I recently travelled to Singapore for a work assignment. When I found out that I was going, I googled things to do while I was there and got a rather boring list: look at some gardens, go shopping and get cosmetic surgery. A more refined search came up with the following video from Dangerous Prototypes giving a good hobbyist guide for what to see when in town.
Once I had finished my work commitments I headed over to Sim Lim Tower in Little India. I was excited as I had never been to an electronics market before and was interested to see what selection of components one could pick up from one place.
The market portion of the tower consists of four floors with a couple of dozen stores per floor. I was a little disappointed that there were only four floors of the entire tower that were part of the market but there was a lot crammed in per floor. Most of the stores had open fronts making it easy to browse through.
I was not looking for anything in particular so my attention naturally gravitated to the items on display in the store fronts. The two most popular items on display were LEDs and switches/buttons. You would be hard pressed not to find a switch that met your requirements if there was something particular you were after.
One item that I saw many times was what I would call klaxon style beacons. These were popular and were in the front displays of many stores. I’m not sure how often I’d need one of these for one of my projects.
Outside one of the stores was a nifty components guide. Not terrible thorough but interesting nonetheless.
The store that caught my eye had a number of surplus industrial motors out front. Inside provided much of the same with walls of used motors to search through
There were also cabinets of miscellaneous items such as small plastic gears.
Not wanting to leave empty handed I picked up two BLDC servo motors with 10:1 gearboxes for $70 SGD each ($60 CAD) and three pneumatic solenoids for $50 SGD ($43 CAD). I’m not sure what I’ll use these for but they’ll make their way into some future CNC machine or other tool. When I got back to the hotel and took pictures of them I realized that not many people would travel to Singapore and bring home two heavy industrial motors. I guess that makes me special.
As I was just window browsing I didn’t see all that the market had to offer. Each store had many component cabinets that I didn’t look at and some stores didn’t have anything on display at all. I’m sure if I had something in particular I needed I would have a good chance of finding it there. While it would be very convenient to have a similar market here in Vancouver, I wouldn’t call it a game changer. With the selection and delivery times from Digikey it is almost like having a bigger market in my own office but as the DP video pointed out, there are some components you really do need to hold in your hand. One thing I wish I had done was look at a few sample items to compare the prices between Digikey, my local shop here and in Singapore.
After seeing Sim Lim Tower I crossed the street over to Sim Lim Square. I wasn’t interested in purchasing anything there but was interested to have a look.
Unline Sim Lim Tower, Sim Lim Square did fill the entire building. There was an extraordinary amount of consumer electronics available to purchase in one place.
After a quick look at Sim Lim Square I got back on the MRT and headed down town. This isn’t a travel blog but Singapore as a city/country seems to have embraced technology in their architecture and infrastructure more than any city I have been in before. The MRT which I used to get around was very impressive. The North East line shown in the pictures below opened in 2006 and looks brand new today.
Walking around the down town core or Central Business District (CBD) it is impossible to miss the Marine Bay Sands building. The building looks impressive in pictures but utterly impossible in real life. It really just laughs in the face of mother nature and the laws of physics.
Looking around the city there is hardly a similar building in sight. In comparison to Vancouver where everything is pretty much rectangular and made of concrete, Singapore’s architecture features different angles and construction for each building.
There is a footbridge named the Helix which is a great combination of public art and functional infrastructure. Instead of a waste of space and taxpayer funds (I’d link in an example of public art but there are just too many to choose from) the Helix makes the landscape more aesthetically pleasing and serves a purpose.
The buildings at the Gardens by the Bay are certainly unique. The Flower Dome and Cloud Forest have the structure on the outside allowing for a seamless glass interior. Nearby are the “silver-hued Supertrees” which are very unusual.
Walking around I stumbled upon the Formula One pit strait. Not something you come across in every city.
Even Singapore’s dense residential developments are visually pleasing using different levels to break up the outline of the complex.
The new stadium in the distance looked impressive like it could be out of an anime or transformers movie.
Yet another example of a high rise breaking out of the mould.
The Parkview Square building was the only building I saw downtown that didn’t look like it had come out of the future.
When a group of similar buildings to show up a splash of colour sets them apart.
Singapore’s flair for unique architecture appears to be continuing as shown in the new DUO development.
I enjoyed my trip to Singapore for the experience of visiting the Sim Lim Market and seeing the influence of technology on the city’s architecture and infrastructure. I would recommend the city to anyone and wouldn’t mind going back.