Nico Böckhoff

IT Systems Engineering Master’s Student with a passion for embedded systems, microcontrollers and human computer interaction. I love to work on complex end-to-end systems and develop code and hardware that shapes peoples lives.


projects

dualPanto

DualPanto is a haptic gaming console for blind people. For my master thesis and as a research assistant I:

  1. Designed and developed a portable 6DOF haptic gaming console for blind people.
  2. Designed the electronics, including: part selection, BOM, schematic capture and PCB design in KiCad
  3. Developed c++ firmware for the ESP32Wroom (motor control and SPI communication interface for precision encoders)
  4. Led the production of 10 devices to be used for teaching undergraduates.

ATtiny USI UART Implementation

Developed a proof-of-concept daisy-chained ATtiny USI UART communication implementation with timed packages. A popular approach for communicating between ATtinys is using SoftwareSerial. This approach is suboptimal because SoftwareSerial does not make use of the ATtiny USI module, which can make transmission more resource-efficient. Therefore, I developed an ATtiny USI UART implementation which uses the USI module as well as offers the functionality to ensure that different messages sent by a master to multiple slaves are received at the same time.


meditationtimer

Designed and developed a light based meditation timer with a custom PCB designed in KiCad featuring an STM8s microcontroller, 6-channel low power led charge-pump (I2C interface), 1 high power LED charge-pump (PWM/GPIO), battery charging, automatic power source selection (USB/battery), low power mode for many months of idle time.

I am writing the firmware using VSCode, uploaded using ST-Link/V2, the compiler is SDCC and the firmware is using a SDCC port of the official STM8s Standard Peripheral Library.

The main challenges are optimising program code to fit in the 8kb of flash, interfacing with the charge pump using the I2C protocol documented in the datasheet and optimising for low power consumption in sleep state.


IoT Units

As part of a project aiming to include people with cognitive disabilities in working environments we developed a custom hardware toolkit including portable IoT sensors and actuators based on the ESP8266. Every unit (encoder, LED, distance, scale & generic) automatically connects to a central python server and communicates via a REST API.

I designed the PCBs and developed the c++ firmware.

The work was done for Freigeist, and funded by the Prototypefund (50K funding for public interest tech).


Linepod

Linepod is a portable, interactive, 2-D spatial tactile display. Linepod interactively prints high-quality tactile lines to swell paper, senses touch input, and provides interactive audio feedback. Linepod is self-contained, able to run on battery power.

Linepod was developed by me and 4 other students in the bachelorproject. My contribution was writing software for the raspberry pi Bluetooth server inside the device in python, hardware prototyping as well as developing applications for the device in javascript.


Sisyphos light installation

Developed a custom light installation for sisyphos-berlin including 20 daisy-chained PCBs over a distance of 20m with ATtinys and powerleds on them which were controlled from a single master microcontroller.

Developed the concept, designed the PCBS and developed the firmware including a custom communication protocol for triggering the light effects. Video coming soon.


More photos & projects: