Milwaukee Makerspace Grand Opening Recap

Grand Opening
Photo by Michael Diedrick

The Milwaukee Makerspace Grand Opening & Mini Maker Fair was held on Saturday, April 9th, 2011 and wow, what an event it was! The photo above should give you a little indication of the crowd. It was “several hundred people” from the estimates I heard…

I’m mainly going to talk about my own experience, since I really didn’t get to experience much of the event, which is sad, and weird, but also cool.

Pete and Sam
Photo by Michael Diedrick

So, I got there around 10am and Matt was heard to say “Hey look, Pete brought BarCamp!” due to the amount of stuff I tend to bring with me, including projects to show, camera equipment, tripods, audio equipment, projector, tables, Time Lapse Bot, and other things. I got set up at a table and put out my projects. As usual, I was way too ambitious, and actually pulled back and didn’t show everything. This was a good decision, as there was just too much going on. The two projects that got the most interest were the Egg-Bot and the Friday Night Drawbot.

Photo by Brant

The Egg-Bot is just, well, it’s just cool. I had to explain a number of times that I did not “invent” it, but I built it from a kit. I gave a brief explanation of it (including open source software/hardware, Inkscape, etc.) to a lot of people. One kid was interested in it, and I told him how much the kit cost, and then he complained it was too much. I then described the parts used to construct it, and as soon as I said “laser cut” he was like “oh, yeah, laser cut, OK!” and then he was sold, and thought it was something he should have. (I did point out that it was all open source and he was welcome to get all the parts and assemble his own.)

Photo by Brant

I ended up printing about 50 eggs throughout the day, pretty much non-stop. I ended up doing someone’s name on an egg, and then printing one with the word “VEGAN” on it, and then at some point a mom asked if I could print a monkey. A monkey!? Well, off to to find a monkey. And a candy cane. And a rose. And a cat. And the Rebel Alliance logo… I somehow ended up being a one-off egg printing factory! (But it was a lot of fun, and I learned a lot more about Inkscape.)

We gave away a lot of eggs, and I (mostly) remembered to tell people they were raw eggs, and advised the kids not to squeeze them, put them in their pockets, or drop the on the car ride home. One very young girl suggested I should have got up earlier that day (maybe 4am) so I could have boiled them all. As my excuse, I told people it would be easier to preserve them by blowing out the insides since they were raw. One woman gave us a dollar for an egg. (We added it to the Makerspace Donation bucket.)

Drawbot Action

And what would the day have been without some Drawbot action!?

I don’t know, but I do know I’m lucky Sam showed up and took on a lot of the Drawbot maintenance. He also ended up exploring Drawbot in ways I haven’t yet, using the Ultra Fine Point Sharpies, and the results were pretty darn good. I’ll try to scan some of the drawing this week. I’ve also got some reprogramming of Drawbot I want to do soon.

Oh, and I ended up telling a lot of people about the Arduino, and how the Drawbot worked, and explained that it was pretty darn easy to build, and if they came down to the Makerspace on a Thursday night, someone could probably help them get started with Arduino hacking.

Now, as for the rest of the event… I missed most of it! I was at my table for nearly 8 hours straight, with just a few quick bathroom breaks here and there while Sam watched the table. I think I need a “Back in 10 minutes!” sign or something. But really, it was a blast talking to so many people and answering questions… but it was also exhausting. I didn’t feel comfortable enough to just leave the table unattended for any large amount of time, so I’m not sure what the solution is… except to have someone else work the table along with me.

I have almost no photos to share from the event, and no video (except for the stuff Time Lapse Bot shot) so head over to the Flickr pool to see some more photos.

Oh, and word from the makers is that they all loved it, it was a great/successful event, and they can’t wait to do it again. Well, they can wait about a year maybe. :)

3 replies on “Milwaukee Makerspace Grand Opening Recap”

Would it have been helpful to hold the Mini Maker Faire only during certain hours? That way you could have gone to the other events.

You could’ve packed up at any point and gone to other events, but it wasn’t really set up for that and I feel like the expectation was that the folks at the tables would demo stuff all day, even though that wasn’t really the intent of opening up the event as a Mini Maker Faire, or what we had in mind originally when we started planning months ago. (It was more of a tour through the space, stopping for events in different rooms and showing off pieces of our equipment while someone talked.)

It’s probably worth discussing at the meeting tomorrow. (I assume there will be a debriefing/review.) But yes, perhaps limiting the amount of stuff going one would be helpful. I know I *could* have packed up at any point, but people just kept coming so I couldn’t really find a convenient time to quit. :)

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