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September 04 2019

Yarn Dyeing: Hand-Painting with Acid Dyes on Sat, Sep 14

September 03 2019

Building a Magic Mirror

I’ve been reading about Magic Mirrors for several years and the ever evolving functionality they provide. Use case was simple to justify the expense of creating a magic mirror, but finding the time was the primary issue. Well, extra time finally came about and, after a few higher priority projects, time was still available for a Magic Mirror.

Googling and youtube have many how-to’s to create a Magic Mirror and there are a few different options available. I latched on MagicMirror because it is open source, contains several good built-in modules, and has a decent sized module developer community.

In my case, I had an extra 23″ monitor and raspberry pi 3b+ sitting in basement storage which I pulled out to test the electronic piece of the puzzle. After installing Rasbian with Desktop on the Raspberry Pi and getting it connected to WiFi, installing MagicMirror was a simple one line.

Over a few weeks, I added, removed, and adjusted modules until I was seeing exactly what I found useful. The nice thing about MagicMirror is the developer community and how many modules have been created that fit exactly what I was looking to accomplish. I then began gathering all the components.

  • Monitor
  • Raspberry Pi 3b+
  • Smart Glass
  • Wood
  • 4 L brackets
  • HDMI cable
  • DVI to HDMI right angle adapter
  • AC barrel plug right angle adapter

With the display now having what I wanted to see, the next step was thinning the monitor and build a display case that would look nice hanging on the wall. Thinning the monitor by removing the plastic from the monitor and disconnecting the controller board was relatively easy. I was able to measure the monitor and purchase Smart Mirror Glass from Two Way Mirrors. The glass was the largest out-of-pocket expenditure if I don’t include the monitors and raspberry pis I already had. You’ll see why I use plural for those later.

There are several how-to’s floating around the web that will show how to create the wall mount for the magic mirror. I was fortunate because we have a wood working guru, Mike K., as a member of OMG. He was able to quickly design and explain the case to me. He then helped me with the tools necessary to make the cuts. The smart glass and monitor fit in the rabbit cut to hold them secure. We used a router for those cuts along with the back braces. We had the case cut and ready for staining in just a few hours. Mike K. is owed a great deal for helping me make the magic mirror look aesthetically pleasing and not an obvious hack job.

At this point I was getting fairly excited about the finished product and how quickly the case came together. I found out that staining takes a while to do well and has decent wait times between each side to let the stain thoroughly dry. Once the wood was stained, then assembly began and went fairly quickly. I made sure to clean the monitor screen and glass and then wore gloves so that I wouldn’t leave finger prints during assembly. I had no interest in taking it apart once assembled.

I had tested the monitor and raspberry pi throughout the this process to verify that it continued to work. After assembling the glass, monitor, and frame, I tested it again successfully before securing the frame beyond the wood glue. The setup worked great and I left for the day.

The next day I returned and tested the setup again to make sure the electronics were working okay. Again, successful so I proceeded to add the L brackets to the inside of the frame to finish the assembly. The L brackets were centered between both edges of wood and did not touch the electronics anywhere. I then tested the electronics again and the monitor had lines through 2/3 of the screen. I switch DVI and VGA adapters, HDMI cables, modified the config.txt file on the raspberry pi, but nothing worked.

Unfortunately, I had to take the frame apart and switch it out with an identical monition I had at home. The original monitor I was going to use had been pinched to tightly in the corner where a ribbon cable connects tot he monitor. I thought there was enough room and didn’t pull the table on the ribbon cable back enough to realize exactly where it connected and that it was a delicate spot. Before reassembling, I carved out some additional space in the frame. Once reassembled fully, the second monitor worked great and continued to work great for each test.

My goal was to reduce the number of power cables on the inside of the frame. The idea being there would be less heat because of fewer power adapters, more space for air flow, and overall weight would be less. Michael A. had helped me solder a couple weeks previously and we looked at options. The monitor controller board would be used with a step down adapter with usb ports to feed the raspberry pi power. Using this method, there would only be the need for the monitor AC cord to be fed into the back of the frame.

This is where I hit my second problem of the project. Using a multimeter, we found a 12v transistor that would gives us the positive power and we would attached the ground to the screw location of the board. I then soldered the step down and put all the cables back on the monitor controller board and powered it up. Everything looked good so far so I removed the power from the controller board. The moment of truth had come so I plugged the raspberry pi in one of the USB ports from the step down and powered it all up. The screen flickered, I saw smoke coming from the point where the usb power connects to the raspberry pi, and quickly pulled the power plug. Unfortunately, the raspberry pi does nothing more than get extremely hot when plugged in to the usual power adapters I use. Oh, and that 12v transistor on a retest with the multimeter generated 48v. The solder connections messed up the throughput and once disconnected the transistor was a steady 12v.

In the end, Kevin helped me go the easier route by adding all the power cables in the case. All boots and works as expected and hangs on the wall in my office nicely.

Sponsored post

SonderOpenChaos am Montag, 09. September: Gaby Weber und die Monsanto-Übernahme

Für ein SonderOpenChaos haben wir die freie Journalistin Gaby Weber eingeladen, die uns Spannendes über den Monsanto-Deal von Bayer berichtet.

August 29 2019

OMG Another Anniversary!

On August 27 2019, we at Omaha Maker Group interrupted our usual meeting schedule to hold our annual birthday party. We had a potluck dinner, then ate cake and chatted until it was time to start events. We had an aluminum melting demonstration, the we took turns popping the air cannon. After it got dark enough we were treated to a Tesla Coil concert. The weather was perfect and cicadas serenaded as visitors, family members and members spent a pleasant evening together.

Intro to Soldering Workshop: Make an LED Tile on Sun, Sep 8

August 28 2019

Audio Mastering “In The Box” on Sat, Sep 7

Live on the Internet, it’s Milwaukee Makerspace!

Have you ever wanted to make it down to the space to take a tour on a Tuesday night but couldn’t make it because you work late, or you live 500 miles away? No problem! our friends at MAKE did a video tour with us. Awesome!

Big thanks to Caleb Kraft from MAKE for working with us on this and allowing us to be the first space to do a tour. We’re looking forward to future tours to get a look at other spaces as well! (Also, thanks to Digi-Key for sponsoring this series of videos.)

August 25 2019

OpenChaos am Donnerstag, 29. August: Aufstand gegen das Aussterben

Für das OpenChaos im August haben wir Klimaaktivistinnen der Bewegung "Extinction Rebellion" eingeladen.

August 17 2019

Freier Software Abend im C4

Der Freie Software Abend, eine Veranstaltung zu Freier Software und Offenen Standards, findet nun jeden ersten Montag im Monat im C4 statt.

August 12 2019

24.8.2019 12-18 Uhr: 13th PhenCoCo Colloquium

AI – again – machine learning of neural networks in different versions


An Introduction, and 1-2 Lectures on neural networks and machine learning technologies and their importance in economy and in general.

We are going to draw on what we have discussed in previous coloquiu on AI, what deep learning ist suppose to be, what algorithms are subsumed by this and talk about some of these technologies in more detail.


Please send an e-mail to to give us the chance for a headcount and according preperation, until the 20th of August 2019.

More details:…

VR Meetup: Rec Room

Rec Room LogoVR Meetup: Rec Room Thursday 8/29/2019 7pm-10pm!
We are rebuilding i3Detroit inside of Rec Room in the ^i3Detroit Custom Room. Show up at i3 or attend remotely via PC, PS4, or VR. We will have i3Detroit’s Oculus Quest and a few other VR headsets running at i3Detroit.

If you are new to building stuff in Rec Room check out some of the basic How To Rec Room videos on Youtube.

July 26 2019

Steam Power Demonstration at UP Railroad Museum

Omaha Maker Group was invited to set up a booth at the Union Pacific Railroad Museum’s “First Friday Family Night” earlier this month. Because the theme this month was “STEAM UP”, we decided to create a demonstration of the Hero Engine which is a two thousand-year-old steam engine design. We also tried to replicate a steam turbine with a stable boiler and pinwheel, which you can catch sight of on the worktable during our experimental phase, but it didn’t work outside in the wind. We handed out a step-by-step instruction sheet at the event, which is provided as a link to this blog, but here are the basics:

Seal a can with a small amount of water in it. We tried two methods: (1) poke two holes in a carbonated water can and squeeze out most of the water through one of the holes, or (2) empty the contents of a PVC primer can and pour a little water into it. Both methods worked. In the soda can, make sure the metal around the holes is bent ninety degrees to the wall of the can. In the primer can, solder brass tubes into the walls and point them in similarly opposite directions. Suspend the boiler over a flame for a few minutes. Soon, steam will jet out and spin the can.

July 22 2019

Guitars, Furniture, and more: the Tusano Trading Company at Maker Faire Detroit

From the first glance at the Tusano Trading Company’s wares, it makes immediate sense that Thomas’s humanities thesis at LTU was on “The value of craft … trying to find the place where making and thinking meet”. He came to i3 after outgrowing the woodshop on campus, and over two years, has developed a wide variety of works and a small business to encompass them.

But among all the furniture and other wooden works, it’s the guitars that really stand out as his passion. Embracing the modern CNC and laser-cutting capabilities at i3, he’s both working on new designs, and spearheading the creation of a library of open-source designs, “a drawing-back of the curtain on the mechanics of the modern guitar”.

Thomas will be doing live lutherie demos in i3’s tent during the Faire, July 27-28 2019.

July 21 2019

OpenChaos am Donnerstag, 25. Juli: Freie Lizenzen

Freie Software, Copyleft, FLA und co. - Dr. Michael Stehmann, Rechtsanwalt und Verfechter Freier Software, hält einen Vortrag rund um Free Software Lizenzen.

July 20 2019

From Kansas City to Motor City

Once again the Milwaukee Makerspace Racing Team made it to Maker Faire Kansas City to race, hang out with people from other spaces, break things, and have some fun. We’ve been attending Maker Faire KC for about six years now, and it’s always a blast (even when it rains.)

We managed to fit four people and two race cars into a rented pickup truck, which worked well enough with a little creative Tetris inspired packing. The team consisted of Pete, Mat, and Andy for this outing, and we picked up Marshall from the Bodgery in Madison along the way. (And boy, it’s a good thing we did!)

Marshall didn’t bring his Mystery Machine, so we made sure he’d get a chance to drive one of our cars, which he did, but he also spent some time replacing the controller that failed on the Wienermobile Saturday morning before the first race. (And yes, Marshall just happened to bring a spare controller with him!)

Mat’s Unicorn Kart is just a year old, but it’s seen half a dozen races already, and it’s proving to be a fairly fast and reliable car, which is the combination you typically want on the track. He also debuted a new Unicorn front-end which looked amazing (and held up pretty well, despite losing hooves during the races.)

Andy was only there on Saturday, so he did a bit of racing on the Wienermobile, and yes, he drove it backwards for a bit in preparation for the “Backwards Race” (don’t ask.) We didn’t bring Andy’s Dead Bug because he’s been rebuilding it and it just wasn’t ready in time, and well, we didn’t have room.

And yeah, that’s actually Pete standing at the finish line with a medal because he won a sprint race. Typically he’s behind the camera or otherwise helping run the races, but with a smaller team this year he was more than happy to finally get a chance to drive again. (Don’t ask how long his legs hurt after the race weekend.)

Sunday’s endurance was quite a race! We let the other team from Milwaukee (Murray and Ethan) drive the Wienermobile a bit since their car spent more time in the pits than on the track during the weekend. In the end, Unicorn Kart got first in the Endurance, with the Wienermobile coming in second, and we won a bunch of other medals for Moxie and other things, etc.

But that’s not all! We’re headed to Detroit this week for more madness. Detroit has twice as many cars, and three times as many crazy people, so we’ll see how it goes. We may not go the fastest, but if we have fun, we’re all winners!

A Castle Full of Wonders at Maker Faire Detroit

Animation of fire-belching knights standing guard outside the castle yurt

Every year, i3Detroit members submit so many projects to Maker Faire Detroit (coming up July 27-28!) that the Faire organizers give us our own tent and let us manage the details. This year, no fewer than ten of those projects are by Jan and David Henry, including the fire-shooting knights and giant castle yurt pictured here.

Inside the castle, you’ll find more projects by the couple and by other i3 members, including costumes, magic mirrors, lanterns, chandeliers… the list goes on! Many of the projects are collaborations with other i3 members.

David initially came to i3 for the Hackaday party in 2014, and Jan followed a few months later. “I wanted to know where he was going — he’d be gone for hours — it was unlike him to be out that long, so I came for the Halloween party, he showed me around, then I joined in December”

July 10 2019

MadridCrafted Bathymetric Maps: i3 member projects at Maker Faire Detroit

Maker Faire Detroit returns to the Henry Ford on July 27th and 28th, and as always, numerous projects by i3Detroit members will be on display. Among them, Dan Madrid’s laser-cut bathymetric maps:

Dan Madrid laser cutting bathymetric maps

Dan Madrid works at the Bumblebee laser

For the past several months, Dan has been a frequent sight in front of i3’s laser cutters, making plywood representations of the lakes we all know and love. It started as a hobby project, but he soon started getting requests and selling his work, following a path familiar to many of i3’s members. He’s started a small business called Madrid Crafted LLC, and most of his work is Michigan-focused.

As an MTU grad and still a frequent visitor to the UP, Dan’s most popular piece by far is Lake Superior, shown here on the wall of the Keweenaw Brewing Company tap room in Houghton:

Lake Superior bathymetric map on the wall at KBC

Lake Superior bathymetric map on the wall at KBC

But Dan wasn’t always an i3Detroit member — as a Ford employee, his first experience with laser-cut art was at TechShop. “They had a great woodshop, but what really hit me was the laser cutters.” The experience was eye-opening, but short-lived. After TechShop closed in late 2017, he searched for another nearby makerspace, and found The Village Workshop in Northville, close to his home in Livonia. There, woodworking and laser-cutting went from a hobby to a real side business, but The Village Workshop likewise shut down in early 2019. Dan went on the search again and found i3Detroit, a longer drive but a totally different community.

“Techshop and The Village Workshop were great places, I don’t want to disparage them, but when I came here there was a much greater sense of community. There it was much more like a business transaction, like I pay you, and I get access to your shop. There wasn’t — at least when I was there — there wasn’t much of a community aspect. When I came here, people come here to do projects, but they also come here to build relationships with the other people here. I didn’t experience that at the other places. … I know I see other people working on things and I know I can ask, hey what’s that? And that sparks some curiosity and discussion.”

That community is what drove Dan to show off his work at Maker Faire for the first time: “Having started a small business, my goal this year was to go to one farmer’s market, fair, something like that. And the nice thing is, there’s a community aspect to this, so it’s not just me finding a place on my own and figuring it out, we get to do it together.”

July 07 2019

A Wet Race On Sunday

Two weeks ago we took our two cars, The Battle Bus and the Locomotive, the Power Racing Series at the Kansas City Maker Faire. Saturday was bright and sunny, Sunday was soggy. The previous video covered the sunny part and this one shows highlights of the wet part.

July 03 2019

Door code and RFID system changes

Everyone’s keypad door code will be changing this coming Tuesday, July 9, and all active members will receive an email with a new door code.

Door codes will be phased out entirely on October 1, 2019. At that point, you must use an RFID key fob to access PS1.

Please read on for details, as you may be affected by the upcoming change even if you already have a working key fob.

If you already have a fob

Please make sure that your RFID number is present in the “RFID Tag” field in your member account. Due to how the system works, only RFID numbers stored in member profiles will continue working after the door code is reset next week:

  1. To check or add your RFID number to you member account, first log into your account.
  2. Next, click on “View profile” and then “Edit profile”:
  3. In the “RFID Tag” field, enter the 10-digit code that appears on your fob and finally, click “Save”.

If you don’t yet have a key fob

Between now and October 1, we will be changing the door code on a monthly basis. Notifications will be posted seven days in advance of a code change and a new door code will be emailed to you once each change is completed.

On October 1, we will discontinue using the emailed keypad door code. Entry into PS1 will only be through an RFID token. We have free fobs available for all members.

 “How do I get a fob?” you ask? Simple! We have a lot of them and you can have one just for asking. The best time to get a fob is during a member meeting, but any person that can do an ID check, such as board members and area hosts, can help with this process.

If you don’t like the fobs we have, you are welcome to bring your own! Any 125kHz EM4100 compatible device should work. Bring it in and try it on the door: if it beeps the fob was read.

You can add your RFID number by logging into your member profile and editing the “RFID Tag” field as in the instructions above. We also have an RFID reader available so that your can determine an unmarked token’s number.

If you have any further questions or need help with any part of this process or you think you may have missed a door code email please email

Chicago South Side Mini Maker Faire, August 3: come help and have fun

The 7th annual Chicago South Side Mini Maker Faire is taking place on August 3. Part science fair, part art fair, and part something entirely new, Mini Maker Faire is a fun and energetic community-based event that brings together science, art, crafts and engineering. This free celebration will showcase Chicago area makers with a focus on the diversity of people and thought that makes Chicago an innovative city.

There are several ways to participate:

  • PS1 is planning to host a booth. Please help us showcase PS1, the premier maker space in the Midwest.
  • The faire has asked PS1 to help set up a Nerdy Derby. PS1 has a great racing tradition, and we would love someone to take this on as a project.

Of course, another way to show support is just to show up and enjoy the faire. It takes place on August 3 at Daley College, 7500 S Pulaski Rd.

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