No San Mateo

Road to Maker Faire

The Road to Maker Faire Challenge is over, and I’m here to report that I will not be headed to San Mateo for the Bay Area Maker Faire.

Congrats to Greathouse Labs for winning the challenge! I was a little disappointed to see that Greathouse Labs has already been to a number of Maker Faires before and this was my one chance to make it to the Bay Area Maker Faire (the prize money would have made it possible) but hey, I was runner up! I get a sweet Maker’s Notebook and a one-year subscription to Make Magazine, so that’s pretty cool!

Maker's Notebook

I do want to thank everyone for the votes, because it meant a lot and it really did help!

Since I won’t be going to Maker Faire on May 18th, 2013 I was planning on going to Chicago Northside Mini Maker Faire, but that may not happen due to some deadlines. (But you should still attend!) I am still planning on Maker Faire Detroit in July. I mean, we’ve got some racing to do.

(And as for those deadlines, they’re some pretty cool deadlines, but more on those later!)


The Making of MAKE

One of the great things about Milwaukee Makerspace is the inspiration you get from other people. Kevin recently used our aluminum forge to create a piece he calls FEAR, which he said was an update of Robert Indiana’s LOVE.

I’m not one to give in to fear, and I figured that with a new year beginning we should focus on something a bit more positive, so I created MAKE.

I also figured I’d walk through the process of creating this piece.

MAKE in Inkscape

While MAKE is three dimensional, it’s really just an extruded two dimensional form (sometimes called 2.5 dimensional) so I started as I often do, with Inkscape. I used Georgia Bold, which is the font Kevin used in his piece, and typed up the letters for MAKE.

MAKE outlined

I selected each letter and combined them into one object via the “Union” command under the “Path” menu.

MAKE outlines joined

At this point we no longer have editable text but an outlined object. We still have curved lines though, and that just won’t do for 3D printing, as we need all straight line segments.

MAKE with straight lines

I selected all of the segments and inserted new nodes. Once you have more nodes, you can convert all of the segments into straight lines. No more curves! If you add enough nodes the short straight line segments will look like a proper curve. (Adding more segments can increase the complexity of the file, which can increase the time to process and print it, so don’t go too crazy.)

MAKE reversed

After I had my artwork outlined, I exported it as a DXF file and brought it into OpenSCAD to extrude it. Also, here’s a trick: I actually flipped it 180 degrees in OpenSCAD so that it would face down on the print bed. I wanted the “front” of the piece nice and smooth.


Here’s what it looks like in proper perspective… What’s that? You’re already getting inspired to make something? Excellent!

MAKE in plastic

And here’s our final piece. MAKE… in plastic… for your desktop. I like the white, but I definitely need to get more filament colors… I think this would look great in orange or red!


I made an attempt at a larger version, but the old RepRap went a little crazy and the print failed about 15% into it. Still, it’s a pretty good MAKE if you ask me. Perhaps this one is more suitable for the wall than the desk.

(Note: grab the file from Thingiverse.)


CheerLight 2012


Here’s my CheerLight 2012 device, which I call the CheerLCD! And what is CheerLights you say?

CheerLights is an ioBridge Labs project that allows people’s lights all across the world to synchronize, stay linked based on social networking trends. It’s a way to connect physical things with social networking experiences and spread cheer at the same time.

Much like last year, I’ve opted for a small desktop display—a USB-powered computer peripheral—rather than some giant string of multicolored lights…


With the combined power of 3D printing, affordable electronics, and the duct tape of programming languages that is Perl, we’ve developed a device that informs you of what color the CheerLights around the globe are, not only with color, but with words!

(Though we’ve not yet done extensive testing, the text should be legible even by those suffering from color blindness. Accessibility, FTW!)


The CheerLCD consists of a USB + Serial Backpack Kit and LCD Display from our friends at Adafruit Industries. But you can’t just have a display without some sort of thingy to display the display properly… enter the 3D Printer!


The CheerTree was designed specifically to hold the LCD Display. I utilized Inkscape for the design of the front plate, and then brought that shape into OpenSCAD to add the base and create an STL file for printing. (It ended up warping a bit but that just adds to the charm and aesthetic of the overall device.)

I know what you’re saying, “This is all well and good… but we need to see the CheerLCD in action!” As you wish, my friends… as you wish.

There’s some code over on github/CheerLCD, and some files on Thingiverse for the CheerTree.

Enjoy the Holiday Cheer!


Holiday Make-A-Thon 2012 [Time Lapse]

Hack Friday

Here’s a quick time-lapse video from the 2012 Holiday Make-A-Thon that Milwaukee Makerspace does in cooperation with Bucketworks. We’ve been doing it for 3 years now, and Bucketworks has been doing it on their own even longer.

It seems like a lot more hackerspaces are doing these type of events this year, which is awesome, and there’s even a nice name for it now: Hack Friday. In my mind, part of belonging to a makerspace/hackerspace is the love of creating things, sharing that with others, especially on a day that has become completely over the top in regards to consumerism. Our mission is plain and simple: Instead of buying useless crap on “Black Friday” join us and we’ll help you make something for the holidays.

I figured it was also a good time to test out the time lapse capabilities of the GoPro Hero3. I have a workflow in place that includes taking still images with the intervalometer and then combining the frames into a video, and then resizing and cropping the video to the correct proportions. It seems to work. Oh, and the camera motion near the end is actually the gaff tape giving out before the camera fell face-down. Enjoy!


Make. Better.

Make Blog

I’m a fan of the Make Blog, and I’m also a user of a 13″ MacBook Pro, and those two things conflict a little bit.

Just take a look at the screen shot above, it’s what I see with a maximized browser window…

Make Blog

I prefer this view, where the footer is hidden, because 98% of the time I’m on the Make site, I don’t need to know whatever the footer has to tell me, and since the footer is locked in place when you scroll, that’s 22 pixels that are always blocking the content. (On an 800 pixel high screen, even losing 22 pixels can hurt.)

I’m using Mozilla Firefox with the Stylish Plugin to do this.

And here’s the code:

@namespace url(;

@-moz-document domain("")
{ {
                display: none !important;


You can do a lot more with Stylish, as it lets you edit any CSS that gets loaded into your browser. Check out for more examples, but if you’re handy with CSS you can write your own little snippets like this for all the web sites that you’d like to improve upon in your daily browsing.