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I am

Vincent Vangoidsenhoven

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Personal info

"Be unique, Make yourself a limited edition."

Vincent

About

My name is Vincent Vangoidsenhoven. I'm 20 years old and I live in Belgium. I have a holidayjob at VanRoey.be as Service Engineer and I study IT Factory - INFRA at Thomas More in Geel. I am very interested in IT and electronics and I am also very fascinated by photography, especially night photography, timelapse and Urbex. I do a lot of experiments with electronics and hardware. I recently started a DIY drone project, I ordered parts, assembled them and at the moment I am trying to improve my drone flying skills and I also fix the problems on my drone as they occur.

Check out my Facebook, YouTube, Instructables and 500px profiles.

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Projects & Experiments

"Experiment. Fail. Learn. Repeat."

Mission Control

Control lights and other equipment via a convenient webinterface

Project
Project
Project

The new system is built completely from scratch with the knowledge of Python CGI scripts and MySQL which I learned at school. The system is based on Python scripts which control GPIO pins and general functionality of the system, a webserver with HTML, PHP and CGI functionality, a MySQL database, the Bootstrap framework for simple and functional webpages, Highcharts for temperature history graphs, Javascript and an IR package to control infrared devices. The previous system was based on a Instructables project with a bit of appearance improvement by a CSS file and a PHP login page written by myself. The downside of this system was that it was written mostly in javascript, a language which I have limited knowledge off. Any functional modification would require a complete understanding of the code, therefore upgrades were limited to just the front-end design. I needed a system that I could easily expand. The Mission Control system has a ton of functionality, I can control the on/off state of my nightlight, I can control the color and different modes of my mainlights(approximately 30 meters of led strips in my room), this system is controlled via the IR package which sends infrared signals to the LED controller, I can see the inside and outside temperature and a 24h history of the sensors, I can switch on my monitors on my desk, I can switch my 2 amplifiers, a mixer and a preamplifier on or off with just one press on a button and I have control of my DIY MusicFX system. I also designed a tablet edition of Mission Control for a tablet which is mounted next to my door for all time access to the most used features of the system. I also created a new wakeup system. The system is meant to wake you up as smoothly and softly as possible. You can enter your desired wakeup and go to bed timings on a special page. Then the system wil automatically calculate the wakeup stages in percent of the given timings. The system switches different lights on in different colors based on the calculated percentages. The system is modular build and can be upgraded very easy.

The scripts and code of this project are confidential.


The OLD system

ECS (Environment Control System)

Project
Project

The old system was based on the idea and template from "TheFreeElectron" a user on Instructables. The system is intended to run on a Raspberry Pi where the webpage is hosted on and the GPIO pins control the relay boards. His template is very well built and works excellent. But the security and the appearance of the webpage could use some improvement. For the security part I created a PHP login page which will keep unwanted users away. The security is absolutely not bulletproof but therefore it is only meant to be used on an internal network anyway. I improved the appearence by changing the button images to more functional slide switch images. The original webpage had no css whatsoever. Since I learned some basic CSS at school I've tried to improve the appearance with a proper CSS file.


MissionControl

Hardware Version 2.0

Project
Project

UPDATE: The physical section of my MissionControl system is completely upgraded. Let me tell you first a bit about the previous setup. The original system existed of some ledstrip’s and the MusicFX system, these were controlled by simple rocker switches. The general wiring and “gateway” to all the components and ledstrip’s was built in a big empty computer chassis with a door style sidepanel. I started off with a DIY breakout connector for the GPIO header of the Raspberry Pi. I made this from an old IDE cable which end I trimmed of and split and soldered each wire of it. This breakout connector was connected to a half-size breadboard sticked to the inside of the computer chassis. The system expanded bit by bit and more functions were added such as a switch to enable the VU-meter, but some features didn’t lasted very long because they weren’t really functional. Then I discovered an Instructables project that instructs how to make a home automation system with a Raspberry Pi. This system back in the days was limited to 8 relays. Since then the system became IoT enabled. The Raspberry Pi was added “on top” of the existing wiring and the computer chassis quickly became a messy spiderweb of wires. The system kept expanding till I designed MissionControl. This system allowed me to add even more relayboards to the system. I also began to add temperature sensors and inputs to the system. At this point the computer chassis was filled completely with wires and the Raspberry Pi was buried under all the components and wires. It did happen while I was developing MissionControl that I needed to fully reinstall the Raspi. This was a complete nightmare, I had to dig the Raspberry Pi out of the chassis and disconnect the breakout connector and hope no wires got deattached from the breadboard. How I could let this eventually end up in such a gigantic mess, I still don’t know. But it was time for a change. The software was already modular and easy to modify. The hardware needed this too. First, I built a sketch of all the components and wiring in Fritzing, I opted for 2 breadboards which would give me much more space than needed but the wiring must be easy to modify. The plan was to built this system on a wooden board that should contain all the digital components, the Raspberry Pi, the breadboards, the pull-up circuits for the inputs and the relay boards. The wood board would be placed on top of the pc chassis. I extended the cables in the pc chassis and are routed via the back of the chassis to its corresponding relay. The system is fully build by now and is ready for future upgrades and expansions.

Philips Berry (DIY HUE)

A regular light modified to a IoT enabled mood light

Project
Project

I got this Philips Berry as a present. This mood light has a 3watt RGB LED and has 2 buttons brightness and color and one secret reset button. It is a very nice light ornament but it isn’t very practical to control via the 2 buttons. I had a NodeMCU laying around and I had the idea to implement this into the Philips Berry. I first had to find a way to open up the lamp without damaging it, this wasn’t as easy as you may think. The lamp has no visible or accessible screws on the exterior and the plexiglass diffuser is clipped into the chassis. I eventually got it open by wrapping it in a sweatshirt and by gently putting my own weight on it by leaning on it with my knee. The original plan was to control it via relays which then control the buttons inside the lamp but this turned out to be unnecessary. I connected the ESP8266 directly to the signal wires of the buttons and to the ground of the control board of the lamp. After writing some code and a bootstrap page for it, it worked. It has a very simple bootstrap page hosted on the ESP8266 itself and it works very responsive. This system is also implemented in the MissionControl system for easy use.

MusicFX

Bring the music to life

MusicFX is a DIY music visualisation project made by myself. The heart of the system is a Velleman MK114 single channel light organ. This module uses 12v and a single high-level speaker output, it filters out the low frequencies and converts them to a 12v output where the cathode is the controlled polarity. This controller is meant to be used with high power 12v halogen light bulbs. But usually RGB LED-strips are common anode. They use one anode and the 3 rgb channels are cathodes. These are perfect for this project because I only want to use the red channel. I connected the controller to my already existing LED-strip setup and it worked perfectly. Below you can see a demo of MusicFX in combination with the ECS system.

UPDATE: All RGB led-strips are now capable of emitting all colors, previously some led strips (rear, amplifiers, ...) were only connected with the anode and the red cathode. The desired color can now be select via MissionControl.

DIY Drone Project

A project about creating a cheap aerial photography drone

Project
Project

I have always been very interested in aviation like planes, helicopters but also RC helicopters, RC planes and quadcopters. As a kid I had a lot of toy helicopters but they were so badly made that they mostly fly maximum for a week before they break. I have always wanted a quadcopter but the DJI quadcopters are very expensive and I think they are not really a challenge to fly. You just basically take it out of the box pop the battery in it and you can fly it. That was not something I want, I was looking more for a project. I did a lot of research and I watched tons of Youtube videos. And I decided despite the lack of knowledge about RC equipment and drones that I want to build a drone. Altough I didn't know anything about RC components, I do have a lot of experience with small electronics and soldering.

So I went ahead and bought all the components I needed to build the drone. I needed motors, ESC's, a flightcontroller, a frame, propellers, a radio, a receiver,... I ended up with a total amount of around 250 euros. I assembled it all and of course I made the simple beginner mistakes, like not calibrating ESC's, having the balance connector of the LiPo chopped off by one of the propellers, overtightening the propellers which resulted crash because of a propeller breaking mid-flight.

But the positive side of this is that it is still a project and you learn from your mistakes so you will never make them again. Also if you crash the drone the cost of the spare parts is usually not very high. I crashed my drone basically a few days after I built it and I had around 15 euros of damage. One motor got soaked, the battery got wet, the carbon GPS mounting pole broke and the GPS wire to the flight controller got sliced in one of the propellers. Could be a lot worse. I admit that I was a little too overconfident during that flight. After that incident no more serious crashes occured except for the one when the propeller broke in half which I mentioned earlier.

The goal of this project is to get into aerial photography as cheap as possible. I have my Xiaomi Yi 4K mounted on a 2 axis gimbal which can be finetuned by the open source software it comes with. At the moment I have a little "Jello effect" on the camera footage. But this should be resolved by replacing the china propellers with the Master Airscrew propellers I bought.

Bedside Display

Start your day with beautiful pictures and actual weather info

Project
Project

The meaning of this project is to create an alarm clock which looks good and is functional too. On my Instructables page there is an old version of this project. The old version uses an old modified HP Compaq Mini 311c with an Intel atom n270 cpu. The old project was based on a Google Chrome extension which displays the time, a daily quote and a background that changes everyday. With the new version I changed out the 4:3 monitor for a 16:9 15" LCD panel. The new version doesn't use Chrome anymore but a VB.net application made by myself instead. Also the laptop used for this project is updated to a HP mini netbook with a AMD E350 cpu which is slightly more powerful than the atom. The computer automatically wakes up and goes back to sleep by scripts on set times.

Transparent Sony Xperia Z3

Make a regular smartphone look very geeky

Project

The battery of my phone was faulty. And I decided to replace the battery. I found a company in Belgium they claim that they sell OEM replacement batteries. I ordered a battery and I thought why don't I try to make the backglass transparent. I had the idea to sand the coating off with steel wool. I first tried it on an already damaged backglass, and success it takes some time but the coating comes off and the glass doesn't get scratched at all. I sanded the new backglass and looks completely transparent and has no scratches at all. I replaced the battery, applied a new gasket on the backglass and placed the glass on the phone. It looks amazing. I also ordered a transparent back case the "Ringke Fusion Xperia Z3". The end result = a new OEM battery, a super geeky looking phone and a cost which is a fraction of the cost of a new phone.

This project is about my current smartphone the Sony Xperia Z3. The Z3 is currently the ultimate phone for me. It is fast, has a very fast and responsive GUI, it has an amazingly vivid display and pictures look super sharp thanks to the BRAVIA Engine 2 and X-reality features, it has very well built and good looking stock apps like Walkman and the Xperia launcher. The phone is by now 1,5 year old and some tiny faults appear from time to time. When the phone was a little over a year old the waterproofing went faulty, I was washing the phone in the sink under running water (nothing unusual) and the adhesive seal of the bottom speaker broke. I noticed 2 hours later that some water leaked into the phone, the water was trapped in the bottom layers of the display. I seriously considered to open up the back of the phone to dry it but I decided to not do it and tried to dry it by heat and evaporation. I did this by opening all the flaps of the phone so water could evaporate and I connected the phone to a powerbank and I executed a cpu intensive stresstest on the phone and placed it then upright in an air-tight box with dry rice in it. There was very little chance of shorting the motherboard out because the motherboard is located in the top of the phone, the bottom part only contains a speaker, microphone, vibration motor and some antennas. I let the stresstest ran for approximately 4 hours and most of the water did evaporate and only very tiny bright-spots were visible at the bottom of the display.

After this incident I was thinking how cool would it look if the back glass of the phone was transparent. I have seen this mod on some phones like the iPhone 4s and the Samsung Galaxy S6. So, I ordered 3 backglass panels from china. The backglass is coated with a black coating on the inside. With the first backglass I tried to scrape the coating off with a glass scraper, this worked very well except around the camera hole in the glass, it broke at that place when I was scraping it. With the second backglass I tried to use some chemicals. I used alcohol, aggressive tile cleaner, acetone, white spirit and eventually drain cleaner. None of these worked except for the drain cleaner which took off a tiny layer of the coating but almost nothing, it also damaged the glass. I decided to give up on this project and I kept the chemically treated and the third backglass.

A week ago the battery of my phone failed. For over the last month if I ran a cpu intensive task and the battery percentage was below 40% the phone would shutdown due to low power immediately. I noticed something was going horribly wrong on an evening when I went running. I started my running session with the battery at 75%. I use a running app on my phone which uses GPS, mobile data and bluetooth (for smartwatch and heartrate strap). When I ran about 6km I wanted to pause a minute and send a snap to some friends. The moment I opened Snapchat the phone shutdown due to low power. This was not good so I decided to keep an eye on the battery by looking at its voltage. I noticed when I ran an intensive app the voltage drops to about 3v which triggers the low power shutdown mechanism of the OS. My phone is rooted and I installed an app that can override the low voltage shutdown of the OS. I do not recommend anyone to do this.

I noticed my phone has 3 low power shutdown mechanisms: The OS: if the battery goes to 0% the OS initiates the shutdown process, the percentage is measured by the voltage. The kernel: if the battery voltage drops below approximately 2.7v the phone just turns off and the phone displays the critical battery icon when you try to start it. This process does not initiate a shutdown process it just turns the phone off, there is a very high chance of data corruption and/or loss. In my case I lost all my saved wifi networks and my EQ setting were set to their default values. The last mechanism is the battery itself. The battery has a protection pcb on it’s terminal, this protects the battery from overcharging, overtemperature but also over discharging. This means that if the battery voltage drops below a set voltage the current is cut-off and the battery protection circuit needs to be re-activated by first charging the battery again.

I also installed a battery voltage widget so I could keep an eye on the battery. I noticed that when an intensive app executed the voltage drops to 3v but jumps right up to about 3.4v - 3.6v which is low but still not completely empty. I had nothing to loose with the low battery shutdown disabled because my intentional idea was to buy a new phone when the battery completely dies. I used the phone for about 2 weeks and it got worse every day. I decided that I want to replace the battery but it needs to be an OEM replacement battery (because of the china aftermarket batteries can explode thing). I found a company in Belgium they claim that they sell OEM replacement batteries. I ordered a battery and I thought why don't I try to make the last backglass transparent. I had the idea to sand the coating off with steel wool. I first tried it on the chemically treated backglass, and success it takes some time but the coating comes off and the glass doesn't get scratched at all. I sanded the third backglass and looks completely transparent and has no scratches at all. I replaced the battery, applied a new gasket on the backglass and placed the glass on the phone. It looks amazing. I also ordered a transparent back case the "Ringke Fusion Xperia Z3". The end result = a new OEM battery, a super geeky looking phone and a cost which is a fraction of the cost of a new phone.

PS: I did a capacity test on the old battery and it has 2182mAh left of the original 3100mAh. This means that the battery lost 30% of capacity after 1.5 year of intensive use.

PS: If you also want to do this and you get an error on the phone that says “Low memory, Could not run service” I found out this I caused by the absent of the NFC antenna. Just disable NFC and the error goes away.

Window Display

A display backlit by the sun that provides all kinds of useful information

Project
Project

The goal of this project is to reuse an old LCD monitor and converting it to a informative window gadget. The concept is based on how LCD panels work. A LCD panel uses different layers to display an image. The first layer is the background lighting layer, on top of that there are a few filters to diffuse the light over the whole LCD panel and then the latest layer is the LCD panel itself. This is what you need for this project. The LCD panel is semi-transparent, this means that light comes through the panel but it can be controlled by the pixels in the panel. If you mount the LCD panel to a window like I did the light from outside is used as backlight lighting. It is not as bright as it originally was but with high contrast it's still very readable. The video signal for the LCD panel is provided by a modded thin client. The thin client runs Windows XP and is programmed with scripts to automatically startup a remote desktop connection with my home server. On this server is user account especially made for this project where a VB.net made by myself runs on. The window display displays a lot of useful information like the weather, a rain radar, the time, a greeting which changes by the time of the day, a network device activity tester (it pings to all network devices every 10 seconds), an internet connection indicator and few performance counters which represent the server status.

AC Rebuild

A complete rebuild of an old AC to make it more efficient

Project
Project

The summer, very nice except if you’re studying for the finals. At that moment you want your study room to be cool for maximum concentration. A fan always helps to keep you cool but it doesn’t exactly cool. In fact it does heat up your room by the heat generated by the fan motor. But it keeps you cool by letting the sweat on your skin evaporate more quickly and as a result the skin temperature drops. But still a fan can blow air only as cold as room temperature. It uses a so called passive cooling. Cooling without actively getting rid of the heat in the air. An air conditioner in fact uses an active cooling technique by using a compressor, an evaporator and a condenser.

Before the finals began I had some free time and I thought how am I going to deal with the hot summer during the finals. And I started thinking, I own an air conditioner from my grandparents but its very old and not efficient at all. The air conditioner is a Bryant OASIS. It is a tower air conditioner with the condenser at the bottom and the evaporator on the top. Or in other terms the hot side at the bottom and the cool side at the top. This concept on its own isn’t very efficient because heat rises and although the hot and cold sides are insulated with styrofoam, some of the heat can get in the cold area. There is also a fan mounted inside the cold area. It is just a regular 15 watt AC motor with a very long shaft where a blower is mounted on. This motor gets very hot, like +50°C after an hour of operation. This creates also a big dent in the efficiency.

This machine has to get more efficient. So the ideas started flying around in my head. And after a while I found the solution. The hot side on the air conditioner needs to be directly outside like a regular dual unit AC. And the cold side also has to be outside because it is still one unit and I cannot bend the copper pipes with the refrigerant in it. The cold side has to be so well insulated that the outside temperature and sun have little to no effect on its cooling performance.

Speaking of a coincidence we recently upgrade our isolation in the attic with some 5cm thick XPS foam boards. We have overestimated the area when buying the isolation material so we had some foamboards left.

I started “The Great AC Upgrade” by revising the AC’s hot side. I removed all the electronics except compressor and its capacitator. I completely removed front panel and the water tank. I installed two 12v 140mm “server” fans in the front and sealed it with some XPS foamboard. These fans can move a lot of air but they require also a lot of power. These fans blow directly on the compressor which is located in a wrapped around condenser heatsink. The hole in the top of the hot compartment where normally the blower fan is located for the hot side is blocked off with some foamboard.

The cold side is basically a big XPS foamboard box with in the front on the right the air intake powered by 6 80mm fans stacked in a 2 by 3 setup. These fans blow air in the right chamber of the cooling box and then the air passes through the evaporator and gets exhausted through the left exhaust vent. I created a drip pan under the evaporator to collect any condensation water. This water can leak out of the back of the cooling box via a PVC pipe with a very small hole at the end to prevent cold air from leaking to the outside.

This whole system needs to be placed on my balcony of my room and my window is sealed shut by a big XPS foamboard with cutouts for the vents on the AC. The inside of the window panel also has remote control switches to control the compressor, hot side fans, cold side fans and some LED strips in the cooling box.

The performance of the system is still not excellent but for example on a hot sunny summer day when it is 35°C outside at noon and if you place the AC outside in the morning at 10AM when it is 24°C inside and outside. The AC is able maintain the room temperature and lets it rise very slowly during the day. But in the evening when the sun is full on my windows then the AC has no chance to cool the room anymore. At that point you can better turn the AC off because it is literally a waste of power.

At the moment the system works up to my expectations and it is very pleasant to have cold stream of air blowing over the desk when you are studying. But the system could always use some upgrades and improvements. Like the cold air exhaust is almost always at around 5°C to 10°C, maybe if I upgrade the small PC fans in the cooling box to some fan(s) with a lot more airflow then it might be possible to reach a higher exhaust air output and gain more room cooling because of the air getting cycled more quickly through the system.

I also did some experimenting with the AC. I made box with one open side with XPS foamboard and with a window in one of the sides. This half box can be mounted on the AC and it essentially routes the exhaust air directly back into the intake. The cycles the air and keeps it cycling. If you leave this setup running for 5 minutes the box reaches a temperature of -15°C . It is a super freezer! I tested it with a bottle of apple juice, I put it 30 minutes in the machine and when it came back out the apple juice became slush.

My personal DIY rig

A handbuilt beast of a machine

Project

  • Intel Core i7 4790K
  • Stock: 4.0GHz | Stock Turbo: 4.4GHz | OC Turbo: 4.6GHz
  • Asus ROG Maximus VII Hero
  • 24GB Kingston HyperX DDR3 1600MHz RAM | 2x4GB + 2x8GB
  • MSI GeForce GTX750Ti OC Edition
  • Samsung 850 EVO 250GB SSD
  • Western Digital NASware 3.0 3TB HDD
  • Western Digital Black 1TB HDD
  • Western Digital Blue 500GB Laptop HDD
  • Western Digital Blue 1000GB Laptop HDD
  • Samsung SpinPoint MP4 500GB Laptop HDD
  • HGST 500GB Laptop HDD
  • CoolerMaster B500 500W PSU
  • NZXT Kraken X61 AIO Liquid CPU Cooler
  • Asus ROG FrontBase
  • Corsair Obsidian D750 Case
  • Sony OptiArc CD/DVD Burner
  • AverMedia DVB-T TV/Tuner Card
  • DLink DWA-556 Xtreme N PCIe WiFi Card
  • DIY Led Lighting

Photography

Capture the most beautiful moments

Project

I am very fascinated by photography it is also my hobby. I bought my first DSLR in 2014 it was a Nikon D3100 with a Nikon Nikkor 18-55mm f3.5-5.6 AF-S DX VR kit lens. I was very interested in timelapse video and nightphotography. This "cheap" camera was ideal for experimenting and learning the basics of photography. In 2016 I sold my D3100 and I bought a more advanced Nikon D5200 body with a Tamron 18-200MM F/3.5-6.3 DI II lens. The body is very good but the lens was way too cheap. Pictures were not sharp and there was a lot of chromatic aberration. Early 2017 I bought a lens specifically for my needs (Nightphotography, landscapes and pictures with bokeh effect) I chose the Sigma 17-50mm f/2.8 EX DC OS HSM it is very wide lens with a minimum aperture of 2.8 over the whole zoom range. So far this is the best lens I ever bought.

Check out my work on 500px

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Contact

Vincent_Vangoidsenhoven@hotmail.com