January Monthly Meeting

Finally, Winter in Wisconsin! The snow and 28-degree weather didn’t keep inquiring minds from attending this month’s meeting. January topics ranged from robot controllers to laser cut pinecones to tire pressure monitor hacks to building your own CNC router.  More info below!

EZ-B WiFi Robot Controller Demo

EJ, one of Sector’s business incubator residents, is a software engineer by trade.   EJ has been watching the progress being made on Jeff’s WALL-E and offered to share his expertise in controlling WALL-E’s robotic arms.

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In staying within his 7-minute presentation time, EJ demonstrated how quickly and easily the EZ-B WiFi Robot Controller (~$79)”black box” (actually white!) could be programmed using EZ builder software. Unlike an Arduino, the WiFi controller doesn’t need a physical connection to the computer running the software.  In addition, the programmed commands can be saved to the cloud and transferred to another device (i.e. iPad) for use. IMG_9169

There were tons of “ooooos and ahhhhs” from the audience as EJ brought the robotic arm to life during the presentation.  Here’s a great video about the capabilities of the EZ-Builder software, which include voice recognition, servo control, vision recognition and tracking and so much more.


Hi-Tech Pine Cones

Inspired by nature and on a quest to create some unique holiday gifts, Kate set out to build a laser-cut pinecone.  Because she had some unique features in mind, Kate created her own design.  The final pattern consisted of twenty uniquely-shaped slices of wood, which when stacked would simulate the shape of a pinecone while also having the interior space to hold a battery-operated votive candle.

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After “many hours” of laser time, it took Kate “a long movie” to carefully stack and glue all of the slices in the correct order into the desired shape.  The result is quite beautiful, don’t you think?

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Here’s a link to Kate’s full presentation which includes some additional pictures and video of her project.

Using SDR technology for DIY Tire Pressure Monitoring

Doug’s presentation walked the audience through his quest to explore the use of SDR (Software-Defined Radio) to build a TPMS (Tire Pressure Monitoring System) for the new wheels he put on his truck that didn’t have enough rim spacing to fit the sensors on them.  Doug captured the signal on a TV tuner, and then used a SDR transmitter to create a radio dialogue with the TPMS to fool it into thinking the tires were all inflated properly.  Doug was able to successfully complete his mission, shared the results, and generated lots of interest from inquiring minds at the meeting.  The audience had lots of questions and Doug had all the answers!  All just to eliminate a chime when his truck was started and a light on the dash.

For more information about SDR, try these resources:

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Build Your Own CNC Router Kit

Chris has been working with Monona Grove Alternative High School (MG21) students  to build a X-Carve CNC Router from a kit purchased from Inventables (~900).  While the students built the physical portion, Brian took on the task of finishing up tuning the controller.  Chris and Brian demonstrated the router and answered questions from the group about capabilities of the device compared to the more robust CNC we have onsite at Sector67.  There was also discussion of purchasing US vs China models (see related article from December meeting) from a cost, time, and customer service perspective.

Software discussed during the presentation was:

Easel (available through the Inventables website)


“Pour Yer Heart Out”  Iron Pour Collaboration Reminder

Alisa Toninato from FeLion Studios joined the meeting to tell us more about the 6th Annual “Pour Yer Heart Out” Iron Pour Collaboration event which will be held in the Sector67 parking lot on February 6.  Chris and Alisa shared tips and tricks for success in designing moulds for the event. Even if you don’t choose to participate by creating a heart mould, stop by Sector67 on Saturday, February 6th to watch the event!

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For information on the event, click here and here.


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