Category Archives: Shenzhen 2015

Food #3 Lunch around Huaqianbei

All that running around looking for components can make a person really hungry. Luckily, on the corners and the backstreet of the market little stalls are selling many types of steamed or boiled goodies for us to try.


For round one of the lunch we started with sausage type things on a stick. By the time I remembered to get my camera, there was only one bite left. Some smaller steamed dumplings with indeterminable things in them, a larger steamed bun with something resembling sweet potato, and sticks with large fluffy fried tofu(??) that leaks broth when you eat it.

I liked the sausage and bigger steamed bun best of this bunch. The fluffy tofu wasn’t a bit hit. Not very tasty at all and squirting broth all over the place. Tried and deleted.

For the second round, we got some other steamed buns, dumplings and what turned out to be pancake/fish balls. The flakes of dried fish that are sprinkled on top of the balls move in the heat – giving the whole thing a more liveley experience.

I was the only one eating the fish balls and thought they were very good; crunchy pastry on the outside with a very soft texture in the middle. The flavour is mild and the sauce and fish flakes really complement it. Inspiration to make some spring onion & cod poffertjes when we get back home. The steamed bun was filled with something even better than the buns before and the other dumplings (which had meat, I think) were yummy too! They indeed deserve their own little container.

An excellent lunch!

!E Embedded Expo aka mcu! mcu!

Another day, another tech-tradeshow. This one is about anything containing a micro controller unit; The Embedded Expo. No way to register on-line beforehand so we just rocked up to the Convention & Exhibition Centre. There was a waiting line that definitely had our name on it. International visitors -check, VIP – but of course and Group too. Swapping business cards for badges, we are good to go.

There was much to see and question, every booth had someone who spoke English. Manufacturers of the worlds’ tiniest LED, china – the cup kind – with an interactive touch display, smart home set-ups and the like. We also took home a very interesting Journal of Electronics of which we can only read the titles, some of the references and the scematics. The Shenzhen DIY community, hackerspaces and makerplaces were also present.

Here we see a set-up for RENESAS new hardware accelerated operating system on the mcu. Both rows of tubes are keeping the orange balls in the middle by controlling airflow. When we up the measurement frequency the mcu without the new fancy system can no longer maintain control.

We also showed a few people the microgameboy, to kind of explain what TINRS does. They all seemed impressed, although some thought it was a bit too small. Explaining the idea of just making something because you can or building a prototype that you do not necessarily intend the mass produce is still tricky.

 

Huanqiangbei Shopping – day 2

Another day at the market looking for parts. Happy hunting with a long list of things to get. The ground floor of one of the buildings used to be a beautiful mosaic, but it got smashed and broken by the amount of commerce taking place on top of it.

Negotiating for some 7805 power regulators. We are not negotiating over prices – these already are REALLY low, as are the amounts we want. With a few exceptions we only spend a few euros at any one stall. Meanwhile, the sellers have to deal with our lack of Chinese and whip out parts from their massively stacked 2-square-meters or make them appear from the magical ‘somewhere else’. No need to haggle over a 10% discount. Each item was minutely checked before being handed over. Deal made!

Up and coming (we are seeing them more than last year) are all the Arduino and their lookalikes, RasperryPi’s and Banananaboards as well as the sensor- and building-kits that go with them. Up and down we go; the list isn’t finished yet.

After two days of Huanqiangbei, we have a lot of stuff:

Food #2 Vegetable for students

DSC05714Could it be high on certain acids? Could it be because students do not have the time to pickle their own vegetables? Either way – this packaging targeting those who seek knowledge was intriguing.

The taste was a little disappointing, slightly pickled tiny mushrooms.

A bit bland really.

Huaqiangbei Shopping – day 1

Huaqiangbei – to some of our group it already feels like smelling something from your childhood, to others it is a new shock to the circuit.

After much browsing in the overload of little stalls with parts, knick-knacks and anything that can possibly be connected, the first actual purchase was a bag of LEDs. The quantity we desired and the quantity in a standard bag did not match but luckily our pretty assistant for this transaction was willing to rip open the package and divide by weighing. Seemed weird to us at first but it makes perfect sense. Who is going to count out 500 LEDs? Besides, what’s one LED more or less between friends.

Here we have the tools we need to negotiate a bunch of CMOS logic gates – we still speak only three words of Chinese but thankfully numbers and serial lettering are the same. Pointing, sketching and the trusty calculator still gets us through. There was some waiting for components that magically appear from somewhere, meanwhile tea was served from a very small clay pot.

Around a corner somewhere we found walls of clamps, cutters, tweezers, holders and solders. The shiniest and sturdiest all seem to be Made in Japan – Asia rules. Happy browsing all round.

Yes, Stijn is talking into a microphone. After the initial overload some of the guys thought it would be a good idea to be able to reach each other. We don’t have Chinese SIMs so they bought a set of walkie-talkies. Huanqiangbei is a lot to get around. We will be back!

Food #1 Sunday lunch in a shopping mall

Besides the amazing availability of electronics, another drive for coming to China is the food. It is Yum-Yam good. We do not speak or read any Chinese and often we do not know what we are getting. This leads to many nice surprises and a few disgusting disappointments. I will happily take the ultraspicy and the occasional fermented flaky snail in stride with the rest of my Tasting of China.

As was my motto on Couchsurfing : To see interesting cultures, and eat them.

After locating the Civic centre we had to fuel up before actually doing the museum. Along the sides of a nearby square, inside a shopping mall there was line of people waiting to get into this beautiful Chinese version of fast food. Upon entering you get a sort of menu-grid piece of paper. With this you stand in the buffet line. There is an ‘open kitchen’ stashing whatever they are cooking behind a windowed buffet and you point at things (if you speak Chinese you probably just ask for them) get your grid stamped and receive the food you selected. You do this until you have tried everything you want and pay whatever you were stamped on your way out.

Sunday lunch

We loaded the table twice – but I was so busy eating that I only took one picture.

What you see here is a tofu/ mushroom/ celery toss, cooked lotus root slices dumpling and lotus/ rice cakes with sesame (I think) with some sort of refried-dumpling-spring roll.

Tea on the side, always tea on the side.

I would heartily recommend eating here to anyone, if only I knew what the place was called.

Shenzhen museum – On a Sunday afternoon

Getting in some culture today! We set out to walk to the big-wavy-building, otherwise known as Shenzens’ Civic Centre which among many other things houses the Shenzhen Museum. We sauntered in between many very tall buildings and when we lost our bearings, we headed for the ‘gap in the skyline’ as the Civic Centre is a huge but lower structure. Worked like a charm.

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We also discovered the Shenzhen Industrial Museum which was unfortunately closed today – if we have some time left later we do want to go back and visit this 7 floor exhibition.

CITE China Information Technology Exhibition

DSC05577DSC05585 We were excited to see CITE and had ourselves an early start. We had some wonderful Chinese bread for breakfast – with the undetermined pork or fish sugary floss – and set out in the foggy morning. The big trade-show hall is within walking distance of our temporary home. When the Chinese build an Exhibition centre, they mean it and make the ones in our own country look puny.  There was so much to see!  A few of the highlights:


DSC05572 DSC05574Neuron; A full-body motion capture suit; a collection of sensors that you can easily strap on and lets you freely move around. There was a guy doing live demonstrations in front of a big screen, he seemed kind of uninspired so I did a little dance with him – to relieve boredom and to see if the sensors would also follow some more rigorous movement. I made him follow me and together we boogied down to the ground and twirled like ballet dancers. On screen all the moves (including his stumbling and hesitance) were really well followed.


DSC05590Pick and placers in all shapes and sizes, a CNC on magnetic rails, robotic paste dispensers and 2-component gluing robots which were unexpectedly cheap. Electric factory worker drills and screwdrivers – stopping on counterforce and hanging down from heaven (or the ceiling).


DSC05593 Thin film speakers and conductive textile printing – actually stretchy and no more of the crackling problems it had in the past. This seems like an interesting technique to build some creative and wearable applications. Make stuff work AND look good!


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pcDuino: Lego-like blocks that you can program as components onto your pcb and build things on with Lego. Like many things nowadays it works with Scratch. Very nice educational tool, allows for mucking around. Disassemble and reassemble.


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We walked in to the “e-health” hall, which mostly consisted of e-cigarettes and their many, many liquids. The air was sweet and fragrant and scantily clad ladies were walking about with promotion materials. One of them handed us a throwaway e-ciggarette which supposedly equals one packet of cigarettes.


DSC05571There were multiple versions of a step on electric transport device – sort of a Segway without the middle stick which most of us tried out for a couple of meters. You control it by moving your feet very slightly. Roman has the distance record between us and had the basic manoeuvring down in less than two minutes.


A rolling drone that can also bounce and flip. 3D printers with a delta-bot, SLS stratasys printers, room-sized 3D printers and liquid printers. OLEDs in panels of 10 by 5 cm and 8K screens by BOE. Many more things to gawk at and definitely to much to list here. Makeblock was also there, showing of their new stuff – more on that when we visit the studio.

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To China, with love

The trouble with China is largely that is far, far away and getting there takes a while.

Rocket_LaunchOn the one hand I am a big fan of air travel – it gets you very far, very fast. On the other hand I hate air travel – you pay to get yourself locked up in an aluminium cylinder for hours on end with no escape and no sleep. The food I had eaten on planes thus far was not so bad but this trip it was horrible (yes Aeroflot , I am talking about you) and I was glad I brought some snacks with me. Our total airtime was just under twelve hours, with a waiting time of 2 hours at Moscow airport – which is basically a shopping mall with gates.

DSC05618Finally arriving at Hong Kong airport, the magic started. “Can you smell that? Chinese air!” Getting stickered into a sky limo, crossing the border and an extremely overpriced illegal taxi got us from Hong Kong airport to our Shenzhen apartment in another 3 hours. None of us really slept on the plane and we were so jetlagged that the floor was wobbly. When we set out to explore our neighbourhood and look for some food, we walked the wrong way (and back) four times.

Early night all round – it’s great to be back.

We will be here for almost two weeks – so if you  have any specific Shenzhen / Made In China questions, let us know and we can find out!