Tag Archives: engineering

“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

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!

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.