Jan Derogee

Who is he?


Hello, my name is Jan Derogee. I've been tinkering with electronics since I was a little kid. I have fond memories of stripping the insulation of wires with my teeth and measuring the freshness of batteries with the tip of my tongue. Which ended when I got my first voltmeter, which was a good thing. Eventually I ended up being an electronic engineer, so everything turned out right in the end.
My first computer was a Commodore 64 followed by an Amiga 500 and 1200. These days I'm using a MS Windows system and I'm happy with that. I'll always have a soft spot for retro computing with the C64 being the most special to me. But anything with a 65XX processor is fun to experiment with. Writing programs... optimizing loops by squeezing out anther cycle, never liked illegal opcodes as they felt like cheating. Perhaps the thing I like the most about retro computing, is that with the help of modern components, we can make these machines do the things that were impossible (or unaffordable) back then. So it should be no surprise that my list of projects has many items related to retro computing.
But my list of projects also contain other stuff, like things with rotary dial telephones and phonographs. I like things that move, small mechanical contraptions doing simple things. My CNC machine, 3D printer and camera slider, are some nice examples of me making mechanical stuff from scratch. Although I've done a lot of things over the past decades, my list of projects is only a small part of it. Mostly project of the last decade and projects that have some sort of video tied to it.
When I make a project, I try to document things about the end result. Some form of manual, describing how things work or should be used. Now A user manual is perhaps the kind of document that nobody like to read. My motivation for writing it is simply to document my work, writing down how things work, so that I'm still able to use it a year later. Or even worse, that I know how to use it while I'm still working on it. If I wrote a manual about my project, I put it in the download section or on my GitHub page along with the rest of the project related files.
Another way of documenting my projects, is with the use of a video. I like making videos (see my YouTube channel), sometime a bit too much and I get a little bit carried away, making the video more interesting then the project itself or spending more time on the video then on the project. But, my projects do form the base of my videos, I hope the put a smile on the face of the viewer and with a little luck perhaps inspire some other maker. However, these videos also serve the purpose of being final chapter in the project I make. Because when the video has been made, the project has been finished, which allows me to mentally close that project and carry on to the next project. Practically speaking, the video give me the excuse to finish something and make it look nice and realy functional, so that other can also use it or build upon it. Anyway, regarding the video, I always try to make a video that's fun to watch, with some form of storyline, but never too serious. Because live is already serious enough. And I like to experiment with different forms of editing, effects and camera standpoints or angles. But perhaps the main reason I'm doing this all, is because it's fun. Which should be the main reason for doing things like this.
As an electronics engineer and somebody who likes to program things from scratch, the Arduino scene sometimes feels cheap and a bit like cheating. So, for a long time I thought "Why would I buy an Arduino module, if I can design my own microcontroller based printed circuit board, with a PIC microcontroller or PSOC". But over the years, my perspective slightly changed from the moment I used the ESP8266. Which could be programmed using the Arduino environment. I discovered the huge libraries of code, which I could use without all the hassle of re-inventing the wheel. And I started to wonder... because many of the projects I did required weeks or even months (weekends and evenings) to write the code. But these days, we can download a set of Arduino libraries doing the desired functions, which allows for projects to be realized without even knowing the low-level details. Now, I hate that (not knowing the details), but you can't re-invent the wheel every time you want to make something, it's not efficient and it just takes too much time. So it's great that I don't need to do that anymore. So, to be honest, I no longer feel the urge to write my own FAT routines or USB descriptors IF there is already a free and well tested alternative that I can download. So you'll see that a lot of my projects are based around an ESP8266 module or Sparkfun Pro Micro. The beauty of the Arduino-scene is also that it's relatively cheap, sometimes it's even cheaper to buy a fully assembled clone than to design and build the same microcontroller system from scratch. So, the urge for making my own microcontroller boards completely from scratch has been greatly reduced. Fortunately, I find myself diving into the code of some libraries sometimes modifying them to my own needs or even completely rewriting them in order to combine them with other conflicting functionality of my design. So in essence, I can always write low-level code if I really need or want too, just like the old days. The bottom line is that the Arduino scene has saved me a lot of time the past few years. Allowing me to make different or more complex projects, which others can easily build upon if I release the designs on my GitHub page.
But enough about me, please take a look at my website because I think you find that way more interesting.