Monthly Archives: June 2012

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

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.]

“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 (

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.

Gothic Dolls and Handmade Accessories, Craft Punk Jewelry and Bags for Punks with a Sweet Tooth

What will you think of when you hear of Gothic Dolls? What if you add Punk accessories to Gothic Dolls?

 The visual can be quite impactful, isn’t it? What if all of these are handcrafted? Wow!

Singapore Mini Maker Faire 2012 introduces the next Maker on our list, Ng Ling Ling, a doll maker.


 Ling and her Dolls

Ling ( began making dolls in 2007. Her first doll was a cloth doll version of Marilyn Manson. Since then, she has made numerous Goth and Punk dolls, branching out into Bunka dolls and other soft sculpture.

When asked why Ling makes her own dolls, she expressed that people who make their own toys tend not to toss them, unlike commercially made ones, because they would recognise the effort that has gone into making it as compared to just buying it off the shelves.

Handmade/re-purposed clothes and accessories

Ling feels the same for clothes and accessories. To Ling, making your own clothes and accessories similarly makes you appreciate them better. It is also this line of thought that encouraged her to re-purpose second-hand or unsold stock, making accessories out of waste materials, which is a form of hacking too! Ling acclaimed that she is a hoarder, with an enormous stash of yarn and textiles (but aren’t all crafters hoarders? :P) So, SugarPunk also stocks knitted purses and other sewn items, besides gothic items (adding sugar to the punk!).

Ultimately, Ling hopes to see consumers shift towards an appreciation of quality rather than quantity, citing the examples of better quality, hand-stitched Victorian or Edwardian clothes that are made to last.

Making materials from scratch

What interests me most was the fact that Ling also makes her own materials from scratch.

When I asked Ling for her views on the Maker community in Singapore, she expressed that she is aware of a large crafting community in SG but not many who makes materials from scratch, e.g casting their own jewellery pieces in resin, spinning, weaving etc probably due to the availability of raw materials. To Ling, being a crafter makes you think about the resources and human effort that goes into making things, for instance, weaving cloth or spinning yarn.

She has her own hand-spindle! She shared that she bought the hand-made drop spindle from Etsy and she is still learning how to use it. She shared that hand-spinning would give the yarn a nice hand-made feel as the yarn would not be even and would be more chunky. She intended to incorporate cloth strips, ribbons and threads – anything that can be twisted.

Why Ling is taking part in Singapore Mini Maker Faire

Ling shared that she visited the Maker Faire in NY City last year, and it was very exciting to meet so many Makers in person.

Having watched many videos of Maker Faires in other countries, I think I can understand how it can truly inspire a maker to want to show and share their work, and for a looker to become a maker.

Come join us on 4 & 5 August, and experience that excitement together with us. 🙂

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.