Category Archives: US

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!

Rebuilding The Kraken

"The Kraken" is one of Freeside's 3D printers, designed and built by a former member. It is the light blue printer sitting off to the side on most photos of our 3D printing zone - sadly, the machine has never printed quite right and it's been down for repairs more often than it's been usable. It's design had some major flaws, particularly in the frame that was fairly unstable. When it did print it would make great looking parts, but the bed leveling was fickle and imprecise. With the AO-100 and more recently the Mini, there wasn't a lot of reason for our members to use it.

So I decided to rectify that and rebuild it completely from the ground up into a RepRap "Wilson", a popular design reworked from the Prusa i3. I chose this particular build because there are a lot of information available and a great set of info and instructions on both the RepRap wiki page about it, and the github page for the parts. It's a well known RepRap and has been tried and true by a lot of people.

The other reason I chose it was because I could build the Wilson utilizing 100% of parts salvaged from the old Kraken. The goal for the rebuild was to recycle every nut and bolt and try to keep the total cost as close to zero as possible.

From start to finish, the rebuild took about 3 months working off and on a few hours a week. The initial tear down took a couple of hours at the end of November 2015, where everything was counted and bagged and boxed up. At that point I ordered some new ABS to print the frame parts, and a couple weeks printing things on both the Mini, and my personal 3D printers at home. In trying to keep with the look of the old machine, I printed in "Sky Blue" ABS. The final product is actually really nice to look at!

Rebuilding The Kraken

Rebuilding The Kraken

While I was in the process of building The Kraken, I decided to go ahead and build my own Wilson from parts from a failed RepRap build of my own last year. So in a lot of these photos you will see an identical looking black Wilson. For my own, I bought some "hidden" corner brackets to help with the structural rigidity of the machine, as well as some corner braces I had from my previous build attempt, and used the spares for The Kraken. I definitely recommend this for anyone building a Wilson as it greatly improves the strength of the frame.

Rebuilding The Kraken

Rebuilding The Kraken

Some time ago, The Kraken's original J-Head hotend was replaced with a Budaschnozzle 2.0, since that is what we already have installed on our LulzBot AO-100, and having the same hotends allows us to keep fewer type of replacement parts on hand. We bought a replacement PTFE tube to convert it from 1.75mm to 3mm filament to be consistent with our other 2 printers - again, so we don't have to keep two types of filament on hand - and the nozzle was cleaned of old filament. It was left soaking in acetone overnight, then scrubbed with a fine wire brush.

Rebuilding The Kraken

Rebuilding The Kraken

We bought a new aluminum Y carriage to replace the old acrylic one. The aluminum carriage is lighter and more sturdy than acrylic, which has a tendency to flex and torque, so the new design will be able to print at much higher speeds than before. We kept the same heated bed, but replaced the glass print surface with an aluminum plate covered in PEI. Aluminum is a good bed surface as it dissipates heat more evenly, but it also lets us install and use an inductive Z probe to auto bed tramming, a stand out feature of the Mini that I have since upgraded my own printers with.

Rebuilding The Kraken
Rebuilding The Kraken
The RAMPS board had to be modified as it was missing the + voltage for the endstops, which the inductive sensor needed. Once that was added, the board was installed and the wiring was quick. I used some left over cable management from my previous 3D printer builds as well as my personal Wilson to help keep all of the stray wires in check, which the old Kraken suffered from. I also replaced the old server PSU with a more common project PSU found in Freeside's obtanium.

Rebuilding The Kraken

The machine was upgraded to the latest version of Marlin and configured to use the auto bed tramming feature. There is still some fine tuning in the firmware to be done, but overall the printer is running great. I'm really looking forward to seeing projects from our members come off of the machine!


Wilson on Thingiverse
Build log for the Kraken rebuild
Inductive sensor Z probe
Aluminum plate print bed
0.03" PEI sheet print surface
3M adhesive sheet to adhere PEI to aluminum surface

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

TON Talk: March 1st with Erin Kennedy aka Robot Grrl

Join us this coming Tuesday, March 1st for a special presentation! Starts at 8 pm.


Erin “Robot Grrl” Kennedy is currently a Studio[Y] fellow at the MaRS Discovery District in Toronto. She is an avid robot maker. Her current project is Robot Missions, which aims to enable makers and humanitarians to collaborate on improving the environment with the use of a robot platform. She participated in Fab Academy 2015 where she prototyped unfolding CubeSat robots. She launched a kit named RoboBrrd for people to learn how to build a robot character. Erin is the host of the Robot Party, a Google+ Hangout where robot builders join internationally and show the robots they are working on. She was recognized as an Intel Emerging Young Entrepreneur and won a gold medal in the RoboGames, the robot olympics.
RoboBrrd didn’t start out as the chirpy character it is today. Almost like nature, it evolved through iterations and iterations. I’ll give a history of how RoboBrrd began as a popsicle stick robot, to what it became with a lot of help from the maker community. This involved learning circuit layout, having boards made, learning CAD and laser cutting designs.

Fast forward a bit, and I’ll share the robot creatures that followed (like BotBait), the adventures had through Fab Academy  and now what I’m currently working on as a part of Robot Missions while at Studio[Y] and MaRS.If you’re a maker working on a hobby project, but can’t really envision how it could become replicated for 100 other people, this talk will be helpful to you. If you enjoy robotic creatures and seeing ways that digital fabrication can be used, this talk will be enjoyable for you.


Wood milling demo at Belle Grey Farm

51HP of diesel powered, hydraulically controlled, wood milling goodness!

On January 16, 2016, Nova Labs members were treated to a wood milling demonstration at Belle Grey Farm in Upperville, VA. The 51HP diesel powered, hydraulically controlled portable saw mill ran through the wood with ease.

Members were shown how entire trees were rough cut down to boards. The boards were then put into a solar kiln to dry for at least several months and sometimes as much as several years. Once dried the boards make it to the shop where they are used to make equestrian jumps.

Check out our Facebook page to see a video of it in action!

Wood milling demo at Belle Grey FarmPosted by Nova Labs on Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Wood milling demo at Belle Grey Farm Wood milling demo at Belle Grey Farm Wood milling demo at Belle Grey Farm Wood milling demo at Belle Grey Farm Wood milling demo at Belle Grey Farm Wood milling demo at Belle Grey Farm Wood milling demo at Belle Grey Farm Wood milling demo at Belle Grey Farm Wood milling demo at Belle Grey Farm Wood milling demo at Belle Grey Farm Wood milling demo at Belle Grey Farm Wood milling demo at Belle Grey Farm Wood milling demo at Belle Grey Farm Wood milling demo at Belle Grey Farm Wood milling demo at Belle Grey Farm Wood milling demo at Belle Grey Farm Wood milling demo at Belle Grey Farm

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.

Collaboration with UAH Makers for “Make-a-thon” on 17 Feb 2016

ctag and I made an appearance at the Charger Union for the UAH MakersMake-a-thon event. We gave a brief talk/tutorial about Arduino basics to an audience of a couple dozen attendees, including both UAH students and non-UAH affiliates. We also discussed how to integrate Arduino and Raspberry Pi-based trinkets into larger projects, such as for robotics or automation – as well as just for fun. Here are some shots of the event, as well as our example trinkets and projects.

Collaboration with UAH Makers for “Make-a-thon” on 17 Feb 2016 Collaboration with UAH Makers for “Make-a-thon” on 17 Feb 2016 Collaboration with UAH Makers for “Make-a-thon” on 17 Feb 2016