This is only a preview of the February 2024 issue of Silicon Chip.
You can view 36 of the 112 pages in the full issue, including the advertisments.
Items relevant to "Microphone Preamplifier":
Items relevant to "Mains Power-Up Sequencer, Pt1":
Items relevant to "ESP32-CAM WiFi Camera Module":
Items relevant to "Raspberry Pi Clock Radio, Pt2":
Items relevant to "Model Railway Points Controller":
Purchase a printed copy of this issue for $12.50.
Electronics Markets Sim Lim Tower & Square I can’t recall when I first heard about Sim Lim Tower, but I have long had it bookmarked for a visit. With international travel finally becoming possible for the first time in several years, I made sure to tick it off my travel bucket list. It was certainly worth it for the experience alone. We recently covered Shenzhen’s Electronics Markets in the December 2023 issue (siliconchip.com.au/Article/ 16060) and the bargains that can be had there. The prices of things (both electronic and in general) in Singapore are more closely aligned with what you might see in Australia. However, Singapore has an advantage (for us) over China in that English is one of the four official languages spoken. Many travellers know of Singapore as a stopover on the way to Europe, but I have found it an enjoyable place to visit. It is about an eight hour flight from Australia. Firstly, I’ll mention what I found at Sim Lim Tower and then Sim Lim Square. As a rough guide, Sim Lim Tower has more parts, components and the like, while Sim Lim Square has more consumer electronics. Later, I’ll note some other information that might be useful for fellow travellers. Sim Lim Tower Sim Lim Tower is seventeen stories high, but it’s the lower three floors that will interest most readers, as these are where the electronics stores are located. The upper levels are mostly offices, filled with such things as management 68 Silicon Chip consultants and insurance agencies, as well as electronics and software firms. There are several specialist stores focused on fields like marine navigation, LED lighting, digital signage, professional and ‘prosumer’ audio gear, plus industrial electric and electronic equipment. Other sellers specialise in electronic tools, equipment and supplies. Then there are the shops that are tightly packed with narrow aisles, high shelves and countless component trays. One such store would not have been much more than 50m2 in area, but I probably spent over an hour scanning the shelves to get a complete idea of what was stocked. Many shops offered a large range of constructional kits and staff could be seen putting kits together. The feel is much like a Dick Smith store from the early days, although there is no shortage of modern components and such things as Arduino boards, modules and robotics kits. Indeed, there was one small but well-laid-out shop that dealt exclusively with modules and other Arduino-related items, such as 3D printer parts. I spent quite some time in these shops. Those wanting to have a thorough look around could easily spend an afternoon within the Tower. As well as the feeling of being a ‘kid in a candy store’, I was simply interested to see if they sold anything I had not seen before. I’d heard that Shenzhen was like AliExpress in real life, but these stores were so packed with different items that Australia's electronics magazine siliconchip.com.au in Singapore with Tim Blythman Sim Lim Tower (shown at left) and Sim Lim Square (above) in Singapore are two centres full of shops crammed with all manner of electronic items. I recently had the opportunity to travel and explore both. they were more of a catalog you could peruse aisle-by-aisle. Many online stores are limited in that you can only readily find items that you know to look for. Here was a chance to literally stumble across something that I hadn’t yet thought existed. I didn’t see anything revolutionary, but there were quite a few variants of modern modules and breakout boards that piqued my curiosity. I can’t speak any of the local languages except for English, which sufficed with the help of a small amount of gesturing. I did experiment with a translation app (“Translate” In Sim Lim Tower, you will see numerous stores with eyecatching displays of all manner of LED lighting and digital signage, flashing, blinking and scrolling. You certainly won’t miss them as you walk past. The stock on display is not limited to components, with several stores having a large range of Arduino-based shields and modules, as well as Raspberry Pi boards and prototyping accessories. siliconchip.com.au Australia's electronics magazine February 2024 69 on Android, which can handle voice and text) and found this was most useful for translating signs and other written information. Purchases As I mentioned, the prices are similar to what you see in Australia. With the Singapore dollar worth about 20% more than the Australian dollar at the moment, it’s tempting to fall for the raw dollar value seen on the price tag, even if it is actually more expensive when converted. The value was in being able to buy things that I had not seen in shops back home. And unlike with online sellers, it is in your hands immediately. Some stores were happy to give me a modest discount on a cash sale. With that in mind (and the constant threat of excess baggage and creeping over the duty-free limit), I didn’t buy much. I got a handful of modules and a few cables and adaptors, all of which have worked flawlessly. I did buy a small USB programmable LED name badge that I have not been able to program. It lights up and shows scrolling text, but my Windows PC complains that the PL2303 USB-serial chip is unsupported and refuses to work with it. I suspect it is also supposed to have a rechargeable battery, which is now long dead. For the most part, the experience of being surrounded by such a novel variety of electronics outweighed the thrill of getting a bargain. However, I did not walk away empty- handed. Although many of the shops in Sim Lim Tower are tiny, they are crammed with a comprehensive range of components, all organised neatly into small trays. Several stock basic components like resistors, capacitors and transistors, along with a wide range of ICs. Displays like these well-stocked shelves of a broad variety of transformers are typical of Sim Lim Tower. I saw similar ranges for things like switches, connectors and even airconditioning remote controls. 70 Silicon Chip Sim Lim Square Sim Lim Square is right across the road from Sim Lim Tower. The building is newer, and several retailers moved from the older Sim Lim Tower when it opened. There are six floors of stores, as well as a basement area with a food court. Some online reviews from a decade ago indicate that scams on tourists were commonplace. It appears that there has been strong action taken against the perpetrators. I did not have any problems with pushy salesmen or the like, and the couple of small items I bought worked fine. You’ll find numerous stores selling computers, TVs, mobile phones, tablets and the like. I was not in the market for such items, so I can’t comment on them. You will find similar items at many different stores, so simply shopping around will be a good strategy. There are stores specialising in computer parts, office supplies, cameras, assorted electronic gadgets and even data recovery and device repair. In addition to a few cables and adaptors, I bought a rechargeable battery bank and a rechargeable portable fan. The fan was a welcome relief on the more humid Singapore days. None of the stores I visited at Sim Lim Square offered any cash discounts, but one offered 10% off the second item of the same type if two were bought together. Again, the novelty was the sheer variety of products available and finding things that could not easily be found in Australian stores. I only spent a few hours in Sim Lim Square. There are shops around the outside perimeter of the centre that I did not visit, as the stores inside offered an escape from the midday heat. Many appear to be open until the early evening. Getting around Sim Lim Tower is at 10 Jalan Besar, while Sim Lim Square Australia's electronics magazine siliconchip.com.au You might even see some familiar brands in Sim Lim Tower. Considering the exchange rate, these Jaycar radio modules were about the same price as in Australia. Some shops also had a very wide range of kits available for sale. These appear to be good sellers, as staff were continually putting the kits together. is at 1 Rochor Canal Road, on diagonally opposite corners of the intersection of these two roads. They are about a kilometre from the central downtown area of Singapore. With many high-rise buildings, store addresses are often given in the form #03-09, where 03 means the third floor and 09 refers to the specific store (or office or apartment). What we would call the ground floor is floor #01. Sim Lim Tower and Sim Lim Square are on the edge of the Little India precinct. The nearest MRT (subway) station is Rochor Station, almost directly in front of Sim Lim Square. Little India Station and Bugis Station are both within walking distance and, like Rochor, are on the Downtown Line. Getting off at Little India Station also allows you to try Indian cuisine at the Tekka Centre food court. Bugis Station is under a shopping centre surrounded by streets lined with market stalls. Bugis Station is also served by the East-West MRT line. Many buses also pass by on Rochor Canal Road. You can use a contactless debit or credit card for the bus and MRT by tapping on and off. Fares are pretty cheap; you can travel the breadth of the country for a few dollars (it isn’t quite as big as Australia!). None of my days’ travel exceeded 10 Singapore dollars. Sim Lim Square is aimed more at regular consumers, with stores offering device repair, gadgets and consumer electronics. There are also shops specialising in cameras and photographic supplies. The shops in Sim Lim Square have more space, but they still manage to cram in various cables, adaptors and other small devices. siliconchip.com.au Summary Unlike with Shenzhen, visiting Sim Lim Tower and Sim Lim Square probably won’t net you any massive bargains. If you are keen on electronics, though, you will enjoy seeing the sheer variety of products on offer. You might stumble on something you haven’t seen before. I bought several small items, some of which I have not come across in Australia. The prices were comparable to what I would expect to pay in Australia. I didn’t purchase expensive items such as a mobile phone or portable computer, so I can’t comment on those. If you can’t wait for the vagaries of international shipping, you might find something worth snapping up on the spot, but I mostly enjoyed being inspired by the sheer range SC and novelty of the items on sale. Australia's electronics magazine February 2024 71