posts tagged with the keyword ‘mkemakerspace’



I’m not sure the world needs (or is ready for) the Pop-Up Go(at) Controller, but I’ve built it. I know, I know, I can hear you asking “What is the Pop-Up Go(at) Controller!?” Well, here’s the story.

Back in August I posted about the Milwaukee Public Museum’s snake on the Milwaukee Makerspace mailing list. Seems the snake was in need of repair, so I asked people how they would build a snake. Shane suggested that the space should have a pop-up goat, and thus, I had to build a pop-up goat.

I mean, I didn’t have to, but one thing I’ve discovered over the past few months is that my work tends to be reactionary. People say things, or do things, and it prompts me to make something. So I made something.

Milwaukee Makerspace

I didn’t really make what Shane suggested, but I took the basic idea and did my own thing. I started with a photo of Milwaukee Makerspace I took last year. This would serve as the backdrop for the piece.


I dug around for a nice picture of a goat I could use, but as luck would have it, my daughter Madeline (also a photographer) recently shot a goat (with her camera!) so she allowed me to use her photo.


The construction of the piece was done using MicroRAX, which is an Aluminum extrusion-based construction set. I’ve had some lying around for a while, so it was good to put it to use in a project. It cut easily with a hacksaw and bolts together using a few screws and plates.


The goat attaches to a servo thanks to a few magnets. The image of the building and goat are photos I had printed, and then attached to some paperboard. The building slides into the slot of the MicroRAX.


The servo mounted easily to the MicroRAX, and things are adjustable, so if I need to slide the servo up or down or left or right, that’s easy. Same with the front pieces that hold the building photo in place. I like to plan things to be interchangeable and adjustable when possible.


There’s an Adafruit Perma-Proto Board on the back, along with an Adafruit Trinket microcontroller to make things happen.


There’s a few screw terminals to allow for connection of power (AC adapter or battery) and a button to activate things. I typically build button enclosures, but for my silly project I decided to use a giant heavy metal electrical box with an old industrial push button. It’s so much overkill it hurts.

White House

As mentioned, I wanted the P.U.G.C. to be extensible, so here’s another idea for it. I can swap in a photo of the White House, and a surface to air missile. Ka-Boom! Smite thine enemies! ‘Merica says “Take That!!!” and so on…

Mac Flag

Or maybe you believe it’s more fun to be a pirate than to join the navy? Just enable “flag waving mode” and you can fly your freaky colors of freedom above the original Macintosh. Mr. Jobs would be so proud! Or angry.

And yes, the ‘at’ part in “Go(at)” is meant to be dropped as needed so this becomes the Pop-Up Go Controller. I can also hear you saying, “Those are some awesome photos, but is there video of this P.U.G.C. in action?” Well, of course there is!



So the President (of Milwaukee Makerspace) emails me and says “MMPIS countdown days to Maker Faire… can you make it happen?” Luckily, I can decipher this to mean he’d like to see a countdown screen on the MMPIS. Oh, the MMPIS is the Milwaukee Makerspace Pi-powered Informational System, and whipping up a new screen to do something simple is, well, simple. So I did.

It’s one image, about 20 lines of CSS, 20 lines of HTML, and a few lines of PHP. I hacked together some code, uploaded it, and sent Brant the instructions to load it into the kiosk via Screenly.

So the next time you’re at Milwaukee Makerspace, take a look at the countdown, and then freak out about how little time we have until Maker Faire Milwaukee!


Milwaukee Maker Faire

The news is out! We’re throwing a Maker Faire right here in Milwaukee! The fine folks at Milwaukee Makerspace in collaboration with the file folks at the Betty Brinn Children’s Museum have been planning for months (and months!) and can now officially announce our own Maker Faire. (And yes, it’s a full-scale event, not just a Mini Maker Faire. This is going to be big!)

Maker Faire Milwaukee is happening Saturday and Sunday September 27th & 28th, 2014 at Wisconsin State Fair Park. (For the record, this Maker Faire is within 5 miles of my house. Exciting!)

And best of all, this Maker Faire is totally FREE to attend, thanks to the sponsorship of many fine Milwaukee organizations.

So yeah, plan to attend, and check out in the coming weeks as we add more information. If you do the social things, follow @mkemakerfaire, like makerfairemke, and +1 all the posts.

If you’re interested in being involved or helping to run things, get in touch with me and I’ll point you in the right direction.

(And hey, I’ve got plenty of time to prepare my talk…)


Though I’ve managed to miss a lot of the 3D Printing Meetups lately, I managed to make it this month, and since the speaker unexpectedly canceled, I got called into duty as a replacement.

Without a ton of time to prepare, I ended up recycling a presentation I’ve given before, about Milwaukee Makerspace and what we do there. (I did manage to update it a bit and add in some 3D printing specific content though.)

Anyway, here are my slides, which you can also find on Speaker Deck and SlideShare. And if you don’t like these, I’ve got plenty more presentations.


The Helmet

I cut a piece of foam with a stencil, and it turned out terrible! So I tried again, and it turned out better…

A member of Milwaukee Makerspace loaned me his Proxxon Hotwire Cutter Thermocut to cut some foam. If you remember one of my previous foam cutting experiences using a drill press, that worked ok, but I wanted to try another method, the hot wire foam cutter actually designed to cut foam.


I started with not one, but two stencils, with the idea being I’d put them on the top and bottom of the piece, lined up with each other.


Why two stencils? when I tried to just use a top stencil with the wire cutter, the wire flexed a bit and I got not-straight lines.

Taping to foam

I attached the top of the “stencil placement guide” to the top of the foam with tape…

Taping to foam

…and then attached the bottom to the bottom, lining them up with the corner so they’d be in alignment with each other.

Spray glue

I then spray glued the actual pieces I wanted to stick to the foam with spray glue (using our spray booth!) Note that one piece is flipped upside down and one isn’t, so they match each holder.

Put it on the foam

Here’s the top piece glued into place…

Put it on the foam

…and the bottom piece glued into place.

Stencil on foam

Once glued in place I remove the top stencil holder…

Stencil on foam

…and the bottom stencil holder. Now we can cut. Hot wire goes through foam so fast I didn’t even get a photo!

Stencil on foam

Here’s the helmet cut out of foam. Top view…

Stencil on foam

…and bottom view. Yes, there are some rough spots, but the wire stayed pretty well aligned thanks to the top and bottom stencils. You just need to glide the wire along the paper’s edge. Much easier than trying to freehand a line drawn on the foam, and better results too!

You may have noticed a hole show up in the helmet. The reason for that was to feed the wire through to cut out the middle, but I forgot the wire was on a spool, so… bigger hole!


I cut a hole just large enough to fit the spool through…


…and one it was through, reattached it to the cutter so I could cut out the middle piece.


The middle piece came out pretty good… Now that’s a helmet!


A few of the cuts are a bit rough, but some sandpaper makes light work of them.


Ahh, now here you can see the terrible results of only using a top stencil from my previous attempt. The wire tended to cut deeper into the bottom of the foam where there was no stencil to guide it.


Our new improved helmet cut with top and bottom guides is much better. And hey, now it’s ready to be cast in aluminum!


While the Proxxon is nice, there are a lot of DIY foam cutters that can be built with scrap materials. Ultimately though, I think a CNC cutter would be cool. Just add an XY table and away you go!

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