Mike Putnam

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Milwaukee Makerspace Grand Opening Road Trip

My family and I, along with a delegation of people from the Distributed Hacker/Maker Network, attended the grand opening of the Milwaukee Makerspace on 4/9/2011. Hundreds of people were in attendance checking out the space and the mini Maker Fair.

We just missed the the Powerwheels race, but heard it was a hoot — grown adults racing modified children’s toys is generally a good time in my opinion. Upon entering the building, the height of the working space immediately conveys how easily a trebuchet or catapult could be built in the large bay. Lots and lots of headroom. At the registration table we were greeted cheerfully and handed the release form to fill out. I grabbed a Milwaukee Makerspace bumpersticker and bought a t-shirt.

First table was the biodiesel demonstration. Large vats, barrels, and beakers were visible as a gentleman explained the basic process of creating biodiesel.

Near by, people were attempting to stump the makers by showing odd tools/parts/miscellany and having the makers guess what it was. The audience member won a t-shirt if they were successful in flummoxing the makers.

Next up was a table with an enthusiastic man answering questions about making/owning/using a homebuilt electric car.

A table containing Sumobots, three-toed Converse, and a MakerBot stood nearby.

Set back a bit was the circuit-bending music/instrument table. I spent a lot of time there messing with knobs and switches as Matt worked the mixer volumes to normalize the overall experience for (in)voluntary listeners :)

In front of that was Pete and the DrawBot, EggBot, Twitter Monkey, and paper towel tube nun-chucks.

To the right sat an array of interesting clocks and devices.

Back in the machine room there were of course machines. Lathes, mills, drill presses, homemade cnc!, and all manners of large fabrication devices. For fun there was a pinball machine and a mystical portal from which you could peer into the simultaneously occurring Minne-Faire II in Minnesota.

The library housed a build-a-blinker class led by Royce where participants built an LED blinker from five components and some mad soldering skills.

Everyone I encountered, Milwaukee Makerspace member or not, was very friendly and enthusiastic about being creative. It’s days/events/places/people like this that make me happy to live in and be a part of Wisconsin.

Mike Putnam

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