Wienermobile and Wienermobile

If you joined us at Maker Faire Kansas City maybe you got to see the debut of the little Wienermobile we built for the Power Racing Series. Besides being well received from the crowd, it did pretty good in the race! Due to Moxie points (which get awarded for being awesome) we won the overall race weekend. We came home, wrote a blog post about it, and started getting ready for Maker Faire Detroit…

Detroit was a blast, and well, a few things broke, but meanwhile the folks at Oscar Mayer noticed what we did, and sent us an email asking if the BIG Wienermobile could come visit the LITTLE Wienermobile. We responded with an enthusiastic “YES!!!”

And that’s how the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile came to visit Milwaukee Makerspace on September 1st, 2017. You may notice the two Wienermobiles look quite a bit different. Well, there have been many different Wienermobiles over the years. Due to some confusion about which model we based ours on, we looked at the fact that the vehicle was designed by Carl G. Mayer in Madison, Wisconsin, in 1952 and received its patent in 1954. So we split the difference and chose number 1953. Good Enough!

Honey Mustard and Sammie Jo (yes, the “Hotdoggers” get cool nicknames) loved our little version of the Wienermobile, and we gave them a quick tour of the space, explaining what a makerspace is, and how it works, and showing off Willie’s boat for the very last time.

Since the Wienermobile was there at 9am on a Friday, a lot of our members were at work, or sleeping, or building Daleks. We had a good group of members though, many who helped with the construction of the Wienermobile in some way. (Not picture: Kathy and Kyle, the primary builders! Unfortunately they were out at Burning Man showing off some of their other crazy projects!)

Mat (pictured sitting on the Wiener) served as our driver, providing a demo of the capabilities of the Wienermobile at full throttle. (Reminder: we really need to fix the brakes before driving it again at full throttle!)

Besides all the awesome members who showed up to meet the giant Wiener, we should have a shout-out for Rick, who was busy grilling up Oscar Mayer wieners for us! We all had an early lunch that day, and everybody got to grab a wiener.

Oh yeah, when the Wienermobile is parked outside your makerspace, there’s a good chance the neighbors will notice. A bunch of people who live near the space stopped by, got whistles and stickers, and then got to go inside the Wienermobile. I heard at least three different kids describe it as “COOL!!” and “AWESOME!!”

What can we say? We like big buns and we cannot lie! If you haven’t seen the little Wienermobile in action yet, make sure you visit us at Maker Faire Milwaukee on September 23rd & 24th, 2017 at the Expo Center at State Fair Park. We’ll be racing it against 15 other similarly weird and wild vehicles in the Power Racing Series.

And who knows? Maybe the big Wienermobile will show up again!

My First Project: A Box

I’m building a modular synthesizer. Modular synthesizers are comprised of many discrete “modules” that generate, shape, or otherwise modify analog signals. These signals might be within the audible frequency range, meaning if you hook an amplifier or headphones into them you will hear sound, or they can be above or below the audible range and work as “control signals” which can interface with other modules to change how they shape the signals passing through them. There are a lot of signals, and there is a lot to learn about audio synthesis. There are a lot of youtube videos to explore the basics of modular synthesizers if you want to learn more.

This isn’t a blog post about modular synthesizers. This is a blog post about a wooden box. The wooden box pictured above is one of the first projects I’ve worked on at the Makerspace, and it’s the first wood project I’ve worked on since making a wooden trinket in shop class in high school. If I actually used a table saw back then (or any power tools), I have no recollection of it. I’ve always been more adept with a keyboard, mouse, or soldering iron than power tools, but I have been trying to expand my horizons over the years. Still, this was a more ambitious project for me than soldering together the electronic modules contained within. Continue reading

Launching LOY

The time has come, my friends! If you’ve been to Milwaukee Makerspace since we moved into our current location in January 2013, you probably saw a boat being built. It’s been a project of the space, actually longer than we’ve been in the building! (It was started at our old space and moved to the current building.) Well, it’s time to launch… LOY will be put into the waters of Lake Michigan this coming weekend!

Willie has been working on LOY for years, and it shows. It’s a beautiful thing, and if you haven’t see it lately, or can’t make it to the launch, you’ll have a chance to see it at Maker Faire Milwaukee, September 23 & 24, 2017 at the Expo Center at State Faire Park.

I don’t know if Willie plans to smash a bottle of champagne when LOY launches, but he deserves a congratulatory drink when it sets sail. Great job, Willie!

The Wiener is a Winner!

We built a scaled-down version of the Winenermobile and took it to Maker Faire Kansas City to race it in the Power Racing Series and we won!

Yeah, that all sounds a little crazy, but that’s the sort of thing that happens at Milwaukee Makerspace…

I think it was mainly Kathy’s idea to build a Wienermobile, since “Oscar Mayer Weinermobile” [sic] was on the “hit list” of desired vehicles for the series.

Building it involved carving the body (dog and bun) from foam and then covering it with fiberglass to create a solid structure. It was messy and time consuming, but it turned out great!

Because the Power Racing Series is all very last minute, here’s what we had just a few weeks before Maker Faire KC. A pile of parts still not fully assembled. Kyle spent a lot of time putting things together in the last two weeks while Pete worked on figuring out the electronics. Somehow it all worked in the end.

People ask how it drives, and hey, it drives like a tiny Wienermobile! Actually, Kyle said it’s like riding a quad, and he proved to be our best wiener rider. Most other people got thrown off the wiener at least once, but he held on tight and rode the wiener to victory!

(While the Wienermobile is a fast car, the Power Racing Series also awards points for being “awesome” and we managed to have the most awesome vehicle of the weekend, racking up the most Moxie points helped us secure the overall win for the race weekend.)

If you like hot dogs, you’ll have another chance to catch this winning wiener at Maker Faire Detroit and then again at Maker Faire Milwaukee.

Week of Making 2017!

Week of Making

The National Week of Making starts June 16th and runs through the 22nd this year, and we’re opening our doors on Tuesday, June 20th, 2017 for you to come check out Milwaukee Makerspace.

Okay, to be fair, we open our doors nearly every Tuesday night at 7pm for anyone in the community to come check out what we do. We have a meeting every week and love to have guests come and talk about the project they’re working on.

(BTW, we will not be open on Tuesday, July 4th, 2017 so if you’re planning another Tuesday night visit, that’s a good night to skip.)