Author Archives: Milwaukee Makerspace

Rube Goldberg DoorBell Lives

I finally got my rube goldberg doorbell into an installable state. On the left is the door button detector. It is an ESP8266 ESP-07 making use of the U.FL connector to allow the WiFi signal to punch through from my basement to the 2nd floor where the router is located. On the right is another ESP8266 and a doorbell transformer. Just barely peaking out from under that module is an actual doorbell.

A key aspect of the system is that the door button module doesn’t communicate directly with the door bell module. Both modules log into a Mosquitto MQTT broker. The button module “publishes” events on the MQTT topic of “DoorBell” and the bell module subscribes to the MQTT topic of DoorBell. Later, I can split the topic names and have something like OpenHAB conditionally copy events from one topic to the other depending on the time of day. OpenHAB can also translate MQTT events to a service like Notify My Android so that my phone buzzes in response to a door button push.

I am excited to install this at home and see how it does!

Kids Make the Darndest Things

Our maker world is full of dangerous things like power tools, computers, and stuff that blows up to make awesome projects; things that no child should be using (normally), but that does not need to stop your child from working on a project of their own.  Here we will see examples of young makers and projects that us, more experienced makers, can do with them.  After all kids can make the darndest things.

My list for amazing kids is long and at the top is my very own nephew, Nate.  Endlessly fascinated by science and the human body he, with some help from his father, has started a podcast.  At the mature age of 5 he is interviewing scientists from all over the country.  Covering topics from cell biology to Santa, this small scientist will knock your socks off.  Each episode ends with him telling his dad he can stop the recording now and it’s the most adorable thing ever.

The Show About Science

Follow Nate on twitter


A great way to get your young scientist started is in the kitchen.  Your kitchen is the lab you use every day to change the state of things from liquid to gas, and excite molecules in all sorts of ways.  If you’re like me, you’ll want to brush up on your own kitchen science with a few episodes of Alton Brown’s show “Good Eats“.  Once that is done grab your mini lab partner and get cooking.  Here is a link to some fun experiments to get you started.

Kitchen Experiments


Projects for young makers don’t have to stay confined to the kitchen.  From electronics to kite building there are lots of ways to keep them in the shop and away from the television.  The best way is to start with the basics and learning  the hand full of essential skills every maker needs.  Here are a few helpful links for you and your small maker.

Skills Every Young Maker Needs

Projects for Young Makers


So get out there fellow makers and help make the next generation great while making great memories!

Maker Inspiration

Thinking about starting a new project?  Your going to need some motivation and inspiration to get started.  The problem is that the internet is a big place, and often makers ask where is a good site to find fun projects and inspiration.  These are a few of the spots I use regularly to find new approaches and techniques for my next project.  Everything from step by step guides which get the maker-juices flowing to TED talks that get me thinking different.

Make Magazine:

First lets talk about the elephant in the room; one of the largest resources for makers everywhere is Make magazine, which has been publishing articles in print and digital form since 2005. This gives them a solid name (and market) in the world of Making. Covering everything from wood working to Arduino programming you will find plenty of projects that will take you down the make-rabbit hole.  Their step by step guides are easy to follow and well written; including parts and tool lists to make sure you finish with something to show off to your friends and family.



The nerd in me can’t write about maker project inspiration with out talking about Adafruit.  Adafruit is a distributor and creator of all things ardino and raspberry pi.  Not only can you find just about any component for your breadboard but they will also show you how to get started.  Learn.adafruit is full of videos and step by step guides to teach you how to add bluetooth, LED’s and more to your next build- big or small.  Each tutorial features links to parts right on one page, so getting started is easy.

Maker Inspiration



I consider my self to be an avid pinner.  It’s rare that I start or finish a project with out a few hours on Pinterest.  There is almost nothing you can’t find after using their search feature; amazing design and ingenuous engineering will quickly fill your pinning feed with tons of ideas.  The downside is that you will find less step by step guides and more general inspiration, though some pins will take you to the sites with simple to detailed directions – so clicking the link may be worth a try.  Woodturning, Metal Casting, and paper crafts are just some of the things you will find to get you started.

Maker Inspiration



There are countless podcasts about making things, some good and some dismal; however at the top of my list is a podcast on the TWIT network called “Know How”.  The two hosts are great and the production quality is second to none.  It’s more like a show on network television than a show you watch on your mobil device. You would be a ‘twit’ not to check them out when looking for inspiration.

Maker Inspiration

Meet Joe

Last month we started a maker profile video series; we began with our very own industrial furniture maker Joe.  As a member, Joe, has made some amazing furniture using reclaimed parts from industrial machines.  One person’s trash is this maker’s treasure and he has found some gems.  These images are just a few pieces of Joe’s amazing work.  From end tables made with old gears to dinning tables made from a bowling alley, he has it all. Meet Joe Meet JoeMeet Joe Meet Joe

Meet JoeMeet Joe Meet Joe

Making a Welder

Welding SlowMo

What does it take to make a welder?  One Marc and space for lots of practice.  Thankfully we have both of those things at Milwaukee Makerspace.  I have seen few people give of them selfs as freely as our resident welding expert Marc.  Over the past weeks he has been teaching classes covering theory, safety, and of course hands on MIG welding.  There is still time to level up your skills so be sure to sign up for a class on the google group here.

Yes, we have Daleks…

Daleks, you say? Yes, we have Daleks.

The folks at Milwaukee Record have revealed our plans to have the “Most Amount of Daleks Assembled in One Place at One Time”, or something like that.

John and his gang at Dalek Asylum Milwaukee have been hard at work learning new skills to build out their Dalek army, and it’s been impressive to watch!

I’m hoping to see all these Daleks at Maker Faire Milwaukee, which is happening September 24th & 25th, 2016 at State Faire Park.

Drive Time!

A few of us have been working on a project each Tuesday night which involves dismantling old hard drives.

What do you get from an old hard drive? We’re saving the cases for an Aluminum pour at Maker Faire Milwaukee, the motors are super-fast and super-quiet, there are some tiny bearings we might use, and there are powerful magnets, some of which we’ve used to hold tools to the wall in the past, and finally, those shiny, shiny platters!

Drive Time!

Drive Time!

Drive Time!

We’ve got a stack of about 80 platters, with more coming. If you’re wondering what we’re going to do with all the platters, well… yeah, some sort of project for Maker Faire. That’s all I can reveal right now. :)

Goodbye, Matsuura…

Milwaukee Makerspace has a lot of equipment, and sometimes we get things that don’t quite work, and we try hard to get them working. We often succeed, but sometimes we decide it’s better to move on…

With that said, we’re looking to sell our Matsuura RA1F Vertical Machining Center, which is known as the “Red Dragon”.

It’s not currently running, but it was working months ago. Ultimately we decided that it would take too much work to get it into good shape for a makerspace, so selling it off as a whole, or in parts, will help fund a new CNC milling machine which is smaller and more suited to our needs.

Goodbye, Matsuura…

If you’ve never used a VMC this probably isn’t for you, but if you really want a challenge, or want it for parts (and there are some very expensive parts in it) you might get a nice deal. Maybe you’ve already got one and need spare components? Perfect!

You can check out the notes we’ve made about the Red Dragon over on our Matsuura wiki page. If you’ve got questions, post a comment or get in touch with us.

Goodbye, Matsuura…

Screen Printing? We do that too…

After having many people ask about the screen printing machine, I figured I should do a demo, which turned into a class, and a few members got to learn a lot about screen printing, and how they can use the vinyl cutter to prep screens for printing.

I’ve got a post on my own blog about the demo, but I figured I’d add a photo of some of the results. Above is a shirt printed by one of our members, and below is a poster I printed for our “Wall of Stuff” in the lobby.

If you’re interested in screen printing, just get in touch with me, and I’ll share what I know.

Screen Printing? We do that too…

Random Pattern Cutting Board

What started as an attempt to make a brick pattern cutting board, ended up as a “random” pattern with curly cherry ends. The side grain board consists of walnut, cherry, and maple.

The process started by gluing a sandwich of (2) pieces of roughly 3/4″ walnut for every 1/4″ of maple of cherry or maple. One of the ends only received only one piece of walnut.

Random Pattern Cutting Board

The assembly was un-clamped and ripped into (4) pieces using the table saw. They pieces were glued together again with another piece of cherry or maple in the middle. The side with (1) walnut was flipped in each column to create an brick and mortar like offset pattern.

Random Pattern Cutting Board

I added curly cherry ends to increase the size of the board. These ends are face grain instead of side but since they won’t be seeing the knife much, it shouldn’t be an issue. A healthy dose of drum and random orbital sander was subsequently applied.

Random Pattern Cutting Board

The board was soaked in mineral oil for (6) hours and finished with a beeswax and mineral oil mix.

Random Pattern Cutting Board