Meet the Makers – Wil from Brown Dog Gadgets

Wil Tushaus

Tell us about yourself.
My name is Wil Tushaus, and I just started working at Brown Dog Gadgets this summer. I’ve always been interested in making things, from Lincoln Logs and LEGOs as a kid, to a disposable camera turned taser in college. At Brown Dog Gadgets we have lots of cool projects for all ages, from non-soldering Solar Bugs, to Arduino based drawing robots.

Solar Bug

What are you presenting at Maker Faire Milwaukee?
We are demo-ing our two drawing robots, the Mega Sketch and the Desk Sketch. The Desk Sketch is a small tabletop machine, a little more than a foot square with a draw area of about 8.5×11. The Mega Sketch works on an easel or whiteboard, and can draw in a few square feet of space. We did scale one up at the office to draw in a 6×6 foot space, we’ve dubbed it the Ultra Sketch!

Why is making important to you?
I think one of the great things about the maker movement are the communities that have come together to share ideas and help each other with problems. I do a lot of looking through sites like Instructables and Thingiverse for ideas of what to do next, or for help when I get stuck. It’s also great to be able to give back to the community when you’ve finished a project of your own. At Brown Dog Gadgets we get help and inspiration from these communities, and we make sure our projects are available open source for anyone who wants to make their own.

Desk Sketch

What was the first thing you remember making?
One of the first things I can remember making was building forts out of waffles when I was a kid. You need two or three big square waffles, toppings, a knife and fork, and a steady hand. Neatly stack up your waffles, and add toppings to taste (butter and maple syrup if you know what’s good). Using your knife and fork carefully cut along the lines separating the dimples in the waffle, first in one direction, then the next. Now you have several towers of individual waffle squares, and you can eat away the interior of the fort. Depending on the size of your waffle, you can make one big open area, or leave interior walls to create rooms. Once the fort is finished, it’s time for the enemy to attack the walls! Finish your waffle by knocking down walls and eating them.

What have you made that you are most proud of?
The Ultra Sketch I mentioned above is a pretty amazing project. In addition to fitting extra long belts and cables we had to design a special gondola to keep the pen from swinging back and forth. We also spent a half day getting everything properly calibrated, but in the end the hard work was worth it! We’ve been taking time-lapse videos and putting them on YouTube so people can watch the Ultra Sketch at work.

Mega Sketch

Given an unlimited budget, what would you make?
I am currently working on a project I call the “Mega Desk,” which is still in the planning phases. The end goal is a combined computer desk and workstation for the things I like to make. The fun part is a control panel for switching power to the PC, monitors, and lights, gauges to monitor the CPU, GPU, and other aspects. Most importantly, are monitors which hide out of sight within the desk. An unlimited budget would pay for woodworking classes, nice hardwoods, and probably a lot more switches!