posts tagged with the keyword ‘makerfairemke’

2018.11.15

giant-led-cube-02

This year my “big” project for Maker Faire Milwaukee was a Giant LED Cube. In this post I’ll talk about designing it, and in a follow up post I’ll talk about building it.

I should mention that the idea for this started maybe three years ago. I think it was during a meeting for Maker Faire at Milwaukee Makerspace and I tossed out the idea of building a giant light sculpture using light bulbs. Lance and Chris talked about it a bit and Tom started looking up parts on Alibaba. Nothing came of it that year, and I sort of forgot about it for a while. In fact, I really didn’t think about it again until after we completed the DecaLight last year. Once the two dimensional relay controlled light bulb thing was done I thought going three dimensional would be a good idea.

I modeled the cube in OpenSCAD, and then animated it just for fun. I figured out how many pieces of each PVC joint I would need, and while I originally thought a 20′ cube would be a good idea, after some initial tests (and the unavailability of 10′ PVC pipe) I ended up going with a 10′ cube so the 5′ PVC pipe I could get would work.

I picked up Jordan Bunker’s book PVC and Pipe Engineer: Put Together Cool, Easy, Maker-Friendly Stuff last year and then ended up learning about FORMUFIT which allows you to build furniture using PVC pipe. I had a plan!

giant-led-cube-01

Here’s the first sketch of the Giant LED Cube. By now I had decided that I would use LED light bulbs and standard household lamp sockets. The nice thing about using such common parts is that they are very cheap. I found these Black Bakelite Fixture Socket with Terminals and ordered some so I could test the fit. It was close enough that it would work, and I just needed to make a small adapter. Well, at least 27 small adapters.

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I designed and 3D printed over 30 of these using clear ABS, which is remarkably close to being white, and since you wouldn’t really see them, I was fine with the close match. I cranked these out so I’d be ready when they were needed. Like many parts of this project, they are just press fit into place. The entire thing was designed to be easily assembled and disassembled for making transport and storage an simple affair.

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I had the basic design of the cube figured out, so I decided to work on the controller. Since we’d have 27 LED light bulbs I decided to use an Arduino Mega, which had plenty of I/O pins, along with two 16 channel relay boards. LED light bulbs are pretty lower power (compared to incandescent bulbs, anyway) so even though they’re 110 volts AC, 27 bulbs all on at the same time probably pulled less than 6 amps.

The image above represents my first attempt at layout out the controller, which I eventually abandoned. The screw terminals ended up not being a good idea. I would be pretty busy running Maker Faire so I assumed that I could find helpers able to strip wire, put them into the screw terminals, and get it all right. After attempting this myself on a small scale I decided that it needed to be even simpler, and clear enough that almost anyone could do the setup. So I scrapped the screw terminals. Around this time I also decided that running all of the power cords inside the PVC was going to be tedious and difficult, so with the decision to just run the cords on the outside (at least for this installation) I decided to just use standard household plugs. This would allow nearly anyone to just match up some numbers and plug things in. Simple wins!

The design process for the Giant LED Cube wasn’t too difficult. Doing this like this (designing, specifying parts, building, etc.) is pretty much my day job. The wiring was definitely tedious, and required at least one unexpected hour-long troubleshooting session due to a bad connection. I had a lot of help with the wiring of the lights from Adrian, and a lot of help with initial assembly from Becky. Without their help things would have taken me a lot longer. (Thank You!)

I think I’ve spewed enough about this project for one post (which I wanted to get out last month!) so I’ll end it here and get working on Part II ASAP.

2017.09.30

dalek-headwear-0195

One of the big attractions for Maker Faire Milwaukee this year was a Guinness World Record Attempt for the “largest gathering of Daleks” and since I was drafted to be part of the “Dalek Dream Team” I thought I should make something to be part of it all.

You may have seen a few in-progress shots on Instagram of the Dalek eye which was 3D printed and then painted, but I’ll cover a bit more of the construction of the rest of it.

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For those of you unfamiliar, the Daleks are evil creatures from the television series Doctor Who. Above is a photo of a Dalek so you can see what the head looks like. I was aiming to replicate the head on a low-budget, and without much time as I was just a little bit busy organizing Maker Faire.

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I started with a large metal bowl I got from a retired science teacher who was cleaning out her house and garage that held 30 years of classroom experiments and materials. Getting the bowl (and a bag full of plungers) was pretty much the inspiration for this project… along with the fact that the folks at Dalek Asylum Milwaukee were on a rampage building Daleks at Milwaukee Makerspace every time I was there.

Once I had the bowl and acquired a lovely gold spray paint, I grabbed an eye from Thingiverse, split it in two pieces, printed it, and then painted it and attached it to the bowl with a bolt.

eye-half

I forgot to get a photo of the two halves, but this is a trick I often use, printing in two pieces and the assembling together. This time I drilled a hole through the bottom part, stuck a bolt in, and then hot glued it in place before gluing both pieces together. It worked out well.

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Jon (Master of the Daleks) gave me two light cages, which appear to be laser cut Acrylic glued together and painted silver, along with two ping pong balls. I then got two size PM-40 pill bottles which I Dremel’d to the right size, and put sliced in half pudding cups inside of to hold the ping pong ball at the right height.

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I also cut some 1/4″ Baltic Birch (by hand) to put on the bottom of the light cages. I hot glued those in place then attached Velcro® Hook and Loop so I could easily attach them to the bowl (and remove them if needed.)

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The next part was the most difficult. I should state that I really never make costumes or wearable things, so… yeah. I originally tried to make something with foam, and I thought about chin strap, but then I got a hard hat for about $7 on Amazon and thought that if I could attach that, it would be easily adjustable to (nearly) any size human head. The hard part was getting it attached to the bowl. I tend to deal with rectilinear things, not curvy shapes.

I brought the whole thing to Milwaukee Makerspace and asked for ideas… One member said he could make a wooden frame for it, and we did that, but it ended up being really heavy. Like.. uncomfortably heavy. I ended up removing that and using Great Stuff, as another member recommended. I’ve never used Great Stuff before, and let me tell you, it’s terrible.

I got Great Stuff on my hands, and that shit is nasty! I tried to scrub it off, and eventually using Comet cleanser, probably not the best thing to clean your hands with, but then again, Great Stuff shouldn’t be on your hands either. Wear gloves! I ended up getting my hands clean enough to not be sticky, but my fingers were stained for a few days. Yuck!

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I ended up spraying the Great Stuff into the bowl, then laying down plastic wrap and pushing the helmet in to shape the Great Stuff into a helmet receiving shape. It actually worked okay. Then to get the helmet to stay in place, I turned to my old friend, hot glue. There’s a liberal amount of hot glue holding the helmet to the Great Stuff. It’s ugly as Hell, but it works.

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Since I also had some plungers (from the science teacher’s house) I painted one gold to go along with the headwear. Every Dalek should have a plunger and a whisk, or a paint roller, or something that looks like that silly Dalek arm… the one that is not a plunger.

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The first time I painted the plunger I ended up flexing the rubber part and flaking off the paint a bit, so I turned to… hot glue, once again, to make a sort of “weld” thing around the base to prevent the rubber from flexing. It worked, but I forgot to bring the plunger with me (a symptom many were guilty of) so it didn’t get to be part of the ensemble.

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And here’s Rick from Milwaukee Makerspace wearing the Dalek headwear while holding the 10 foot ladder I was standing on. The headwear does work okay, but if you’re moving around it tends to fall forward. And forget about running or leaning forward. Perhaps it does need a chinstrap. Or maybe I’ll just keep it around without actually wearing it. I don’t know… it’s just another ridiculous thing I made because I love Doctor Who and Maker Faire.

2017.09.09

UWMakey

Last year I was really pleased to see so many people & groups from UWM involved in Maker Faire Milwaukee. We’ve got another great batch this year, which I’ll share below.

I also want to call out Bryan Cera, an alumnus of UWM, and an all-around amazing maker. If you’re not familiar with Bryan check out his Maker Spotlight. Bryan is now a Professor at the Alberta College of Art and Design, but we’re pleased to see he’ll be returning to Maker Faire Milwaukee this year.

We’ve also got a few returning favorites, and some new friends joining us:

Among the list are a few current students and recent graduates. We’ve also got few alumni working as producers and crew this year. Even Stephen Pevnick, Professor Emeritus is joining us! He was one of my instructors many, many years ago at UWM. It was great to meet him again and get a tour of his studio, and I look forward to see his Graphical Waterfall at Maker Faire Milwaukee this year.

2017.08.17

Hello Friends, I’m here to tell you about Maker Faire Milwaukee, and to ask for your help. If you’re not familiar with Maker Faires, they are events that happen around the world, and are part science fair, part county fair, and part something entirely new. We call it the Greatest Show (& Tell) on Earth.

Most of the Maker Faire are smaller in scale, typically a one-day or even half-day event with a dozen or so people sharing their passion for making things. Here in Milwaukee we decided to go big. We did a two-day event which grew into a three-day event by the third year (the third day being a Field Trip Friday for disadvantaged youth in our community) and we also hold the distinction of being the largest FREE Maker Faire in the North America. In 2015 we had over 50,000 attendees see amazing things, and experience hands-on making. Many attendees were kids, but Maker Faire is not just for the young, or the young at heart, we’re for anyone who likes to learn and loves to see new things.

henry

This is Henry. When he was 6 years old he came to Maker Faire Milwaukee, and when he left he told his dad that he wanted to make a robot for Maker Faire, and in 2016 he brought his creation to show it off and share it with others. We love this kid! We want everyone to be inspired by Maker Faire and leave wanting to create new things.

bill

Here’s Bill teaching a young girl how to use a nail gun to build a shed. Bill works in the Be A Maker space at the Betty Brinn Children’s Museum and spends his days teaching kids how to build the world they’ll inherit. He probably showed a few hundred kids how to properly use a nail gun over the course of the weekend.

r2d2

Oh yeah, not just for kids! We’ve got plenty of adults who live normal lives and have jobs and families and spend their free time building things, like props or robots or costumes from their favorite films, books, and TV shows. Droids, Daleks, 3D Printers, machines that etch wood with electricity, you name it!

jenie

There are also professional artists and art instructors who take the time to teach people about their art, and how to make it, and how to clean the ink off of your hands after you’ve make your first block print. You might discover that something you’ve never done before is fascinating, and you can talk to someone who can tell you all about it.

jake

Or maybe you’ll see a college kid playing with 20,000 watts of power flowing from a home-built Tesla coil while wearing a suit of armor he made himself at Milwaukee Makerspace. Who knows?

Now, I did say that Maker Faire Milwaukee Needs You, and we do. To make this incredible event happen for our community, including field trips for disadvantaged youth, and a professional development conference for teachers that happens during Maker Faire, we need you. We need help from sponsors, we need help from volunteers, we need help spreading the word, and we need you and your family and friends to come to Maker Faire Milwaukee and see what we are trying to do for the Greater Milwaukee Area.

Find out more at milwaukee.makerfaire.com

2017.05.14

Les Yeux

One of the pieces I displayed at Maker Faire Milwaukee in 2016 consisted of two monitors showing a pair of eyes. I was (slightly) inspired by Ben’s Video Wall of Terror.

Les Yeux

I started by filming Dr. Prodoehl to capture the movement of her eyes. The crop lines show where I planned to crop the single video into two separate videos. I also used filters on the videos to get the old TV scan line effect and add a bit of distortion. (The cropping is for a 4:3 aspect ratio display to be compatible with the old computer monitors I had on hand.)

Les Yeux

The two videos were then exported and one was trimmed to be about a half second shorter than the other one. Since the installation would be running for two full days this meant that we’d see some interesting time drifts between the two videos.

The videos were played using a pair of Raspberry Pi Zero single board computers. Like nearly every installation, there were problems involving technology, this time I think it was a bad SD card, but I quickly swapped it out and got up and running again.

Here’s a short video showing Les Yeux Times at Maker Faire in 2016, along with the two videos that were used.

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