Piccadilly in Seletar: Down the dead end road

If we had to give our walks a ranking of enjoyability, this would not be one of them. I say this because whilst we were on this walk, George actually told me that outright. “Debbie, if we were to give our walks a ranking of enjoyability, this would be one of the worst ones so far, where is the nearest MRT, I’d like to go home now please”.

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We began this walk at the Oval at Seletar Aerospace park, which had an airplane themed playground not so far away from the actual seletar airport itself, where you can watch small private/chartered planes taking off and landing. It started off quite promisingly…

Seletar Airport was the home of a Royal Air Force station in Singapore (1928-1971). During WWII it was one of the sites targeted with carpet bombing. For some time it was the first international airport in Singapore (before Kallang Airport) and after the British pulled out of Singapore it was handed over to RSAF. There had been proposals to lengthen the runway so as to be able to receive the 737 used by a lot of budget airlines but those plans were canned and instead the new passenger terminal being built in Seletar will be mainly for those using smaller and slower planes.

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We got to Soek Seng Bicycle Cafe which I suppose has a lovely view and could be something to look forward to at the end of a long bicycle ride, but for pedestrians on the long stroll I have to say there are not so many redeeming factors. This area seems designed for cars and planes, and not so much for people to walk on foot to explore.

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At the end of a very long meander down lots of old Seletar camp buildings (with nearly no other humans besides workers in a nearby construction site and some cyclists speeding past), we ended up at a dead end that overlooked the waters with absolutely no way for us to cross it.

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Since it was home to the RAF base there are remnants of black and white houses which were used to house the British RAF servicemen/women and their families – and many road named after places in the UK:

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Behold as we walk down the bustling busy surroundings of Edgware Road

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Let’s do the lambeth walk down Lambeth Walk

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What about a hugely exciting walk down the lively Oxford Street

As Oscar Wilde did write in Dorian Gray: “As I lounged in the Park, or strolled down Piccadilly, I used to look at everyone who passed me, and wonder, with mad curiosity, what sort of lives they led. some of them fascinated me. Others filled me with terror.” The terror of a walk down the nether regions of Seletar to a dead end construction site – where the adjacent waterways smelled strongly like human sewage and the roads were given names like Piccadilly, Maida Vale, Regent St, Baker St, Park Lane, St Martin Lane, Battersea….

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Welcome to Piccadilly in Seletar, Singapore

A Quick Guide to Samplr

This is the only time in years when it has seemed worth buying an iPad again. The current iPad 2017 9.7-inch is quite reasonably priced in its class (32GB – S$498 / S$468 Education) and Apple still has some of the best apps (and ARKit!). And for the most part I hadn’t needed a tablet sized device for work until now. The problem with with smartphones or even phablets (such as Samsung’s note phones) is that when you do get long work emails that you urgently need to reply to, then even the on-screen keyboard on the large phone screen still feels like a constraint; one can’t really draft or write long documents on a phone keyboard and is reduced to nervously turning the phone on and off nonstop to stare at the email that you can’t properly reply to. But a decent sized tablet paired with a bluetooth keyboard pretty much solves this conundrum; the 9.7inch ipad is powerful enough as a lightweight laptop-replacement where administrative paperwork is concerned.

But the iPad’s strengths are more than just clearing emails and drafting google docs/sheets with ease – it also excels at many other things such as MAKING MUSIC. Two essential music apps for the iPad have got to be the combo of Samplr (S$ 14.98) and Audioshare (S$ 5.98).

Samplr is a brilliant gesture based audio sampler with many rich effects and modes which can be used together with Audioshare, an audio document manager which transfers audio files between apps and between the device and computer. For some time I have just been stabbing at it without really knowing what I am doing, but this weekend I sat down to go through the help docs and a few tutorials online; I didn’t immediately find a guide sheet so I made my own for Samplr here:

Samplr guide (Click to see large version)
One thing I’ve noticed as someone who purchases digital products items from both UK and SG app stores (with both UK debit card and SG debit card) is that the UK prices are a total rip off because haven’t fallen in line with the pound which has devalued considerably since, so I always buy in SGD from the digital SG stores these days. This also applies to Steam where the SG pricing for digital products and games is far lower than the UK pricing for games. I wanted to purchase a game for George’s steam account recently but because I was purchasing in SGD it would not allow me to ‘gift’ it to a UK account.

There are also tracker sites such as steamprices.com which you can use to compare the inequalities of purchasing a digital product in a specific currency….

Steamprices.com where you can find out how much you’ve been stiffed…

Lessons in 3D Printing: Raft Vs Brim Vs Skirt

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Designing and teaching a 3D module has had the unintended effect of giving myself the role of “de facto 3D printing technician” and “general-all-round-fixer of 3D models and print settings”. Ah! I am a fool, for I had already known of the fickle nature of 3D printers, their unwillingness to behave when ordered to. Also the machine is a wilfully obtuse device that will do exactly what the designer asked it to do even if the designer has made an awful mistake.

Here is a list of lessons I have learnt after facilitating several hundred hours of 3D Printing in a mini workshop. Printers used were Raise3D N2.

1. Raft Vs Brim Vs Skirt? JUST USE A RAFT

What is the difference between using a Raft, Brim and Skirt?

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The Raft is an additional piece below the entire print itself.

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The Brim is an extension of the first layer which expands the amount of contact the first layer has with the print bed. The print’s first layer is already touching the bed itself, unlike the raft which is an additional few layers below the print itself.

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The Skirt is just an additional line printed around the print itself.

Often one may think that the raft is a waste of material but I have found that rafts are absolutely essential since it will affect the first layer adhesion greatly, and with this kind of FDM printers the first layer adhesion is one of the main factors which will literally make or break your entire print. As the raft is much bigger than the print’s footprint (and also bigger and thicker than a brim), it ensures better adhesion to the print bed.

Also if you end up having difficulty in removing the print, you can afford to damage the raft somewhat during the process of removal – without also damaging the actual print.

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Example of failed print: This generally flat print would not complete when I printed it with just a skirt. It would only print when I did it with a raft. For a large print, this kind of error may cause the print to turn into a huge blob that can potentially be pushed into the axis belt – breaking it and causing total breakdown of the machine. So you can imagine how these problems with adhesion shouldn’t be taken lightly if you want to keep on printing!

2. Infill Density
10% will do for non-load bearing parts all the time. Don’t bother printing more infill unless needed.

3. Always Check Slicing Preview
Check Slicing Preview for EVERY PRINT before printing. More often than not it will provide the clues for whether a print will actually complete. A common issue is where the work is not touching the print bed. If there is a gap in a layer, or no raft over any part, or any part which defies gravity and the known laws of physics, then do not proceed for THIS WILL NOT PRINT WELL. Redesign the part before printing.

4. Tricks for very large overnight prints
Lay item as flat as possible on the print bed
Ensure that you have observed the raft completing successfully before leaving the print to run overnight.
If you don’t want to do a raft because a raft would exceed the print bed size, set the first layer to be extra thin.

5. Only Cura can slice right-extruder-only print for dual extruder printer
A crazy question you may find yourself asking if you are using a dual extruder is “should I try to use just the right extruder to print?” Well, no, its not advisable at all, and also I can’t seem to find any other slicing app which allows for such a setting. Alternatively, you can dive into the gcode directly and change all instances of T0 to T1. However the problem remains that right-extruder-only prints may experience nozzle strike:

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Left: Nozzle Strike in progress. Right: Print which I stopped because the left extruder was clearly impacting on the print being produced with the right extruder only.

Woodworking Class at Kampung Kampus: Building a Step Stool

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Recently I went for a woodworking class at Kampung Kampus which is a short walk away from Khatib MRT Station. We first saw it from the trains as the MRT line crosses the expansive waters of Lower Seletar Reservoir. I dropped the google pin over the location as we were passing and we retraced the path to a collection of huts nestled between tropical jungle, fish farms, and prawning tanks. A few weeks later I was seized by a whimsy to improve my practically non-existent woodshop skills and whilst searching online I discovered that ‘Kampung Kampus’ was conducting woodworking classes.

Looking to my own experience in Singapore’s education system, and considering how I have ended up working as an artist (and even pursuing a postgrad degree in design), I have always found it a pity that design and tech had been omitted from my secondary school experience. Amazingly, I have never done a single class involving wood before. The first material I used was blue foam during a innovation programme mentorship I did at a local polytechnic at age 15 whilst I was still in secondary school. As part of our secondary school curriculum, the crash course we received in D&T only involved learning to bend a piece of acrylic. I have memories of cutting styrofoam with a wire. But wood? I’ve never worked with wood! At the time, it had been rationalised that GEP students were bound for more academic pursuits, therefore the technical training imparted during D&T class was to be minimised so that we could focus our energies on developing broader soft skills and academic knowledge.

As admission exercises are being conducted for Poly/JC age students this month, I began imagining what if I was the one having to make a decision on my educational journey all over again? Let’s say I had chosen a more vocational route – what would I have selected if I had to pick from this basket of options available through the local polytechnics? Well, I would imagine myself potentially being attracted to Engineering, with its access to fancy machinery that I could never afford on my own – this of course is said from the perspective of a literature/arts/design postgrad who now desires to complement a conceptual/theoretical background with technical mastery. But when we look at admission numbers, Engineering is not the most popular course, in fact it appears that any course that is more “technical” than it is “academic” seems to be less popular. It is also as if the popular perception is that anything that involves working with the hands is less valued here, which to me seems quite misguided, since crafting and prototyping skills should form a vital complement to a creative and academic education…

BUT I DIGRESS

Let me tell you how I built a small step stool over three weekends. First you need to start with an idea. I wanted to make something of practical use in the house: a step stool that I could use in the house for wearing my shoes at the entrance of my house and reaching high cupboards.

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The wood at Touchwood begins as pine wood reclaimed from old pallets which has been treated beforehand, de-nailed, and left to dry

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Planing the wood by hand

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Ideally the planed bits should look like this

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Planing the wood with the planing machine

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Taking care to clamp with another piece of wood on top of the final wood to avoid dents

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Sawing by hand

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Pine wood after planing looks like this (much improved!)

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I spent far too long designing this and measuring it to fit the pieces of wood I had. Take note of the grain of the wood as this will affect the design.

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Measuring out wood with help of try square tool. I don’t have a picture for the next step because ALL HANDS WERE ON DECK, but next we used a circular saw to cut the pieces.

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Assembling the cut wood to check that I cut all the pieces for it

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Glueing and Clamping the wood to make larger planks

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Sanding the wood

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Giving it a little tap to create a dent where I’m about to drill the pilot hole

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Drilling pilot hole + countersink (a bevel which you drill to enable the screw to be inserted until it flush with the surface of the wood)

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Final assembly

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Pneumatic Nail gun (Airgun) for quick reinforcement

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My completed step stool!


With many thanks to Johanna (of Touchwood) for so carefully and patiently guiding me through the process!

Kampung Kampus is at:
91 Lorong Chencharu
Singapore 769201
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