Build Madison Recap

The first ever Build Madison wrapped up a successful event last weekend. Over 50 participants gathered to work on 10 different projects at Sector67 on Madison’s east side. Build Madison is a “Community Create-a-thon” where people of all ages and skill sets came together to turn ideas into real products in 24 hours.

The event started at 11am Saturday with an idea pitching session, where anyone could pitch an idea for a potential project to work on. Dozens of ideas spanned a wide range of topics, and participants then formed teams to work on different projects. Teams started by planning and designing, then proceeded to implement their idea and turn it into a real product.

Google sponsored snacks, a fully stocked refrigerator of drinks, and pizza for participants. Flatt Cola provided an endless supply of energized cola to keep everyone on their toes. Teams worked diligently throughout the day and into the evening, with many teams working through the night in an effort to complete their projects on time.

Everyone gathered on Sunday at 11am for final project presentations and demos. Teams showed off their projects to a packed room as judges kept an eye out for the top projects. After the presentations wrapped up, judges then conferred and chose the top teams.

Be sure to also check out the live blog, time lapse video, and some pictures. Thanks goes out to all the participants and sponsors who made this a great event.

The projects:

Winner of $500 in cash from PerBlue and 1 year of virtual co-location service from SupraNet.

Brainsy is a web application that provides a better way browse handmade goods. You start by picking from a random assortment of products. Other products are recommended to you based on an algorithm that predicts your preferences. Brainsy was built by Corey Losenegger, Aaron Larner, and Pitt Fagan, web developers at EarthIT. Check out the demo at

Winner of 1 year Enterprise Package social media service from Ring & Klingelhoets and HD Movie Studio Plantinum software from Sony. is a social gambling website with digital cheese instead of money where the bets themselves are added and scored live during sporting events. Our goal as a team was to design, build and launch the website as one fluid process so that it could be live for the Super Bowl the next day. Right now, bets are submitted and scored by our team, but we would like to add a crowd-source component so that our users themselves can submit and score bets in real time. May the cheesiest fan win!

Winner of the runner up glassware from SupraNet. is a personal search engine. Find information from your Facebook, Twitter, Picasa, and other online accounts by searching in one central place.

Atom Bomb Alarm
Winner of HD Movie Studio Plantinum software from Sony.

Atom Bomb Alarm is a wake up call that also calls your friends in the event you don’t pick up or your phone is turned off. Alarms are scheduled via a simple web interface. Users also input two additional backup phone numbers. If the primary phone number doesn’t pick up, the backup phones are called and told, “Go wake your friend up! They missed their alarm!” Perfect for ultra critical moments when you need more than a traditional alarm. The service is live at

Tempest RTS

Tempest is a real time strategy game in HTML5 which took inspiration from Tempest Chess, a real time chess variant. We built the core infrastructure, AI, artwork, and gameplay. It can be played at here.


iTalkBack is a free text to speech application. The iTalkBack app turns the iPad into a communication device for those who need speech assistance. This iPad application replaces very expensive dedicated communication devices while providing great ease of customization that can be performed by users and/or their caretakers.

Please follow us for update and release information.!/iTalkBack

NextGen X-10
Raffle winner of the $100 credit to

Many people have used and sworn at X-10 remote appliance controllers for decades. They provide plug-in modules into which you can plug lights and appliances, and then remotely control the modules (and the attached devices) from hand-held key-fobs or timer-controllers or day-night controllers. X-10 is very flakey in use, the modules fail often and are increasingly expensive. High-tech replacements (ZigBee/Lustron et all) are massively more expensive yet.

This project’s goal was to prototype a timer-controller to use with cheap, off-the-self 434 Mhz RF-controlled appliance modules. An Arduino micro-controller would be hooked to a postage-stamp-size RF transmitter; software on the Arduino would receive commands over its serial port to set timed events (a device to be turned on/off daily at a stated time) and would continuously scan its table of stored events, executing them as their time arrives. A user interface running on a laptop would be developed to create event lists and download them to the Arduino’s serial port.

Using some code snippets from prior Sector67 Arduino classes and an RF transmitter I bought from Chris on the spot, I spent about 5-6 hours developing and debugging a working prototype, using the open-source Arduino development tools and and using LiveCode ( on the laptop side.

Tap It

I built a casual game for the iPhone, tentatively called “Tap It.” The gameplay works very similarly to an orignal “Bop IT!”. A sound plays telling the player what to do, and then the player must do the action fast enough to continue playing. As time goes on, the gameplay gets faster.

Y Comments

Y Comments is a small piece of Javascript that embeds comment threads on the popular Hacker News discussion website on an external page. This allows bloggers and authors on the web to submit their posts to Hacker News and then include the ensuing discussion on their own site instead of simply linking to Hacker News
itself. The result is free external comment hosting (like Disqus) provided by a forum with a large and engaged community of tech professionals. More information is available at

Google Map Atwood Mashup

The project is intended to provide a map of points of interest in the immediate vicinity of Sector 67. The map centers on Sector 67, but there is nothing preventing points of interest from being added at any location on the planet.

The map can be viewed and edited by anyone who navigates to is a website inspired by, thingiverse, and many other maker related websites. makerbits’ goal is to be a repository of parts, datasheets, projects, and to give users the ability to track their stuff and lend/sell parts and tools to other makers in need. It also is designed to help hackerspaces and other shared work environments more organized. is a work in progress, and should be live in a few more weeks.

iPad Point of Sale

The goal of our project was to make a menu and point-of-sale system on a tablet device. Each restaurant would be able to create their own distinctive menu, and provide as much data as they wanted for each item. We created a category & sub-category system that would allow diners to filter menu items down, such as “Vegetarian”. Patrons would be able to create their profiles, which would contain their payment options, accumulate loyalty rewards the restaurant might offer, and the entire table could easily split their checks for individual payment.

We chose .NET & C# for our tools to create this web service. Unfortunately we were unable to finish in time. We finished creating the database, inserted 42 menu items with pictures, graphics for an example restaurant, and created back-end maintenance screens.

Magnifying Glass Stop Motion Video

Build Madison Time Lapse

Live @ Build Madison

Sunday @ 12:45 pm The project presentations are all wrapped up and the prizes have been awarded. There were some really awesome projects that came together over the last day. A more detailed Build Madison follow up post will be available soon and will also include more information on each project. The prizes:

$500 Cash from PerBlue – Team Brainsy
1 Year of Hosting from SupraNet – Team Brainsy
Runner up prize from SupraNet – Team Requestd
Software from Sony – Team Cheesebet, Team Atom Bomb Alarm
Consulting from Ring & Klingelhoets – Team Cheesebet

Team Presentations

Sunday @ 10:40 am The smell of freshly made bacon fills the air at Sector 67 this morning. Many people have worked diligently through the night on their projects. Teams are making last minute additions to their projects and beginning to prep for their presentations which will begin shortly. 20 minutes to go…

11:30 pm Teams are pushing through and will soon be burning that midnight oil. A few teams have wrapped up their projects and are ready to call it a night. Most are still around and cranking away. A few people have even started making a stop motion movie involving kung fu. 11.5 hours to go.

10:06 pm Teams are still going strong. Many projects are starting to look like real products, others are just starting to come together. A participant from the cheesebet team said, “We have 9 people – including programmers, biz dev, designers, and writers and we’re tackling the whole project in a pretty coordinated way.” Another participant said, “I should be doing my homework, but this is more fun.”

8:23 pm The stack of Ian’s pizza is gone and teams are back to busily coding, designing, and plotting world domination. The custom made TurboTap chiller has managed to find itself a keg of Spotted Cow and is dispensing happiness for the enjoyment of all. Code and Cow are flowing freely.

The Pizza
The Cow

5:19 pmBuild Madison is fully underway. The community create-a-thon kicked off shortly after 11am this morning. Over 50 participants gathered at Sector 67 to pitch ideas for a wide variety of potential projects to work on. After some discussion and brainstorming, teams formed to work on around 10 different projects.

The ideas currently being worked on include an iPad based point of sale system for restaurants, a personal search engine, a speech based bus trip planning service, a parts database, phone syncing software, a Super Bowl betting website, a recommendation service for Etsy, an RTS grid based game, an SMS alarm clock, an embedded commenting platform, and curriculum based software for schools.

Most of the teams have finished up with the design and planning of their projects and are now fully immersed in the implementation. Google sponsored snacks and drinks for everyone (and pizza in a little while for dinner), and Flatt Cola is keeping everyone energized.

There are now less than 18 hours to go before project presentations tomorrow morning. More updates to come throughout the event…

During the idea pitching session.