posts tagged with the keyword ‘mkemakerspace’



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!


We’ve been using the RED ONE a lot in the past few months over at z2 and while we’ve had the matte box for a year now, we never managed to get top or bottom flags for it, so I finally got around to solving that problem.

RED Flag

Camera accessories are notoriously expensive. For some things, that makes sense, and for others, I’m not sure it does. The top/bottom flag for a RED Matte Box is $90 USD. Well, hey, it’s carbon fiber. Yeah, that stuff is pricey! But, don’t worry…

RED Flag

There’s an aluminum version of the top/bottom flag for just $40USD. Hey, you could get two of the aluminum flags for less than the price of one carbon fiber flag!

RED Flag

While I was perusing the RED store, admiring their well done photography, I noticed that the large version of the photo was clean. Really clean, and at the perfect angle, straight on! So… I engaged in what I now like to call “R3Dverse Engineering”. (That’s “reverse engineering” of RED stuff, if that was too subtle.)

RED Flag

I grabbed the image from the web site, opened it in Photoshop, and started to clean it up.

RED Flag

I got rid of the shadow, added a white layer below so I could see things a bit better, and selected the object…

RED Flag

I then filled the whole thing with black so I had a high contrast image…

Once this was done, I saved the file as a PNG and imported it into Inkscape, where I used the ‘Trace Bitmap’ feature to create vector lines defining the image.

Inkscape Flag

The next step involved a lot of precise measurements with the digital calipers on the part of the matte box where the flag mounts. There were many guide lines added.

Inkscape Flag

The lines helped me determine centering of the slots and how wide the slots/tabs needed to be.

Inkscape Flag

I did a few revisions, and here’s the final cleaned up version. with most of the guide lines removed.

Inkscape Flag

Here’s a visual diff to show the tweaks between the original trace of the image I imported, and how much I ended up adjusting the lines a bit for a better fit. (The reddish hue shows the final. I mainly had to add a bit more space around the larger tab.)

I should mention that with each revision, I was printing out a sample on tabloid size paper and cutting it up to test the fit.

Inkscape Flag

Once my paper prototype was good enough to consider “final”, I ended up sitting on this project for a bit trying to determine what material to use, and how to cut it.

I’m still thinking about it… I’d prefer to go CNC versus trying to cut it by hand. Perhaps using the CNC Router at Milwaukee Makerspace would work. A very thin sheet of aluminum perhaps? I thought about laser cutting something, but didn’t think acrylic or wood would be a good option. I’ll need to keep thinking about materials…

Black Flag

Meanwhile, we have lots of black board at work, so I stuck my paper prototype onto a piece and hand cut it with an X-ACTO blade. (I did not round the corners.)

Black Flag

The tabs and slots are a little messier than I’d like, but again, I’ll call this part of the prototyping stage.

Black Flag

But it also totally works… and is probably less than 1/100 the cost of the carbon fiber version. It may not hold up as long, but then again, I can easily make a bunch of these for next to nothing. (I can also just laser cut the black board instead of sliding an X-ACTO around to do it.)

Black Flag

Update! I ended up laser cutting the black boards, and they works great! You can grab the files from Thingiverse.

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