posts tagged with the keyword ‘mkemakerspace’

2018.01.31

green-button-box

I tend to make objects. Things. Pieces. Sometimes I think I can apply the word “sculpture” to them, mainly because sometimes there isn’t a better word to describe them (especially if they are to be considered “art”.)

Many of the things I make are “functional” in that they do a thing. But what is that thing? What does it mean to do a thing? They might make something happen, or move, or light up. The might be kinetic or reactive or interactive. They may solve a problem. They may make the world a better place. They might look pleasing.

And then there’s jewelry…

I’ve had a strange relationship with jewelry. I never really cared for jewelry. Beyond the relationship humans have with jewelry, and how it fits into society, I just never really cared about making jewelry. I think that some art instructors use jewelry making as a way to teach process and making, and maybe use it because many (most?) people like it and would like to have jewelry, or maybe because it’s such a personal thing. I mean, it’s work on the body. That’s personal, right?

ring-vise

I even ended up making a piece of jewelry for a class titled “Machines that Make”. I designed a hammer ring. I learned a bit more about Rhino, and I got a print made by Shapeways, which was a good experience, but as far as a piece of jewelry, I didn’t care about it. (I mean, It’s an interesting object, but I’m not going to wear it. Like many of the things I make, there’s humor somewhere deep inside of it. Or maybe on the surface. I don’t know, I’m still figuring this out.)

Much of my art & design background involved 2D work, which, let’s be honest, often hangs on a wall, or is just seen and doesn’t do a thing. But doesn’t it do a thing? Does it provoke thought or emotions? Does it instruct or inform? Does it make you feel something? Does it make you happy? Things do things.

I remember back in a high school art class we had to make a ring. I had zero interest in wearing a ring or making a ring, and I really dragged on the project. I think I eventually finished it (late) and I don’t even know what happened to it. It was a piece I just didn’t care about. I probably could have learned about etching metal, and creating different kinds of resists, but I just wasn’t invested. (I know, this is all a person thing.)

My daughter has started to make jewelry. I’m excited about it. Not because I like jewelry, but because she likes jewelry. Or, maybe she just likes making things. It seems therapeutic. She’s mostly doing wire wrapped jewelry. I use wire for electronics and for securing things. Making jewelry with it? I guess some people do that.

ring-mads

She also learned how to do metal casting, which is awesome. I know a little about metal casting, and it’s something I wish I knew more about (but there are only so many hours in the day.) I’m glad she has the opportunity to learn it.

Also, Daleks…

What? Daleks? Yeah, well, Jon H. at Milwaukee Makerspace is the Jewelry Area Champion, and besides helping people make Daleks, helps people make jewelry. Or, learn how to make jewelry. Jon is an interesting guy. I’ve heard him called a “Retired Magician” though maybe he still is a magician! He’s got a lot of skills and is willing to share them. So yeah, sometimes you see Dalek parts being made in the jewelry area, because, the process is similar, sort of. Right? I don’t know…

Where is all this going? I’m really not sure. As I said, I’ve had a complicated relationship with jewelry. I don’t wear it, I’m not a big fan. It’s a personal thing. I don’t really like drawing attention to myself. I mean, my self. My physical being. I don’t mind using words to make myself known, or sharing my work, but I don’t want the focus on my physical body. That’s just how I am. I’m weird. Maybe. I don’t know.

dalek-jewelry

Well that turned into a rambling mess about art and objects and jewelry that I wasn’t fully expecting. Writing can be like that sometimes… What do you think?

2017.12.26

five-dollars

Milwaukee Makerspace dues are currently $40 per month for a “full” membership, and we allow each member to “vote” for what areas they want to support with their dollars. In our membership software a member can choose up to five areas to fund, with a total of $5.00 per month. You can put all $5 towards one area, or split it up among multiple areas.

For instance, if you tend to use the laser cutters a lot, you can put your $5 towards the laser cutters. This compounds with the funds from other members, and creates a pool of money for the laser cutters that the Area Champion then gets as a budget. The Area Champion decides how to spend the money. They can purchase spare parts, materials, software, etc. Consumables tend to be at the top of the list for many areas. For the laser cutters that may be cleaning supplies and new lenses, and they may want to have enough cash reserve on hand to purchase something more expensive, like a new laser tube, if needed.

Other areas might stock up on tape, blades, glue, small tools, etc. Besides building up a fund for each area, the “vote with your dollars” method also allows the members (and Board of Directors) to see which areas are the most popular. (Assuming people put their money towards the areas they care about and use.)

Here’s an snapshot of the funding as of the writing of this post. (The raw data is available here.) Note that a low dollar amount doesn’t necessarily mean an area is unpopular, as they may have just spent all of their cash. It’s better to look at the monthly allocation to get an idea of the popularity of an area, listed as “Current Member Funding” on the page.

Area Dollars
3D Printing Area $830.03
Anodizing Area $0.00
Forge Area $1,198.82
Casting Area $635.25
Ceramics Area $356.04
CNC Area $496.36
Craft Lab $847.76
Electronics Lab $725.66
Metal Finishing Area $163.48
Jewelry Area $575.60
Laser Lab $2,642.60
Leatherworking Area $339.50
Maker Faire Funding $677.29
Metal Shop $1,134.20
206.76 $189.01
Power Racing $163.67
Print Area $189.80
Soda Fund $129.00
Vacuum Former $164.35
Welding Area $624.22
Wood Shop $1,482.69

Besides the $5.00 per month that members can allocate, they can also choose to donate directly to these areas using our member management software (which is built on Wild Apricot.) This is a good way to support an area that you might use infrequently. For instance, I used the Paint Room quite a lot for two weeks leading up to Maker Faire, so I just did a straight donation to that area rather than change my monthly allocation.

I mentioned “full” member above, and that’s because we also have “family” members, who are add-on members that only pay $10.00 per month for their membership. We scale down their $5.00 per month to just $1.25 per month, so they can choose up to five areas to support, but at only 25 cent per area.

Obviously not all spaces can operate in this fashion, but with close to 300 members and a good financial standing we’ve got what I think is a pretty good system.

So, how does your space do it?

(Note: I was told that the Anodizing Area was rolled into the Metal Finishing Area, so that’s why the number is $0.00. It’s still in the system due to legacy reasons.)

2017.11.22

MMS

I recently heard the word “potluck” applied to a makerspace. So what exactly is a potlock and how does it work?

A potluck is a gathering where each guest contributes a different and unique dish of food, often homemade, to be shared.

(Okay, ignore that bit about food.) Many spaces are started by groups of people who come together to form a community around making. Making usually requires tools. They may be traditional tools like saws, and drills, and sewing machines, and may include laser cutters, 3D printers, and CNC machines. While you may own a few tools, chances are you don’t own all the tools. Typically there’s two reasons you don’t own all the tools. You probably don’t have space for them all, and you probably can’t afford them all. This is where makerspaces come in.

The “potluck” style makerspace encourages everyone to bring the tools they have, together, in one space, and share that space, and share the tools. No one owns everything there, but everyone owns something. Now, there are spaces where a single person or small group provides all (or a majority of) the tools, or where the space itself (as an organization) owns all the tools. It can certainly work in many different ways.

Milwaukee Makerspace operates to a great deal like a potluck. When we started, everyone brought in whatever tools they had. We tried to avoid duplicates in most cases. If we had a table saw, but someone else said they had a better table saw, we’d evaluate and discuss and see if we wanted to “upgrade” by bringing in the new tool. Now, the question comes up “What if Bob decides to take his chop saw home? Then we have no chop saw!” and yes, this is true, and it does happen. I’m pretty sure within the last year the chop saw disappeared because the owner moved away, or took it home, or some other weird reason. Typically we’re without a tool for a short time until someone else brings one in, or we find another way to replace it.

One of those “other ways” is a group buy. Sometimes a member (or more likely a number of members) want a new tool. They basically “crowdfund” the money needed to purchase the tool and the tool the stays at the space. Occasionally there is a majority stakeholder who might have paid for a large percentage of a tool. If, in this case, the member who is a majority stakeholder wants to remove the tool, they would have to buy out all the other members who pitched in for it. This is a rare occurrence, in fact, I’m not sure it’s happened more than once or twice.

Occasionally a member who owns a tool wants (or needs) to sell it, perhaps due to financial strain or needing money more than they need the tool. Often members have bought tools from other members so that they can remain at the space. And yes, we’ve also seen group buys so that tools could remain at the space. (This was the case with one of our laser cutters.)

The largest example we have is the Tormach. Larry wanted a vertical milling machine, and was looking at a Haas, or another larger used machine. Since we didn’t have luck with the previous used machine we had, many members were in favor of something a bit newer, and easier to use. The Tormach purchase was funded by over 30 members. Some contributing as little as $10, and a few contributing close to or more than $1000. Larry covered $5000, which was close to half the cost. I personally pitched in $50 and I still haven’t even used the machine! I’m okay with that, because I’ve seen other members make awesome things, and I know that if I have the need, it’s there and I can use it.

What about when things break? Well, each area has a budget for purchases and maintenance (I’ll cover that more in another post) but we also follow the “crowdfunding” method in this case. When the laser tube died pretty much everyone who ever used the laser cutter was willing to pitch in some money. Occasionally someone orders a spare lens, or new saw blades, or whatever other consumable there is because we don’t charge for machine time, but if you’ve used a machine a lot, we expect you to be awesome and contribute in some way. (And yes, there are other ways to contribute, again, that’s a future post.)

Anyway, I hope this helped explained the “potluck” method we’ve used over the last seven years or so. It’s not perfect, but it’s worked fairly well. When we orient new members, we let them know that every tool in the space belongs to someone, and that someone is another members, so respecting and taking care of the tools is just one more way to be excellent to each other.

2017.07.23

beach

Whew! Hey folks, I’m back. It’s been over a month since my last post, but don’t worry, things are going good, they’re just going a lot, or there’s a lot going on, or something like that. I’ll just update everything.

First of all, I spent a week at the beach. The ocean beach! We went out to Maryland and I was actually out of the office for five whole days! I barely worked at all, besides a phone call and a bunch of emails to keep thing moving for Maker Faire Milwaukee.

Oh yes, we’re just 60 days out from Maker Faire Milwaukee and there’s a heck of a lot of things to do this year. I’m also headed to Maker Faire Detroit this week. (And there’s a chance I’ll hit up Pittsburgh and/or Orlando as well.)

One of the projects I’ve been working on for Maker Faire Milwaukee is called NoiseMaster 3000 which will consist of a bunch of DIY noise making devices. Here’s a few in progress.

A post shared by Pete Prodoehl (@raster)
on

A post shared by Pete Prodoehl (@raster)
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A post shared by Pete Prodoehl (@raster)
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I’ve been combining 3D printed parts with scrap wood and really enjoying the process. I’ve been thinking a lot about how the two materials fit together, and I’ll probably write up some thoughts on that later.

Oh yeah, I also went to Kansas City with a Wienermobile. That was exciting. Find out more! Meanwhile, we’re still working on our no-weld vehicle, sometimes using wood where maybe wood doesn’t belong. Oh well! Also, photos from Kansas City!

I saw Wonder Woman and The Big Sick and they were both great movies. I’ve also been trying to get caught up with Doctor Who, but besides that I still don’t watch very much TV. (I haven’t seen Game of Thrones or House of Cards or Breaking Bad. I hear there’s a new Star Trek showing coming out soon!?)

I’ll be speaking at the Inventors & Entrepreneurs Club of Kenosha & Racine next month on the topic of Arduino. I should probably prepare for that. Also, the mayor of South Milwaukee wants to meet with me, because of something I posted on Facebook. (Don’t worry, I’m not in trouble!)

Okay, well… that’s all I can think of for this update. You can follow me on Instagram for previews and peeks at my current projects, and I sometimes post things on Facebook, as well.

mfbuttons

2017.03.13

MMS WebCam

It’s been way too long since I posted anything about the Time Lapse Bot project. Here’s some good background info, if needed.

Time Lapse Bot 3, which I haven’t written about since 2011 (or maybe 2012) has seen a few upgrades. Don’t worry, it’s still running an ancient PowerBook G4 (how, I don’t even know) but we long ago upgraded to a Logitech C910 USB camera. We then added a long gooseneck to allow for easy adjust-ability. And finally, it’s also known as the Milwaukee Makerspace Webcam, and it published views of Milwaukee Makerspace at http://mkemake.us/webcam

But really, Time Lapse Bot 3 hasn’t changed very much in the past few years… probably because I’ve been working on Time Lapse Bot 4, which uses a Raspberry Pi.

tlbot4

Time Lapse Bot 4.01 made an appearance at Maker Faire Milwaukee in 2016, using a completely hacked together frame on one of my old rolling chair bases, and it worked for the weekend, but I’ve got plans… I’ve got plans.

I’ve made a lot of progress with software, and picamera is something I highly recommend! I’ve also got TLBot4 automagically uploading to a server, just like the Milwaukee Makerspace Webcam (running EvoCam, which may be dead now, as the web site of the developer has gone AWOL) and it’s also doing the daily videos compiled from the still images. I’m 90% happy with the software… I mean, the last 10% is the hardest, right?

I’m also working on a new physical build of Time Lapse Bot 4, which will feature many mounting solutions, and an interchangeable wide angle lens for capturing crowds.

Hopefully I can get TLBot 4 up and running for an event in the next few months, but in the meantime, I’ll be testing it in my workshop. (And hey, it’s offline now, so what the heck!?)

Also, I used the knowledge and experience I’ve gained (especially from picamera) to create part of a museum exhibit that has been running trouble-free (knock on HDPE!) since November. Huzzah!

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