Thursday, March 15, 2012

Milwaukee Makerspace- Our 33rd Hackerspace Visit

It was an unusually warm January as we loaded up the Ol' Honda once again. We had just wrapped up a month long recording session in Austin's living room, and were ready to hit the hackerspaces once again. Our destination this time was Milwaukee Makerspace. We loaded up the gear and hit the road.
When we arrived in the large gated industrial complex, we could tell there was a hackerspace nearby. We found unit 34 and saw the Milwaukee Makerspace logo adorning a steel door. We were greeted by a member of the space, and unloaded our gear. Directly inside the garage door was a large warehouse space filled with cars, trucks, sculptures and machinery. Just past a few of the hackerspace members fixing a truck was perhaps the largest wind chime I have ever seen, the "Giant Ominous Wind Chime".
There were at least 2 modified Power Wheels race cars, which they had built for hackerspace competitions at recent Maker Faires. There were smaller rooms sectioned off towards the back of the warehouse space. The larger of the rooms was their fabrication area.
They had pretty impressive equipment, including a very large CNC, a laser cutter, a lathe, tablesaws, drill presses, pinball machines, and an overturned home theater system. The home theater system was a project that some of the members were working on. They call it the Humorously Maniacal Milwaukee Makerspace Multi-Media Machine, or hmmmmmm for short. Powered by a 2100 watt amplifier, the user must wear earplugs in order to use the machine safely. Once inside the box, the user is immersed in a multi-media environment, thus allowing them to experience the media in a ridiculously unsafe environment.
We moved on to the next room- the "Library". Though there were a few books, most likely waiting to be scanned in their book scanning rig, the library's primary focus seemed to be on technology. This is where they keep their 3D printer, and other such things. Shelves were filled not with books, but instead with components. There was an interesting photo rig which they seemed to be using for archiving books. A book was placed on top of the plexi-glass "roof" of a house-like structure, with cameras aimed at the books pages. The user then photographs the pages, and moves on to the next set of pages.
The next room was a multi-purpose room. It seemed that this room was primarily used as a classroom/meeting room, but was also home to one of the finest snackerspaces in the midwest.
Guarded by a wooden Pig-Chef sculpture (Oinky), the snackerspace was adequately stocked with beer, pop, and other refreshments, thus ensuring proper Hacker-Hydration-Levels (HHL).
The classroom was well equipped with 3D printers, soldering irons, spare electronics free for the hacking, computers, and large tables for working on. We taught our Contact Mic Workshop to a small, enthusiastic group of hackers. After everyone had finished their microphones, it was time to rock.
We set up our band equipment in the warehouse area. The hackers gathered 'round as we sang songs of Bourbon and Alien Conspiracy. Having sufficiently rocked the hackerspace, it was time to pack up, and get ready for a gig across town (at Quarter's Rock and Roll Palace). When we returned to the car, we noticed we had a flat tire. A few weeks earlier, we had jokingly remarked that the best place to have car trouble would be a hackerspace. The hackers were glad to help, and brought us tools to facilitate the tire change. a few minutes later, we were on the road, with our 33rd hackerspace under our belt.
(January 28th, 2012) - CMKT 4

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