Button Guard

While plenty of people tend to print baubles and trinkets with 3D printers, I tend to focus on solving problems by designing and printing usable things. A few weeks ago I designed these Lenovo IdeaCentre Power Brick Mounts and this week I created some button guards.

Button Guard

I was working on an audio player at the museum and Kathy mentioned that it was too easy to lean back and hit your head on a button which would either restart your book, or start another book, so I made this simple guard to put on the buttons before screwing them into place. Luckily we had filament that matched the color of the enclosure, so it looks pretty good.

Button Guard

If you’re using any of these buttons and need a guard, check out Thingiverse or Youmagine. The OpenSCAD code is fairly simple, so it should be possible to modify it for other buttons if needed.

My plan for Maker Faire Milwaukee’s 2015 Laser Maze got a little sidetracked, but that’s okay, because Vishal ended up writing some of the code I needed for another project and then I decided to just have him take over the some of the build.

Laser Holder

I did get a few more things done in recent weeks, like making these mounts to hold the lasers in place. Adam provided us with these clamp devices meant to hold a flashlight on your bike, but the lasers are a smaller diameter and tended to shift around, which isn’t great when you need to align lasers…

In our first attempt to make something that would go into the flashlight mounts and adapt to the size of the lasers, we ran down to the basement shop at the museum and used a hole saw in the drill press to cut a piece of plastic, and then we drilled another hole, and cut out a piece using the band saw. This was a neat idea, but did not work.

Laser Holder

The hand-fashioned one just wasn’t quite the right size. We didn’t have the exact hole saw or drill bit sizes needed, and the plastic just didn’t flex enough to allow for tightening. I ended up pulling out the calipers to get exact measurements and re-create what we tried to do with 3D printing.

Laser Holder

The 3D printed version sort of worked, but it was tough to slide the laser into place. I could have just kept trying to get the perfect fit, but instead of trying to emulate the limitations of using a drill and saw, I modified the design to have less surface area where the laser was sliding in, and also allow for more flex, and more strength, due to the way 3D printing works.

Laser Holder

These pieces don’t have a lot of infill, and they don’t need them. The shape of the interior section provides extra strength because of the nature of how it’s structured.

Laser Holder

These mount should work well, and the bike flashlight part saves me the trouble of creating an entire mounting system, or modifying previous mount work.

We’ve got less than 90 days until Maker Faire Milwaukee so hopefully we can get a test set-up running within the next 30 days or so.

Yeahs! Pi!

I presented A Life Time of Yeahs! at Bay View Gallery Night but I didn’t really post much about how it was made, so I’ll do that now, as well as talk about the shortcomings. Above you can see the front and the back. The front piece is actually from an IKEA picture frame I found in the trash. It was a nice smooth MDF-like surface, so I figured it would take the vinyl and paint pretty well.

For the illustration of Mr. Rollins I did a few searches and didn’t find anything that was perfect, so I grabbed a few images as reference and traced/drew my own in Inkscape. I then created a stencil by cutting vinyl on the Silhouette Cameo (including the lettering) and stuck it all down to the IKEA board which I had already painted white.

With the vinyl in place I then painted it all flat black. I didn’t leave it all smooth as it sort of looked too polished, so I smeared some paint around with a brush and then with my fingers so it gave it some texture. I’m still not sure that was the right thing to do, but I did it, and there’s no going back.

Once I had the front piece done I found some scrap wood for the frame in my garage and cut it on the table saw. I made sure the wood was wide enough to fit the speakers into. It was, but as I’ll get to in a bit, wider would have been better…


The back of the piece contains a Raspberry Pi, a set of speakers, and a Teensy 3.0 with a few buttons connected to it. It’s all powered by a power bank from Brown Dog Gadgets.)

The speakers are USB powered so they, along with the Raspberry Pi, connect to the power bank. Turning on the power bank boots up the Pi and starts a script called “rpisounds.pl” which is a Perl script that starts running and waits for keyboard input to do something. That “something” is playing an audio file if you press the red button on the front of the piece. There’s also a small button on the back of the piece that safely shuts down the Pi if you want to turn it all off.

Yeahs! Pi!

It’s been suggested that the Teensy in addition to the Raspberry Pi is overkill, and… it is! I originally had a separate project that used some of this code and hardware and ended up just grabbing what I had lying around because it was quick and easy. Sometimes it works out that way, and that’s fine…

I should have went with the more powerful speakers I had, because as I learned last time, if you’re doing something with audio in a public space, make it much louder than you think it should be. I had a louder pair of speakers, but they would have required AC power, so I compromised. Oh well. (You can’t tell from the photo, but there are speaker hole drilled in the side of the frame.)

I’ll probably clean up the code and publish it eventually, but essentially it gets kicked off by /etc/rc.local and runs it a continual loop waiting for a key to be pressed. If you press “a” (the button on the front) it randomly selects an WAV file and plays it. If you press the button on the back the script sees a “r” and shuts down. Why an “r” instead of an “s”? I don’t know… There’s another button that was taped up that types a “q” for quit, which quits the script, and is handy for debugging or troubleshooting if you have a monitor and keyboard attached.

That’s the summary of my Raspberry Pi based interactive painting titled “A Life Time of Yeahs!”

I hope you enjoyed it… As always, let me know if you have any questions.


In 1987 the Rollins Band released the album Life Time, which was produced by Ian MacKaye of Minor Threat, Fugazi, The Teen Idols, and of course, Egg Hunt.

The album Life Time was groundbreaking, not just in showcasing the talents of Mr. Rollins as one of the greatest screamers of all time, but in cementing into our popular culture the use of the word “Yeah!” for emphasis. You may remain unconvinced that Mr. Rollins accomplished such a thing, so I listened to the album Life Time over and over and over again. Yeah! I! Did! I then fired up my audio editing software and collected all of the best “Yeah!” moments.

Obviously you know the opening of “Burned Beyond Recognition” (the first track) starts with five consecutive “Yeahs!” and you also know that “Turned Out” ends with a massive, some would say bone-chilling “Yeah!”, but there are so many more great “Yeah!” moments. After collecting the best “Yeahs!” I culled the list to just under 50 (it was not easy!) and I’ve provided them at the push of a button for the interactive piece titled “A Life Time of Yeahs!”

Yeah! Button

I believe “A Life Time of Yeahs!” stands as a testament to the positivity that Henry Rollins exudes in everything he does. From his position as a lead vocalist to a spoken word performer, and from his portrayal as an actor to his role as a talk show host, you can expect nothing but positive “Yeah!-ness” from Mr. Rollins. If you’re feeling down, maybe you’ve got the “gun in mouth blues” or you just need someone to agree with you… Mr. Rollins and “A Life Time of Yeahs!” has got you covered.

Imperator Furiosa

By now I have to assume you’ve seen Mad Max: Fury Road, and you’ve probably said to yourself “Damn, Imperator Furiosa is pretty badass!” and then you remember that sweet skeleton arm on the door of the war rig and thought “I want one of those!” (Okay, maybe it’s just me…)

Imperator Furiosa's Skeleton Arm

Well, since I was unable to attain a high resolution image of the door of the war rig, I made do with a low-res version I found on the Internet, because that’s where you find pictures of things…

Imperator Furiosa's Skeleton Arm

Anyway, I traced the arm in Inkscape and made a nice vector image suitable for vinyl cutting. It’s about 18 inches long, so if you’ve got a Silhouette Cameo like we have at Milwaukee Makerspace you can use the 12″x24″ cutting mat, or just cut without a mat. The DXF file below should import into Silhouette Studio easily.

Or maybe you want to use a laser cutter or some other CNC machine to make an arm. There’s a vector PDF file, and the original SVG file you can easily edit.

Some people assume I drive an orange Honda Element, but really it’s a Honda War Rig. Special model, they only made a handful of them. (My old car was a V8 Interceptor. It was totaled in an accident.)

Honda War Rig

Honda War Rig (Close-up)

Maybe you don’t drive a Honda War Rig. Well, you can still get in on the fun with your Mad MacBook Pro. Just size the vinyl appropriately and stick it on the lid. Can you handle the “BADASS OS X Word Documents and Excel Spreadsheet” editing that’s about to happen!? I don’t think you can!

Mad MacBook Pro

Download the files and have a good time.

« Older Entries | Newer Entries »



buy the button:

Buy The Button

top recent artists: