Frank is a littleBits inventor that always impresses us with his engineering and problem solving! With an invention page chock full of Arduino code and Raspberry Pi inventions, Frank and his family inspire us to keep trying new things. Plus! His factory-inspired Food Applicator creation was the 2nd Runner-Up for the Make it Move Challenge.
Where are you based?
I live in Lebbeke, Belgium.
How would you describe yourself in six words or less?
Proud dad, experimenter, eager to learn.
What was your littleBits “a-ha!” moment? The moment you were bitten by the littleBits bug.
As soon as I saw these colorful pieces of electronics and their incredible potential for rapid prototyping, education and for simply having a lot of fun, I was sold. The Bits are a fixed part of the family’s toolkit now, and everyone brings up ideas for projects. That’s why our “littleBits community name” is CFSL: the first letters of our names (Caroline, Frank, Saar, Lars). While I typically create the projects, we all have fun with them, and the kids like to participate.
What is your favorite Bit and why?
The power Bit 🙂
No, without a doubt my favorite Bit is the Arduino Bit. Even though it only has 3 inputs and 3 outputs, it adds incredible power to all the other Bits. Our kids are too young for the Bit right now, but for me personally, being a software guy, I have great fun exploring the possibilities and the limits of the Bit.
In fact, Arduino Bit has introduced me to the wonderful world of microcontrollers and tiny computers. As a result, I now work with non-littleBits Arduino. ESP8266, and raspberry Pi as well, and I love combining all these technologies in exciting new ways.
I recently soldered extra pins onto the Arduino Bit to make it even more versatile and powerful. Thanks to all the folks at the littleBits forum who shared their successes and provided tips, because without this info, I would never have attempted to do this. It’s a great example of how littleBits and the littleBits community inspire people to experiment, learn, and to try new things.
When you start a littleBits project, what does your design process look like?
For some projects, I have an overall feel of how things should work together, and I can start building the first prototype right away. For other projects, such as my Pi Rover, I spend numerous evenings/weeks learning new stuff and trying out smaller parts in isolation before I can start putting all the puzzle pieces together.
Either way, the next phase is iteratively refining/adjusting/changing until everything works. I enjoy both of these phases. I spend less time on the aesthetics because once everything works I’m typically eager to start working on something new.
What do you plan on inventing next?
I have been working on a self-balancing robot with littleBits, but it is rather non-balancing at the moment. Either my code needs more tuning, or the littleBits DC motors are not fast/powerful enough, or both. I will try with stepper motors next. Not sure yet whether there will be littleBits left in the final design. Apart from this long term project, it will depend on the inspiration of the moment and on the availability of time…