Cacophonator Enters The RPM Challenge!

At Noon today, the Cacophonator decided to enter the RPM Challenge!  This challenge is simple: Compose and record an album entirely during the month of Februrary, be that 10 individual songs or a single 35+ minute track of original material!  After a thirteen second test, Cacophonator was proven to not be up to this challenge as a solo act – It’s just too loud.  Enter Mohoganator: The distortion reducing, level adjusting perfect partner for this challenge.

The Dynamic Duo of Cacophonator and Mohoganator teamed up with Auditionator (I.E. Adobe Audition) to record a session for 10 minutes and 32 seconds at a blazing fast 192kHz sample rate.  This recording was then slowed down to the customary rate of 44.1kHz, thereby expanding the work to its final 45.5 minute length.  Within twenty minutes after the recording was made, Cacophonator had a profile set up on the RPM Challenge site and the piece normalized, saved as a low bit rate mp3 and uploaded.  You’ve read that correctly, in less time than it takes to listen to this piece, it was composed, recorded, processed, mastered and uploaded.  Talk about Non-Causal Audio Delight!  Check out the piece here, by scrolling down to “my player.” This all happened very fast, but Cacophonator still isn’t quite finished – it hasn’t yet mailed a CD to RPM HQ, 10 Vaughan Mall, Suite 201 Portsmouth, NH 03801.  Interested participants still have over 11 days to enter the challenge!

The Tool At Hand

The Milwaukee Art Museum (MAM) and Chipstone Foundation recently invited an international selection of artists to create art objects using only a single tool. Works made using just one tool, be that a saw, glue applicator, pin vise, utility knife, etc are on display at MAM now through March, 2012.  More information about the works in the museum can be found at artbable.org.  Interestingly, the Chipstone Foundation has extended the offer to all Milwaukee area artists, creatives, and makers to enter their own single tool work in a show at Sweet Water Organics on March 17th from 1-5pm. Three works will be selected to join the works already at the Milwaukee Art Museum for the remainder of March.  If you are interested in participating, email Claudia at Chipstone.org as space is limited.

Tool At Hand TableInspired by the Chipstone Foundation’s origins in collecting furniture and decorative arts, and to gain some experience with my chosen tool (Angle grinder with chainsaw cutting disk), I created a small table (and piles of sawdust) in an hour or two yesterday.  After seeing the works at MAM and watching the videos on the website, I realized there are various interpretations for “one” tool,  including “two,” “three,” and “five.”  With this creative numerical spirit, notice that this one tool work has legs attached with wooden dowels inserted into holes made by a second(!) tool: A drill. Don’t worry though, I used the angle grinder to pound in the dowels.

Wooden Nickels

There’s an old saying “Don’t take any wooden nickels” but I say “Do take some wooden nickels!”

Especially if they’re laser-cut wooden nickels from Milwaukee Makerspace.

Wooden Nickels in CorelDraw

Here’s my file in CorelDraw, with different colors to indicate the front etching, back etching, and the cut.

Laser cutting wooden nickels

I taped down a piece of 1/8″ Baltic Birch plywood to the laser cutter platen so it wouldn’t move, and then I set the laser cutter to etch the front (which is our logo, in blue) and ignore the other parts.

Once I was happy with the front etching, I changed the settings to cut the outline (in red) and ignore the black and blue. After the cut was complete, I pulled out the pieces and flipped them over for the back etching.

(Here’s a tip for you: I mentioned that I taped down the piece of wood so it would not move, but the other trick I have it to use a piece of tape to check if the cut is all the way through. I just stick a piece to the cut piece and see if it will lift out.)

Laser cutting wooden nickels

Our nickels have the front etched, have been cut out, and now they’ve been flipped over and put back in place to etch the back.

Laser-cut wooden nickels

And here are our completed wooden nickels! Ready to be handed out at any event we might be attending, or to guests of the Makerspace.

I’m not 100% happy with them, mainly due to some weird file formatting issued between creating them in Inkscape and importing them into CorelDraw as DXF files, but those are all minor issues we can tackle next time.

The “wife is right” sign

Dana is right.

For Christmas I made my lovely wife this lovely sign that lets me (and everyone else in the room) know that she is right.

She can easily point at it to end any disagreement we may be having.

I think I’m going to call it the “wife is right” sign, and I’ll be taking orders from wives to make them signs soon. I’ll also be taking orders from husbands to prevent me from taking orders from their wives. Either way, I see it as a great business opportunity.

In all honesty, the sign comes from a joke my wife and I had a few months back. When we got the laser cutter at the space, this was one of the first things I made with it.

Holiday Make-A-Thon 2011

Holiday Make-A-Thon 2011

We’d love it if you joined us at the 2011 Holiday Make-A-Thon happening Friday, November 25th, 2011 at Bucketworks.

This is a family-friendly event where the focus is on making things for the holidays. It can be gifts for others, of gifts for yourself! Members of Milwaukee Makerspace will be on-hand teaching people how to solder, so if you’re expecting an electronics kit this year, you’ll be ready!

We’re also working on a variety of ornaments that you’ll be able to paint or otherwise decorate. Keep them yourself or give them as a gift.

If you’re into knitting, care to try your hand a painting at gourd, or just want to wrap the gifts you already bought… join us and celebrate the spirit of making!

Detail? See Facebook, and then join us on Friday (the day after Thanksgiving) from 1pm to 5pm. Black Friday? We like to call it Make Friday. :)

First DIY CNC Club Meeting

Today marked the first monthly meeting of The DIY CNC Club at Milwaukee Makerspace.  Ron Bean and Tom Gondek, the creators of the router, guided members and guests through the use of CamBam CAD software to generate G-code and Mach3 software to operate and control the router.  The day before, Tom and Mike tested the machine’s ability to cut aluminum.  On Sunday, Rich created a decorative wooden sign and Brant began making plastic shapes for a project enclosure. As Ron pointed out, in less than 24 hours we had worked in three different materials: wood, metal, and plastic.

Several items were also crossed off our wish list.  Two emergency stop buttons were added to the front of the machine and wired together in series.  Hitting either one stops all motion in the X, Y, and Z planes and pauses the program.  We also built a relay-controlled receptacle box that when wired into the CNC computer, will be able to stop the spindle so hitting the E-stop will kill all motion in all axes and the router.  For some reason the pins we’re using on the parallel port are only producing 1.6 volts instead of the 3 or 5 we expected and the relays won’t turn on.  All in all, a very productive weekend.

Squeegee Update

Squeegee

I’m making progress on my DIY squeegee project. For a little background, I have this 6 foot long piece of rubber, which is the same material used in squeegees for screen printing, but I need wooden handles to put the rubber into. So with the help of of some other members, I’m figuring out how to do it.

Brant helped me determine that the band-saw is a good machine for cutting the rubber. I had previously tried a utility knife, but that didn’t work. Ron and Rich filled me in on how to use a router table, and I was able to cut a groove into a piece of wood I picked up this week. The rubber fits perfectly, so the next step is to drill some holes and put in some t-bolts to hold it all together.

I’d also like to do a bit of sanding and maybe varnish the wood. I figure they might as well look good, right?

I think this project really shows the strength of the Makerspace. I’ve had this rubber for two years, but never got around to making any squeegees. I came up with a few really hacky ideas on how to do it, but now at the space, with the right tools, and the right people, it’s all coming together.

Simple Wood Tool Box

Here is a simple wood tool box. It’s easy to make one (or several of them) in an afternoon.

The vertical, open, design means you can easily see and access all your tools – no more digging to the bottom of a bag!

This is one my father made, based on a tool box he was given over 40 years ago. See more images of this tool box in the “misc” image gallery.

I also posted it at: http://www.instructables.com/id/Simple-Wood-Toolbox/

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