The New Milwaukee Makerspace


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.


Space Apps Challenge

International Space Apps Challenge

If you don’t have enough to do this weekend (or you really love space and consider yourself a citizen scientist) you might want to join the International Space Apps Challenge.

On Saturday, April 21st, and Sunday, April 22nd, 2012 hacker and makers around the world will be joining together to work on software, hardware, data visualizations, and other projects to solve current challenges relevant to both space exploration and social need. Even the folks on the International Space Station will be taking part!

Learn more about it here, browse the list of challenges, and if you want to get involved, register!

Signs of the Makerspace

If you’ve only been a part of Milwaukee Makerspace through the web site, wiki, mailing list, or some other online thingamabob we have, and you’ve never actually been to the space, you’re missing out on something—the signs!

Besides all the purely informational signs, we’ve got some humorous signs, and a few signs that probably fit in both categories.

So here my friends, is a brief look at some of the signs of the Makerspace.

Wipe your feet!
We have this special stuff at the space we call “Makerspace Filth” that, if unchecked, tries to infect everything. This is how we fight this menace.

Somewhat Safe
We have numerous classifications for our projects… From “Somewhat Safe” to… well, maybe I shouldn’t talk about the other end of the scale!

It if looks unsafe... it probably is.
Speaing of safe, here’s a good reminder. I actually nicked this one from the guys at Robots and Dinosaurs.

Test Equipment
This makes sense right? Things you should not use the Test Equipment for include: hammer, boat anchor, blunt object, doorstop, spider flattener.

Stay Out!
Occasionally one of your projects needs some privacy. (Especially if it has an escape hatch built into it.)

Milwaukee Robotics Club
Yes, the Milwaukee Robotics Club meets here. Or at least we used to. (It’s been a while since we’ve had a meeting actually…)

Eye protection must be warn
Protect things like your eyes. And your signs. You might notice that even this sign about protecting your eyes is protected by a piece of plastic. Similar to how you might protect your eyes. #meta

Yes, we do have bathrooms! (Note: some of that “Makerspace Filth” we talked about may be located in the bathrooms.)

Use the wedge!
By the way… if you use the bathrooms, you might also want to use the wedge, so you don’t get locked out.

CCTV in operation
We also have some cameras around the place keeping an eye on everything. (Note: there are not cameras in the bathrooms.)

Caution - Always Add Acid to Water
A gentle reminder to always add acid to water. I’m going to assume the other way around is probably a bad idea.

Laser Radiation
This one is on the laser cutter. Yes, we have a laser cutter. And yes, you can etch a mirror in the laser cutter without destroying yourself or the laser cutter.

Potential for Toxic Fumes - Keep Clear!
Speaking of the laser cutter, we do vent the fumes, but we figured it was still a good idea to put this one along the path of the vent pipe.

Look directly at implosion
I’m not sure we’ve ever had an implosion at the space, but if we do, we know the proper procedure for such an event.

Load: 3 lbs per sq foot
Hmmm, looks like the maximum load had dropped a bit since the initial construction of the building. Those old floors ain’t what they used to be!

Hack Rack
The Hack Rack sign has been upgraded since last year, and now includes the bit about taking something if you leave something—which is good—otherwise the Hack Rack would take over the entire space at some point.

For Makerspace from Ava
I’m not even sure this one is a sign… I think it’s actually artwork contributed by a member’s daughter. Either way, it’s a great interpreation of our logo.

I hope you enjoyed the look at some of our signs! Let us know if you have any suggestions for future signs at the space!

The Library

The Library

If you’re ever at the Milwaukee Makerspace and you hear someone say “It’s in the Library!” you might wonder to yourself (much like I did) why it’s called the Library.

Yes, we do have some books in there, but we’ve also got a giant wall of electronic components, as well as a sewing machine, embroidery machine, computers, projects, supplies, and miscellaneous junk.

I ran the question past Royce, and he had this to say:

It’s because we have a library of electronic components.

For example, if you are reading the Arduino Cookbook and a circuit in there calls for a 47uF capacitor or a 2N2222 transistor that you don’t have, you needn’t pay $5 shipping for a 50 cent part and wait three days to boot. It’s almost certainly in our parts library. Just go grab it!

We have most every value of through hole resistors and capacitors in a variety of working voltages. We also have common discrete silicon devices such as diodes and transistors. We are more limited on the ICs because of the colossal variations in ICs, but we have a lot of common beginner type stuff such linear power regulators, silicon controlled relays, 74 series logic, the venerable 555 timer, RS-232 level shifters and more.

So there you have it! Sure, there’s some books, but mainly it’s a “library of electronic components” which for a hackerspace, is a pretty awesome thing to have.

Spaceship Chair Tested By Space-Man!

*Extra! Extra!*

Dateline: June 14, 2011, Milwaukee Makerspace

Ron Bean recently wowed the world & the Milwaukee Makerspace with his new invention, the “Spaceship Chair”. Now everyone is wowed again now that an actual real life Space-Man has come down from the cosmos to test the chair. No word on what galaxy he was from, but he was quoted as saying, “This chair is out of this world!”

We have this one verified image of the Space Man enjoying the comfort of Ron’s Spaceship Chair!

Congratulations to Ron for bridging the intergalactic boundaries with his universally adored chair!

For more information please check back here at !

For Milwaukee Makerspace news, I’m David R.