Tag Archives: arduino

More than just a prank

The name of this showcase is very playful, but it is definitely more than just a prank.

Ted Chen will be showcasing three items during the Singapore Mini Maker Faire on 27 & 28 July and “Prank” is one of them. So, curious to know what is Prank? Check out this 40-second YouTube video below.

Well, prank indeed it is. So, what ideas do you have now after watching this?

Besides “Prank”, Ted will be displaying the “Directional Sound” which is a portable directional speaker prototype that allows sound to be “beamed” in a particular direction. The last item would be “Internet of Things” which features mini projects using Arduino and WiFi Shield.

Who is Ted?

Ted introduces himself as a geek who likes hardware stuffs, started building random projects like mini vending machines from high school times. He felt that his internship at Texas Instruments was a major turning point for him because of the exposure to plenty of professional development kits that he could tinker with, and that he managed to interest Texas Instruments to sponsor his final year project at the end of his internship.

Ted's Final Year Project

Ted’s Final Year Project

While he used to make things on his own in his student years, Ted has now progressed to partnering with other people and companies to take on new projects. He felt that the biggest challenge of a student maker is to juggle time between school work and making activities. He shared that he had never regretted choosing these activities over school work because he felt that the project experience and portfolio he built up are more valuable than Grade Point Average (GPA) results.

As he progressed beyond school, his challenges shifted to building solutions which can scale and are reliable, and to learn to deal with corporate clients and multilayer procedures.

Maker Movement in Singapore and the challenges

For someone who is not new to making and building, Ted expressed optimism in the way forward for the maker movement, considering that there are more push for the making culture with the advent of the Singapore Mini Maker Faire, coupled with grants from SPRING Singapore and the National Research Foundation (NRF).  He shared that he had attended many different meet-up events and had met many people who are working on cool projects with the aid of government grants.

Are you interested in the kind of things that Ted has made? Check out his booth at SCAPE Warehouse this weekend!

“Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.” – Benjamin Franklin

Visitors at the inaugural Singapore Mini Maker Faire would probably remember a booth with a digital ‘Like’ counter tied to poles as well as the adjacent booth with electronic kits for kids.

New Picture (2)

Wai Him (left) and Adrian (right)

The digital counter was controlled by an Arduino, an open-source platform that allows people to build their own gadgets while the electronic kits are for younger children to start tinkering with electronics as they are less intimidating. The booths belong to friends Adrian and Wai Him, both makers and hobbyists.

Many visitors to their booths discovered that the electronic kits and Arduino are fantastic platforms for their children to pick-up electronics in an interesting way through experiential learning. Adrian and Wai Him shared with me something once said by Benjamin Franklin, one of the Founding Fathers of the United States, that a person may forget if he was simply being told. Hence, this explains the title of this blogpost. Adrian and Wai Him are guided by the belief that a person may remember if being taught (such as using additional visual aids like powerpoint), but the real learning occurs when the person is involved through experimentation and play.

Adrian and Wai Him have joined forces this year in returning to the second Singapore Mini Maker Faire. On top of their maker booth, they will have a presentation to share on how families can have fun, learn together and build interactive projects for the home making use of the Arduino platform. Let’s hear from them more as returning makers. :)

What makes you return to the Mini Maker Faire?

A & WH : This event is a good opportunity for the general public to have a better understanding of the Maker Culture. By soaking in the atmosphere of Makers, Dreamers, Creators and Builders at the Maker Faire, people would be inspired to start making their own creations and hopefully in turn enrich their lives.

What was your experience like during the last Maker Faire? Did you notice any trend among the people interested in your booth and your gadgets? Were they people who are already into electronics or novices? What did it feel like sharing your experience with electronic gadgets?

A & WH : Some visitors had never heard about the ‘Arduino’ & the maker movement. After sharing, they seems motivated enough to go explore further. Some had heard a little about ‘Arduino’ but don’t know how to take the first step. We’re heartened to have interacted with many parents at our booths who wished their child can learn electronics and have fun along the way.

(Personally, I think it is encouraging when you get visitors who have no prior knowledge of your stuffs. It is a possible sign that people are keen to find out more about something beyond their comfort zone, and that is a good thing! At the point of the interview, Adrian and Wai Him were still contemplating how to better help those interested to find out more about Arduino. It is great to learn of their subsequent decision to share more via a presentation. )

Did you think the Maker Faire was useful to the maker movement here? Did you see any changes since then?

A & WH : Yes to both. There has been impact especially to those who are already aware and searching around for the community of makers locally. One of your Science Centre colleague William Hooi has been very active in the maker community and generating interest in the maker scene. More should be done to raise awareness in the maker movement. This is a good platform for science centre to reach-out to the public and schools and make learning science and technology fun by leveraging on the diversity of ideas of the maker community.

(Kudos to William and his relentless efforts!)

What are you intending to showcase this time?

A & WH : Like last year, our concept is still to bring across the message ‘Start your Maker journey one small step at a time.  In time to come, you’ll look back and find you’ve taken a giant leap’. We will extend our showcase based on last year. So we’ll still show the ‘Like’ counter. To show what it was last year and how it has evolved this year. We’re also planning an interactive light or sound display that is controlled by participants at the booth (eg using distance sensors).

In addition to introducing and selling electronics/hobbyist parts and kits, we’re planning to conduct experiential learning workshops in electronics, Arduino and Arduino robotics.

What are your expectations from the second Mini Maker Faire held in Singapore, and what would you like to achieve out of it?

A & WH : We hope that the second Mini Maker Faire brings more people together (compared to last year) and raise more people’s awareness on the maker movement.

Hope that Science Centre can do more on publicity so that the event can be made known to people who are NOT aware of the maker movement. Is there a better way (or more fund) to reach out to more schools such as with resources from MOE? How about asking last year’s participants (including makers, vendors, sponsors) to publicise on their website or during their events etc

(A & WH provided us very honest feedback about his expectations from the second Singapore Mini Maker Faire. Indeed, we are also looking at extending our reach beyond those who are already fans of the maker movement, so that more can benefit from the goodness of this movement. The importance of the call for more publicity is very real, and we will not be able to do it alone. Throughout the past year, since the last Faire, it is heartening that our following (at seen from our Facebook page) had nearly doubled, and more importantly, we have seen a growth in the variety of the makers that have got to know about the Faire. *beam* Hence, as suggested by A & WH, we hope to garner all your support to help us spread the words as much as possible, by linking to our blog, liking our Facebook page, following our Twitter account and sharing our posts. We knew that many of you have already done that. Our heartfelt gratitude for all your efforts! :D )

Would you have any advice or words of encouragement to give to newcomers at this year’s Maker Faire? How about advice to people who are new to electronic gadgets?

A & WH : For newcomers, do not worry that what you have to share is simple or easy. The simplicity could be the motivating factor for some people to start their Maker journey.

For people new to electronic gadgets, take a look at our website (3egadgets.com) and come over to our booth. Meanwhile, they can look up the internet to see gadgets that people can make themselves and go to the library to borrow some good books on basic electronics and Arduino.

Wai Him also penned his own entry for our blog last year. If you are interested, simply click on this link. To see Adrian’s entry in our blog, simply click on this link.

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

Student makers – A source of inspiration for peers

I was totally impressed by these two Secondary 4 students.

Fabian and Anton might look just like any other typical Singaporean students on the streets, but their curiousity and aspirations have brought them beyond academic pursuits, to explore how to improve things. I think they have set exemplary examples to their peers that if you set your mind to do something, nothing will be too difficult!

Check out this video which they had taken to document the process of their project, the challenges they faced and how they overcame them.

 

Their project

So, as you could see from the video, Fabian and Anton will be showcasing a modified AR.Drone, a remote-controlled quadcopter made by Parrot. They felt that the AR.Drone is a fascinating product and an engineering achievement, though limited by some issues such as its battery life and weight. Fabian and Anton aimed to solve these problems to open the platform up to many more uses.

They will also showcase a device called the Makey-Makey, originally showcased at the Maker Faire in the United States. This device can turn literally anything into a functioning keyboard.

If you have seen any video on how the Makey-Makey works, you will probably be as excited as me right now. Google Makey-Makey online and you will have a better idea what it is, or if not, just come for the Singapore Mini Maker Faire 2012. Fabian informed us through our email interview that this is believed to be the only set in Singapore as of now! Their mentor from Intel Mobile Communications, Mr Kwok Lih, was the one who got it for them.

About Fabian and Anton

They are Secondary 4 students from Hwa Chong Institution (HCI) and according to them, they specialise in mobile microarchitecture design and modification (e.g. desktops, laptops, tablets and smartphones). I am not sure how you feel right now, but when I first read those words from our email interview, I felt a sense of admiration. I suspect it is uncommon for students of this age to confidently use the words “specialise”, not to mention to use them on complicated subjects. I sincerely admire them for their confidence and am looking forward to meet them!

The two of them have recently started to explore the field of (reverse) engineering, starting with the Arduino and Parrot AR.Drone.

Maker Faire

When asked if they have heard of the Maker Faire before this, Fabian and Anton shared that they have heard of it from their Intel mentor, Mr Kwok who took part in the San Francisco Maker Faire this June and felt that the projects are eye-opening. Hence, they are excited that it is coming to Singapore!

Challenges they faced

As mentioned earlier, things will never be too difficult when you set your mind to do it. I suppose the driving force behind Fabian and Anton was their passion. Their teacher, Mrs Eileen Tan-Tay, testified to this statement. She shared that Anton and Fabian are a source of inspiration for both teachers and students, and that it is difficult nowadays to come across students who are intrinsically motivated so it has been her great pleasure to be given the opportunity to work with them.

From their video above, as well as another video here, we learnt that they faced various challenges along the way but they have faced them undeterred. Of course, they are also blessed with the support from school with funding, the availability of facilities and supportive teachers, whom according to Fabian and Anton had persevered with them through their “numerous jokes, pranks, our general uncooperativeness”. I guess joy and sweat almost always come together in a package.

Fabian and Anton also humbly acknowledged the support from various sponsors and institutes, which they felt made their project possible, and the support from another group of students who worked on the Ardrone using the Labview software by National Instruments.

Their words of advice

Fabian and Anton are of view that making should be expanded and seen as a hobby that is as useful as a formal education. They feel that making is highly underrated as an experience or hobby here -many people have not discovered the benefits and intellectual stimulation from inventing. They advocate less studying and more making. They believe that if the rigid education mindset of Singaporeans could be changed, the Maker scene here could truly flourish.

One final word from the two inspiring boys – Never give up on what you truly like to do.

What is a tangible programming toolkit?

Kan Tai-Wei – New media art researcher cum artist. Research Intern at the NUS Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) Lab. PhD student at the Mobile Phone and HCI Research Lab at the National Taiwan University.

Kan Tai-wei with his prototypes

We met Tai-wei briefly at the NUS-HCI Lab where he explained to us the project that his team was working on. He also showed us the few prototypes the team had came up with. So, what is the purpose of their project and who is it made for?

 Read on to find out more about the “Tangible Programming Toolkit” that his project team at NUS-HCI Lab is working on.

Close-up shots of the prototypes

Tai-wei’s team comrprises Professor Zhao Shengdong and four research members (Tai-wei, Chuan Leng Li, Yong Leong Kin, Zhou Biyan).

According to Tai-wei, the toolkit was designed with the intention to help street artists include interactive components into their artwork.

There will be an INPUT component which can detect physical quantity from environment with sensors such as IR sensor, light sensor, range finder, and an OUTPUT component which will provide feedback based on the users’ interactions with the device.

For example, a Light Emitting Diode (LED) will give visual feedback while a speaker will facilitate audio feedback. The purpose of the device is to create a user-friendly graphic user interface for street artists.

 A glimpse into Tai-Wei’s background might give a better appreciation of why he is working on this research project. Tai-wei is a designer of electronic arts which have been exhibited at several international events. More information on Tai-Wei could be found at his website.

 Although Tai-wei had initiated for this project to be showcased at the Singapore Mini Maker Faire, he might have to return to Taiwan during that period.

Nonetheless, we are still looking forward to see this toolkit. Hope you can join us then as well.

About Adrian Koh and “Art and Kits”

Adrian Koh

Our next Maker, Adrian Koh, is an engineer in the factory automation sector who recently discovered the joy of incorporating art into his electronic toys, despite his disdain for art during his school days.

At his Singapore Mini Maker Faire 2012 booth “Art and Kits”, Adrian will showcase interesting artistic projects made with electronic stuffs and off-the-shelf DIY kits.  

How his passion grew

Adrian shared that he has always been fascinated by visual display using lights.

Through our interview, Adrian revealed that the growth of his passion for electronics could be traced to an electronic kit making class that he attended at the Science Centre Singapore in 1986. He was only in Primary 6.

Adrian’s workspace

Since then, electronics became both his hobby and his study discipline. During his Polytechnic Final Year Project, he created a 96 by 96 LED matrix board to display graphics via a self developed PC software.

Three years ago, his hobby moved to the next level when his cousin in the advertising line invited him to use his electronics knowledge to create some visual displays for his client.

PIC micro-controller that can create light animation effects

The PIC micro-controller art piece shown in the picture above is Adrian’s pride. He shared that the PIC was used popularly by hobbyists before Arduino came along. The LED bars can be lighted up speedily column by column and the intensity can make it appear like a full screen displaying an animation. Adrian had plotted the animation graphics on an excel sheet which was subsequently converted to meaningful data for the PIC micro-controller, an activity which he strongly advocated for the training of both the left and right brain. To Adrian, there is a great sense of satisfaction doing this despite it being mind-boggling as well!

While he pursues this passion largely on his own, he has a friend who shared the same interest. That is the same friend who introduced Adrian to take part in the Singapore Mini Maker Faire, so that they can promote the learning of electronics via DIY kits.

Fun with Arduino

Besides the PIC micro-controller, Adrian also plays with the Arduino. His first project was a 1-minute count-down device to allow his niece and nephew to monitor the time when playing games! Isn’t that cool?

1-minute count-down device

It turns out that Adrian also try to cultivate the interest of his niece and nephew in electronics by getting their help with simple tasks such as placing of components and even simple soldering of some of the DIY kits he puts together. Adrian’s niece and nephew must be the envy of many. Not many Singaporean children have the chance to have customised toys, not to mention having the chance to make them!

 Adrian’s belief

 According to Adrian, relearning art gave him a new perspective to things. Contrary to his early belief, he now feels that it is equally important to develop the left and right brain, to allow creative thinking to dream and create ideas and to develop logical thinking to plan and execute those ideas. With this, Adrian began to put together hobby kits to help people develop themselves in these two aspects.

Check out Adrian’s booth if you would like to find out more about his projects and his hobby kits.

Make Your Own Electronic Gadgets

“Wouldn’t it be great if I could create and make my own electronic gadgets.”

If the above thought has ever crossed your mind, visit Wai Him’s booth and experience for yourself how you can translate that dream into reality. It is easy to get the Arduino hardware, download and setup the necessary software on a computer and start tinkering. You could be the next great inventor. Take that ‘One small step’ and make your way to his booth. It might just turn out to be a ‘Giant leap’. (for better or worse…)

 About Him

Wai Him is a hobbyist who has been interested in electronics since secondary school. In those days, he built his own electronic gadgets to give his class-mates harmless electric shocks or make simple blinking bulb circuits (flip-flop) out of curiosity.

His other hobbies include building and flying remote-control (RC) aircrafts as well as building and programming robots.

Wai Him’s workspace

These hobbies involves electrical, electronics and mechanical parts. His work space at home resembles a mini-workshop with tools and  parts and lots of drawers.

Coupled with an interest in these ‘technology hobbies’ and being the father of two sons, he looks for interesting way to share concepts of maths, science and technology with them so that they don’t merely see the topics as curriculum that are to be learned in school for passing examinations but as an integral part of daily lives.

He wishes to share, support and promote the Maker movement in the hope that more people will become interested in technology and in turn would be motivated to ‘Learn rather than to be Taught’.

His view on The Maker Movement

Advancement in electronics has lead to a reduction in the cost and size of electronic devices. The open source movement and the Maker movement coupled with the internet has resulted in ease, convenience and relative low-cost for the average person to create and make ‘stuff’ as a hobby.

Unfortunately information overload makes it difficult for the average person, especially those not familiar with electronics, to take the first step in building their own electronic gadget. Wai Him will be showing what is needed to start ‘playing’ with the Arduino platform from scratch and how to progress to make your own gadgets. He hopes that the presence of the physical items as well as someone to demonstrate and share right in front of your very own eyes would motivate you to start on your own journey of discovery.

A Glimpse of the Possibilities

Arduino Circuit boards

The Arduino circuit board comes in various shapes and sizes to perform different functions. Some of the Arduino boards are as shown.

The Arduino can be used as the ‘brain’ of a simple robot like the one shown.

Arduino Robot

This robot is capable of detecting the presence or absence of a (Black) line and would follow or ‘track’ the line as it moves forward.

The robot consists of 2 motors for propulsion. It has an LED for emitting light and a light sensor to detect the amount of reflected light.

You could probably think of more tasks for your robot to execute.

3 x 3 x 3 LED Cube

This picture shows a 3 x 3 x 3 LED cube. The stand-alone unit when powered up provides many hours of mesmerising non-stop blinking.

You can see the electronic components at the base of the transparent casing. A small battery secured beneath the (black) base powers the unit. 

Would this serve as an interesting birthday gift ?  

Wai Him is currently working on a 4-digit 7-segment LED display.

LED Display Counter

This display can be used to show numeric information. It could serve as a clock to show the time or as a calendar to show the date. According to Wai Him, he will be using this as a counter to show the number of ‘Likes’ his booth gets. But please do not confuse this with the internet version that you are familiar with. In this version, you will have to be physically at the event to activate the ‘Like’.

The possibilities are endless. But would you be starting on this journey?

[Note: This write-up was contributed in full by Wai Him himself. Thank you, Wai Him. :) ]

“Catapy” by Yuichiro Katsumoto (Keio-NUS CUTE Center, National University of Singapore)

What is a “Catapy”? I think this video will do more justice to “Catapy’ than what my words can do, so please watch it before you read on.

Have you been fascinated?

Yuichiro Katsumoto, a media director and a research fellow working at Keio-NUS CUTE Center, National University of Singapore is the inventor of the “Catapy”. He will be showcasing “Catapy” at his Maker booth at the Singapore Mini Maker Faire 2012.

Yuichiro introduced “Catapy” to be a car that provides the fun of chasing. If you had watched the video above, you would understand why you need to chase the catapy. Yes, the “Catapy” moves non-stop because it is covered by a caterpillar track, allowing it to run across a field freely even on uneven ground, and continue running even when it hits an obstacle. The “Catapy” can also be assembled in twos, threes, or more using joints to form different shapes. It really depends on your imagination.

More information can be found in Yuichiro’s website (http://www.yuichirock.com/catapy/index.html).

So, why had Yuichiro invented the “Catapy”?

When we spoke with him at his lab at Keio-NUS CUTE Center, he shared with us that when he was a kid, the toy cars he played with always stop when they hit an obstacle. Hence, he had wanted to come up with something which can continue moving even after hitting an obstacle. Yuichiro felt that when people grow up, they shifted from playing with toy cars to driving a real vehicle, from having to move with the toy car (through pushing or chasing as a kid) to moving as part of the vehicle. He felt that the joy of chasing is lost in the growing up process and he would like to develop something to re-ignite this fun!

To Yuichiro, he researches not only for work but as part of his hobby. He attributed his Maker mind to his cultural background. Born and grown up in Gifu (Japan), a prefecture of craftwork (e.g. sword smith, ceramics and woodwork), Yuichiro was equipped with crafting skills. Besides, like any other Japanese kids, he had grown up with significant influence of anime (Japanese animation), manga (Japanese comics) and video games. Hence, Yuichiro proudly shared that he had embarked on his research with crafting skills and otaku1 mind!

Message to budding Makers

Yuichiro advised all budding makers to stop talking about things and start tinkering. Another piece of advice he gave amused me. He advised makers not to listen to any advice until finishing the prototyping. I guess this came from lots of personal experience! :)

To meet Yuichiro and experience the thrill of chasing the “Catapy”, come to the Singapore Mini Maker Faire 2012 on 4 & 5 August 2012.

Otaku is a Japanese term which refers to someone with an obsessive interest in anime, manga and video games.

About Maker (Teo Shin Jen)

[Note: We will be introducing the makers/ workshop facilitators/ presenters of the first Singapore Mini Maker Faire. First on the list is Mr Teo Shin Jen, a lecturer from Singapore Polytechnic’s School of Electrical & Electronic Engineering. Stay tuned for the rest!]

When he was a teenager, Shin Jen used the Bulletin Board System (BBS)/ Internet to find “recipes” for  experiments. Now, he makes use of this interest in experiments to aid him in teaching and connecting with his students at the School of Electrical & Electronic Engineering, Singapore Polytechnic.

To people who know him, Shin Jen is known as a code-monkey, electronic-hobbyist, experimental-electrician, monkey-wrench mechanic, driver (slave), baker, food warmer, swimmer, trouble-shooter, risk taker and soul hacker.

Read on to find out more about him!

His belief

Shin Jen shared with us that he is a “see-say-do-it” person who is very keen on experimenting with things that caught his interest bug.  He said that he has always been an advocate of open source software and the GNU copyleft movement. In recent years, he also look upon writers of the MAKE and Instructables community for their passion of sharing what they make. Makers, writers such as Jeff Porter, and Chefs such as Heston Blumenthal inspire him to marry engineering and science for everyday use.

He felt that engineering and science can be fun, and that the toys he had created are useful in grabbing the attention of his students. He also felt that his students are able to better appreciate the inner working of stuff when he demonstrated certain electronic/computer principles through physical applications, and when they are directly involved in the process of making.

What are his barang-barang?

When asked to introduce his booth DIY Barang Barang, Shin Jen said that “Barang Barang” is a Malay word that describes items of any kind, and he will be showcasing projects including arduino, hardware hacks, software hacks, namely “DIY sous vide setup”, “Arduino sound to light”, “4 x 4 x 4 LED Cube” and a few other toys . Check out some sneak preview of his “barang barang” at his blog and Facebook page.

View on the local Maker scene and message to budding Makers

His sentiment is that the Maker scene in Singapore is generally optimistic, with Sim Lim Tower and Sim Lim Square at the “backyard”.

The essence of The MAKE movement is inviting the public to R&D (Replicate & Duplicate), by sharing their methodology and parts used in the form of user guide to be consumed by all. A lay man’s self- confidence can be gained through a successful R&D experience, and subsequently, self-actualization can be gained by inventing, hacking and improving.

He added that the internet can indeed provide lots of information such as “How To” and sharing of knowledge and experience. While a return of investment (ROI) would not be required, return of kindness (ROK) would be appreciated, so he encouraged discoveries to be uploaded and shared with other people online as well.

Check out Shin Jen’s maker booth “DIY Barang Barang” at the Singapore Mini Maker Faire 2012, showcasing a collection of DIY projects by him and his students. Shin Jen is a good case of interest being married with work.