Tag Archives: electronics

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.

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. :) ]

Making Animated Paper-craft with Wireless Inductive Power Transmission

“Support our friend, Zhu Kening, presenting his techno paper craft at the Singapore Mini Maker Faire!”, someone tweeted.

So, who is Zhu Kening, and what is this techno paper craft his friend/supporter mentioned?

We interview Zhu Kening and feature him as our next Maker of the Singapore Mini Maker Faire 2012.

I thought it was a joke about a dancing paper initially but it turned out that I was wrong. It is really a dancing paper. To be more precise, the project is on paper-crafts such as origami or pop-up that can move through wireless inductive power transmission. I was totally awed by the description alone, and I was looking forward to meet up with the Maker for an interview, and to witness how this would be done.

About Zhu Ke Ning (also known as Ken)

Through my earlier email correspondences with Ken, Ken had shared that as a kid, he liked to dismantle things like radio sets, lamps, toys and re-assemble them together, build models and customise Tamiya racing cars. Ken gave credit to his father for cultivating his interest in DIY, by being a role model for him. Currently, Ken is a fourth year PhD student at the National University of Singapore and the “dancing paper-craft” is his research project this year. Ken enjoys working on exciting and crazy scientific ideas. As he enjoys building paper models and folding origami, he decided to incorporate them into his PhD research topic and try to make them move by itself like robots.

The Meeting

Maker Ken with his prototypes

William (Our in-house maker!) and I met up with Zhu Ke Ning, also known as Ken, at Keio-NUS CUTE Centre where he showed us his prototypes.

Ken showed us how the paper craft and inch worm can move, with the help of shape memory-alloys and an inductive power system that can power up the specific moving part of the paper-craft to generate movements. Check out his YouTube video of the moving paper craft and inch worm.When asked about his plans for this project, Ken shared that he would like to make this an open-source project. He would like to further improve on his prototype such that the power system could be made into a printed circuit board (PCB) that could be downloaded and used by others eventually.

Paper crane with shape-memory alloys

Inductive Power System underneath the glass table

 

 

 

 

The Presentation and Workshop

Ken would share the details in his presentation during the Singapore Mini Maker Faire and also conduct a workshop where participants can learn how to attach their shape-memory materials to paper-crafts and make them move. The attendees will learn how to make moving paper structure, such as crane, dog, inchworm, without any battery or direct power supply connection. More details about the moving paper craft and inchworm can also be found on Ken’s website at http://www.tech-ken.com/

Ken’s workshop is fully booked, but do come down for his presentation on Saturday 4 August, 3 pm!

Ken’s view on the Maker Scene in Singapore

Ken felt that the Maker/ DIY culture in Singapore is quite good, not only in high-tech areas but also in daily life. He sometimes see people making their own furniture, or fixing their house by themselves. He also saw children making their own cards when they want to play card games. He see it as a part of the Maker Culture.

According to Ken, to popularise the culture in Singapore, people have to switch their mentality, to have the desire to turn their ideas into reality, to want to solve their problem in a smart way, to dare to try and to learn to work with limited resources. Maker culture should be integrated into day to day life.

Ken also shared that there are many colleagues in his lab in NUS who are into DIY activities, and it is facilitated by the equipments available in the lab such as laser cutter and 3D printer because they can quickly prototype their ideas.

He felt that the Singapore Mini Maker Faire will be a good opportunity for interactions between Makers.

If you are keen to attend Ken’s workshop and hear his presentation, come for the Singapore Mini Maker Faire 2012 on 4 & 5 August 2012! If you have your own paper craft which you would like to use for the workshop, Ken also welcome you to bring it along!

[Note: Target age group for the workshop would be 20 years old and above.]

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.