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
AntiLostIn progress
AudioMothIn progress
CubeCellIn progress
EspAudioSensorIn progress
Esp32camIn progress
FMCWRadarIn progress
LoraWanDustSensorIn progress
LoraLuftdatenForwarderIn progress
Sim7020In progress
StereoBatRecorderIn progress
StofAnanasIn progress
UltrasonicPlayerIn progress
... further results

Project ideas

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

Raspberry pi airplane tracking

Apparently now you can also participate in MLAT tracking of planes that don't transmit GPS coordinates themselves.

Honeywell PM sensors

APRS gateway


Small inexpensive modules that play mp3 from an internal flash. Could be nice for a custom door bell for example.

More info at:

ESP mesh networking

The makers of the ESP8266 provide a software stack to run a 'mesh network' between ESP8266 nodes. As I understand this allows several ESP devices to join together and create a kind of dynamic network.

What is not quite clear is how this is all modelled. For example, do devices have addresses. And if so, what kind? Does this thing run on top of TCP/IP, or does it run on raw wifi frames? Can you designate one particular node as the 'root node' and let it bridge communication with other networks? Can you do transient low-power communication with the mesh network, e.g. wake-up, send a message, go back to sleep?

The plan is to experiment a bit with this, perhaps use it in the hacker space for the sensor/actuator infrastructure.



Cheap FPGA boards and nice applications:

Neural networks on low-end hardware

Investigate if you can run a powerful neural network on relatively low-end/cheap/low-power hardware. For example a Raspberry pi. A RPI runs Linux, run python, just like some common neural frameworks. Do we need hardware acceleration from the GPU and does the RPI GPU support that?

Read list:

Bought a MaixPy:

STM32 stlink V2

Interesting to see you can flash inexpensive stlink v2 clones into even more useful debuggers:

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.

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. Andreas Spiess demonstrated on youtube how existing libraries on the ESP8266 can be used to do the local time (including summer-time) calculations.

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.

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.

Bare-bones Arduino bat detector

This is an idea for a very basic heterodyne bat detector, doing signal processing on an Arduino, requiring minimal external components.

The basic principle of a heterodyne detector is that it just mixes (multiplies) the audio signal with a square wave, low-pass filters the result and puts it on a speaker.

Multiplying with a square wave can also be considered to be just alternatively inverting and not-inverting the signal. So if you sample an ultrasonic signal at twice the rate you want to multiply, you can just subtract odd samples from even samples and low-pass filter that.

How this can be done in an AVR Arduino:

  • sample the audio signal at twice the detection frequency, say 84 kHz. An AVR should just be able to do that.
  • apply a 1-pole IIR high-pass filter to remove DC bias, this takes one shift instruction and one addition.
  • multiply by the detection frequency, this means just inverting the odd samples.
  • low-pass filter the signal, this can be done using a moving average filter, say 16 samples long (first null at 5.25 kHz). Theoretically, averaging 16 samples should result in two bits extra accuracy. This operation takes some storage, an addition and a subtraction.
  • output the filtered signal using PWM, possibly at the same rate that we are sampling the input audio.

The microphone can be a 40 kHz piezo transducer, to keep it cheap (but also limited to 40 kHz). The pre-amplifier can be a single transistor with some resistors around it, providing about 40x gain. The arduino does the signal processing (mixing, low-pass filter) to shift the bat audio to human range. The speaker amplifier can just be a simple two transistor push-pull circuit, since the output from the Arduino is digital/PWM.

AVR Arduino sample rate

As far as I understand, the ADC clock can be set to 1 MHz. Conversion takes 13 cycles, so this can be a problem to reach a sample rate above 80 kHz.

GPS repeater

This idea is about experimenting with a cheap GPS repeater built out of an "active" GPS antenna.

The problem this solves is that often indoors you have no GPS reception, but you like to have some signal to experiment with (e.g. a LoRa tracker).


  • get a cheap active GPS antenna from AliExpress (some as cheap as E2,- !), most just mention one frequency (1575.42 MHz)
  • get a bias-T circuit to feed it the supply voltage (e.g. from a KOPPLA) and pass the RF signal onto an indoor antenna
  • the indoor antenna may be as simple as a 1/4 wave coax dipole: center conductor sticking up (about 47 mm), coax shielding is divided into 3 of 4 ground radials sticking sideways
  • build it and test it with a smart phone, tracker hardware, etc.

See also:

Indoor radar speed sign

This idea about placing a simple IQ-output radar sensor indoors in the hacker space, do some basic signal processing on the IQ doppler signal and determine movement speed and direction, then display this on a LED display. This is of no immediate practical use other than fun, but helps me to gain a bit more experience with microwave radar sensors and eventually build a more effective setup for detecting/counting bats flying in and out of a roost.

Implement this on a PSOC5 platform or on the STM32 using Arduino.