TC Maker Resolves to Build Rapid Prototyper

July 23rd, 2009 by wammie

At this week’s business meeting, Twin Cities Maker members decided to work together to create a rapid prototyping machine, inspired by the famous RepRap!

We plan to start with the basic specs of the RepRap, but probably expand on the idea to make a sturdier, more versatile machine.

As our group is still collecting funds for a space, we’re looking for people to donate time and spare materials to build this baby! Please join our forum discussion to participate or watch the development!


Art Car/Bike/Boat Parade this Saturday, Lake Harriet

July 21st, 2009 by uptownmaker

art car logo
This year, the annual circum-lake art car parade is “cancelled” because they were unable to afford a parade permit.

HOWEVER, this Saturday, an art car cruise around Lake Harriet will be taking place, followed by music at the Bandshell.

For more info, visit their website, and if you can make it on Saturday, show up to support some very cool folks who’ve made some very cool things!

Business Meeting Wed 22 July, 7 p.m.

July 20th, 2009 by uptownmaker


This time, at Common Roots in the back room.


  • Meeting frequency
  • Maker Faire progress
  • New Secretary
  • Potluck
  • Clothesline races
  • AOB

Any and all welcome!

A TC Maker’s Sea Cow Brings Smiles at Milk Carton Boat Races

July 19th, 2009 by wammie

Today at Lake Calhoun “Bessie the Sea Cow” left a wake of giddy smiles at the famous Minneapolis Aquatennial Milk Carton Boat Races.

Bessie was built by a Twin Cities Maker (“Judeling” on the forum) over a three week period in his spare time. She was a marvelously unique creature with kick paddle propulsion and a long tail for steering. Her body was sculpted from chicken wire and covered with scalloped scales cut from white one gallon milk cartons.

Though Bessie finished last in her race, moving at a Sea Cow’s pace, she did complete the course! During her run she ran into a mass of weeds, bringing her to a prolonged standstill. She overcame her grazing temptations though and paddled on to greatness.

Alas, Bessie met her end in the belly of a larger beast, a city garbage truck. She was decapitated before her demise, however, and her memories live on!

See more photos of the Milk Carton Boat Races at the Aquatennial’s Photo Gallery and read more about the Bessie project in our forum post.

Art of Sound Contest at

July 17th, 2009 by wammie

The Art of Sound Contest submission period continues until July 26 over at! If you’ve got an original sound-related project to share, there are only a few more days left to submit your instructable. Beware, the competition is “audacious!”

This contest is open to any project that creates something beautiful with or around sound. Whether you’re into homemade/modified instruments, circuit-bending, speakers, sound activation, or anything else, this contest is for you. Simply create, modify, actuate, craft, decorate, enhance, display, amplify, or visualize sound, and tell us how and why you did it. It can be your take on a classic project, or something entirely new and unique – it’s up to you!

Now show us your original instrument, your tricked-out subwoofer, or your sound-responsive wall of LEDs! Be thorough, and document your project well so others can follow in your footsteps. Share your skills and experience to help inspire others, expand the possibilities of both sound and art, and win some fabulous prizes!

18 Essential Skills for Makers

July 13th, 2009 by uptownmaker

The guts!!!

Shamelessly stealing the “Essential Skills List” format from @AntonOlsen at GeekDad, I wrote a post to my blog about essential skills for makers.

His list was a little long (100 items), terse (essentially one line per item, but with links), and slightly biased (heavier on computers than I might have liked, but to be fair, that is the most common geek fetish). I’m going to go for a shorter list, with slightly more verbose entries, and try to cast a wider net. If I get interest from this list, I’ll follow up with an article on each point going into more detail.

1. Calculate power consumption and estimate battery life- Most electrical projects will involve batteries of some sort. Having an idea of how long your project will run on a battery can save you a lot of trouble later- that wireless garden soil moisture monitor is probably not going to run very long on a 9V battery. Maybe solar is a better idea?

2. Spot valuable salvage- Not only knowing where to get it, but knowing it when you see it. Finding it isn’t too hard- curbs, alleys, and the classic dumpster dive. Deciding whether to keep it is the real trick: can it be broken down? Are there useful things inside (gears, motors, electronics, hardware, salvageable wood, springs, etc.)? Is trying to salvage parts of it a wise thing to do (upholstered items left outside are a great way to get bedbugs into your home)?

3. Spot eminently hackable, cheap Chinese crap- The glut of crap from China occasionally brings some real gems with it. recently sold some rotating LED-based “police lights” for $3, which connect to USB and can be turned on and off by pressing a key on the keyboard.

4. Find “prior art”- In the patent world, “prior art” is anything which suggests that the idea you are trying to patent (or have patented) was developed or described by someone else first. The existence of prior art can break a patent. In the Maker world, prior art is a springboard. Someone, somewhere on the internet did (or tried to do) what you are trying to do. They may even be selling bits of the project which may make showstopping technical challenges mere speedbumps.

5. Stitch a simple and serviceable seam- We’re not talking about making your daughter’s prom dress, here- just being able to neatly and durably reclose the seam on the Furby you just hacked into reciting the Vincent Price speech from “Thriller”.

6. Understand the voltage/current ratings on a power supply- If a battery won’t cut it, you should understand at least the rudiments of power supplies: how to get a cheap wall-wart AC adapter, what voltage you can use, and why it’s okay to use a 500mA supply to replace a 250mA supply.

7. Know which glue to use, when- Elmer’s white, spray mount, Uhu glue sticks, JB Weld, cyanoacrylate, and two-part epoxy all have their uses.

8. Know which tape to use, when- Duct, masking, Scotch, foam-two-sided, and (occasionally) electrical tape all have their uses.

9. Deal with recalcitrant fasteners- Sooner or later, you’ll want to remove a screw or bolt that is stripped, broken, or uses a security bit. Owning a wide variety of driver bits is a start, but knowing how to drill out a fastener or cut a notch for a flat-edge screwdriver should be somewhere in your bag of tricks.

10. Use a Dremel- ’nuff said.

11. Find the parts you can’t salvage- Locally or over the internet. You should know where local shops are that sell things like nuts and bolts by the pound, simple electronics (resistors, soldering tools, protoboard, etc.)(RadioShack is a poor choice for this, if it can be helped), fabric, paper, artist’s supplies, wood, hobbyist tools and toys. You should also be familiar with,,,,,, and, just to name a few.

12. Identify electronics in the zone between too-hot and smoking by smell- When you smell the smoke, it’s too late.

13. Strip, splice, and terminate wire- Trickier than it sounds. You should be able to splice wire using a crimp splice, a wire nut, and heat shrink + solder (note: electrical tape is NOT on that list). You should know how to use a wire stripper to strip stranded wire without cutting more than one or two strands. You should be able to attach a wire to your project in such a way that it will still be attached in two weeks, two months, or two years.

14. Create fairly neat holes of arbitrary size and shape in sheet metal, plastic, and wood- Nibblers, step-bits, tin-snips, chisels, awls, drill bits, and the appropriate Dremel bit all play crucial roles here.

15. Use Ohm’s law- V = I*R. Know it, use it, love it.

16. Tie useful knots- Bowline, taut-line hitch, slip, figure-eight, overhand, square, clove hitch, sheet bend. One or another of these knots will get you through most situations.

17. Solder.

18. Program a micro controller- nothing fancy, just something along the lines of the Arduino. Just enough to make it spin a motor on a trigger or light an LED or sound an alarm.

Original Post here

Mike H.

TC Maker Potluck on August 1, 2009

July 11th, 2009 by wammie


UPDATE AS OF JULY 16: The Twin Cities Maker potluck will be at Lakeland Park in Brooklyn Park. We have a site reserved from noon until 8 PM. Please use the forum link below to RSVP with what you’re bringing and for further updates.

At the last meeting, we agreed to have our potluck on Aug 1 (Saturday) at 2 p.m. It’s bring your own meat (or whatever main course you wish to have), plus one item to share.

We are in need of a venue; if you are willing to host possibly up to or more than 50 people at your home (in your backyard, most likely), please let us know. Otherwise, I am looking into Minneapolis city parks as a possibility.

Finally, I’m asking everyone to RSVP in a reply to THIS POST with the number of attendees and the dish you’re planning to bring. As replies come up, I (or another admin) will concatenate a summary.

Mike H.
President, Twin Cities Maker

Arduino for Artists – July 9, 2009

July 10th, 2009 by wammie

Yesterday I attended the first part of the Arduino for Artists class at Studio Bricolage. There were about nine students, some who brought their own laptops and some who used desktop boxes provided by Leonardo’s Basement. We were given an introduction to the Arduino and shown some working implementations, including a color-changing LED in a ping pong ball, a word game with LCD panel, a backpack with controllable fluid valves, and a large mechanized sculpture with tracks, bowling balls, and cylindrical “gong.” We experimented with basic Arduino functions such as blinking an LED. At least a couple of us though, including me, were not able to run the experiments as the desktop PCs did not provide administrator access necessary to attach the Arduino device.Studio-Bricolage-Arduino-Class-7-9-2009-2Studio-Bricolage-Arduino-Class-7-9-2009-3Studio-Bricolage-Arduino-Class-7-9-2009-4


Business Meeting, 8 July 7 p.m.

July 7th, 2009 by uptownmaker

A brief business meeting will be held at my house tomorrow, Wednesday 8 July, at 7 p.m.  Currently there are no plans for food/beverages, however, anyone is welcome to bring snacks or drinks to have or share as they prefer.  My grill is out of order, however.


  • New Secretary (Theo has had to resign)
  • Dues (first payments)
  • Potluck
  • Clothesline races (committee?)
  • AOB


July 1st, 2009 by wammie

Dues Schedule:

Monthly Membership payments are due on the first of the month.  Failure to pay in a timely fashion will result in membership benefits being cut off until payment is made.  Membership may be suspended for one or more months with notice to a member of the Board.  A member’s first month’s dues will be prorated based on their desired membership start date and payment date.  The shop is open 24 hours a day 7 days a week to all members, with the exception of limited access to certain facilities during scheduled classes or events using those parts of the space.

Monthly General Membership: $50 monthly
Monthly Student/Unemployed Membership: $25 monthly  (current Student ID or being on unemployment benefits required)

To gain access to the shop members must pay a one time space and keyfob deposit, or gain admission via another member or at scheduled open times.  If a member does not keep current with their dues and does not notify the Board of an intended lapse in membership.  A $10 per month maintenance fee will be deducted from their space deposit after the first month of lapse.  The deposit must be completed before a keyfob can be reactivated.

Key fob and space deposit: $50 one time

Typically the guests of members are prohibited from using any tools in the shop, however some folks are briefly in from out of town, or want a little help from a friend and they’d like their guest to be able to use tools.  Any Member may sponsor a Guest Member.  A Guest Member has all the privileges of full membership for 48 hours per fee.  The sponsoring member must have the Guest Member complete a Membership Agreement, see that payment is made (via electronic means, or cash or check in one of the donations box) and notify the Treasurer of the Board of Directors of the start time of the Guest Membership and where the payment and membership Agreement has been filed.

48 hr Guest Membership:  $10

New Member Bounty:
If an existing member (of at least one month prior) brings in a new person, and the new person becomes a dues paying member, the referring member will gain a bounty of ten percent of the new member’s dues each month applied to the referring members next month’s dues for up to ten months.    Only one member can gain the discount from any one referral, and the new member must identify the sponsoring member when they sign up for their first month.  There is no limit set on this, members can not save up credit (it has to be applied to the next month’s dues)  and any surplus credit can not be claimed in any other fashion.  The ten month (inclusive) limit is chronological and does not pause for lapses in the referred or referring member’s paid dues.  A skipped month of dues can not be reclaimed either in later credit or for a month after ten months from the new membership’s initial start date should either the new member or the sponsoring member skip a month in dues payments.  Multiple referrals can be active for each referring member at once.

Updated 10-27-2010