Well, folks… I’m quite pleased to announce, it’s time for a change!
In December of 1993 I graduated from UWM with a BFA in Graphic Design. Now, nearly 21 years later, I’m returning. I’ll be pursuing a Masters of Fine Arts in a new program focused on Digital Fabrication and Design at UW-Milwaukee’s Peck School of the Arts. Yes, I’m going to Graduate School.
I’ve had quite a bit of variety in the last two decades of my career, and the list of things I’ve done is getting lengthy, including design, software & web development, project management, photography, video, and audio production, system administration, model/actor, prop maker, technical editor, communications director, product development, writer, robot builder, race car driver… (OK, that last one is only slightly true.)
The one thing I’ve been surprised by when telling people about this change is that nearly everyone has been extremely supportive and excited about it. Their excitement may be due to my own excitement being reflected back, but I’ll take it!
Anyway, you can expect more changes in the coming months, but I’m pretty sure that no matter what the change brings, it’ll be exciting.
“You’ve got to find what you love. And that is as true for your work as it is for your lovers. Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it. Don’t settle.”
We’re planning a Nerdy Derby event at Maker Faire Milwaukee, and like last year, I wanted to 3D print a bunch of wheels, and yes, it is fun designing strange wheels. Most of my designs this year are refinements from last year, and I wish 3D printing were as simple as hitting “print” and walking away, but that’s not always the case.
I found that if I printed one object, it worked fine. If I tried multiple objects, things were failing, either with one or more objects, or everything. I’d try to print two wheels at once, and one would work, the other would fail. Slic3r allows you to generate the G-Code needed to print files, and has an option to print multiple objects, either by printing them all at once, or one at a time. Both of those options just weren’t working for me, for whatever reason. (My 3D printer is a RepRap I built myself, and yes, it has issues now and then.)
But you know the old saying… if you can’t fix it in hardware, fix it in software! So I did… You’ll notice that the image above shows four wheels with a small square connecting them. I ended up pulling an STL file into OpenSCAD (my favorite 3D modeling application) and then duplicating it four times and adding a small 1mm tall square between them to connect it all into what the printer would see as one single object.
It worked! I’m now seeing much more success with printing, and getting sets of 4 wheels connected with a thin piece of plastic that’s easy to remove. Oh, I should also mention that our friends at Inventables were kind enough to donate some filament to this cause, so if you have fun building a car with 3D printed wheels at Maker Faire, be sure to stop by the Inventables booth and thank them for making it happen.
(BTW, MegaMag is printing way more wheels than I am, and going 40-Up!)
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!
Much has been written about the death of Robin Williams this week, and much more will be said in the days to come, but after reading Robin Williams and Why Funny People Kill Themselves, I don’t know that I want to read any more…
In June we hit up Kansas City, but everyone knows that July means Maker Faire Detroit, and the craziest Power Racing Series event of the year, pulling teams from the Midwest and East Coast (and even NIMBY from the West Coast joined us this time!)
It was definitely crazy, with eighteen cars we ended up splitting one of the races into two heats, one for “fast” cars and one for “slower” cars. (And hey, Audrey drove Lotusaurus Wrecks to victory for Milwaukee Makerspace in the slow race!)
Once again I did a lot of filming during the event, and this time had three GoPro cameras in place. Here’s the official #PPPRS video:
But wait! There’s more! There’s a YouTube playlist titled Power Racing Series – Detroit 2014 with nearly 40 videos of the action. I’ve still got a lot of uploading to do, including more Moxie skits, but it should keep you busy for a while.
There are still a few more races this season, including Fort Wayne, Indiana, New York City, and even something in Milwaukee, Wisconsin! I’ll be at that last one, as it’s five miles from my house, though I’m not sure about the other two… If anyone wants to sponsor me to attend a Maker Faire, let me know!
Disclaimer: I’m not really much of a car guy. I mean, I own a car, but I’ve never been into repair and maintenance of them. Probably because when I was in high school there were “gearheads” (people totally into cars) and I just didn’t get it. I’ve mostly considered cars as a means to get from point A to point B. I’m more concerned about being able to haul things than I am about doing it in some super-powerful manner or even looking going doing it.
While I’m still not really into “regular” cars, I’ve had a good time being involved with the Power Racing Series, where we modify children’s toys and race them. Milwaukee has had a team since the start, and I’ve been involved for three seasons now. It really is a combination of serious fun and serious engineering, and if there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that repairing a car body by drilling holes in the plastic and connecting pieces with zip ties is the right way to do it.
Yup, totally serious. That’s how I repaired my wife’s car this past weekend. Drilled holes, connecting pieces with zip ties. Done. (And yeah, this isn’t the first time I’ve repaired this car with zip ties!)
Of course Madison already has Sector67, so why would it need another space? I had my own ideas about this, but inevitably people started asking me before I got the inside scoop, so I got in touch with Karen and John at The Bodgery and discussed the need for another Madison space. It was pretty much as I assumed; different spaces cater to different audiences. A space (just like a company or any organization) will have a specific culture, a vibe, and a way of doing things that might not work for everyone. I don’t think anyone involved with Sector67 or The Bodgery is concerned, in fact, I think that everyone involved is pleased to see the Maker Movement growing, and the need for another space in Madison.
Right now Milwaukee Makerspace has approximately 170 members, and there’s a projection that we may hit 200 later this year. That may or may not happen, but my own prediction is that there will be a second space, completely separate from Milwaukee Makerspace, within the next 18 months. (I could be totally wrong on this, time will tell.)
In the meantime, I’ve been tracking other Wisconsin spaces on the wiki, and while a new one gets added now and then, we’ve also seen a few disappear in the last 12 months.
Back to The Bodgery… I’ve not yet had the chance to visit, but I do keep up with their antics on Facebook. If you’re in Madison, go check it out! I know for a fact that there are some awesome and friendly people there who are excited about sharing the love of making.
Saturday night I got a text message from someone at CBS58 telling me that Brett Wiesner had died, and asking if they could use one of my photographs for a news story. The news was shocking, to say the least, but I immediately gave permission to use any photos I’d taken. My wife and I were driving through Bay View at the time (I was the passenger) and I thought about what photo was being referenced, and then checked Flickr, and informed my wife that she too was in the photo. It freaked her out a bit (she was a big fan of Brett’s) but I told her they would probably crop her out. (They didn’t, which made it all the more weird when we watched the news.)
I didn’t know Brett very well, but did work with the Milwaukee Wave for years while z2 was doing all the marketing and photography for the team, and he seemed like a great guy, so the news of his death is even more saddening.
Last year we did a little Power Racing Series event in Fort Wayne, and at the last minute I was asked to do the filming. Fort Wayne was fairly laid back as compared to some of the other bigger events, but it was a ton of fun. I handed all the footage to Jim at PPPRS and the video turned out good (check it out!)
This year my services were requested again, and I had a bit more time to prepare. Once again, Jim kicked this out pretty quickly, especially considering I handed him about 50GB of footage. (I had a total of five cameras running during some of the races.)
Chances are good I’ll be shooting again in Detroit at the end of the month, and there’s a chance I’ll be shooting in New York in September. If you see a guy laying on the tires with a camera, that’s probably me. (And yeah, I’ll get around to doing my own edit at some point!)
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 makerfairemilwaukee.com 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…)
The Day of Making is upon us! Help me celebrate June 18th (which also happens to be my birthday) by pledging to not just make things, but help others make things. Pledge to share your knowledge with others, to help make the world a better place.
Start a new project, finish an old project, tell others about a project… Don’t sit idly by consuming when you could be creating. Check out the Make: Projects site, or Instructables, or Hackaday Projects.
Being a maker, creative, designer, artist, whatever, you may tend to have a different perspective on things. When I moved to designing things with a computer (instead of on paper) over 20 years ago, I still wanted to have things on paper, so printing things made sense. I used to go to service bureaus to have nice prints made, and eventually I got a good (enough) printer at home that allowed me to design and print all on my own.
The first night I ever got hands-on with a 3D printer, my questions were about designing things with it. and I used software to design something and then we printed it. This, I believe, is the maker way. Now, contrasting this with selling points of the New Matter MOD-t, which is (of course) “a 3D printer for everyone”, I have to wonder if 3D printing really is for everyone…
Maybe it makes sense, as 3D printing is definitely a disruptive technology, but I often think that there’s a lot of hype. Here’s what they say:
What if you could send a physical object to a friend like a text message? What if you could subscribe to a series of objects like you do with a podcast? What if adjusting a 3D model was as easy as Instagramming a photo?
Wow, that would be awesome to come home and see my printer has yet another whistle sitting on it. (Kidding!) But really, subscribe to a series of objects? Instagramming an object? These are all things that have more to do with software and distribution than with 3D printing. In fact, you can (sort of) do all those things now. I’m wondering if the “Consumer” 3D printer will be like the inkjet printers we have today. Just sort of “there” and not something people think much about.
Remember Gutenberg, the dude who introduced printing to Europe?
…the arrival of mechanical movable type printing introduced the era of mass communication which permanently altered the structure of society. The relatively unrestricted circulation of information — including revolutionary ideas — transcended borders, captured the masses in the Reformation and threatened the power of political and religious authorities…
That’s some revolutionary stuff, there! In fact, it sounds a little like the Internet. Sure, people may tell you that the Internet is for cat videos and to see where your friends are currently getting drunk, but that’s the silly stuff. There’s some big-picture things that you may not be aware of if you missed the early years of the web (1994 to 2004).
I see the power of 3D printing for creative people first, for those who have ideas about creating things, and improving things, and changing lives, and yes, eventually it’ll become mainstream and some stupid person will send someone a 3D model of their genitalia so they can 3D print it, you know, just like a text message.
Recently Steve asked about my setup for the photos I take. So I thought I’d show a few behind the scenes shots.
The setup consists of a table with a white sweep. There’s a roll of white paper held up by a few pieces of wood and a length of PVC pipe. This lets me unroll the paper to replace it as it gets dirty and worn out. A few spring clamps hold the paper in place at the edge of the table.
The camera sits on a tripod and there are two light stands with flashes and umbrellas. The flashes are old, and fully manual. One of them does have a dial to adjust the intensity, but the other does not. I end up moving them closer or farther a lot to adjust the light. The stands make it easy to move them around and raise and lower them. (There’s also some sandbags holding them stands steady.)
The flashes are fired by a set of wireless triggers, and even though I’ve had them for years, I’ve rarely had to replace the batteries. The flashes are a different story. I’ve got a set of 12 Sanyo eneloop rechargeable batteries and two chargers. Each flash takes 4 batteries and they tend to eat through them pretty quickly!
I shoot with a white background most of the time, but if I need black I’ll toss down some black fabric, or more likely, a piece of black posterboard. I’ve also been known to use hot pink posterboard, or yellow, or blue, or whatever I pick up at the dollar store.
I’ve got a few folding reflectors as well, but often I’ll just grab a piece of white foamcore board to use as a reflector. (Cheap foamcore is also available at the dollar store, though I tend to use the better stuff from a real art supply store)
I also shoot RAW images, which gives you a lot of room to adjust things when processing the images. Oh, and right now I’m shooting with a Nikon D3200, and for lenses there’s a Nikon 50mm f/1.8 and a Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8 that tend to get used the most.
That’s the basic setup. Any other questions?
About a month ago Bryan Cera invited me to print a copy of Marcel Duchamp’s favorite hand-carved chess set. The set had been lost to the ages, but he and Scott Kildall have resurrected it. It sounded like a fun project and it’s always interesting to collaborate with people I admire.
Scott mentioned that I had a unique method of printing the pieces in parts and reassembled them in his post about the materiality of the project. I also painted my set with metallic silver paint to give it a unique look.
Anyway, my set is finally done, and I finally took photos, which you can see here. I actually spent a fair amount of time trying to replicate the shot of the original Duchamp set, getting the spacing and angles right, matching the lighting, and it’s close, but not exact. (See the top photo to compare.)
Of course some of the shots I did were just because I wanted to experiment. The hot pink, and to some degree the black, show the reflective quality of the pieces, which is pretty neat.
(You can view high resolution versions of each shot on Flickr, just click on the photos above.)
There’s a great post by Cameron Moll on Medium titled The Economics of a Kickstarter Project (or How Much I Didn’t Make) which breaks down the numbers and offers some good advice for would-be crowd-funders.
I don’t know much about Cameron, and I won’t speak ill of him or his abilities, in fact, I love the Brooklyn Bridge piece he created, but I’ve worked in the creative industry (and the print industry) long enough to understand the importance of proofing things. Oh, I call it “proofing” but Proofreading is the more correct term.
About 20 years ago I worked for the creative division of a printing company, and I just happened to be tagging along to a press check with an account executive and they thought I’d like that the brochure being printed had a domain name on it. (Hey, it was the late 1990s!) When I pointed out that the domain name being printed was not one the company owned, there was quite a bit of commotion. There may have been some swearing and yelling as well. (Note: printing ink on paper is often very expensive!)
Over the years I’ve seen time and time again that making mistakes in print is a sure way to lose money. Indeed, had Cameron hired someone to proof his work, and even if he paid them $1000, he would have doubled the amount he had left at the end of his campaign had the proofer caught his mistake.
Proofing is not the same as “checking you work” because you are often blind to your own mistakes. You need another pair of eyes, hopefully a well-trained pair of eyes, to see the things you can’t see. (I’ve seen artists get so obsessed with the details of the type they are designing that they spell their own names wrong!)
Don’t take this post to say I don’t make mistakes, I make plenty of them! I make spelling mistakes and grammar mistakes, though they typically aren’t in print. I made one earlier today on a Facebook post, and one of my coworkers caught it for me. That’s how it works. You can’t do it alone.
Note: I’m currently working as a Technical Editor for a book that should be out this summer. If you enjoyed the previous book I worked on, I think you’ll like this one too. If you need a Technical Editor, get in touch with me.
I’m posting this because someone asked for it, and I aim to please… Here’s the Banana Pong code. I used code someone else wrote to bootstrap this thing, but there was no comment about who wrote it, and I didn’t make record of where I grabbed it, so… no attribution. Sorry! If it’s your code, let me know.
Have fun playing Banana Pong with your MaKey MaKey!
Note: The first ZIP file is the Processing source code. The second is a Mac OS X application. Since Processing has changed how it exports applications I can’t easily create versions for Windows and Linux like I did for the Apple Piano code. So if you want a Windows or Linux standalone version, you’ll need to grab the code and do it yourself. It should serve as a good starting point.
There’s a number of so-called “3D Printing Pens” on the market now, or coming soon, though in reality I think they should be called “3D Drawing Pens”. I mean, you don’t have a “2D Printing Pen” do you? Pens are for drawing, they are not printers that print.
I know a lot of people are excited about these things, thinking it’s the cheapest way to get into 3D Printing (if they work) because you’ve probably seed some amazing photos of things people are creating with these things…
Well, here’s my thought on these pens:
If you’re terrible at drawing in two dimensions, you’re probably going to be terrible at drawing in three dimensions.
Yeah, if you’re a skilled artist who knows how to work a pen, you might make some awesome things. That’s how art works, but don’t expect to pick one of these up and create a masterpiece the first time.
That said, I do think these “3D Drawing Pens” are interesting, and I look forward to see where they go, and I await an open hardware version.
Teensy is teensy
For the past few years I’ve been building devices that can emulate computer keyboards. Typically I’ve used the Teensy microcontrollers for this along with the Arduino IDE and the Teensyduino add-on. The things you can do with a Teensy to emulate a keyboard are very impressive! Basically, it’s the best way I know of to create your own custom USB keyboard.
Size matters – A-Star with Arduino Micro and Leonardo
When the Arduino Leonardo was introduced, one of the features I was interested in was the ability to emulate a USB keyboard. I never actually got a Leonardo to test this with, mainly because the form factor was too large for my projects. Sometimes shield compatibility is good, sometimes the smallest board wins.
There may be a little bit of work involved in getting the A-Star up and running. There are drivers needed if using Windows, and (supposedly) a little more work to get things going with Linux. I had no issues with Mac OS X, but I’m pretty familiar with add-ons for the Arduino IDE due to using Teensyduino. You can also just pretend this is an Arduino Leonardo and that seems to work fine.
(I also can’t tell if the Pololu A-Star 32U4 Micro is open source hardware. They do have a bunch of files available, but I did not see an explicit “Open Hardware” note anywhere. It’s worth mentioning that the Teensy is not open source hardware. If that’s not a big deal to you, then it’s not a big deal to you. The official Arduino hardware is of course, open source.)
I’ll probably keep experimenting with the Pololu A-Star as a keyboard emulator for simple things, and stick with the Teensy for more complex things. I’ve also heard that the Teensy 2.0 will disappear in the future, which isn’t a huge deal, as the Teensy 3.1 is a big improvement over it, but the 3.1 does cost a bit more than the 2.0, so that’s one factor to consider when evaluating which board to use.
Have fun building your own keyboard!
Update #1: I’ve been talking to Pololu and they suggested the A-Star may actually be able to use the Teensyduino Keyboard libraries. I’m awaiting more info on this, as it would be an exciting development.
Update #2: It looks like the Teensyduino Keyboard libraries cannot be installed onto the A-Star, which is good to know. But don’t worry, I’ll be using the A-Star for some future projects anyway. ;)
Recently my pal Bryan Cera posted about resurrecting Marcel Duchamp’s hand-carved chess set, which is a project he’s working on with Scott Kildall.
Bryan shot me an email and asked if I’d be interested in printing a set as well. To be honest, most of the stuff I print on my RepRap is meant to be functional parts, and they typically don’t turn out pretty, but hey, I’m an art lover, and I like collaborative projects.
Bryan mentioned that the set should be printable even on a “homebrew” 3D printer, but personally, I hate printing with support, so I try to not use it. I took the pawn and split it in half and then printed it and glued it together with a bit of Acetone.
Oh, I also painted the pawn with metallic silver paint. You can see that this is not a super-high quality print, but I’m OK with that. I sort of like the way the lines appear on this piece.
I also printed the rook. I split this one by removing the top for printing and then reattaching it.
I did the same with the bishop, and will probably do this with the rest of the pieces (and maybe re-do the pawn this way, or maybe do the opposite and re-do all the pieces the same way I did the pawn!)
Here’s the bishop being assembled. Acetone melts the plastic, so I just dabbed a bit onto the two surfaces and then hold things together for a few hours with some rubber bands. (Luckily the bishop has a rubber band-holding slot!)
It’s been a fun project so far, and the only reason I’ve not finished the entire set is that I’ve been traveling for work the last few weeks. Once I’ve got all the pieces, I’ll capture some nice images of the set.
And yes, the knight is going to be a fun challenge!