Category Archives: Makers

Were we “loud” enough for you this year?

A month ago on the 4 & 5 August 2012, the Science Centre Singapore organised the inaugural Singapore Mini Maker Faire.

Stephen February – Urban Microfarming using Hydroponics

It was a bang. We had over 20 maker booths, 6 vendors, two fully packed days of workshops and talks, plus lots of visitors.

The venue was packed and activity-filled.

Everybody were full of anticipation; the organisers to see the birth of the inaugural event here in Singapore, the makers to showcase their makes, the volunteers to be part of the team, and the visitors to find out what a Maker Faire is all about. Some were even keen “followers” of the Maker Faire culture in the United States and were all excited about it. Overall, it was all excitment in the air.

Launch of the inaugural Singapore Mini Maker Faire!

The event was launched by Professor Lim Tit Meng, Chief Executive, Science Centre Singapore.

The launch was truly amazing, not only because it was done with an in-house confetti cannon launch mechanism, but because of the warm spirit in the air. Everybody crowded enthusiastically near the stage and it felt like a countdown to a family party.

 The launch was also nicely accompanied with the impromptu launch music by Jolyon, one of our Makers! :)  

Jolyon with his Jolyonophone

Personally, I think it was an eye-opening experience. It felt as if I were at a country carnival. Every booth was fun and interesting. You can find ingenious makes and concepts, and you can find the gadgets that you need to do the same thing!

Veera from SL2 helping a little boy lifting DIY weights!

You get to produce music using bananas (with the use of the makey-makey), see a blimp fly all over the hall, see water rockets shooting all over the place just outside the hall and many others. More photos are available on our Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/SingaporeMiniMakerFaire.

Joel Tong with his Gyrating Electrical Enigmatic Blimp

Before the event even started, many of you were already busy tweeting and posting Facebook posts about it. Thanks to all your active participation, the event even caught the interest of some local papers and some of the makers were interviewed.

It was an enjoyable two days. Thanks to you, the first ever Singapore Mini Maker Faire had indeed made ourselves heard. If we were not “loud” enough for you this year, come help us make the event “louder” the next time round!

P.S:- Did the Faire inspire you to make something? Did you embark on any project after that? I did, and you can read about it here. Cheers.

About National Instruments

At the inaugural Singapore Mini Maker Faire, National Instruments (NI) presents the NI LabVIEW Robotics Starter Kit, also known as DaNI, an industrial-grade, out-of-the-box robotics platform designed for teaching robotics and mechantronics concepts or for prototyping a robotic system, and Angry Eagle.

Read on to find out more.

About the booth

Through our interview, NI shared with us that their booth will showcase the above two items.  The robotic demo showcases a Platform that allows you to quickly start prototyping your own autonomous application. It comes with an NI Single-Board RIO embedded controller that is mounted on top of a Pitsco TETRIX erector robot base, Ultrasonic sensor, encoders, motors and battery. This is an easy-to-use platform to start designing your first autonomous robot.

The second demo is the Angry Eagle game with actual slingshot. A big slingshot is built to fire the angry eagle. A force sensor and a variable resistor are used to measure the force and the angle that the player asserted. The data collected is transmitted to the computer through WiFi using NI WiFi Data Acquisition device(DAQ). Upon receiving the data from the WiFi DAQ, the computer program simulate the force and fires an eagle to break the bricks. With LabVIEW, the graphical programming platform, and simple NI DAQ devices, a lot of computer games can be brought to reality without much knowledge in computing. 

Do visit their booth to speak with their engineers to learn more!

About the workshop

Besides the booth showcases, NI will also conduct a presentation entitled “Hack the Kinect and Other Cool Sensors with LabVIEW” . In this session, NI will introduce to you how to hack the Microsoft Xbox Kinect, iRobot Create, Neato lidar, Google Android, Apple iPhone, Texas Instruments ez430-Chronos, Nintendo Wii remote and Nunchuck, and the Arduino Uno with NI LabVIEW.
The common factor of the presentation and the booth is the platform behind all the interesting projects. This platform is called LabVIEW. LabVIEW is a graphical programming platform, inheriting the idea of a flowchart.  

They had conducted one session of the workshop at the first day, but you are still in time to catch them for the 1pm session today. Don’t miss it!

Encouraging more makers

When asked how we should encourage Singaporeans to make things, NI replied that the first step would be to educate Singaporeans on all the tools that are out there which will enable one to pretty much do whatever one wants. The next and much bigger step would be to provide Singaporeans access to these tools without breaking the piggy bank. NI’s main advice would be to find as many like minded individuals and work on team based projects, so that cost is distributed and teammates can motivate one another to stretch their goals further. They also acknowledge that the lack of facilities would be a limiting factor. NI is open to talking to anyone who is interested in building these core facilities up for Singapore.

Today is the second and last day of our Mini Maker Faire. Check them out!

GEEB

GEEB. It is short for the Gyrating Electrical Enigmatic Blimp, an Arduino-based remote controlled vehicle.

Joel and the GEEB

What makes the GEEB cool is its ability to understand tweets sent by you.

The GEEB is trained to understand spoken commands as a human would, based on a trained AI system using Natural Language Processing methods. It runs on an Arduino and Python-based system, and has a live camera feed on-board.

About the Maker

Joel Tong is a member of the Singapore Academy of Young Engineers and Scientists (SAYES) and is also preparing to enter University in the United States. He has started prototyping the GEEB since February this year. Some pictures of his prototyping process could be found here. Joel will be at the SAYES booth on Saturday morning. Do catch him when he is around!

So what are you waiting for? Start tweeting! @TehZProject

Chemistry Quest and its young inventor Yoneyama Yuito

About Chemistry Quest workshop

Chemistry Quest

CHEMISTRY QUEST is a game where you will explore the world of elements by bonding atoms to create chemicals. Your aim is to maximize your points by making bigger and more complicated elements. This game is also suitable for children who may not be able to understand the word or subject of Chemistry. Use this game as an introduction to learn chemical bonding.  In the finale of the game, you would get a chance to challenge the original inventor of the game!

If you enjoy chemistry or card games, be sure to come for the Chemistry Quest tournament! Meet the game’s young inventor from Japan and get a chance to purchase the limited English editions of the game!
The tournament is free, but slots are limited – pre-register at http://bit.ly/LPSD9w to confirm your slot.

About Yoneyama Yuito (The inventor of the Game)

Yuito was born in 1999. During his International Preschool days, he came across the planets in the Solar System and became amazed by the mysteries and wonders in the Universe. When he was in Primary 2, he took interest in the composition of fossils and minerals. Hence, he started reading text books on elements which was meant for high school students. One day, he saw his fellow classmate making a card game.

This inspired him to make his very own. The concept he had was a game which emphasizes on getting friends together, rather than for friends to ‘fight out’ each other. Hence, he decided to build the game around the theme of atom bonding. Thereafter, he even attended the closing event of the Tokyo International Science Festival 2010 in attempt to share his creation with the others. In 2011, he founded ChemistryQuest Inc. He was then Primary 6 but he made an important step to make his game available to as many people as possible.

When asked what he thought should be done to encourage people to make things and advice he would give to other makers, Yuito shared his views on the importance of sharing with others what you have made or invented. He emphasised on being global.

Young Yuito is now working on the iPhone version of the game which will be released this summer.

DIY Life: Lifehacking 101

James Norris seemed a rather interesting personality. He will be conducting a 30-minute “DIY Life: Lifehacking 101” workshop at this weekend’s inaugural Singapore Mini Maker Faire 2012.

Read on to find out how different this workshop will be compared to the others.

The workshop

You will not be getting a physical make out of this workshop. Instead, James promises you a practical and interactive workshop on some of the best ways of “hacking your life” to maximise your personal growth. It will cover High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) to help you spend less time in the gym, the 6 Second Pause to help you manage your emotions, the 5:1 Ratio to improve your relationships, a formula from a behavioural psychologist that may change your life (B=MAT), and many others.

The facilitator

When I checked out James’ website, he has a page on his bio with a nice word cloud introduction. “Personal”, “Time”, “Focus”, “Everything” and “Life” stood out, amidst many other words that describe him. It seemed that he is someone who valued life and personal time a lot, but he is also very focused so that he can fully utilise his time (my interpretation).

James Norris’ Personal Word Cloud

James told us that he has given this talk or variants of it a few times at Barcamps and they were always well received. He has been speaking on the topic for a few years now. If you are wondering what are Barcamps, google it on the internet, but in short, it is a user-generated conference session where participants gather prepared with topics they would like to talk on, but whether they get to speak or not would depend on whether they get a vote from the other participants. Interesting, isn’t it?

When asked what inspired him to conduct this talk, James shared that he enjoyed doing it because he can summarise in 30 minutes the highlights of what he took a decade to learn, something which appealed to him, a self-proclaimed efficiency-and-effectiveness-junkie. Though amused, I think such efficiency would definitely appeal to many others as well, in today’s society. Isn’t it? Looking deeper, you can also see a person who is very keen to share his knowledge with us.

James also shared that he is also a maker although he usually use the term builder. He hangs out with people from Hackerspace a lot and sees awesome stuff happening in Singapore, e.g. a window farm in a Raffles office. He just felt that the Singaporean makers should receive more publicity. When we asked how Singaporeans should be encouraged to make stuff, he jokingly said to hand out a homework assignment with two words on it: “Make something”. I cannot help but smile at that.

Like many other makers, James advised that if you would like to make something, do not wait. You can even find someone to build with, but the crucial point is to do it now.

To learn more about James Norris and his project, check out www.jamesnorris.org/personalgrowth and www.selfspark.com.

Introducing Roan Yong – Presenting on “The Rise of Enchanters”

Roan Yong

Roan Yong (@roanyong) is the author of Social Collaboration e-book. He describes himself as an expert on intranet, and a thought leader on exploiting self-interest to enable bottom-up collaboration, innovation, and community-building. He gives free talks on collaboration to non-profit organisations and public agencies.

Roan started talking about social collaboration and the importance of the intranet because he enjoyed tinkering with the concept of intranet and sharing ideas with other people. His objective is to pull like-minded people to have fun talking about these issues, and also to build their interest to be intranet citizen developer.

More a tinkerer than a maker, that was what he said to us. He would design, revamp, or build a sub-site in the intranet using widely-available intranet “webparts” to improve the user experience.

When asked on the maker scene in Singapore, Roan expressed outright that it is not as big as that in the United States. He felt that Singaporeans should be encouraged to dream bigger.

Quoting Steve Jobs, “Stay hungry, stay foolish”. That’s what he uses to stay motivated. Would this be applicable for you too? Give it a thought.

If you are interested to speak with Roan Yong on social collaboration, look out for this presentation on 4 August 2012.

RS Components: DesignSpark – Demonstrating the Raspberry Pi!

DesignSpark by RS Components is a progressive engineering community dedicated to providing an interactive outlet to the engineering world that will be featured at the Singapore Mini Maker Faire this year!

About DesignSpark

DesignSpark is an online engineering community sponsored by RS Components that provides a gateway to online resources and design support for engineers. Created two years ago, DesignSpark.com is an interactive environment for all types of engineers to express their ideas, share their knowledge, and learn from others. Upon free registration to this conducive community, one also has free access to the award winning PCB Design Tool, thousands of free 3D models, and the eTech (a digital and tablet edition electronics magazine), all of which will be featured at DesignSpark’s Mini Maker Faire booth and workshop, so be sure to check out these free DIY tools to amplify your engineering experience!

Raspberry Pi: A Demonstration

The Raspberry Pi is a credit-card sized bare board that operates many of the functions of a PC, featured by RS Components DesignSpark. Add a keyboard, a mouse, and plug it into a TV, and then it functions just like a basic computer! These days, with society’s ever progressive technology it is almost impossible to see the computer at its bare working basics; however, the Raspberry Pi allows us to take bring technology back about 20 years to its bare essentials. Aspiring engineers everywhere are now able to learn about computer programming interactively—using the Raspberry Pi system, students are able to program their own codes and see how the computer responds to them. It’s all about discovering the world of computers in its most simplistic and beneficial form! DesignSpark will be demonstrating the Raspberry Pi at the Mini Maker Faire, so stop by at the faire to check out this new and innovative way to learn engineering!

DesignSpark is Amplifying Ideas

Upon speaking with the members of the DesignSpark community, I found the organization to be very dynamic—DesignSpark is dedicated in inspiring engineers to fuel their passion and in turning ideas into realities. In both their booth and workshop, they will demonstrate how their free design tools, such as the DesignSpark PCB and the 3D cad model can help makers turn their conceptual ideas into a concrete design. The tools DesignSpark is presenting will break the barriers in designing and spark new ideas for inspired makers everywhere! Currently, DesignSpark is working on the DesignSpark PCB verion 4, which will be the introduction of industry open source hardware platform to its community members. DesignSpark is certainly enthusiastic about sharing knowledge and creativity to help the maker community of Singapore thrive!

Come experience being a Kampung Maker!

Sixteen makers and 6 discovery zones with an interesting myriad of hands-on activities! – This is my brief introduction of the booths of the Sustainable Living Lab (SL2) at the Singapore Mini Maker Faire 2012.

Looking forward to see the cool stuffs that the SL2 makers are going to showcase? Come check it out with me for a sneak preview now!

About Sustainable Living Lab (SL2)

The Sustainable Living Lab (SL2) is Singapore’s first semi-outdoor kampung (village) lab and prototyping facility that enables local innovators, organisations and students to serve their communities and the bottom-of-the-pyramid better. SL2 is located at the Sustainable Living Kampung, a space created by Ground-Up Initiative (GUI), a non-profit community in Bottle Tree Park in Yishun.

Meet the Makers

Ibnur – SL2’s co-founder. A community-oriented innovator at GUI, Ibnur believes in the kampung spirit of ground-up innovation to solve sustainability challenges. He had been a maker/inventor since a tender age, having been influenced by his grandparents and parents whom he cited as “amazing individuals [who] have been the fountains from which [his] ideas flow from and also reminders for [him] to serve greater purposes in life”. His engineering education also provided the opportunities for several of his inventing and prototyping experiences such as antennas, sensors, filters, food dryers, bio-chips and ‘invisibility cloaks’ (Urgh, don’t we all think of Harry Potter when we hear “invisibility cloaks”?) 

Ibnur, together with Veera (below), had worked on projects that tackled issues in rural India, winning him UNESCO-Daimler Mondialogo Engineering Awards. Striving to nurture innovation across villages, he now co-leads the Sustainable Living Lab (SL2).

Veera – SL2’s co-founder. Veera has been making knickknacks and doodads for as along as he can remember. A kampung tinkerer at Ground-Up Initiative (GUI), his maker journey started with Meccano and Lego kits. Taking up Design & Technology as an O Level subject, he had ample opportunities to hone his skills in wood and metal working which served him well as a Mechanical Engineer in the National University of Singapore (NUS) where he designed and built solar pond dryers, flying wind turbines and miniature toothpick furniture.  Like Ibnur, Veera spent some time in the Silicon Valley gaining him valuable exposure to the overseas “garage culture”. On returning to Singapore, he co-founded the Sustainable Living Lab with like-minded maker buddies to develop the kampung culture of innovation in Singapore.

Huei Ming – SL2’s co-founder. Huei Ming is also presently a teaching assistant for the Engineering Science Programme at NUS where he is implementing a new design project for engineering students to construct their own low cost scanning tunnelling microscopes and guiding students on existing engineering design projects involving the fabrication of microfluidic devices and constructing wi-fi antennas.

There are 13 other makers (Zi Jing, Eugene, Yoga, Lianhan, Bart, Robin, Poh Hong, Melanie, Sullivan, Sid, Joyce, Natalie and Leonard) who all have a nice profile each created under the SL2 website (http://www.sl2square.org/category/news/singapore-mini-maker-faire/). Do check them out and see if you can spot them during the Faire this weekend!

What are they showcasing?

SL2 will be bringing some of the coolest stuff made by their kampung innovators out from their lab in Yishun. This includes bamboo amplifiers for the iPhone (which had an interesting name of iBam and iBam2), keychains & luggage tags made from decommissioned fire hoses, awesome cardboard sculptures put together by their cardboard designer extraordinaire, Bartholomew Ting, cool flatpacked cardboard furniture, cardboard building blocks, home brew kampung fitness equipment, water rockets and even PET bottle gardens and novel home gardening systems. You can even try out some tools and equipment at their mini wood working shop.

“MAKE” Cardboard Sculpture (Photo credit: SL2 Facebook page)

 SL2 is also promising interesting workshops to make your own play-dough, catapult, mini building blocks, water rockets, compost and cardboard sculptures which will engage your mind, body and soul!And that is not the end, as SL2 brings in games that would incorporate these DIY toys. I can already visualise lots of excited children!

Advice

SL2’s founding team was very humble when we asked them for advice for budding makers. They felt that their team is still young, and they do not have much wisdom yet to share as they are still walking the Maker path.

However, they shared 3 maxims which they live by and practised in one form or another at the Sustainable Living Lab (SL2):

Firstly, “If it ain’t fun, it ain’t right.” Secondly, “No prototype, no talk.” And, lastly, “Don’t just make your product, make your story.”

Maker Scene in Singapore

On the maker scene in Singapore, they would like to believe that there are many others in Singapore who share similar aspirations, as they felt that Singapore is in dire need of makers who are creative, hands-on and take risks, so as to build a Singapore that is vibrant, dynamic yet responsible and sustainable. The Maker scene is still young, so they do not know of many yet. They hope that through the involvement in the Singapore Mini Maker Faire, they could get to know more amazing ground-up innovators.

They added that our local maker scene can be likened to a baby Pheonix hatchling. It is not something new in Singapore, but more as something lost in our present young generation that is now in revival. They felt that it is important to rebuild the hands-on culture which was common in the days of our grandparents, where the kampong spirit prevails, where people spend more time together outdoor doing meaningful stuffs together.

To stay tuned to the SL2 stories, check out their Facebook pages on: www.facebook.com/sl2square and www.facebook.com/groundupinitiative. But first and foremost, come by the Singapore Mini Maker Faire at Science Centre Singapore this weekend (4 & 5 August).

Introducing the Portabee – You can now have your own 3D printer and bring it along everywhere!

First of all, if you have not heard of a 3D printer, it is a mechanism which allows you to print 3D stuffs (as the name suggests). What is different about the Portabee DIY 3D printer is that it is light at 2.8kg and can easily collapse in a matter of seconds and fits into a laptop bag, making it transportable anywhere! Get that visual image in your mind?

Portabee

In an interview, Kiam Peng from Orangeknob shares with us more.

 How they got started

 It all started as a project to make it easier for them make 3D prototypes. Kiam Peng and his partners have been tinkering with electronics and musical-related stuffs such as electronic drum machines and effect pedals but they were at a discovery stage. However, when 3D printing came along, the initial plans were all shelved. They had bought a Thing-o-Matic, an automatic 3D printer by MakerBot. They then realised that Thing-o-Matic is associated with open source products and it inspired them to make a reprap. A reprap is short for Replicating Rapid Prototypers. Their intention was to make something that is more self-replicating, i.e. allowing the making of components which can be assembled into another DIY 3D printer. Voila! The rest is up to your imagination.

We were told that Orangeknob took about 9 months to be able to release their first printer, the Durbie. In that process, they faced challenges of a 9-to-5 job, getting support from people around them etc. The process might be difficult but it must also be rewarding for the Makers to see the fruits of their hard work.

 What will they be sharing

During the upcoming Singapore Mini Maker Faire on 4 & 5 August, Orangeknob will be managing a booth, workshops and presentations.

 At their booth, they will showcase their printers (Durbie, Portabee, Portabee-x) and some of their printed parts.

If you would like to have your own DIY 3D printer, get one before the Mini Maker Faire and learn how to assemble it during the workshop that they will be conducting there.

 They are also excited to share their experiences in coming up with such a gadget during their presentation, despite being “not very comfortable with public speaking”, according to Kiam Peng. They will share on how they went in the open source direction into the world of DIY 3D printing, the challenges they face and their future projects.

Encouraging Makers in Singapore

Kiam Peng shared that they were not aware of a Maker culture in Singapore. They were focusing more on the international markets but slowly meet more people and realised there are people who owned CNC machines and printers at home. They felt that technological advances had already brought down the cost of prototyping, and that the cost of a 3D printer is approaching the cost of a laser/ink printer! I find myself nodding in agreement. The thought is exhilarating!

Kiam Peng felt that the maker culture will spread as more people do it, in view of our close proximity with one another. We certainly hope so too!

Orangeknob is now working towards producing big printers and other niche printers. To learn more about them, check them out at the Singapore Mini Maker Faire 2012, coming to you in 2 days at the Science Centre Singapore.

Jolyonophone – Music from Science!

Ever heard of “Jolyonophone”? It is okay if you have not heard of it before, but come to the Singapore Mini Maker Faire 2012 on 4 & 5 Aug to see the real thing! Meanwhile, check out this photo for a preview!

Jolyonophone

What is a “Jolyonophone”?

A “Jolyonophone” is a self-sustaining two-string slide guitar with a water-pipe theme (see above picture). It is named after its inventor Jolyon Caplin.

The gadget was also used during the opening ceremony of the Gardens by the Bay recently!

 About the Maker

 Jolyon Caplin has been teaching, inventing and entertaining in Singapore for 24 years. During the day, Jolyon is located in Singapore Polytechnic. At other times, he plays with music, electronics, unicycles (wow!) and keeps trying out ideas and technical twists at home or in his unusual laboratory.

He shared that his work is also his hobby, and he has always loved seeing how things work and are made. Although he is officially an electronics guy, Jolyon expressed that he is wildly interested in everything from MRT construction to buildings, road structure, cars, several aspects of the Arts, etc.

At 10 years old, he made his first projects of cardboard box theatres with coloured lighting, and moved on to make light flashers, simple radios and other things from “junk” that people passed down to him and bits and pieces from the neighbourhood hardware shops or $2 stores. Usually, these items will be used in ways different from what they were intended to be. For example, the Jolyonophone was initially meant to demonstrate to school children how an electric guitar works, but he ended up adding automatic motors to make it play by itself!

Besides “Jolyonophone”, Jolyon will also be showcasing the “Ped-accompaniment” foot-controlled, chord-based backing themes for a street performer, a “Whirly-horn” shower-hose, water-funnel horn for fun music-making and more. Jolyon has also kindly agreed to demonstrate some performances at intervals. You should watch out for them!

On the Singapore Maker Scene

When asked about the Singapore Maker Scene, Jolyon said that groups like Hackerspace.sg collect quite a few like-minded people –many of whom are also fabulous at programming weird and wonderful systems – though not all are as crazy about manipulating electronics / anything-onics as he is!  He felt that most Singaporeans enjoy the activities of watching TV, surfing the internet, or playing destructive shoot-‘em-up games – leaving them with no time left to get practical! He opined that getting them to make things would be challenging, though he is still keen to do so.

Advice for budding Makers

Like many other Makers, Jolyon has a simple piece of advice to budding Makers:- Make time to tinker!

It is very true indeed, as most people would need the push to get started, so if you are thinking of trying your hands at something that had inspired your creative juice, please heed Jolyon’s advice and wait no further. Gather the materials and start putting them together now!

Jolyon added that it is important to enjoy what you do, not to try too hard or be too exact, and be ready to adapt ideas, and you may be surprised how good you can be!

If you do not wish to miss out on such interesting musical demonstrations, join us at the Singapore Mini Maker Faire 2012 next weekend at the Science Centre Singapore.