"Be unique, Make yourself a limited edition."
My name is Vincent Vangoidsenhoven. I'm 21 years old and I live in Belgium. I study Cloud & Cyber security at Thomas More Geel. I am very interested in IT and electronics. I am also very fascinated by photography, especially nightphotography, timelapse and urbex. Since a year ago my new passion is RC quadcopter and planes. I currently have 2 quadcopters which i built myself.
Check out my Instructables and 500px profiles.
"If you can imagine it, You can DIY it!"
The Mission Control system is modular and upgradable and has a ton of functionality. I can control my nightlight, I can control the color and different modes of my mainlights(approximately 30 meters total of RGB led strips in my room), I can see the inside and outside temperature and a 24h history of those sensors, I can switch my monitors on and off, I have control of my DIY MusicFX system and I can switch my 2 amplifiers, a mixer and a preamplifier on and off with just one press of a button and also this audio set switches itself automatically off when my pc shuts down. 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 important features of the system.
I also created a wakeup system. This system is meant to wake you up as smooth and softly as possible. You can enter your desired wakeup and sleep timings on a special page. The system will automatically calculate wakeup stages in percents of the given timings. The system switches different lights on in different colors based on these calculated percentages.
The old system was based on a project from "TheFreeElectron" a user on Instructables. This system is intended to run on a Raspberry Pi. A webpage is hosted on the Pi and the GPIO pins of the Pi can be controlled via that webpage. His template is well built and works as expected. But the security and the appearance of the webpage could use some improvement. For enhanced security, I created a PHP login page which will keep unwanted users out of the system. This security feature was absolutely not bulletproof but this system was only meant to be used on an internal network anyway. I improved the appearence by changing the button images to more visually functional looking 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.
This Philips Berry is a battery powered lamp and has a 3watt RGB LED and 2 buttons, one for brightness and one for color and also one hidden reset button. It is a very nice light ornament but it isn’t very practical to control it via the 2 buttons. I had a NodeMCU laying around and I had the idea to implement this into the lamp. By doing this it will make the lamp IoT enabled and a sort of DIY Philips HUE light. 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 which is clipped into the base. I eventually got it open by wrapping it in a towel and gently leaning on it with my knee. The original plan was to control it via relays which would 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 webpage hosted on the ESP8266 itself and it works very responsive. This system is also implemented in the MissionControl system for easy access.
MusicFX is a DIY music visualisation system, it will flicker the light on the beat of the music. The heart of the system is a generic 12v light organ module. 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 module is originally meant to be used with high power 12v halogen light bulbs. But usually RGB LED-strips are common anode. They use one anode and 3 RGB channels cathodes. These are perfect for this project because I only want to use one color at a time, the color can be selected via the Mission Control system. I connected the controller to my already existing LED-strip setup and it worked perfectly. In the video you can see a demo of MusicFX in combination with the MissionControl system.
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 few toy helicopters but they were so cheaply made that they flew maximum a week tops before they break. I 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 and you can go out and fly. That's not really what I was looking for, I was looking for a project, something I could really build, improve and optimize overtime. I did a lot of research and I watched a lot of Youtube videos. And I decided despite the complete lack of knowledge about RC equipment and drones in general that I want to build a drone. Altough I didn't know anything about RC stuff, I do have a lot of experience with small electronics and soldering.
I went ahead and bought all the components I needed to build the drone. Like 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 sliced off by one of the propellers, overtightening the propellers which resulted in a crash because of a propeller breaking mid-flight.
The positive side of this is that it is still a project and I learn from my mistakes so I will never have to make them again. Also if I 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, a battery got wet, the carbon GPS mounting pole broke in pieces and the wire of the GPS module got sliced by one of the propellers. Could be a lot worse. After that incident no more serious incidents occured except for the one when a propeller broke in half which I mentioned earlier.
The ultimate 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 software it comes with. At first the footage from the drone was horrible. After some investigation I found the issue. The propellers I used back then on the drone were still the cheap propellers from china from when I bought the drone parts. Apparently it is very important that propellers are perfectly balaced. If they aren't they will vibrate a lot and this produces a lot of "jello" in the video. Jello occurs if a camera with a rolling shutter and specific framerate vibrates during a recording, the recorded video looks like a dancing jello pudding, hence the name jello. In my case the propellers were very out of balance. I then had 2 options, buy a propeller balancer to balance the props by sanding material away at the corresponding blade. Or the second option, simply buying new props. This is what I did since the china props were so bad and I already had a prop flying to pieces midflight. I bought 4 new props from Master Airscrew. This immediately solved the jello problem and the drone delivered smooth video since then.
The only issue I now have at the moment is the somewhat unstable yaw movement during a straight flight. The drone detects its direction with a compass. This compass makes that the drone flies in a straight line. My gimbal is a 2axis gimbal, so it stablizes the roll and pitch movements but not the yaw movements. This also makes that the camera is always pointed forwards. Because of this, in moderate wind conditions the drone tries to hold its position and it sometimes happens that it looses its direction very slightly. This is minor noticable in the video footage when you fly in a straight line. This issue could be solved by replacing the 2axis gimbal with a 3axis gimbal or by flying the drone in almost zero windspeed conditions.
The first video system I made was built on top of the RC radio (Left image). I bought a 5.8Ghz transmitter/receiver combo kit for video transmission. The receiver needed 12v power and was mounted on the back of the radio and powered by a boost converter and got its power from the radio's battery. The monitor was a old smartphone I had laying around with the "FPV viewer" app on it. The smartphone received its video signal via a USB composite capture adapter and a USB OTG cable. This setup worked very well, but it was difficult to watch the display in bright sunlight. I created a solution for this, I made a sunhood from an old tablet cover bent in 3 pieces and mounted it on the phone.
At a given day the smartphone that acted as the monitor decided to stop working. The rest of the system still worked prefectly fine, despite the fact that the display was still a bit hard to read in sunlight and that the charging of the smartphone was a bit difficult. I decided to upgrade to FPV goggles. I bought the Eachine EV800D goggles (Right image). These goggles have a built in diversity receiver and both a patch and cloverleaf antenna for optimal video reception. The old video hardware used in the previous setup is reused in a standalone backup FPV system (Right image). This system works completely independent and is packed with a diy 3S Li-ion batterypack and a composite to USB adapter. This USB connection can be connected to a tablet and can be used as a backup video receiver if the goggles fail or to provide "passengers" a monitor to watch the flight.
The radio I use in combination with my drone is the FlySky i6S. This is a very good radio for its price. It costs around 60 euros and it comes with a phone mount and a "rattle bracket" if you want to disable the auto-center feature on the throttle stick. The first modification I did on this radio was the battery mod. The radio is originally powered by 4 AA batteries. This is very unpractical to charge and can cause an unexpected shutdown of the radio midflight if the batteries get low. I removed the battery holder on the inside and I mounted a 3600mAh LiPo cell inside the case. This battery was connected to a powerbank circuit and provides 5 volt to the battery terminal of the radio PCB. The charging is done via the built in micro USB port which is meant for firmware updates and simulators. I disconnected the USB port from the PCB and I tapped into the power wires to deliver power to the powerbank module. This worked very well, but lateron I discovered that the use of the powerbank module is completely unnecessary. The LiPo cell can be directly connected to the battery terminals of the PCB. Since the battery is very large and the power draw is very low the battery almost never drops below 4 volts. If you compare this to 1.2V NiMh AA batteries of which there are 4 and add up in total to 4.8 volts and are assumed empty at 1 volt which is 4 volts. Assumed that there are small margins on the powersupply circuit of the radio, there shouldn't be any problem. And up until today there hasn't occured even a single problem. The range is also exactly the same compared to the powerbank module.
Another upgrade which I have done recently is the upgrade of the internal antennas. There are 2 2.4Ghz antennas mounted in a 90degree configuration on the inside of the case. These antennas work fine up to 1KM, this is already very far but I want to push it a bit more. I ordered 2 5dBi 2.4Ghz antennas and I have mounted these externally on the back of the radio. By doing that I can align the antennas exactly to the 90 degrees angle of the antennas on the drone. This improves the range a bit more.
Since a few years I use XT60 plugs for all sorts of connections. An XT60 connecotr is rated up to 60amp and the connection is very solid, it is also impossible to cause a reverse polarity connection because of the shape of the connector. Over the last few years I collected a lot of batteries of different types like LiPo's, Li-Ion's and Lead-acid batteries, some are displayed in the right picture.
Over the last few years I also built and bought a lot of applications for these batteries. Like a 12v mini fridge, a 12v water boiler, but also built a DIY 150W heater, a 50W LED lamp and I shrinked a UPS down to fit a little toolbox which now acts as a power inverter. To interconnect al these devices I chose the XT60 connector it is very versatile and it provides a secure connection. I also made some adapters to convert different connection from/to an XT60 plug. Like: alligator clips to XT60, faston tab to XT60, XT60 to faston tab, XT60 to female car lighter plug, XT60 to barrel connector, a XT60 extension cable and a XT60 splitter.
The purpose of this "project" is to power essential devices like a power inverter, a powerful light, a waterboiler and a USB charger on-the-go or during a power outage.
I designed this heater to keep me warm during photography session in cold weather. I am mostly focussed on nightphotography, during the winter it can be very cold if you are just standing next to your camera waiting for a long exposure image to be processed. This heater fits perfectly in my backpack and can be powered by 12v batteries. The heater is supposed to keep the backup on a steady temperature, this keeps my back warm and so I can warm my hands inside the backpack when needed.
The heater is built from leftover wood planks. The fan inside the heater is ripped from on old PS3 system, this fan is very powerfull and can be controlled by PWM. The center piece, also the air duct is made from XPS foamboard. The heating element is a 3 section 50w each PTC heater element. All these electronics are powered by a NodeMCU and a relayboard. The unit contains also a OLED display to display the room temperature and humidity, but also the fan speed and the heater status. The fan speed can be controlled by a potentiometer. The NodeMCU is also programmed to have 2 operation modes. The first mode is manual, here you can select the desired fan speed. If the fan speed is set higher than 70% the heater will be turned off because it is ineffective above those high fan speeds. The second mode is the automatic climate mode, this mode is designed to maintain the temperature when the heater is placed in the backpack. The desired temperature can be set with the potentiometer and the system will automatically adjust the fan speed and turn the heater on and off according to the room temperature. Both these modes have thermal protection, if the room temperature rises above 50C the heater will turn off and the fan will ramp up to full speed to get rid of the excess heat.
This is one of my random ideas. A few years ago I noticed when I looked at a floppydrive, that eject button has the exact same dimensions as a usb port. And yes indeed the hole for the eject button in the faceplate does almost exactly fit a female usb port. And here the project started, my first concept was a all-in-one powerbank with a built-in bluetooth speaker and a flashlight. This would be powered by a 4300mAh Li-Ion battery that I ripped from an old tablet. This all worked very well, but I needed the battery for another project and I completely dissasambled the unit and it has sit like that until recently.
A month ago I tought about that project again, and I was amazed that I dissasembled it back then. So I decided to rebuild the powerbank but now completely from scratch. I wanted this powerbank to look as stealthy as possible. So there is no room for a speaker or a flashlight like in the older version. The built went very well and the powerbank looks exactly like an ordinary floppydrive except for the usb port in the front. The charging of the powerbank is done by the original mini-molex connector. I internally sliced some PCB traces and connected it internally to the powerbank module. I then made a USB to mini-molex adapter which acts as the charging cable. The status of the powerbank is visually displayed by the original activity LED in the faceplate. And as a cherry on the cake, if you mount the floppydrive powerbank in a pc case and connect it to the PSU it will just charge like it was powered from a wall adapter. From a more technical perspective: capacity= 3400mAh, Output current= rated up to 1amp - tested 950mA, Charge current= 1amp.
The waterproof feature of my Sony Xperia Z3 failed one day when I was rinsing it under the water tap. Eventually no permanent damage was done to the phone only some slight white spots on the display. Before this incident I already thought several times of the possibility of making the back of the phone transparent, since the back of the phone is made of glass. Because of this incident I decided to buy some aftermarket backglass panels to experiment with since the waterproof functionality of the phone is already of no use anymore.
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 cutout in the glass, it broke in that place when I was scraping it. With the second backglass I tried to use some chemicals. I used rubbing alcohol, aggressive tile cleaner, acetone, white spirit actually everything I could find in the house that looked it would do the job, I eventually tried drain cleaner. None of these worked except for the drain cleaner which took off a tiny layer of the coating, but it also damaged the glass. At that point I decided to give up on this project.
A few months later the battery of the Z3 failed, 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 chip on it’s terminal, this protects the battery from overcharging, overtemperature but also overdischarging. This means that if the battery voltage drops below a set voltage the voltage is cut-off and the battery protection circuit needs to be re-activated by first charging the battery again.
I 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 intention was to replace the battery anyway. I used the phone for about 2 weeks and it got worse every day. 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 and a super geeky looking phone.
After all this I did a capacity test on the original battery and it still had 2182mAh left of the original 3100mAh. This means that the battery lost 30% of capacity after 1.5 year. I also removed the EMI shield on the PCB of the phone which makes it look even more geeky, the removal of these shield doesn't have any negative effects so far on the functionality of the phone.
The Z3 is now retired after 3 year of heavy usage. The phone is now framed in with all its components (Right Picture). I framed this phone because this is to me the most long lasting and best smartphone so far. And also because it is quite an accomplishment in my DIY career and it looks also really cool on the wall.
The target 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 backgroundlight layer, on top of that there are a few filters to diffuse the light over the LCD panel and then the latest layer is the LCD panel itself. This is what I used for this project. The LCD panel is semi-transparent, that means that light can travel through the panel and its intensity can be controlled by the RGB pixels in the LCD panel. If you mount a LCD panel to a window like I did, the light from outside will act as the backlight.This setup is not as bright as it originally was but with high contrast images and text it is still very readable.
The video signal for the LCD panel is provided by a modded thin client. The thin client is programmed with scripts to automatically start a remote desktop connection to my server. On this server runs a Vb.net application that I made. 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, an internet connection indicator and few performance counters which represent the server status.
The purpose of this project is an alarm clock which looks good and is informative too. On my Instructables profile you can find a 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 upgraded the 4:3 monitor to a 16:9 15" LCD panel. This new version doesn't use Chrome anymore but a Vb.net application made by myself instead. Also the laptop used for this project is upgraded to a HP mini netbook with a AMD E350 cpu which is slightly more powerful than the n270 cpu of the previous laptop. The computer automatically wakes up and goes back to sleep by scripts on set times.
Unfortunately this system doesn't exist anymore today because of various reasons. Like: power usage, too much parts that could fail, not interactive, weather api failures, programming failures in general, ...
This system is afterwards replaced with a smartphone where Tasker was the framework of the whole system. This smarthphone had on OLED display and was perfectly suitable for a night clock. This system had also Mission Control integrations. This system is also removed from operation because of battery failure.
My TP-link powerbank suddenly died and didn't want to charge anymore. I opened it up and it turned out to be loose temperature sensor wire that caused the problem. I resolderd the sensor and the powerbank functioned like normal again.
But I tought, now when it is already opened why don't I do some modifications on the powerbank. The powerbank has a capacity of 10400mAh and it takes more than 5 hours to fully charge, it can only take a maximum of 2amps via the USB port. The cell configuration in the powerbank is 1S4P which means there are 4 18650 cells in parallel. These cells are 2600mAh each. It is generally known that most 18650 cells typically can be charged at 0.8C or 0.8 times it's own capacity. Which means that theoretically the total pack of the 4 cells in parallel can be charged at 8.3amps. I own a LiPo/Li-Ion that can deliver a maximum of 5A. That means if I charge the cells in this powerbank with that charger, it would take approximately 2 hours to fully charge the powerbank. That is already a lot better than the original 5 hour or more charge time. To implement this into the powerbank I needed to add an additional port to the powerbank. I added this DIY fast charge port to the top of the powerbank and connected this connector directly to the cells. I can now charge the powerbank at 5amps with an external charger and the fast charge to deans cable.
Also another little modification, because the powerbank was already opened I changed the internal 4 green charge level indicator to 4 different colors charge indicator.
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 is a so called passive cooling method = 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, but it's 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 cold 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.
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.
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 on the pictures. 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 had.
Check out my work on 500px