We are a small collective of developers, makers and thinkers that love to build things.

Magnifying the Micro with Moiré Patterns

Here I design circular screen patterns that can be used to magnify grid-like stuff, like the pixels on your screen or threads in a cloth via Moiré Patterns, such that you can calculate properties about them with a crude measuring tool like a ruler. At the same time, I present a mathematical formulation of what even are Moiré Patterns. It's a rather ad-hoc formulation, so if there are some things I missed do point it out.

I might write a follow up post where the patterns are printed on transparencies to be used IRL.

Some context: Most of these explorations happened back in 2018 with a friend of mine, Vernice. Me and Vernice even printed out the patterns on transparencies to slap on random things IRL. Unfortunately I don't have the original files and transparencies, neither did I document anything so here I've recreated everything and re-derived the Math and stuff.

What are Moiré Patterns?

Moiré Patterns are these trippy magnified patterns that come from overlapping repeated small screen pat

The Hephaestus Project

Hephaestus is the Greek God of design and creativity. More commonly known as the partner of Aphrodite, he was also the god of the Forge and was well known for creating some of the finest jewellery in Greek mythology. Hephaestus was banished from Mount Olympus, simply because he walked with a limp, and when he joined the mortals on Earth he taught them how to make art and the importance of doing so. Analogous to that, the Hephaestus project aims to cultivate unique people with different perspectives, spark creativity and dares the participants to propose the ideas people might dismiss out of hand.

Edit: We take admissions on a rolling basis, so once we get the required number of innovators, admissions will close

What is Hephaestus?

Hephaestus is a week long innovation boot camp for the people who dare to dream 🧠. It aims to bring together a group of 10 people, for a program where they are able to debate, discuss, brainstorm solutions to anything they might be interested in. It provides th

Differentiating a Physics Simulator

Have you seen something happen that seems almost impossible to replicate? Like dropping something and have it land in just the right way, or shoot an arrow and have it land on its tip?

How would you shoot an arrow that lands like THAT?

From a simulation standpoint, you might ask what are the initial conditions required to produce that outcome. To solve this, you could attempt to search through the whole search space. For instance, you could try all possible velocity and position of the arrow and select the ones that land on it's tip. However this is plain impractical as despite only having 7 degrees of freedom (3 for rotation, 3 for position and one for initial velocity), the search space is already huge and chances are, the solutions are but a small portion of the unwieldy search space.

Ok first off, why should we care?

The arrow problem is arguable classified under 'cool' but definitely not 'practical'. However, these kinds of problems where there is a huge search space and we are searching for only a small subset of said space is ubiqu

Hear a Bézier Curve

TLDR: Here's the fork

A long long long long long time ago, in Talk.CSS #52, Gao Wei presented a talk on Bézier curves "The Obscurities of  Bézier Curves Explained to My Computer Engineer Friends". She showed uses of Bézier curves in user interface animations, some rather interesting history about it and explained the mathematics behind it. Watch the meetup on Engineers.SG!

Anyway, Hui Jing made a funny comment when Gao Wei was demoing Lea Verou's

I prefer to have this with sound, can someone ah please do a [visualisation] using wavelength and then you can like mmm-MMMMM-mmmm. Then ya easier for me to understand I need to hear. (46:06)

So, a long long long long long time later, I forked Lea Verou's repository and added a checkbox to enable sounds. You can try it out here. Should I make a pull request? 😂

Checkbox so small how to press but I lazy lah

Have fun annoying others in your office with the help of Bézier curves!

Password Storage and Security

It's actually reasonable to store passwords in a database in plaintext, if your threat model excludes the possibility that an attacker could gain access to your database.

However, the reason for hashing/salting passwords is to account for the scenario that an attacker could gain a copy of the database or read-only access to the database. Have I Been Pwned lists many site breaches that have resulted in plaintext passwords being shared or sold. Many of which were due to unprotected databases, backups and poor access controls.

With a site user's password, an attacker can easily:

  • Gain access to the user's account on the site
  • Gain access to the user's accounts on other sites

Note that the first objective is also achievable if the attacker has write access to the accounts database.

Hashing passwords

A simple defence against exposure of the user's password is to apply an unrecoverable operation on the password before storage. A hash function is such an operation. Hash functions produce a digest fr

Making a blender 🥤 feat. Zubin

As a kid, I wasn't actually all that into technology. When I was 7/8 years old, the only real things that mattered to me was going to chess club and studying. So I was really surprised when I was introduced to Zubin, a rather inquisitive kid who just wants to tinker.

I was approached to coach Zubin, and help him along with the projects that he would want to make, and I met him for the first time yesterday! The first thing that caught my eye was how his parents had encouraged his maker habit, he had a room with a 3D printer, cardboard boxes, LittleBits, literally anything a 7 year old with maker ambitions might want. On top of that, when I met him, he was working on a 3D printed boat which he was in the middle of designing using TinkerCAD.

My first task with him was to help him finish his boat which came along splendidly. Unfortunately, it took about 4 hours to print it out, and our session was only 2 hours long so we had to come up with a way to keep ourselves busy. I told him that brush

r8168 driver problems 😔

This morning was rather unpleasant, when I woke up to notifications that my server decided to randomly off itself in the middle of the night. Upon digging, it turns out that the network driver connecting my RealTek Ethernet Interface just up and vanished. Seems like someone has cursed me :/

I went about the diagnosis by first trying the following methods.

ifconfig -a     # Does not return eth0 or alternative representations
lspci -vv       # Returns the detection of the  Realtek Controller but does not have any kernel driver (suspicious?)
lshw -C network # Prints network UNCLAIMED

Then, I managed to identify that the driver I needed wasn’t even getting loaded onto the kernel. To reinstall the r8168 driver, you need to download these links to a hard drive/thumb drive.

  • Latest r86168 driver (As of 15 June 2020)
  • linux-headers-<your kernel version> where your kernel version can be found with uname -a (ie: linux-headers-5.3.0-1026-gke)

Then install these packages using dpkg. And loa

Using a Windows VM in Azure as a replacement for Dual Booting/Local VMs

As a electronics/design engineer cum software developer, I use a Macbook Pro running MacOS. For anyone familiar with MacOS and it’s never-ending battle to sparsely support all games and design productivity software, it would be needless to mention that running my suite of design/editing tools on MacOS was a pain.

Previously, I tried my best to switch to mostly Unix supporting open source variants of my design tools, such as KiCAD for PCB design and FreeCAD for 3D modelling. But some tools, are just no replacement for professional tools such as the Autodesk Suite. Not to mention, in many undergrad level EEE modules, board logic design IDEs (like Vivado for Xilinx FPGAs) only support Windows.

As such, it is the burden of students to either dual-boot, run a local VM, or get an additional Windows PC. Knowing the performance bottleneck for my 8GB RAM and 256GB SSD Macbook running VMs and professional productivity software, I wanted to find an alternative solution to this problem.

That’s when I

Designing a 5521-MG servo

Haven't touched Fusion 360 in a while, but it seems as easy and straightforward to use as it was ever. Designed a 5521-MG servo motor model to be used in the linkage design for the Droid Project.

Droid Project: Completed Simulation Body

Currently finished coupling 6 legs to a simulation body, with the leg inverse kinematics functional for all of the legs. The remaining elements to implement would be select-able individual joint controls for each leg and the body kinematics itself.

Then I completed the inverse kinematics that allows for the coupling between the body of the robot and its 6 corresponding legs (arranged with 60 degrees between each leg). I won’t bother explaining the mathematics going into these calculations in detail as they have been outlined in Oscar Liang’s blog post and the equations from TogleFritz’s Lair.

The resultant equations needed a bit of tweaking, especially with the orientation of the coordinate plane and the direction of certain rotations. Additionally, the equations from TogleFritz’s Lair are unnecessarily redundant when implemented in code. I added some optimizations and loop logic to help make the equations less cumbersome to use.

void Droid::ikCalculate() {
  const float increment = M_

Droid Project: Introduction

The Droid project, is a project where I am attempting to design and build a hexapod robot from scratch. Given, that I have no prior experience dealing with the forward and inverse kinematics problems (FK & IK) that need to be solved, I resolved to using Cinder and ImGUI to create a simulation of the hexapod first.

So far, I am still in the early stages of the project, but I have come up with a simulation for a single leg of the hexapod. With much help from Oscar Liang, and his informative blog series on the kinematics of hexapods, I managed to get the IK for a single leg to work.

Now, the next part would be to get the full body IK to work, and figure out how to implement basic movements. And then we can finally take a look at the hardware we have to work with :’)

Modifying macOS Display Resolutions

Some backstory:

I have a Dell U2713HM 27" monitor that has DisplayPort, DVI-D, VGA and HDMI input. I have a dock that only outputs HDMI, so to use my MacBook Pro with the Display I must connect with HDMI. However, the Dell U2713HM can't support its full resolution and frame rate over HDMI. I also previously used SwitchResX but the trial period ended and I am not willing to fork up $23 SGD for something that I can do myself and learn something new in the process.

How a monitor advertises its supported resolutions is by sending EDID metadata to the source. (Read more on Wikipedia) macOS has a feature called EDID overrides that can force a specific display to use a specific resolution. The EDID overrides shipped with macOS is found in /System/Library/Displays/Contents/Resources/Overrides. When a new display is connected, macOS will look in this folder by display vendor and product ID, and if that file exists, it will use the EDID data contained within the file instead of the one sent by th