Fake WiFi Sign

Much of my family belongs to a group that celebrates our German heritage and there’s a clubhouse on a lake that they spend time at during the summer. I’ve spent time there as well, starting when I was a child, and the place has the most basic amenities you need, but nothing fancy… there’s no TV or big stereo system, no video games or pinball… there’s not even an Internet connection, and most of all, there’s no WiFi. When you’re there it’s more about spending time with family and friends, being outdoors, on the lake, enjoying some downtime “off the grid” as it were.

So my cousin told me he wanted a (fake) sign to put on the wall advertising a non-existent WiFi network to trick people into trying to connect to it. I’m guessing he wanted to see the youth get excited and then frustrated, which is always a fun pastime for older people…

I liked his idea enough to kick out a quick design in Inkscape, load the SVG into LightBurn, and toss some 1/4″ Baltic Birch into the laser cutter to make one for him. I chose a Germanic looking font and the word “Gem├╝tlichkeit” which is a German word used to convey the idea of a state or feeling of warmth, friendliness, and good cheer. Which is great for a fake WiFi network password aimed at tricking people. It’s even got umlauts! Who chooses a WiFi password with umlauts in it!?

When I heard my cousin was moving out of state for a new job I decided I had to make two signs, one for the clubhouse and one he could take with him to his new home. I used two different techniques as well. The first was simple etched wood that I then sanded and covered with polyurethane, and the second was etched, then spray painted white for the etched letters, then rolled with black ink on the top surface, and finally covered with polyurethane.

I used enough polyurethane on the black and white version to pretty much fill in the etched part so it (almost) matches the top surface of the black part. Since I used oil-based polyurethane it also took on a yellowy tint, which I think worked well because it makes it look like other things on the wall which have probably been there for the last fifty years. I mean, what’s better than a really old looking fake WiFi sign for 2020?


Events on the Big Screen


When you enter Brinn Labs you are greeted by digital signage that shows (among other things) a calendar of upcoming events. There’s a TV with a Raspberry Pi attached running Screenly OSE. This is somewhat similar to the MMPIS I created at Milwaukee Makerspace.

Compared to the MMPIS doing this upcoming events list was quite a bit easier! For Milwaukee Makerspace the data is pulled from a Google Calendar and uses a hacked-up version of PHP iCalendar to do the heavy lifting. It works, almost always, and only occasionally breaks. I’ve got a few emails from people asking how I did it, and I’ve sent them files with a small write-up. For dealing with a Google Calendar, it works fine…

On the Brinn Labs web site we’re using The Events Calendar WordPress plugin, which exposes the upcoming events as an RSS feed. Well that’s easy!


Sitting on the server I’ve got a few files. A Perl script, which fetches and parses the RSS file, and an HTML-Template file, which the Perl script uses to make things look pretty. Oh, there’s also a background image, and the whole thing outputs a simple HTML file that Screenly then displays on the TV. Between the script and template there’s probably less than 75 lines of code. The script is set to run with a cron job and updates a few times an hour.


I’m pleased with the results, and not including the time it took me to run CPAN it was probably less than an hour to actually get it all working and looking nice. If you haven’t checked out the Brinn Labs events yet, take a look! I’ll be teaching classes there, and we’ve got an Open House set for March 1st, 2018.


3D Printer Malfunction

It has been __ days since the 3D printer had malfunctioned

I had a few responses to the new sign I made for the workshop. I cut some black vinyl to stick onto a piece of scrap white acrylic I had lying around.

It has been __ days since the 3D printer had malfunctioned

Of course more than one person joked that I could just permanently write a zero in place, or perhaps change the “days” to “hours” or even “minutes”.

If you want your own version, you can grab a file and have at it. Download an SVG, PDF, or DXF.


It’s a sign!

Milwaukee Makerspace Lighted Sign

Brant, the President of Milwaukee Makerspace, has a great saying:

“Perhaps we should solve it as all great problems are solved. With a sign.”

I don’t know if there was a problem, but I made a sign anyway.

Skugga Lamp

I started with this IKEA lamp known as the “Skugga” which I picked up at the Z2 Rummage Sale for 2 bucks…

But there is a bug in this sign! It seems to promote coffee, and I don’t drink coffee. That’s an easy one to fix, because… hackerspace.


I grabbed a copy of the (new!) Milwaukee Makerspace logo (thanks, Mike!) and did a bit of editing, and loaded it into the Silhouette Studio software so I could cut some vinyl.

Coffee? Yuk!

Luckily the coffee thing has a white piece of plastic behind it that will work perfectly for us… All we need to do is stick the vinyl to it.


The logo has some nice stitching around it, which can be troublesome when used at smaller sizes, and while some got pulled out of place during the cutting, it didn’t matter for this application since we were using the reverse. (If I’d wanted the positive, this would have been messy!)

Weedy Bits!

I used masking tape to pull up many of the tiny pieces. For the rest I used a sharp new X-ACTO knife. (I also stuck it right into my finger, because I miss being an undergrad in Graphic Design.)


I didn’t notice until later that I lost part of the “m”… oops! Well, vinyl can be that way sometimes. I could always cut a new “m” piece in the future.

Milwaukee Makerspace Lighted Sign

Milwaukee Makerspace Lighted Sign

Here’s our finished light-up sign, which now resides at Milwaukee Makerspace. I think I should have made the vinyl just a little bit smaller, but hey, it looks pretty good for a late-night, rush-job project.