posts tagged with the keyword ‘makerfairemke’

2019.09.30

audio-face-5404

One of the projects I built for Maker Faire Milwaukee this year was AUDIO FACE [APC-320], which consists of the following things.

  • A cabinet built from scrap wood and plastic found at Milwaukee Makerspace and Brinn Labs
  • An Atari Punk Console that Kathy C. from Milwaukee Makerspace gave me for my birthday (which was already assembled!)
  • A 320 watt car stereo amplifier that someone donated to Milwaukee Makerspace, that I then gave to Jon H. for Disco Dalek, and he then gave back to me a year later
  • A really nice car stereo speaker I got from Andy A. from Milwaukee Makerspace for about $10
  • Some LED lights from Les, a long-time Maker Faire Milwaukee volunteer
  • A hefty 12 volt power supply and a 12v to 9v buck converter, which I purchased from Amazon for about $25
  • Some random arcade button I had lying around, a handful of drywall screws, and probably a few more miscellaneous things I forgot…

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The concept behind this “noisemaker” is a continuation of what Maks, Dustin, and I did back in 2017, which was a series of devices that made sound when action was taken. Typically this was pressing a button, and often with potentiometers of some kind to alter the sound. I ended up building a lot of Arduino-based sound devices. Are these synths? Maybe… Are they noisemakers? I guess so.

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When you press the button you are responsible for the creation of the sound. If creating weird noises embarrasses you, you have to deal with that. If you are getting into it and everyone else hates it, it’s on you. Only momentary switches are used so no one can turn them all on and walk away. If you’re there, you’re the cause of the sound.

Many of the devices from 2017 were somewhat fragile, built from small pieces of scrap material, and they sat on a table. For AUDIO FACE [APC-320] I wanted a large cabinet, which was pretty much a requirement due to the large speaker, amp, and power supply. While all of the 2017 devices were extremely cheap (built from scrap, found and scavenged speakers and components, and $3 Arduino boards or ATtiny chips) AUDIO FACE [APC-320] was a bit more expensive, probably costing close to $40 USD.

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As a sculptural piece, I think AUDIO FACE [APC-320] is interesting because of the contrast. Some of the build material is really nice laminate material or higher quality plywood, but it’s assembled in a slapdash method. There are rough edges that don’t line up, and there’s very roughly drilled holes on each side. While I love precisely designing things, I also love just building with no plans on occasion. Just getting to work and figuring it out as I go. This cabinet is that. At least one person mentioned this at Maker Faire, seeing this as quite a contrast to my other pieces which tend to follow a specific grid or use mathematical concepts. It’s not by accident.

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One other interesting thing about AUDIO FACE [APC-320] is that it’s sort of a bench. I mean, you can sit on it, and if you dial in the right sound and then sit on the button it makes your insides feel funny. I really like this part and may explore this in the future. I also like the fact that it’s sort of a table or a stool. A weird table or stool with controls in the middle of the top surface that makes noise and vibrates, but still… could be a table or a stool.

2019.09.22

mfmke-si-art

While taking a break from reading through all the applications for Maker Faire Milwaukee I had an idea for some art we could use this year. It ended up becoming shirt art after I shared it with the other event producers.

The art consists of an 8×8 grid with 64 items, yes, as always, I try to make these numbers mean something. 8 bit, 64 bit, you get the idea… The color pallet comes from what we used previously for our kaleidoscope design.

The most difficult part was the typeface. I tried many existing fonts but nothing was working. Makey the Robot is (almost) square, so I needed the letters M, K, and E to be square. Stretching existing fonts did not work, so I ended up creating my own type.

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Once I had the M, the E was easy. I just rotated it 90 degrees! The K was a bit more difficult, but the line width matches the parts of the M and E, and I then just aimed for the corners to make them end in 45 degree angles so it would all look even. It’s probably the best “MKE” I’ve ever designed.

mfmke-si-shirt

Here’s a terrible photo of the shirt. We still have some left, so if you want one, let me know, and I’ll get you hooked up for a nice price! (The original design was completely square and did not have the long “Maker Faire Milwaukee” logo on the bottom, but Stacie reminded me we should really add that.)

2018.11.15

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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!

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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.

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