Better Late Than Never – Celebrating Vera Court’s Arcade Console Repurpose!

This never quite made the blog, and has been languishing in the bottom of my e-mail inbox (among a few hundred other e-mails to get to! – sorry).

Sector67 partnered with our near north neighbor Vera Court Neighborhood Center to re-purpose an *old* Make Trax video game console that was no longer working, but was too cool to throw out.  We wanted to take things in an educational game direction, but with something that the kids would still enjoy playing as a reward for getting their homework done!  Crayon Physics was decided on, and the next step was to get to tearing out the old video game console electronics (which still booted right up after 33 years in existance).  We had the kids at Vera Court start by taking out the old screen, electronics, power supply and the video game badging adorning the outside.


After the old contents were pulled out and properly recycled, the next step was to clean up a few decades of dust:


Once the dust was out, we spent some time sorting out a LCD monitor mount that would fill out the original glass:


We were able to repurpose a computer donated to the center by Epic Systems, and had it up and running in no time with Crayon Physics (after a few registry changes to support a vertical orientation and full screen) – check out the nice top banner graphics:



The old console had a lot of outside graphics that were going to be very difficult to remove, so rather than peel the old off, the kids painted over it with chalkboard paint and made it their own:


Posted in News, Projects Tagged with: ,

PDMA Fall Social – Crowd-Sourced Financing



PDMA Banner

To connect with the Madison chapter of the PDMA group, head over to their Facebook page – otherwise to register for this event, click here.
PDMA Wisconsin
Fall Social
Members & Non-Members WELCOME!
Why I Failed at Kickstarter and My Friends Didn’t
Speaker: Bob Baddeley
Date: Thursday, September 18, 2014
Location: Sector67 (Madison)

In 2012 two separate companies founded by friends launched their Kickstarter projects at the same time. One month later one failed and one succeeded.

Hear the story of these two companies to understand the process leading up to a launch, the campaign, and the aftermath.
Learn what it takes to run a successful campaign and all the juicy statistics and facts about the crowdfunding successes and failures. Learn when crowdfunding is appropriate, what it can do for you, and some of the problems it causes.

Bob Baddeley earned an Honors Bachelor Degree in Computer Engineering from Oregon State University in 2004. He then started working at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Washington state for the next seven years, doing cutting edge research for the government. He left the lab in 2011 to follow his passion with Portable Scores and have an impact on people’s lives. Tired of forgetting the score, turn, and time, he built something that helps with all his sports. In 2012 he spent 3 months in China working on his prototypes and making manufacturing and sourcing connections before launching his company on Kickstarter.

In 2013 he started BlueTipz, and was able to bootstrap and develop a product from an idea to retail shelves in under 6 months. Bob lives in Madison, WI and is developing his products and companies, as well as contracting his services in hardware and software development.


5:00 – 6:00 p.m. Cocktails, appetizers and networking
6:00 – 7:15 p.m. Speaker: Bob Baddeley, Q/A at end
7:15 – 8:00 p.m. Networking, and cocktails

Event Prices:
$30 for non-members
$20 for PDMA members
$15 First-time PDMA event attendees, students or unemployed

Posted in Uncategorized

Jesse’s Electric Bike (And more!)

Just took a ride on Jesse’s electric bike—it was kick-ass. Built out of a Walmart bike-frame, 18 Ah lead-acid batteries, and a hub motor, the bike can go up to 30 mph with a range of 20 miles. AND, “Because the bike has pedals, it’s completely road legal,” says Jesse.

Lowrider Electric Bike

Lowrider Electric Bike

The bike has regen braking to charge the battery as you brake, similar to a hybrid car. Jesse also plans to add a solar panel to extend the battery’s range even more.

Antique Bike

Antique Pedal Car, another of Jesse’s projects

Jesse is a long-term Sector67 member and has countless projects visible at Sector67 (too many to show pictures of, but that’s why you have to go on a tour), including a 3D printed humanoid, and lots of projects with wheels, pedals, and motors.

Jesse's 3D printed Humanoid

Jesse’s 3D printed Humanoid

Jesse also maintains a Youtube channel:

Posted in Uncategorized

Sector67 Interns Build Filament Extruder

Sector67 interns, Mitch and Kyle, already have their main summer project in working condition.  Their new filament extruder is able to take plastic pellets, and convert them into plastic that can be fed into Sector67’s 3D printers.  The main motivation for the extruder (other than awesomeness!) is that extruding plastic pellets costs about a third of what filament does.  “Cheap ABS pellets can be put in, and a more valuable product comes out,” says Mitch.

Kyle (left) and Mitch (right) in front of their filament extruder

Kyle (left) and Mitch (right) in front of their filament extruder

Not only the does the extruder work, but the interns have already successfully used their filament to print plastic parts on Sector67’s 3D printers.  And as long as Sector67 doesn’t try to fund the next addition by selling filament, Mitch and Kyle’s extruder should have plenty of throughput.  “This extruder will be able to extrude 5-7 pounds of plastic per day—far more than we use in the printers”, says Jim, a long-time Sector67 member and 3D printing entrepreneur.  Jim is also responsible for building the hopper using his patent-pending interlocking container design.


How it works

1)   ABS pellets are fed into the hopper.  The hopper was made by Jim using his patent-pending interlocking container design.

2)   Pellets flow into a heated column where they melt.

3)   An auger applies a constant pressure to the liquid plastic to extruder it at a constant rate.

4)    A height sensor keeps the filament at a constant height above the ground.

5)   The variable speed winder responds to the height sensor to maintain the filament at a constant tension as it cools.

6)   A guide arm moves back and forth more and more slowly as more and more filament is wound onto the spool.

Posted in Projects, Uncategorized

Sector67 Summer Youth Programming: ME@Sector

The first batch of ME@Sector participants recreating Galileo’s inclined plane experiment

The first batch of ME@Sector participants recreating Galileo’s inclined plane experiment

In a new summer educational program being piloted at Sector67, incoming 3rd to 9th grade students can work on improving their math and engineering skills (the ME in ME@Sector stands for “Math and Engineering”) in a social, hands-on environment. This summer’s program is held on Monday afternoons from 2-4 pm and will last 8 weeks. Scott Hasse, a long term Sector67 member and volunteer, and his wife, Laura McNeill, a math and engineering enthusiast, are developing an initial curriculum, organizing the program and delivering this summer’s sessions. “Although math and engineering can be taught in a traditional classroom, Sector67’s space is ideal for designing and conducting investigations. The students can get their hands dirty in an environment where practical engineering happens,” says Scott.

The first session focused on ∏.  ME@Sector participants measured various circles and counted their paces around and across a huge chalk circle to estimate values for ∏.  This “feet-on” approach helped participants internalize what ∏ actually is, rather than just memorizing digits and plugging values in formulas.  Participants also enjoyed eating some delicious pie.  In the second class, ME@Sector participants recreated Galileo’s inclined plane experiment, in which they measured the distance travelled by a ball rolling down a constant slope every second to calculate its acceleration.  Some of the youth estimated that the distance travelled would be consistent between 1 second intervals, and were surprised to find out it was not.  In both sessions, the young engineers had to construct the apparatus, consider possible sources of error in their measurements and other practical engineering problems.

Program participants measuring the circumference of a circle to estimate π

Program participants measuring the circumference of a circle to estimate π

To compliment these group activities, part of the each session is dedicated to individual math skills development.  Scott and Laura use two online tools to facilitate math activities that best suit each student’s level.  Reflex Math ( provides math-based games for kids to improve their fluency in addition, subtraction, multiplication and division.  For students who already have basic fluency, Scott and Laura use Khan Academy (, a free, online learning platform that uses videos, along with interactive assessments, to teach a variety of subjects including math.  Both programs allow teachers, coaches, and parents to track student performance and see exactly where a student might be struggling.

Although Scott and Laura are leading the charge this summer, the goal is to create a program and curriculum that, if successful, can be extended.  Scott says he would like to pursue sources of program funding to add sessions and facilitators.  “One of our goals is to have a diverse group of engineers leading the program.  This diversity would help all kids see themselves as future engineers.”

This summer’s pilot program is already full with 10 students.  After program evaluation, plans will begin for next summer.  The cost is currently only $10 for the entire 8-week session, and a healthy snack is served at each session.  “Our goal is to keep the program as affordable as possible, so that it is accessible to all kids who would like to participate,” says Scott.  For more information on the program, see the flier attached to this article.  If you are interested in learning more about the ME@Sector program, participating as a facilitator, or know of a potential participant for next summer, send an email to

ME@Sector participants constructing an inclined plane to measure the acceleration of gravity

ME@Sector participants constructing an inclined plane to measure the acceleration of gravity

Brochure image

ME@Sector67 Flier

Posted in Uncategorized

Event Cancelled! – Attend the Product Development and Management Association Meeting on July 17th

Sorry, this even has been cancelled by the organizers, look for another event in the future!


Sector67 is hosting the Product Development and Management Association (PDMA) summer social meeting on July 17th starting at 5PM. Cost to attend is $30 for non-PDMA members to defray the costs of refreshments. Hear from Sector67 member Bob Baddeley in his talk “Why I Failed at Kickstarter and My Friends Didn’t” and meet with other product development and management professionals. More information on the PDMA website.

Posted in Uncategorized

Dark Stars

Using tools at Sector67, Nyika Campbell was able to transform her drawing of a sword in a notebook into a full-size, steel sword that looks like it could do some very serious damage. Before coming to Sector67, Nyika had already made a few full-size wooden swords with steel edges, leather wrapped wooden handles, and doorknob pommels–but after taking a class on metalworking at Madison East High School, Nyika decided to take it a step further.

Nyika’s original drawing in her notebook, which served as the inspiration for her new sword

Nyika’s original drawing in her notebook, which served as the inspiration for her new sword, Dark Stars

Nyika started off by ordering a flat cutout of 1080 steel, which she then shaped using the mill and smoothed out with a file to form the blade.  She then sand-cast a bronze cross-guard and ring pommel.  In addition, she cut and shaped a wooden sheath to safely contain the sword during transport.  Although Nyika already had experience with sword making and metal working when she first came to Sector67, she has also learned a lot at the space.  “Chris, Tim, and other Sector people have helped me with the various stages of this project, from research to welding.  I could never have done this without their help.” says Nyika.

The blade, cross-guard, and pommel in their positions, along with her sheath and gauntlets (made with friend at Madison East metal shop) in the background

The blade, cross-guard, and pommel in their positions, along with her sheath and gauntlets (made with friend at Madison East metal shop) in the background

Sand casting

Tim helped out with the sand-casting and Chris with the milling

Although the sword looks nearly finished, there is still a lot Nyika plans to add before calling it complete.  Other than welding together the parts she’s already made, she plans to add a butcher knife style wooden handle and a labradorite stone to the pommel.  She will then wrap the handle and sheath in leather.  Finally, she will engrave a quote from Shakespeare’s 12th Night on the cross-guard.  This play is where the sword gets its name, Dark Stars.

Nyika holding the blade of Dark Stars at Sector67

Nyika holding the blade of Dark Stars at Sector67


[Editor’s Note] Some more information on the process (boring sword machining steps to follow):

Making swords is very difficult and takes many many many many many hours!

We started with a 1080 steel blank that was laser cut from a Solidworks drawing at Engineered Metal Products.  The rationale for using 1080 is that it can later be heat treated for increased hardness to hold an edge, but in practice it’s pretty darn sharp as it is as long as it’s not being used in battle (remember, the zombie apocalypse will arrive someday!).  Machining a blank seems relatively straightforward, but we needed to taper all 4 edges as well as machine a fuller (blood gutter sounds a lot cooler, but Wikipedia is helpful with the real reasoning behind the fuller, weight!).  We started with the blank flat on the table and tilted the head of the mill to give it the correct angle:


Getting the blank straight on the table (hence the two yellow HSS cutters used as dowels)

Once the blank was straight on the table, the cutter was zeroed on the edge of the blank and we calculated the desired depth (at this point a cutter translation into the table at the angle of the head).  The cutter was run back and forth until the depth was achieved (during which long discussions ensued about why sword makers prefer to use giant grinders, forges, and sanders to remove material – it’s much quicker).  We used up lots of oil to keep the cutter cool:


Perpetual cloud of oil coming off the cutter and slow removal rates are typical of machining steel.

Once we had the first corner (of 4) cut down, we started to realize how difficult clamping it was going to become.  The tip of the sword ends up a 4 way taper at the middle of the blank, meaning that we’re removing the flat face of the blank, not an issue yet until we flip it over.  What is an issue, is that we don’t have any flat surfaces from the midway point of the blank towards the tip to clamp down on without putting a side load on the blade and causing it to displace in plane with the table.  As you can see in the next image, we ended up using 4 clamps to keep the blade stable, as we cut further to the left (towards the tip) we had to clamp and unclamp the center or end of the blade to avoid running into the clamps with the cutter (IE: we’re cutting the full width of the blade, we can’t clamp anywhere until the cutter is clear of the area being cut, meaning a lot of moving the clamps as the cutter takes passes).


The middle (3rd from the right) clamp and the end clamp (very left by the oil container with the blue handle) were swapped as the cutter cleared center moving left and returned right

The next step was machining the twin fuller on this edge, we decided to wait until after cutting both angles on the top face because we weren’t sure where it should stop to avoid thinning the blade too much.  This could of course be modeled, but then we’d have to machine accurately to the model to get the same results, something we weren’t ready to commit to!).  Once the fuller was machined to the desired depth on the front, we had to flip it over and address the fact that the blade was no longer flat on the new bottom, which turned out to be a major PITA.  We decided to machine the second twin fuller on the other side, so we’d have a pair of grooves opposite one-another on each side, this would allow us to clamp the sword vertically across two vices (which both had to be squared, with the sword edge indicated parallel to the table to a few thousandths of an inch) shown here:


Using a dial indicator off the spindle to indicate parallel to the table (note the dowels in the fuller on each vise) as well as a set of 1-2-3 (swiss cheese looking) blocks in the middle of the frame as a vertical reference off the table.

We then used a rougher to trim down the blank on the two remaining faces:

Roughing end mill doesn't chatter as badly on the vertical surface.

Roughing end mill doesn’t chatter as badly on the vertical surface.

We weren’t able to solve the tip of the blank, leaving it instead for a hand filing finish (which was found to have a surprisingly high material removal rate), leaving Nyika with a substantial chunk of hours to invest in finishing it off:

Note the far right end of the blade is unfinished on the mill.

Note the far right end of the blade is unfinished on the mill.


Posted in Projects


At last month’s meeting, Kemper Smith presented his kinetic installation, Mirror, which he constructed at Sector67. The work was recently on display at the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art as part of the Design MMOCA program, where architects and designers build spaces or objects based on an existing work in MMOCA’s existing collection.

Mirror on display at the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art

Mirror on display at the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art

Mirror is based on an Ellsworth Kelly sketch of leaves.  “The moving mirrors are designed to mimic leaves on a tree as a breeze brushes over them, and the reflected light pattern that shows up on the floor is meant to mimic the light’s pattern of sunshine through a tree canopy”, says Kemper.  Check out the videos on Kemper’s website to see Mirror in motion!

Section view of Mirror

Section view of Mirror

2 in. by 2 in. acrylic mirrors are attached to the mounting board by a double headed nail connected to a folded duct tape flag.  Ten tower fans behind the mounting board blow on the duct tape flags and move the mirrors.  Since each double headed nail and duct tape flag is slightly different, the fans create a very random motion, not unlike leaves on a tree


Posted in Projects, Uncategorized

July Monthly Meeting

Another monthly meeting with great presentations.  Big thanks to Bob Baddeley for the photos and to Liam for filming!

0:00  Bob gives intro

1:03  Alec and his floppy disk orchestra he constructed using step motors


11:21 Kate and her creative laser-cut wedding invitations


20:15 Joe Kerman talks about his new job as the artist in residence at the new Madison Public Library.   He also talks about classes taught at the library that Sector67 members may be interested in taking or teaching.


27:14 Josh presents his bicycle with an added motor and thermos muffler


35:35 Levi, Luke, Laura and Scott present their lightweight and clean burning rocket stove


44:00 Larry Walker and Robin Lawson talk about their new project with 7th and 8th grade students in partnership with UW-Madison and the College of the Menominee Nation


51:33 Inspired by his childhood musical teddy bear, Bernard created a modern Bluetooth enabled teddy bear made with 3D printed parts that plays the song of your choice after squeezing its nose


59:00 Scott and Bob present their project for The Hackaday Prize, NSA Away

Screen Shot 2014-07-03 at 12.57.02 AM

1:11:50 Meeting wrap up


Posted in Meetings, Projects

Lumen Jewelry

“We always have the same conversation with our circuit board supplier”, says Robin. “After every order, they call us to say that the circuits are exposed, and to send them back once we fix the drawing”. However, the drawings are correct. Being able to see how the electronics work is part of what makes Lumen so unique.

Siblings, Robin and Marty, have been working on their LED-laden, solar powered, circuit board jewelry for about four years. Now, Lumen offers a total of 58 blinking and non-blinking pieces of jewelry, including necklaces, earrings, bracelets and cufflinks. For the more technically curious, they also offer kits that still need to be soldered.

Both having master’s degrees in Mechanical Engineering, Marty works for the Atmospheric Sciences department at UW-Madison and Robin is a former engineer at Trek, who now works for Lumen full time. They hope that their jewelry will spark the interest of young people in science and technology.

Blinking White Retro Owl Necklace on a laser-cut mounting card

Blinking White Retro Owl Necklace on a laser-cut mounting card

They complete much of the soldering at Sector67 and use the laser-cutter to make jewelry mounting cards.  As fourth generation engineers, the say the smells and sounds of the shop at Sector67 remind them of their father’s workspace back home.

Check out their website for more information about Lumen and their Esty store for a full list of their jewelry.

Posted in Businesses at Sector67

EV Powers Hybrid Battery Service and Repair

In 2002, Eric Powers quit his full-time job to found and organize the Green Drive Expo, a car show focused on green innovation in the automobile industry.  After seven years and ten successful expos held in Madison, Wisconsin and the San Francisco Bay Area, Eric spotted a gap in the market, and got into the maintenance and repairs of hybrid electric cars by starting EV Powers Hybrid Battery Service and Repair in April 2013.  Also the founder of Madison Hybrid Group, a community organization of efficiency-focused hybrid owners, Eric knows the hybrid industry inside and out.


“Because many mechanics don’t do hybrid repairs, EV Powers Hybrid Battery Service and Repair provides other options to hybrid car owners who would otherwise have to pay a premium to have their battery serviced by the dealer”, says Eric.  In addition to offering new and refurbished batteries to replace failing hybrid batteries, EV Powers Hybrid Battery Service and Repair is the only shop in the State that will re-balance your battery.  Rebalancing will not fix the battery long-term, but can significantly extend the life and capacity of a failing battery.

Eric travels around Wisconsin to make repairs on site and works out of Sector67 to service Madison’s hybrid vehicles.  In addition to batteries, there are other specifics related to the transmission and cooling systems in hybrid cars that EV Powers Hybrid Battery Service and Repair can provide.  Make sure to check out your hybrid repair options before spending a fortune to have your battery replaced at by dealer!

Check out EV Powers Hybrid Battery Service and Repair’s website for more info:  

This is the third of a series of posts about businesses working out of Sector67.  Check out the previous posts on Wiscowood and Adrian Pereyra.

Posted in Businesses at Sector67

June monthly meeting video

Check out all of the great presentations at June’s Monthly meeting.


Posted in Uncategorized


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