MMPIS is fully operational


The MMPIS (Milwaukee Makerspace Pi-powered Informational System) has been moved to its permanent home and is fully operational. Witness the power of the MMPIS!

The MMPIS will let you know about the upcoming events on our calendar, display photos of members, regale you with silly quotes, tell you where to park, and make suggestions on what you should build next.

I can already hear you saying “Well that’s all good, but I need more info!” fear not dear makers, there’s a wiki page for the MMPIS with the BOM, other details, and links a bunch of blog posts about the creation of it.

(Thanks to a donated Raspberry Pi and big TV, minimal parts were needed to complete the build. If you’d like to see more MMPIS installations at the space, donate your HDMI capable TV and we’ll see what we can do.)

Raspberry Pi Project Ended

I’ve really struggled with the Raspberry Pi Project. As I posted earlier, the Raspberry Pi kept killing the file system on the SD card. Pete traded me for a different Pi, which behaved much better, making the card last at least long enough to get the operating system and other software installed. Yet the Raspberry Pi continued to corrupt the file system if left running for longer periods. The latest time it totally killed the SD card; I couldn’t even reformat it on my computer.

If I include the Pi in the traveling mascot, I’m convinced it will not survive the inevitable rough treatment. The only other use I can think of for a Raspberry Pi in a travelling mascot is as a home base server for the mascot, publishing the travelogues. Yet it’s too unstable for even that task.

I still like the idea of a traveling mascot that can track it’s own travels, but I’m convinced that building it around a Raspberry Pi is not the proper foundation. I really like the little GPS unit that came in this kit, and will try to build a scaled down version of the traveling mascot with a USB interface to hook up with any computer for collecting data.

Thanks again Adafruit Industries, we really appreciate the kit, and we’ll continue to work with the parts on other projects. Like vultures, some other members have already picked off some pieces of the kit for their projects.

I’m gone but my empty cube can tell you where I am



A while back, Jason G. and I were talking about notifying coworkers when working out of alternative campuses, coffee shops or being in the office but just away from the desk. Empty desks give you no story beyond looking for clues like a missing jacket, bag, etc. We thought it would be fun to use an Arduino to update a small display on our desk with a message to where we were. Jason set out to build the backend – using Google Latitude on our phones he could update a web server which also let us create geo-fences around map locations that would trigger an output during work hours. We called it Marco… get it?

The prototype worked, but I was struggling with half of my part, the physical object – screen sizes sucked, wi-fi v cable, and I couldn’t get it in the footprint that I wanted it.

The other piece that was bothering me was that, during a little research, roughly ~90% of the empty desks around me had an orphaned monitor. Most every empty desk had a blank monitor and I was toiling with a display problem… enter Raspberry Pi. Now the idea is to take over that monitor when the users are away. Most external monitors that we had offered multiple inputs, so a simple tap on the input button and Marco can display anything we’d like from our base of geo trap triggered messages, foursquare check-ins to even displaying a message that we text to it – “Elvis has left the building” [send]


*UPDATE* – Thanks to circulating this around with fellow Maker’s Pete and Vishal, we’ll explore using a passive IR sensor to wake the display when there is activity in front of it to save on screen and energy use.

Raspberry Pi Challenge Update


Previously on The Raspberry Pi Challenge

Just a quick update on the “Milwaukee Makerspace Traveling Mascot” project as I caught Eric doing a bit of Raspberry Pi + GPS hacking last night.

Raspberry PI + GPS

I’m excited to see how this project progresses. I’ve not had a chance to get hands-on with the Adafruit Ultimate GPS Breakout yet, but there’s a great tutorial on using it with a Raspberry Pi and one that covers Arduino usage as well.

The Raspberry Pi Challenge!

Raspberry Pi Challenge

Thanks to our friends at Adafruit Industries, we’ve got an awesome Raspberry Pi Starter Pack (and a few other goodies) and we decided that rather than fight over who gets to play with it, we’d issue a challenge to our members: Tell us what you’d build with the kit.

The results are in, and we’ve got a bunch of entries to look at before we decided who will be chosen take on the challenge. Hopefully in the next week or so we can reveal what the winning entry is.

But don’t worry, we’re going to share a bunch of the ideas right here on the blog. We may not get to build them all, but we’ll do our best to highlight some of the ideas that our members have come up with.

(If you’re looking to get into using the Raspberry Pi in your projects, you’d do well to check out the Adafruit Learning System’s category on the topic.)