Author Archives: rene

le grand bleu du nord

In october 2015 the opening of ‘Le Grand Blue du Nord’, by artist Jonathan Villeneuve (Montreal, CA), took place in Quebec City, Canada. The piece has been installed in the new hockey stadium of Quebec City.
This permanent public art piece is a stunning 11 x 33 meter monochrome LED screen, displaying abstract renderings of winter landscapes using only 5120 pixels.

For this project we designed the system architecture, developed the necessary electronics (CSA approved) and managed the production of the entire electronics system.


More info soon!

In this project we collaborated with:
Generique design — industrial design
Simbits — DVi/DMX conversion

workout computer

The workout computer encourages physical exercise within an office environment and is an installation from fashion/design studio Bless (Berlin-Paris).

The installation consists of a wooden table with several punching bags attached to it. Around the table there are several free standing punching/kicking items, normally used in the gym.
The punching bags replace the keys of a keyboard; the visitor has to work out to be able to type a text on the screen.

Once the visitor has finished ‘typing’ his or her manifest, the text can be printed and will be simultaniously uploaded to a twitter account.

It was first seen at the design Biennial Istanbul 2014, and has since then performed at the Salone del Mobile in Milan.

Schrikdraad designed the necessary electronics, mechanics and sensor constructions for this installation. The detailed and very clean woodwork on the table and peripheral objects was done by Franck Poulain.

you win some you lose some

“You win some you lose some” is a story telling project, by Veldwerk, film, educatie en beleid in which citizens of Rotterdam search for ‘the how of happiness’. The result? A travelling story machine and webplatform which uncover the hidden stories of (former) drug addicts and the homeless of Rotterdam to the city.

For this project we modified a 1970 electro mechanical slot machine into a story telling machine.
The traditional symbols on the reels (cherry, orange, BAR etc) are replaced with symbols more relating to the project. The entire cabinet is refitted in a new housing, with new artwork.

The behavioral aspects of the slotmachine have been overruled by a program  in a microcontroller.
Visual feedback on the machine is highlighted with 200 channels of LED indicators; the stories are played back from an embedded media player.
The result is a fresh looking machine, still equipped with ‘vintage’ electromechanical parts like the handle, the counter and lots of clicking relays.

After hitting the start button, 4 credits will be given and the user can pull the handle to test his or her luck on winning a story.
Depending on the combination of the icons on the reels, a story will be selected and played back. In case there is no winning combination, you lose and you have to try again.

Graphical design / artwork: Bier en Brood
Project management: Mothership

More information about this project can be found here (dutch only).

galvanic vestibular stimulation

“Galvanic vestibular stimulation is the process of sending specific electric messages to a nerve in the ear that maintains balance. Not much is known about this phenomenon, but more scientists are continuing to research the topic…”

Luis Rodil-Fernández used the GVS technique in his graduation project BRAID.

BRAID is composed of two devices that can produce GVS stimulation on the wearer. The devices are networked wirelessly using an XBee module and they gather positional data from the wearer’s spine via an accelerometer positioned on top of their heads. When one of the wearers leans out of balance, her device detects this and sends a proportional stimulus to the wearer of the paired device, so it is the other person that feels it.


Schrikdraad participated in this project by first designing a custom Arduino shield. This shield contains the analog electronics necessary for the galvanic vestibular stimulation. The initial purpose of this shield was to release it as a DIY kit for people to build themselves during workshops. The PCB is equipped with through hole components, which makes the soldering easy during hands-on workshops.

As a follow up, Schrikdraad designed a single board GVS unit. The single board solution is intended to be embedded in (or part of) a garment or piece of jewelery. This new design still contains an Arduino, but it is now embedded in the analog circuitry, instead of being part of a board sandwich.

More information regarding this project can be found here.

labyrinth psychotica

“The LED hallucination poles that are placed within the crevices of THE LABYRINTH simulate what it is like to see something in the air ‘that is there but not there’. Embedded into the structure a line of LED lights are fired at a particular frequency in such a way that your eyes build a HD image in the air. In a sense hacking your brain. A person who moves sees it, a person who stands still does not.”

These custom designed electronics control a single strip of 120 RGB LEDs at high speed to ‘display’ an image. The length of the strip is 60cm.
Up to five images (120 x 192 pixels) can be uploaded and stored in local flash memory of one strip.
The LED strip is connected to a Beagle Board, which is linked to a network. This enables easy upload of images and control from any computer that is connected with this network.
There is a total of 6 LEDstrips with according Beagle Boards on the network for this installation.

A strip of LEDs, is a cascade of 4 PCB’s, where each PCB has a LED controller with 30 RGB channels, driving in total 90 PWM channels with a 97kHz carrier. The speed at which the LEDs can change color is about 3000 times per second. This means a full image can be displayed in about 65ms.
The color resolution is 24bit RGB.

The entire project, by Room for Thoughts, can be found here: Labyrinth Psychotica

This design is a follow up of an earlier release called Virtual Flag

ruis (noise)

Ruis is the follow up of the project round and round.
For this installation, we converted outdoor advertisement boxes in low resolution screens (12×16 pixels).

The advertisement boxes are located under the overpass A9 at Amstelveen (NL). This spot is also known as the Keizer Karel Gallery.

The boxes display “the game of life” in grayscale. Periodically all 12 screens synchronize and all display a same image.

The LED driver hardware, used in round and round, is re-used for this installation.
We designed a new controller PCB with radio link for all 12 boxes to replace the Linux host computer. Each controller board controls one advertisement box and synchronizes with the others.

The installation was exhibited from december 2011 – july 2012.




hardware development: Schrikdraad
software development: Simbits
screen design and production: Schrikdraad & YBCOZ

round and round

Round and Round is a filmic light installation by Giny Vos about the history of the moving image.
It mixes the oldest movie scenes with the first computer images into oversized pixels as a reference to the world of the digital image. 4096 pixels transform the spherical shaped space of the KunstKapel into a zoetrope. The only light available is produced by the installation where the visitors will find themselves in the middle of an exposition of fragments and pieces.

Schrikdraad designed and realized the electronics and LED fixtures for this installation.
This custom hardware system is able to drive 4096 LEDs in realtime at 30 frames per second, with 8bit individual grayscale control.

The size of the screen is 64 meter by 4 meter (resolution 256×16 pixels).
The size of an individual pixel is 25×25cm, illuminated by a single 5mm white LED.

The electronics consist of 64 custom designed PCBs, UTP cable (communication) and ribbon cable connecting the 4096 LEDs.

Image courtesy of Giny Vos.

The installation was exhibited from june 2011 – october 2011.
For more information on this project, click here.

wind VU meter

The electronics in this design harvest the energy from a (small) three phase windmill. This energy is used to supply nine 1W (350mA) LEDs.

A wind speed measurement is performed. A microcontroller compares the speed of the windmill with pre-programmed wind speed thresholds.
Depending on which threshold is met, a certain amount of LED drivers is turned on to power the according LEDs with the energy available.

The result is a visual feedback of wind speed, like a VU meter for volume in an audio amplifier.

In case of too much wind energy (more than 10W), a protection circuit flushes the energy that is not used.