Video Wall of Terror

This weekend, I helped decorate for a Halloween Party at my sister’s house. There’s an odd hallway that connects their main large public room to the rest of the house. It’s used for storage, and has shelves on both sides.

This year, I decided to decorate that area by creating a video wall effect. Something like a Television Control Room of Terror!

To start with, I simply filmed my brother-in-law with a video camera – only from WAY TOO CLOSE! I shot macro video of his eye and mouth. Then I edited the footage to create a custom looping DVD.

In the hallway, I set up multiple monitors. These are old monochrome standard definition monitors that were on their way to the recycling center. They were professional monitors, which means that they can pass a video signal through from one monitor to another, making it easy to daisy chain several monitors.

Next to the monitors, I set up three DVD players (including one car DVD player – hey I use what I got!) to play the three different custom DVDs – Right Eye, Left Eye, and Mouth. Each of the three videos is a different length, so they will continue to drift out of sync. That way, as they loop, the visuals are a continuingly changing experience through the whole evening.

Above the monitors, I set up a video camera on a tripod and fed it to some of the monitors. That way, when party-goers look at the monitor, they also see themselves. Having feedback on some of the monitors adds a sense of interactivity to the project.

After the monitors and DVD players were all set up, I covered the rest of the shelving with black paper. In a dark hallway, lit only be black lights, it’s a great effect of creepy images floating in the hall.

If you want more details on this project, I made a full step-by-step write-up on Instructables.


Today, I stopped in at the Makerspace with the plan to work on a small project for a Halloween party this Saturday.

The plan was to take a “Roomba” robot vacuum cleaner that I got for $1.00 at a rummage sale, and covert it into the robot base for a giant spider or some other scary creature that could wander around at a Halloween party.

I started pulling screws out of the bottom to figure out how to remove the brushes and vacuum blower. It took some tinkering to figure out what I could and couldn’t remove and not cause a fault. In the end, it didn’t look like I could remove the blower motor and still have the thing run, so I simply removed the fan blades from the blower.

By that time, I was now thinking about video cameras and how easy it would be to run a 1/4-20 bolt right through the plastic. A bolt and two nuts quickly made a camera mount.

In the other room were some ping-pong balls, and I had a black sharpie. A little hot glue and Roomba-cam has some personality.

Look for Roomba-cam running around the Milwaukee Makerspace and please treat Roomba-cam nice – he is watching you and WILL upload to YouTube!

-Ben Nelson

Thursday Night Time Lapse

A time lapse video complied from the Milwaukee Makerspace CCTV system. 7 hours of video compressed into 4 minutes. All events took place between 4:30 and 11:30 PM Thursday, September 29, 2011.

Activities include:
– Rich welding
– Chris and Rich working on their electric cars
– Chris driving his electric car in and out of the shop
– Tom, Adam, and Royce working in Diptrace
– Bret, Rich, Royce, and Adam blacksmithing items with the forge
– Various people working on misc. projects and chatting
– Royce, Brant, and Adam etching and tin-plating circuit boards
– Pete working on his Makerbot 3D printer

CCTV Progress

Thanks to the efforts of Jack, Royce, Tom, Ross, and I, the CCTV system is finally working!  Zoneminder’s been set up and we plan to have 12 cameras total when finished.  The goal is to eventually broadcast them all to the website here so visitors can see who and what is going on at Milwaukee Makerspace.  Stay tuned!

Brief Project News Brief

I can’t believe it’s already been two and a half months since we first moved into our space.  Tools and parts are still trickling in, but most all of the big stuff is on site and the next step is organizing it all. Here’s a few projects from Thursday night. 

This past evening Tom Gz. & Tom Gk. gave the Space Invaders Pinball machine some more TLC.  The biggest time sink so far has been troubleshooting the lamp sockets. The sound cuts in and out, but the machine is totally playable.  Occasionally you can hear some of the sound effects come through clear, but the rest is scratchy.


I’ve been tinkering with the crate of CCTV gear.  I managed to resurrect a small Bunker Hill security camera which I mounted in the vehicle bay next door.  That way we can watch for people headed back and forth from the restrooms and avoid locking anyone out when we leave at night.  That brings the total number of cameras hung to five with possibly three more to go.  Once they’re all up and wired, Jack D. and I plan to link them all together with a PC and broadcast them to the web in some fashion.  Just imagine, people will be able to browse our website AND our shop in real-time!  It’d be cool to have a page with an explanation of where each camera is pointed too.  We’ll have to think about that one.

Tom Gk. was kind enough to bring his vinyl cutter to the shop last night and create some magnetic signs for the front doors.  They look great, even better than some of our neighbor’s signs, heh heh.  At any rate, the place is really coming together.

Look for the more impressive heavy machinery in an upcoming blog entry.  There’s work being done on the lathe and mill as well as other projects we haven’t begun reporting on yet.  We also have the Power Wheel Build Session this weekend so there’ll be plenty to talk about in the next post!