloween Skull Project

I want to open my first blog post with a statement that continues to impress me: Milwaukee Makerspace is a wonderful place! I mostly show up for the free meetings.  MMS provides an excellent environment to be social, to learn (happens every time I go!), to teach (when I can!), and to get the creative juices flowing.

I had recently started working with Arduino (after a failed run at Microchip’s PIC series of microcontrollers), and was making progress quickly.  I learned how to read infrared remote control codes, how to use an infrared motion sensor, and how to control servos. What I did not have, was a sense of direction as to where to go with all of this!

After listening to the Bay View Neighborhood Associate pitch their idea of MMS helping with the Pumpkin Pavilion, and listening to Royce Pipkins describe his idea of animatronic pumpkins singing along to a song, I was struck with my own idea: an animatronic skull.

Thus, it was born!

http://vimeo.com/55121596 <- Link to the video

I’ll post more details in a following post about how I built this guy. :)

Many thanks to Royce, Tom G., and Ed C. for their help on this project!

Aluminium Casting Night

This past Thursday was another great aluminium pour! I came prepared with a mold I made at work (benefits of working at a minerals company). I can’t show you guys the cast I made, cause it’s a Christmas present, but I can show you the pour!

Be on the look out on the Milwaukee Makerspace Calendar for future Aluminium pours on Thursday night at 7:00, or just come on by any Tuesday or Thursday night at 7:00 pm for our Open Meeting and Builder’s Night Out. See ya there!

Scheduling Conflicts?

Crazy Calendars!

Let’s say your interested in Milwaukee Makerspace, and want to check it out, learn more, meet some makers, and see if becoming a member is something you’re interested in…

Because of the structure of Milwaukee Makerspace, we want to meet you, and we want you to meet some of us, and make sure it’s all a good fit before you join us, and that’s why we invite people to stop by Tuesday nights at 7pm for our weekly meetings, or Thursday nights at 7pm for our “Builder’s Night Out” but those days and times may not be ideal for everyone. If you’ve got classes or work, or just can’t make it out on a Tuesday or Thursday night, we can always figure something else out.

Feel free to contact us about getting into the space to meet people at a time that works for you. Maybe you can only stop by on the weekend, or during “normal” business hours… either way, if you’re interested in joining, we’ll do what we can do accommodate you. We’re helpful like that! :)

The New Milwaukee Makerspace

Lenox

When Milwaukee Makerspace started in August of 2009, Tom and Royce gathered a group of people who had a common interest in starting a hackerspace/makerspace in Milwaukee. A group met at Tom’s house for the first meeting, and then moved to the local Culver’s, meeting each week to discuss current projects, and plans for a space. By November 2010 the group acquired a space in the Chase Commerce Center, and with 13 founding members they launched at our current location, and then added two more members before a soft opening party in January 2011.

We’ve gone from 15 members at the start of 2011 to over 70 members near the end of 2012. We’ve seen our capabilities expand, the list of equipment grow, the number of projects explode, and we’ve also gotten involved in the community. It’s been pretty amazing the last 20 months… and we’re ready for the next step.

We’re about to start the process of moving from our present 6,000 square foot space to a new 16,000 square foot building. Don’t worry, we’ll still be in Milwaukee (and still in Bay View) and in fact, we’ll be moving more into the heart of Bay View, into an entire building at 2555 South Lenox Street on the corner of Lenox and Otjen, one block off Kinnickinnic, next to the McDonald’s. If you’ve been to the Bay View Library, The Hi-Fi Cafe, or Rushmor Records, then you know the area.

So what does this all mean? It means that instead of exclusively working on our own projects for the next month, many of us will also be working on building out the new space: having a Sawzall party on the roof, knocking down a wall or two, building up several new ones, etc!

We hope to offer a lot of new capabilities at the new space, things we’ve wanted to do but may not have been able to due to limitations of our first space. We’ll also be looking at hosting classes and other events at the new space.

If you’ve been interested in joining Milwaukee Makerspace, you’ve got two options… join now, and help with the move (and have a hand in what the new space will be) or wait until we’re all moved in. That second options sounds sort of boring though, and I’m sure you’re more interested in helping us create an amazing new space here in Milwaukee, because you’re a bold maker with great ideas.

Lenox

Bay View Gallery Night September 28th, 2012

Several Makers packed up some tools, samples and some very raw materials and set up shop in the Alterra parking lot for the September 28th Bay View Gallery Night.

We rolled in with Matt N’s CNC router and a bunch of his foam architectural pieces, the Makerbot and a few dozen 3d printed samples and after a while had the Replicator fired up cranking out Tardis models (Tardii???). Those were accompanied by a robot from Matt W, some proximity switch-controlled LED strands from Brant, Pete’s Egg Bot and Laser Kaleidoscope and a bunch of Shane’s intricate boxes and laser cut images. Whew! We came with a full crew and more stuff than would fit on our tables. :) We also may have blown the power briefly, but it was an accident, we swear. Even if we did, the sun was still shining for quite a while after that incident.

The surprise hit of our table was the Fruit Synthesizer i put together at, umm, literally the last minute. I was still tweaking it 15 minutes into the event! I used a Makey Makey connected to 2 halves of a watermelon, 2 pickles, a horned melon, a pair of bananas, Max MSP and GarageBand to make a really goofy synthesizer. The Makey Makey is a great little board that operates as a USB keyboard and mouse and lets you alligator clip to any conductive material to make a weird ad-hoc controller. I had intended to have it trigger guitar sounds, but it was way more satisfying as a drum kit, so we kept it set up as a drumkit for most of the night. I loved seeing people jump when they touched the banana and loud bass drum boomed out at them. We had some people coming back several times and bringing more people over to play with the kit. We did a lot of demos where I would high-five someone already connected to the Makey Makey to trigger the drums and one of my favorite uses was the couple that kissed to trigger the instrument. This simple project really engaged people in a fun and quirky way. Not bad for a project i threw out on a lark! We all had so much fun with the Fruit Synth that i am positive it will be making a comeback at future events.

Fruit Synth with Tiny Banana Drumsticks

Aside from goofy fun, we had a couple hundred people rolled through over the course of the night and heard from a lot of people who were interested in the space and have heard about us. We’ve been really focused on getting the word out Makerspace and finding out that a lot of folks are hearing about and interested in Maker/Hackerspaces was really gratifying. We hope to see a lot of new faces at the space in the next couple of weeks!

We learned a few things, too. The first is that the interactive displays were a big hit. The second is that we should bring some stuff to sell next time! There were several families that wrote down “sparkfun” and “makey makey” and many kids who wanted to use a Makey Makey for a science fair project at school. We could have sold a half dozen of them if we had more than the one used for the Fruit Synth. The 3d prints were a hit, too, and we should probably have a bunch of Milwaukee-themed prints on hand to sell to folks for our next event.

Big thanks to Pete for organizing our presence at BVGN, the other artists that showed at the event and the folks at the new Bay View Alterra for hosting us all!

For a few more photos, check out the set Brant posted on Flickr.

Wraparound Milwaukee – The Block

The Block

In March 2012 Jason H. introduced the group to Jessica Zoch from Wraparound Milwaukee. Wraparound Milwaukee is a unique type of managed care program operated by the Milwaukee County Behavioral Health Division that is designed to provide comprehensive, individualized and cost effective care to children with complex mental health and emotional needs.

Jason

Members of the Milwaukee Makerspace (led by Jason H. and Rich N.) helped create “The Block”, a work of public art that was hand-constructed by over 50 local youth. We basically did the construction of the piece, which was designed by local architect Alison Carlucci, and the kids all painted individual blocks. (There’s 170 of them!)

Rich N.

The Block is an interactive piece, as each block rotates to show four different sides. Want to see what it looks like? It’s on permanent display outside of the Milwaukee County Behavioral Health Division.

The Block

I think Jason H. and Rich N. (and all the members that helped with this project) deserve a big round of applause. It’s one thing for our members to show up at the space and work on their own projects, but helping out in the community, especially helping those who are helping others in need, is a good thing, and I think it shows another aspect of what a makerspace (and its members!) can accomplish.

(Also, thanks to David from Korporate-Media for documenting this with photos and video!)

MMS Eclipse watching party

Although poorly attended (only one full and one future member) everyone had a great time observing the 98% solar Eclipse.

Using the official MMS pinhole card:

 

 

 

 

Too bad the eclipse image is so poor, what a minute – whats that on the building next door?

 

Openings between the leaves of trees are acting as pin hole cameras and giving hundreds of images of the eclipse, we felt a little silly looking at the tiny ones the card was making for the first half hour :-)

You can also see some on the leaf in the foreground (I’m writing this on an old netbook so I can’t tell how the pictures are coming out, so I didn’t clip or tweak them)

And just so you don’t think its some other effect, here’s a shot at the max we witnessed, notice the arc is at the top instead of the side:

I’m still not sure why we had such a poor turnout, after all its only a 36 hour drive to San Francisco!