posts tagged with the keyword ‘uwm’



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.


The Noisy 85s

I posted just a bit about the ATtinyNoisy boards I had made from OSH Park, but there’s plenty more to tell.

My original plan was to use CR2032 batteries with these, but I found it just didn’t have enough juice to make noise, so I tried using two CR2032 batteries and that didn’t work much better. I ended up grabbing a nearby 9 volt battery to test with, and that worked well, and since I had a bunch of 9 bolt battery connectors, I chose to use those ordered a bunch of new 9 volt batteries from Amazon.

When it came time to program and assemble all the boards, some of them worked, and some didn’t. I wondered if it was because some of the chips I got were from different vendors, including some on eBay that were probably counterfeit. I spent way too much time chasing the wrong problems until I figured it out. (Maybe you’ve already figured it out!)

When I originally tested with a 9 volt battery in the shop, it was an old 9 volt battery that was down around 7 volts. Do you know what the voltage rating for the ATtiny85 is? Well, it’s 2.7 V ~ 5.5 V. Yeah, I was trying to feed it too much voltage!

At this point I had soldered on the battery connectors and was staring at a dozen brand new 9 volt batteries. The board didn’t have room for a LM7805 voltage regulator and I didn’t have time to get new boards made. I ended up taking the 9 volt batteries and shorting them with jumper wires until the voltage dropped to about 7 volts, at which point they worked fine. Yeah, I just wasted lots of electricity to get them working properly. NBD.

Below is an example of what they sounded like.

The idea was to make a bunch of these, and put them in a space, and then interact with the space and experience the sound coming from different directions. You can’t really experience it through a video, as you need to be in the space and move through it to participate in the piece.

The code is dead simple, and just does an analogWrite to a PWM pin on the ATtiny to generate some noise.

// ATtinyNoisy

int piezoPin = 0;
int randomPin = 1;
int randomValLow = 0;
int randomValHigh = 255;
int interValLow = 1;
int interValHigh = 3000;

void setup() {
  pinMode(piezoPin, OUTPUT);

void loop() {
  analogWrite(piezoPin, random(randomValLow, randomValHigh));
  delay(random(interValLow, interValHigh));

The Noisy 85s

Each ATtinyNoisy unit was placed in a paper bag, and hung from a piece of monofilament fishing line with a binder clip. (I had plenty of binder clips around!)

Here’s a few more photos from the installation that I did at UWM’s Kenilworth facility during SHiN|DiG on Friday, December 16, 2016. With many of my installations (and work in general) I focus on cheap things, often simply presented. I tend to go with the theory that if you can’t make something large, make a lot of little things.

The Noisy 85s

The Noisy 85s

The Noisy 85s

The Noisy 85s

The Noisy 85s

Big thanks to (former) student Maks for helping with the install and uninstall of this piece.















We’re already half way through the semester and finished our third assignment for Electronics and Sculpture last week. Assignment 3 requires analog input and output for the project. (Assignment 1 is purely digital, and Assignment 2 requires analog input for control.) And yes, the class is called “Electronics and Sculpture” but it could just as easily be named “Arduino for Artists”.

Projects have varied from very interactive to installations to mostly sculptural with some electronics added in. I find that students do the best work when they can take what they are learning in class and combine it with their own practice, or what they are learning in other classes. The Digital Fabrication students definitely have an advantage here, and I wish all of the students had access to digital fabrication tools, though we just wouldn’t have time to cover it all in the 318 class. (That’s not to say the work of non-Digital Fabrication students is lacking in any way, and I’ve seen some great work using very simple material and tools. As always, art is a combination of things, including concepts, themes, ideas, technical skills and abilities, and more.)

We’re currently in the middle of the midterm project, and things are coming together quite well. Critique is in two weeks, and after that we launch right into the final project. (Since there isn’t an Arts+Tech Night this semester, we’ll probably just push the final critique onto the date that our final exam is scheduled for.)


Maker Faire (UW) Milwaukee 2016

I was a little bummed that I wouldn’t see some of my favorite UWM people at Maker Faire Milwaukee this year because they either accepted jobs elsewhere (including outside the country) or they were too busy with work/personal stuff.

To cheer myself up I thought I’d make a list of UWM people/groups that will be at Maker Faire this year. Some include my former and current students, and some are colleagues, and some are just doing awesome things and want to share.

It’s a long list… Check it out below!


Mike's Light Sculpture

The Electronics and Sculpture class I taught this semester wrapped up a few weeks ago and my students showed their final projects at Arts+Tech Night in May. I’ve included a few photos in this post, but each student also posted their project online, so check below for more links.

Lionel's Brick

The class was structured around five projects in total, with three being smaller projects focusing on digital input/output, analog sensors controlling 2-3 digital things, and the third using analog input/output. The last two projects were larger, one being the mid-term project and the other being the final project, which was then shown to the public during Arts+Tech Night, and treated as an installation for the event.

Greg's Drumming Machine

The books we used for the course were Make: Electronics: Learning Through Discovery by Charles Platt and Programming Arduino Getting Started with Sketches by Simon Monk. I think the amount of reading was fairly minimal, but needed up front for a lot of the things we did later in the semester.

William's Ugly Box

Much of the first half of the semester was spent going through some of the basics of electrical circuits and getting up to speed with the Arduino, learning how to wire things up, write code, and use libraries. Some students had never written code before, while others had never really built physical things before. Some students were more versed in the digital arts while others were more skilled in creating sculptural things. Students who had access to the DCRL had an advantage due to the tools and equipment they had access to (and the fact that they studied with Frankie.)

Matt's Controller

As part of the class, each student had to post their work on a public web site. Some students had blogs or portfolio sites, and some created new sites. Here’s the list of students and their web sites:

Not every student managed to write up their project, which caused me much sadness, but many did a great job of documenting their work and process.

Alycia's Kiosk

I’ll be teaching Electronics and Sculpture 318 and 418 again in the fall, and it looks like 6 of my 318 students are returning for 418 (the advanced class) so I can’t wait to see what they come up with next time!

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