We now have an Acrylic Bender

Many of our members have used heat guns and strip heaters to soften and bend acrylic in the past. While that method works most of the time, we decided it was time to get one that just works all the time. Since we acquired it, we have been finding all kinds of uses for it. A few finished projects are listed below.

IMG_0788Stepper Motor Mounts


Tooth Brush Holders


A Fork!

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Robot Chassis


Happy Shiny Bolts


When you buy a bolt, it doesn’t typically have a nice flat head on it. It’s got a bunch of markings, and usually some sort of part number, or something. Here’s a bolt I found on eBay. Look at all those numbers and letters!

Bolt Close-up

Here’s a close-up I shot of a bolt head. What does it all mean? Well, Brant told me that the manufacturers add these markings to help prevent counterfeit parts. He even mentioned that years ago a building was built with some knock-off fasteners and it collapsed causing terrible damage. Terrible!

Well, I brought a bolt to the makerspace because I wanted it to have a nice smooth and shiny top. Bill**2 was kind enough to show me the new metal buffing area, which has a nice belt sander (which we used to remove the lettering) and 6 (yes, six!) buffing wheels of various grit. I used all six to give my bolt a nice clean shine.

Shiny Bolt

Here’s my bolt after removing the letters and buffing it up. I probably could have done a bit more, but this was still a hundred times better than before I started. And yes, it is hooked up to an AT42QT1010 Capacitive Touch Breakout Board and a Teensy.

Weekly Maker Spotlight #4 – Jon Hughett


How did you first find Milwaukee Makerspace?

I first heard about the Milwaukee Makerspace from a poster that was displayed at American Science and Surplus. I was a regular haunt at the store so I often saw the sign hanging there. At some point I found out about the first open house when the ‘Space was at Chase Avenue location. It was a great and interesting time. It was the first time I had seen a Power Wheels race. My interest was definitely piqued, but for some reason I didn’t pursue joining at the time. The next time I attended, was after the move to Logan avenue, unfortunately.  I didn’t read the webpage close enough and I tried to return to the Chase location only to find locked gates. Thank goodness for Smart Phones! I got to the meeting late but still in time to get a tour.

Why did you decide to join?

At my first visit to the Logan Avenue building, I decided that I couldn’t afford not to. I really wanted to join and started waffling about it. I thought I would go home tell the wife about it and then hem and haw and return an see about joining in the future, and that’s when I figured I should just join and quit agonizing over something I was going to do anyway.

What do you do at Milwaukee Makerspace?

I guess I should start off by saying I’m the area champion of the Jewelry Area. I’m working on getting a proper workspace for Jewelry construction going. Everything from simple processes to brazing, lost wax casting, hydraulic forming and more. Currently we are expanding the area to include Watchmaking. Aside from Jewelry, I use the Laser Cutter a lot for various projects, something I hadn’t foreseen as an interest in when I joined. I do a little Blacksmithing on the forge. I spend a bit of time on building tools to use to make jewelry.

What would you like to tell others about Milwaukee Makerspace?

Just come down to one of our Tuesday night meetings to check things out and Welcome to Wonderland!

What do you plan to work on in the next few weeks?

I am finishing work on a twenty ton hydraulic press for jewelry forming. I have an ongoing project to finish a magnetic finishing machine. I am working with a number of people at the ‘Space who are going to be building Daleks from the Doctor Who series.

Merry Christmas Maker Space!

A few weeks back, at a Tuesday night meeting, a topic was brought up about projects that needed to be done for the Milwaukee Makerspace (MMS). Things like general cleaning, sorting the trash for cash recycling box, machine wiring and putting windows in the doors leading out of the main meeting room to the shop. What a great gift this would be, for the members that complete these tasks to the MMS as a whole.

After a meeting, one night, I didn’t have anything I really needed to work on so I took a project that was a little out of my comfort zone. I put a small window, in the door leading from the lobby/ greeting area by the laser room to the East warehouse. I say it is out of my comfort zone because it deals with wood products and I’m a metal guy. Put me in front of a mill or lathe and I feel right at home, but wood is not my strong suit. I’m still picking slivers out of my fingers and palms, that stuff is nasty! Well the first window went in so well that when I was back at the space the following Sunday I put another window in the door leading out of the main meeting room to the wash sink room by the alley door entrance.


So why give a gift to the MMS you ask?

To me, the MMS is more than a place to find a machine to use that I do not have any other access to for the low, low price of $40.00 a month. Sure you could just pay your money and work on your projects, maybe complain that a specific tool was not working when you needed it or you had to clean a spot to work on your project before you can even begin to work on your own stuff (that really burns my butt when it happens to me!) but there is a lot that happens at the MMS that most members don’t even realize. The affordable price of $40.00 a month does not allow for the MMS to pay a cleaning service to vacuum the rugs, clean the bathrooms, sweep the shop floors or do regular and preventive maintenance to the environment.

The value of the MMS is worth more than the bargain price of $40.00 a month to me. To me, MMS is a place I can go to and, yes use a machine that I do not have any other access to. I can also learn new skills and pick up positive energy from like-minded people. Seeing things made on machines that, before coming to MMS thought, you needed years of training to use I.E. (laser cutter, and 3D printers). The basic skills for some of the processes, only take a few minutes or a few hours to learn.


You will find that in any organization there is a, 80/20 rule, 80% of the needed work is done by 20% of the members. I would rather be in the 20% minority and help build a place for others to enjoy then be in the majority and only work on what benefits me alone.

I love giving back to MMS. It allows me to do and be a part of so much, so Merry Christmas Milwaukee Makerspace!

I can hardly wait for the next holiday to come along so I can give even more gifts to MMS.


Niles – the Ball Bearing Glockenspiel

I have been working on a ball bearing glockenspiel. The contraption will be comprised of 3 systems – ball bearing launcher, ball bearing collection and return mechanism, and the instrument itself.

I started with the the launcher. There will be 25-30 notes and a fast and accurate launcher will be needed for each one. My design parameters were to launch 4 bearings a second within a 1/2 inch diameter over a 2 ft. drop. Here’s my first attempt.

2014-12-20 17.50.55

2014-12-20 17.51.03

A pipe feeds ball bearings to a rotating platform with a hole just large enough for one bearing. When it’s ready to drop, the servo rotates the platform by about 30 degrees and the bearing falls out the bottom. The platform then rotates back  to the home position and loads the next ball. The mechanism could definitely deliver the balls quickly but the accuracy just wasn’t there. The balls would hit the side of the hole as they were exiting. On to the next iteration…



I forgot to take a picture of this one so I am posting the drawings instead. The concept is the same as the previous version, except the slider is linear instead of rotary. I added a longer channel after the initial drop to guide the ball bearings as they fall. But I had the similar accuracy issues.

So, I kept iterating the design to minimize potential disturbances after the ball is launched. And of course, decided to use magnets. The bearing are made out of steel and magnets suspend the ball till a servo controlled “plunger” launches them. This design worked beautifully! I have attached two slow motion videos below. As you can see in the second video, it’s so accurate the balls are literally hitting each other like Robin Hood “splitting an arrow”!

Next, I will work on making this design more compact and also, several ball return mechanisms.



Our woodshop has a Router table!

The woodshop now has a Rockler router table! Thanks to Bill M for donating the table and James for adapting the plate to an existing Craftsman router we can now use this fantastic router table. The table has a convenient switch(visible in the picture with a large safety STOP button), an adjustable fence, anti-kickback finger, slots for jigs, and is conveniently placed on wheels so the whole unit can be wheeled to where ever it is needed. If your wondering “what the heck is a router table, or a router for that matter” then check out the links below to get started.

Some great information on using a router table from Rockler is available here:

A great video for absolute router beginners, Steve Ramsey also has a bunch of other great woodworking videos:

How to make a picture frame using a router table, another Steve Ramsey YouTube video:

An overall pic of the router table.

An overall pic of the router table.

A tight picture of the top of the router table showing slots for clamping  jigs, fence, and anti-kickback devices.

A tight picture of the top of the router table showing slots for clamping jigs, fence, and anti-kickback devices.


A close up shot of a craftsman router mounter under the router table

A close up shot of a craftsman router mounter under the router table.

Weekly Maker Spotlight #3 – Tami Weiss


How did you first find Milwaukee Makerspace?

I don’t know. Which is a terrible answer, I know. But I had heard something about shared work spaces, and through some means or another had directly heard about Makerspace, because I know I eventually searched for the name Milwaukee Makerspace. It was like it was floating in the ether but I’m not exactly sure what source it came from.  I know I dallied about for a year before finally acting on it.

Why did you decide to join?

The tools! Yes, that sounds mercenary. It is. A frustration I often had is just that I can’t afford every tool I need to make the things I want to make. And Makerspace has all the tools I might want, and so many more! I never knew I wanted to use a laser cutter or 3D printer, but gosh darn it, that’s an option now.

What do you do at Milwaukee Makerspace?

When I first joined, Brant and I had a lovely conversation where he referred to a condition afflicting some members where they have “an allergy to finishing projects.” I groaned, because that’s me. I am so embarrassed to say that is me and I haven’t finished one thing yet. I’ve started some lovely things, though. I can say that.

Most of what I do there revolves around my primary hobby, which is breeding seahorses. And while I haven’t really finished a project at the space yet (though I’ve started many), I have used the space to do little things that add to projects I’m working on at home; painting something in the winter, working on a wood stand with my husband to put fishtanks on, sending him to make something I need, etc.

The biggest problem I have is that I walk into Makerspace and it’s such an endless world of possibilities, that my project idea list has tripled since joining.

The other thing I like to do though is just go there as a place to hang out. I went there for a while regularly while working on a freelance project when I needed to get out of the house. I’ve gone there just to hang out on the couch and think. It’s that kind of place.

What would you like to tell others about Milwaukee Makerspace?

I probably sound like someone with a gym membership who never goes, but I love Makerspace and couldn’t imagine not being a member. It has some of the nicest, most helpful people there doing insanely creative things. I haven’t run into any egos or crazy politics that many groups succumb to. Everyone is excited to be there. And there is so much potential at the space. My biggest hurdle is the distance to Makerspace – we live just far enough away that it can be a hassle to go there without a lot of planning. But I’m looking to move to Bay View or a nearby neighborhood specifically because I want to be nearer to the space. That’s the kind of place Makerspace is.

What do you plan to work on in the next few weeks?

Really boring stuff. I wish I had a really cool project to talk about. I need to clean up some mistakes I made on painting some aquariums for my fish room expansion. I painted the wrong end, so I need to clean and repaint the other end. I’m using glitter spray if that makes it sound more interesting! It’s part of a larger project since I’m expanding my fish room to make more space for more species, and to semi-automate some of the processes for raising the babies.  I’ll be using peristaltic pumps and an Arduino controller. That’s like a 6 months to a year timeline though because I have a lot to build before I can get that far.


Further Adventures in 3D Printer Upgrades (upgrades?)

As previously promised, MegaMax’s Y-axis has been converted to screw drive along with the addition of a larger motor, DSP based driver, and 32V power supply.  The SmoothieBoard arrived and was quickly swapped in to replace the ATMega2560/RAMPS combo.  After studying and configuring the Smoothieboard I attempted a few test prints.  That’s when the problems started.

32V Power supply for Y axis motor.  No regulation necessary!

32V Power supply for Y axis motor. No regulation necessary!

















Smoothieboard is supposed to read the config.txt file from its uSD card (conveniently accessible via USB) every time it boots.  That makes changing configuration very easy and fast – all you do is edit the config.txt file, save it , and reboot the board.  Firmware is updated the same way.  With the ATMega2560 you have to find the configuration variables by searching through multiple configuration files, make the necessary changes, recompile the firmware, then flash the controller.  I said the SmoothieBoard is supposed to read the file every time it boots, but it wasn’t doing it.  I’d make changes and they would not appear in the behavior of the printer.  Hmmmm.

Layers kept shifting in the X-axis- I expected Y-axis problems, but not X!

Layers kept shifting in the X-axis- I expected Y-axis problems, but not X!












I attempted some prints and managed to get two decent ones in about a week of screwing around with it.  I tried dozens of combinations of speed, acceleration, junction deviation (smoothie-speak for jerk) and even tried different slicers.  The machine went completely nuts on two occasions and ignored the Z-axis limit switch and slammed the extruder into the print bed, gouging through the Kapton tape and into the aluminum!  I decided I needed some professional help so I got on the #smoothieware IRC channel and discovered that the developers of the board/firmware hang out there quite a lot.  After a lot of back and forth Q and A and testing someone suggested it might be the uSD card causing the problem.  I picked up a new card at Walmart, put the firmware and config files on it , booted the machine, and attempted a print.  PERFECT!

The new uSD card worked!  The small round post is 4mm diameter.

The new uSD card worked! The small round post is 4mm diameter.











I have made several prints since last night and they have all come out fine.  I still have a little tweaking to do and to test the limits of the machine’s performance, but I think the problems are behind me.

Next up:  X-axis redesign/build.  I’m replacing the two guide rails with a single linear guide.  I have also ordered and received a BullDog XL extruder to replace the hacked up QUBD unit I’ve been using.  I’ll be adding a DSP driver and 32V power supply for the X-axis motor, too.

After that, I have some ideas for a filament respooling machine and ways to fix the retraction problem in the SnakeBite extruder.

It never ends!


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:

Weekly Maker Spotlight #2 – David Heino


How did you first find Milwaukee Makerspace?

I forget how I first heard of it. I made several trips to the space when it was in the complex off Oklahoma Avenue.

Why did you decide to join?

A big factor was I could afford the dues after the big change. I think of myself as a life-long maker, although I tended to use the older term, craftsman. I joined because I wanted to explore.

 What do you do at Milwaukee Makerspace?

Just now, I’ve been using the space to prepare for an upcoming exhibit. I make paintings and things you might call sculpture.

What would you like to tell others about Milwaukee Makerspace?

In my opinion, it is a very good and interesting make. It’s most valuable asset is the variety and depth of knowledge and skill to be found amongst the members.

What do you plan to work on in the next few weeks?

Once I’m done with the exhibit, I want to:
1. take advantage of the opportunities the space offers to expand the tools and technologies I can use in my work.
2. I wish to work on objects that make interesting sounds that can be “played” by the user’s movement.
3. I want to work on a projector capable of producing large scale lighting effects.