Documentation Wiki


I’ve mentioned before my love of wikis as a documentation platform, and I helped start the Milwaukee Makerspace wiki and grow and maintain it over the years…

Since I started working at the BBCM Exhibits Shop last year one of the biggest challenges has been locating needed documentation. Sometimes it existed, but was difficult to find. Other times knowledge existed only in someone’s head, which isn’t the best thing for an organization.

Even though I launched the wiki late last summer, things didn’t really start to get populated until December when I got a chance to pours lots of data into it, and then Sam joined us as the Exhibit Floor Coordinator and jumped completely on-board the wiki train. We’ve added over 150 pages in the last four months, and some of them are pretty extensive.

(We’re doing a small bit of integration with our ticketing system as well. Not as much as I’d like, but there’s a few weird issues with MantisBT that make things a little difficult.)

There are still more extensive pieces of documentation that exist in other formats, things that make sense as static documents, and those are often linked from the wiki so they are easy to locate as well.

In the building of this knowledge base, I like to think of it as an easily searchable manual that multiple people can update at any time. It’s not a bunch of Word documents or PDFs on a file server, it’s a living resource, meant to be used (and updated) constantly. It should serve as a useful tool not just to the people who have access to it now, but the people who join the organization in the future. A new team member should be able to sit down on the first day and dig through the wiki to get a good overview of what we deal with. (That’s my hope anyway!)


Maker Faire Milwaukee

Maker Faire Milwaukee

While I’ve been posting a lot lately about plastic and other odd things, pretty much all of my time these days has been filled with planning Maker Faire Milwaukee.

If you’re not familiar with what a Maker Faire is, here’s a quick description from the history page of

Part science fair, part county fair, and part something entirely new, Maker Faire is an all-ages gathering of tech enthusiasts, crafters, educators, tinkerers, hobbyists, engineers, science clubs, authors, artists, students, and commercial exhibitors. All of these “makers” come to Maker Faire to show what they have made and to share what they have learned.

What I love about Maker Faires (I’ve attended about eight of them in various cities the past few years) is that the people who share their work (or play) are passionate about what they do, and they love sharing it with others. I find this inspiring, and I usually leave excited about what I saw, and eager to learn new skills and make new things.

I’m planning to do a talk about The Power Racing Series, and help out showing off tiny electric vehicles built for under $500, but most of my time will probably be spent working with the folks from Betty Brinn Children’s Museum and Milwaukee Makerspace just making sure everything runs smoothly. (The two organizations are co-hosting the event, and I’m an employee and member of them both, respectively.)

I hope to see you at Maker Faire. If you’ve got kids, it may inspire them, and if you’re a kid at heart, you’ll love it too. (Don’t get me wrong, adults are welcome too!) And, Maker Faire Milwaukee is FREE to attend, thanks to our great sponsors! (And yes, there are still sponsorship opportunities, so get in touch with me if interested!)

If you want a preview of what you’ll see, check out some of the blog posts I’ve been writing.

(Oh, Maker Faire Milwaukee takes place at State Fair Park on September 26th & 27th, 2015, and Harvest Faire is also happening at that time, and also free, so really, there’s something for everyone… Come on down!)


MakeShift Nerf (and Air Hockey)


Over at the museum we do these monthly maker nights called MakeShift where we do demos and hands-on, DIY activities in BAMspace, which is our in-museum makerspace. These are adult-only events… that we happen to hold in a children’s museum, at night, with alcohol.

Back in March we did a Nerf Night, and we did things like make our own darts, modified Nerf guns (to make them more powerful) and then had a Nerf War. People seemed to like it, so we decided not to skip doing a MakeShift in July, and instead punted and went with another Nerf War, and this time we just focused on running around like maniacs and shooting each other. It was a blast! (And yes, we will definitely do it again!)

I wasn’t sure everyone would want to play with Nerf guns the entire time, so I 3D printed a few piece so we could play air hockey on one of our exhibits. Word Headquarters features these long skinny tables with jets of air that move tiles, and it seemed like all that was missing were a few paddles and pucks.


I grabbed a puck from Thingiverse and printed it scaled down just a bit. It moved great on the side that was printed on the glass, but the other side was not smooth enough, so I did a bit of sanding to help things out.


I then printed some paddles from Thingiverse to knock the puck around with. Again, they were scaled down to match the size of the table.

Air Hockey

Here’s the pieces. I made a set for each of the two air tables in the exhibit. Below you can see a few visitors taking a break from shooting each other to play a game of air hockey. I’ve left the parts in BAMspace in case you’re ever at the museum and feel like a quick game of air hockey.

Air Hockey

Oh, and if you want to see a ton more photos of the Nerf War action, check out John McGeen’s blog post MakeShift: Nerf Night II.


Museums and Making and Work (and Fun!)


Since the semester wrapped up at UWM and left me with a summer of no work or classes, I thought it best to get a job and return to the “normal” world of work. (I know, supposedly academics take summers off and don’t do anything. Kidding!)

I’ve accepted a position as “Technology Project Manager” at the Betty Brinn Children’s Museum. I’ll be working on developing a number of exhibits as well as a few other things, not the least of which is helping plan Maker Faire Milwaukee coming up on September 26th & 27th, 2015. This is pretty darn exciting for me. I attended my first Maker Faire just a few years ago and now I’m helping organize the largest Free Featured Maker Faire in the world. I’m passionate about people showing off the amazing things they create, so helping make that possible is pretty amazing. (Also, I’m now dealing with some of the folks I’ve known for years at Make in a day-to-day capacity. Neat!)

MakeShift MKE

I’m also helping out with things like MakeShift MKE, which is an adults-only event we have at the museum once a month which involves things like fire, drinking, making, and hacking. This takes place in BAM Space the “Be A Maker” Space within the museum. (Web site coming soon!) It’s basically a mini-makerspace that does programming for kids, but also caters to adults and families. It’s still in development, but it’s going to be awesome.

Oh, and because I never finished the multiple posts I started writing, this all came about due to some work I did with the museum last fall to develop a part of their Word Headquarters exhibit. At some point I will post more about that. I promise. Also, I’m working with Arduinos and Raspberry Pis and doing all sorts of prototyping, at work, and they pay me. I think. (I’ll find out next week. Kidding again!)

Basically, it’s gonna be a great summer!