Wow, April went a bit quickly, didn't it? Seems like only yesterday when tonyboubady was crowned Member of the Month, and it's time already for a new sovereign.
The fine and noble gpolder caught our eye for April, not least because of his evident passion for RoadTests, but because he's been turning out a lot of excellent video content that's proving massively useful to the entire Community.
So let's hand over to Gerrit now for a few words on the wonderful world of electronics, and his part within it!
Congratulations to Member of the Month for April, 2016, Gerrit Polder!
e14: Can you tell us a bit about what first got you interested in engineering, and in electronics?
GERRIT: At an age of 10 or so, I got a Radio Shack 10-in-1 electronics kit for my birthday. Those kits were imported from the US I think, with an English manual. My mother tongue is Dutch, and we didn’t learn English at school at that time. A very friendly neighbour, a pastor from the church in our village, with a big interest in science and technology translated all ten experiments for me. I still have the kit as well as the translated booklet as typewritten pages in my possession.
From that time I started to craft with electronics, got my HAM radio license (PA3BYA) at age 16, and still actively try to keep up with all the new technologies.
e14: What's your educational background, and current profession? What kind of work do you do?
GERRIT: I have a bachelor degree in electronics. After working quite some time on machine vision and image processing in agriculture, I got the chance to do a PhD in applied physics on that subject. Specifically I worked on hyperspectral imaging for measuring biochemicals in plant material. I graduated in 2004 and since then I worked on a variety of projects using hyperspectral and multispectral imaging for disease detection, high throughput automated plant phenotyping using stereo-vision, Time Of Flight (ToF) Imaging and lightfield technology. Furthermore I worked on sensor fusion (color, fluorescence and infrared) for monitoring plant health using a robot system, and other projects mainly focused on agricultural research.
e14: What made you decide to start participating here on the element14 Community?
GERRIT: I can't remember that exactly, I think I got an email from Farnell, which is one of our main suppliers. I also remember that one of Farnell's sales representatives mentioned the site during a meeting, but at that time I was already active, or at least had an account.
e14: Has being a member of the element14 Community proved beneficial at all, in terms of your electronics projects and even professionally?
GERRIT: Sure it is, besides getting some nice stuff for RoadTests, I learn a lot by sticking around, reading conversations and blog posts. For instance the first time I heard about the Raspberry Pi, I think was on element14.
e14: Which areas of electronics and the maker scene are you particularly excited about right now?
GERRIT: First of all small powerful computer boards like Arduino and Raspberry Pi. These boards gives the horse power to a lot of my experiments. I’m also very interested in radio, and currently specifically in software defined radio. Last but not least robotics, which is also one of the key technologies currently explored in my professional job.
e14: You’ve taken part in a couple of RoadTests and Design Challenges on element14. Was this a valuable experience that you’d recommend to other members? What did you get out of them on a personal level?
GERRIT: The RoadTest area is a great place to keep up to date with new technology and products on the market. When you're selected it's a lot of fun to do some tests and report the results to the community. Also getting feedback really helps to understand the technology and possibilities.
This also holds for the Design Challenges, which have the extra competitive aspect.
e14: Are there any projects you're working on right now, or thinking about starting, that you'd like to tell us about?
GERRIT: I’m currently working on a software designed radio transceiver, based on a softrock frontend. It will cover HF (10-80 meter). I tested a PSoC device for the ADC, DAC and computing, which worked pretty well (see my PSoC 5 LP review), but recently I switched to a Teensy, which has a very nice audio interface and DSP library.
What I also like to mention is that I just started to assist a couple of kids at my daughter's school, to prepare for a robot challenge at the end of June. They have to develop a LEGO Mindstorms-based robot in order to solve some agricultural field tasks.
e14: What advice would you give to someone who's new to the maker scene, and to the element14 Community?
GERRIT: There's so much to offer on the element14 website. Do not hesitate to ask questions, ‘like' topics or add comments. Send in RoadTest applications, starting with the simple easy kits.
Try to focus on your specific subject of interest, either Arduino, 3D printing, ham radio, you name it!