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What You Need to Know!

    • Maker Faire Milwaukee will take place from 9am to 6pm on Saturday, September 24th, and 10am to 5pm on Sunday, September 25th.
    • Maker Faire Milwaukee is happening at Wisconsin State Fair Park, at the Wisconsin Expo Center Hall A and Hall B as well as various outdoor locations on the fairgrounds. (The best address for your GPS is: 8200 W Greenfield, West Allis, WI 53214.)
    • Maker Faire Milwaukee is a FREE event! (There will be some activities that have costs associated with them, but entrance is free.)
    • The Call for Makers has been extended! (Though we can no longer accept Commercial Makers.)
    • If you are definitely coming you should pre-register! This will save you time, and instead of waiting in line you can enjoy Maker Faire right away.
    • We’ve got a lot of Makers, so make a list of your favorites!



The Latest from the Blog

    Meet the Makers - Jess Holz

    Jess Holz

    Tell us about yourself?
    I’m an artist and a scientist - I’ve lived in both worlds, pursued each separately as well as finding some common ground in microscopy. Somehow these days I tend to end up with access to some fancy microscope, and feel compelled to explore the world with it, which can be tricky because a sort of personal exploration is not always in the realm of publishable scientific research. So I have to be careful to not hog the instrument for exploratory work. But I can create some meaning in these excursions by sharing them as art. I’m a photographer at heart, since I was small, and microscopes opened up a whole new world to explore.

    What are you presenting at Maker Faire Milwaukee?
    I am presenting “window into the cell”, a motorized representation of a biological cell, complete with jiggling proteins. It is meant to be a compliment to static textbook representations of cells, and give a sense of molecular crowding of the cytoplasm (I love molecular crowding and complexity!. Mostly it’s for fun - you press a button and the cell lights up, comes alive. It is based on an actual cross section of a cell I imaged with a scanning electron microscope (see image below). This image is a product of an accident - I mistakenly mounted the glass surface containing cells upside down onto the adhesive specimen holder. I immediately flipped it over and remounted it. Most of the cells were destroyed but this one just sort of got its top knicked off, revealing its dense cytoplasm crammed with proteins.

    Jess Holz

    What inspires you to make?
    Art is just something I just need to do. I can’t imagine not doing it. In my art practice I’m most interested in scientific visual culture - how scientific imagery affects how we think and how we dream. Some people are story collectors, I am an image collector - I see something interesting and just need to capture it, on camera or under the microscope. In terms of subject matter I have a lot of pictures of insects - I just love imaging bugs - exoskeletons are so ornate, and I’m just fascinated by their sensory systems.

    Why do you consider yourself a Maker?
    I’m relatively new to ‘making’, unless you consider photography making - I tended to shy away from power tools until more recently. But once you see the possibilities of making, there’s no turning back. It’s great to have this iota of control over consumerism, in the form of manufacturing some of your own stuff.

    I’m currently working on building a simple webcam microscope out of laser cut parts (the plans for which are readily available online, btw). I’ve focused too much on high end instruments which I would probably have to be an electrical engineer to even think about fixing, much less making one of my own - so now I’m trying to get more into the DIY spirit.

    Jess Holz

    Tell us about one of your failed projects?
    Much of my art comes out of failed and discarded science. For example I had a project which imaged the structure of a cell’s cytoskeleton using the scanning electron microscope. To actually see the cytoskeleton you have to do what’s called a detergent extraction of the membrane - basically washing away the membranes and intracellular proteins to see the underlying cytoskeleton. My project called for several such lengthy extraction protocols, to compare their efficacy. But I approached the experiments too much as an artist - too intuitively/passionately, kept changing things last minute, etc - and did not get good enough results to publish. I did however, get hundreds of images of cytoskeleton which I’ve recast as art images (see image above). Their details still fascinate me to this day. And these images have become part of my internal visual vocabulary which is very qualitative, I admit, but has informed later scientific decisions, as well as art. In short I learned a lot.

    For more info check out the 2016 profile page for Jess Holz.

    Read more...

    Meet the Makers - Milwaukee Blacksmith

    Milwaukee Blacksmith

    Tell us about yourself.
    We are a family owned and operated Blacksmith shop. My husband and four of our children work alongside us in the shop over hammer and anvil to create a variety of stock and custom items.

    What are you presenting at Maker Faire Milwaukee?
    We will be doing live demo of several items including how to make a Rubiks Cube Twist.

    Milwaukee Blacksmith

    What inspires you to make?
    An early love of this craft and it's history.... and the excitement of creating something unique.

    What tips or advice would you give to someone who wants to become a Maker?
    Always take the leap. There is no failure. You succeed or learn. Both of those are a win.

    If you could make one thing that would improve the world, what would it be?
    All of our products do improve the world 🙂

    Milwaukee Blacksmith

    For more info check out the 2016 profile page for Milwaukee Blacksmith.

    Read more...

    The Power Racing Series is Back! (Again!)

    Power Racing Series

    We're happy to announce that the Power Racing Series is back for 2016! If you're not familiar with the Power Racing Series, it's a challenge to build an electric vehicle (and race it) for under $500. You start with a kid-sized Power Wheels car that goes about 5mph per hour and you rebuild it into a lean, mean, racing machine capable of carrying one full-sized adult human at speeds up to 25mph! Along the way you'll have to make decisions about what to spend money on... do you want really good batteries and cheap tires, or a nice motor controller but under-powered motors? It's all a trade-off, and many times crazy solutions come into play.

    Power Racing Series

    While the series and the car building challenge is fun, there's also some serious engineering involved. Teams typically end up building a new frame, mounting motors, figuring out how steering works, and adding brakes that will pass the brake test for safety. (Don't worry, while it might sound a little dangerous, safety is taken very seriously, and all cars must pass a tech inspection and a brake test. All drivers must wear helmets, and there is no budget applied to safety items like an emergency stop mechanism that each car is required to have.)

    Power Racing Series

    None of the teams take things too seriously out on the track though, and you generally see people smiling and having a good time while doing laps in these tiny vehicles. Jim and Patrick from the Power Racing Series do a great job of calling the races and you pretty much feel like you're at a big-time auto race. Oh, and the cars tend to break. A lot. New teams often spend as much time in the pits as on the track. We've see wheels fall off and roll away, motors break loose from their mounts, and sometimes there's a stray chain or pool noodle on the track. It's all good.

    Power Racing Series

    We'll have a full race schedule at Maker Faire Milwaukee, with Saturday featuring qualifying laps and a Moxie skit, followed by two sprint races. (The Moxie skit forces allows teams to show off their cars and drivers in an attempt to impress the crowd for votes. Sometimes slower teams can win just by racking up Moxie points for the weekend.)

    On Sunday is a grueling 75 minute Endurance Race. The sprint races are typically less than 20 minutes, but the Endurance pushes these tiny cars to their limits. Often motors overheat, wires catch on fire, and tires blow out. Since many of the teams consist of people who like fixing things, this is all part of the fun.

    In the coming weeks we'll be highlighting some of the teams traveling to Milwaukee to race. Keep an eye on the blog!

    Read more...

    Meet the Makers - Jenny of Isthmus Instruments

    Isthmus Instruments

    Tell us about yourself.
    I grew up in Kentucky on a farm. When I was able, I spent all my available time outdoors. Primarily building tree-houses, boats, docks, swings, paintball courts and forts. When I was inside, I was building model airplanes or carving out of wood. Later I began playing musical instruments which funneled my building energy into music creation. I left KY to go to Northland College in Ashland, WI. After a number of jobs post college, I decided to make steps to return to what I always loved, building. What I do now is a synthesis of physical building and making music.

    What are you presenting at Maker Faire Milwaukee?
    I am presenting the steel instruments I build, under the name Isthmus Instruments. These instruments are a new (of the last decade) steel acoustic instrument. All instruments of this kind, (including their influence, the Caribbean Steel Pan or "Drum") that exist in the world today have been put "into tune" by a skilled human. The art of tuning steel spans only 50 some years at this point. I have spent the last 4.5 years developing my own process of building these instruments. I didn't learn from any one particular person or apprentice with anyone. I have had an opportunity to connect with other handpan makers in the world and share information, but even so, 90% of the progress I have made has really just been hours of grinding labor, background research and tons of trial and error.

    Isthmus Instruments

    What inspires you to make?
    I am inspired to make the things that fascinate me. If I am impressed by something, I want to learn about it. The best way for me to learn about things is by doing them in some way. Musical instruments fit this category, playing and building. I am also inspired by others and their creations. I love seeing what other people make. I love finding ideas I never would have had otherwise. The experiential journey of making is full of challenging experiences. Sometimes they expose more wonder than certainty however! I think makers get even better at making over time.

    What is something you've made that you are most proud of, and why?
    I am most proud of making musical instruments out of steel at this point. It has been the hardest thing I have ever tried to do. In the aspect of making a unique musical instrument, I have developed many of my own tools in the process. All tools have had multiple revisions themselves. For instruments, I have scrap pile over 50 pieces of steel which is more hours worth of work than I can count at this point.

    Why do you consider yourself a Maker?
    I actually think that we all, as people, are makers on the most fundamental level. Our very existence requires maintenance. And with our evolutionary advantage of a big brain, we have responded to the maintenance puzzle with creativity. What might distinguish one group of people as "Makers"? I think makers are the people who are willing to draw up their dream on a napkin, make up all the ways to get there, and in that process, re-draw that napkin picture ten times over. And just never stop that process, on a project small or large.

    Isthmus Instruments

    What tips or advice would you give to someone who wants to become a Maker?
    Don't wait to do what interests you. Most often making something new is not smooth or pretty. And you will probably have alot of failures along the way. But you might find your strengths and weaknesses along the way as well. And you will get better with time at the whole process.

    Tell us about one of your failed projects.
    I wanted to make my hand drill stationary in lateral and rotational movement when cutting holes in a steel surface. The wrong position of the blade could lead to binding, which felt like a potential threat to my wrist health. I modeled a press design after other stationary press versions I had seen, but mine needed to be MUCH bigger... When I put everything together, I realized I would need much more design stability, better materials & consistency to eliminate movement. I took the failed design down and re purposed the pieces for a rolling welding table out of other odds and ends. I lovingly call that failure design, franken-table.

    For more info check out the 2016 profile page for Isthmus Instruments.

    Read more...

    Join us for a Mini Nerdy Derby!

    Mini Nerdy Derby

    Our friends at American Science & Surplus will be hosting a Mini Nerdy Derby on Saturday, August 20, 2016 from 11am to 3pm, and we'll be there to help!

    What is a Nerdy Derby? It's like the Pinewood Derby, except instead of showing up with your car already built, we provide all the tools and materials to build a car, decorate it, and race it down the track. (There is a $2 fee per car to cover the cost of materials.)

    All participants are winners in our eyes and get to keep their cars, but the fastest running car will receive a $25 gift certificate from American Science & Surplus. Second and third place will each receive a $10 gift certificate from American Science & Surplus.

    American Science & Surplus is located at 6901 W Oklahoma Ave, Milwaukee, Wisconsin 53219. There's no registration needed, just show up and have a good time!

    Check out the Facebook event, maybe some of your friends will be there! And if you can't make it, then make plans to attend Maker Faire Milwaukee, where we'll be running the LARGE Nerdy Derby track. Same cars, same fun, bigger track!

    Big thanks to our friends at Milwaukee Makerspace for co-hosting this Mini Nerdy Derby event, and to Coex 3D Printing Filaments for the 3D printed derby car wheels.

    Read more...

There are only days until Maker Faire Milwaukee!