User:Bertrik Sikken

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User info Bertrik Sikken
Name Bertrik Sikken
Nick bertrik
Tagline heb ik niet

You can reach me at or

Studied Electrical Engineering at Twente University.

Main interests:

  • reverse-engineering things (USB stuff, mp3 players), working on
  • studying bats and making electronics for recording/listening to bat sounds
  • radio stuff, in particular software-defined radio

Projects I work(ed) on (refresh):

 Project Status
Pico TrackersAbandoned
Secure iButtonCompleted
CC2540In progress
CO2MeterHackingIn progress
DecodingLoraIn progress
EncodingLoraIn progress
EspWifiTrackerIn progress
LoraWanNodeIn progress
MHZ19In progress
RC522HackingIn progress
RevRadioIn progress
STM32In progress
StereoBatRecorderIn progress
UltrasonicPlayerIn progress

Project ideas

This is a list of ideas I'm thinking about, but have not fully developed into an actual project yet.

investigate quadcopter remote control

It turns out that the typical little cheap Chinese quadcopters use a remote-control protocol that can be easily recreated using the famous NRF24L01+ chip (< $1 and easily connected to an arduino). This gives nice opportunity to either:

  1. transmit our own control signal, to control a quadcopter from something different than the manual remote control, e.g. automatic control
  2. receive the control signal, so the manual remote control that comes with a quadcopter can be used to steer other things (like a model car).

I haven't found a good overview of quadcopter remote control protocol specifications yet, there seem to be plenty examples of "here-is-the-code" however.

TTN gateway info panel

Problem: if you're running a gateway for the-things-network (TTN), you can see packets coming in by following the packet forwarder log file, but it gives very limited and rather cryptic information. For example, you don't see which node sent a message, so you have no idea how many unique nodes are sending data through your gateway.

This idea is about creating a simple info panel that you can run directly on the TTN gateway itself. The plan is to write this in Python. A typical gateway probably already runs some sort of Linux distribution which has the python binaries available or allows them to be installed easily. Using Python also means that you don't need a compiler/Makefile/etc.

Basic operation of this utility:

  • the gateway software is configured to send its data not just to TTN but also to the gateway info panel utility (running on "localhost"), using the poly packet forwarder
  • the utility listens on a specific UDP port, accepting data according to the Semtech v1 protocol.
  • it parses the plain JSON metadata (modulation parameters, like frequency, LoRa mode, SF, BW, etc.)
  • it also parses the payload bytes, part of the payload is not encrypted, so we can extract the message type, device address and sequence number (FCNT).
  • all incoming packets are shown in a table-like view in the console using the ncurses library.

Initially, the utility will just keep the packets in memory, so it just shows things that happened since you last started it. Later, we can decide to store the data, for example in a database.

The information shown can be just the incoming messages in order of arrival, one line per message. Alternatively it could show a kind of node-centric view, one line per device with info only on the latest message from that node.

mini word clock in dutch

Basically an monochrome 8x8 word clock, in Dutch, showing local time in the Netherlands.

This git repo has the current code.

See here for a demo running on an arduino nano.

The plan is to run this from an ESP8266 instead of an arduino nano, so it can get the time from the internet using NTP. The time offset will be fixed to Dutch local time, i.e. GMT+1 taking into account summer time. Summer time will be determined using the general rule "from 2:00 local time on the last sunday of March until 3:00 local time on the last sunday of October".

Local date calculation:

Understanding LoRa

Ultimate goal is to create an SDR algorithm to decode LoRa without the need for dedicated LoRa hardware. This could be useful when tracking HABs transmitting LoRa for example. See DecodingLora and EncodingLora.

In particular, I should definitely check out this gr-lora project. Perhaps make it work for decoding balloon telemetry modes.

Cypress PSOC5

Play with the Cypress PSOC5 platform, which combines a ARM Cortex-m3 processor with configurable analog blocks. I'm thinking of combining it with a 24 GHz doppler radar sensor, to process the signal and present it as a USB audio device (stereo signal contains I and Q parts). See RadarOnAStick.

Android HabAlert app

see HabAlertApp

Inexpensive ultrasonic player

see UltrasonicPlayer

Simple Doppler motion sensors

You can find basic doppler microwave motion sensors based on a single transistor, with some weird traces on the PCB very cheaply, for example

Typically the microwave part of these consists of a single transistor with a rectangular area on one leg and a meandering trace (with lots of vias to the other side) on the other leg. The output of this circuit seems to go into a chip very much like the ones used in PIR sensors.

See also for a reverse engineering effort of these doppler radar modules.


Investigate the rust language.