Over the coming weeks we will be featuring some amazing stories from participants of this year’s Coolest Projects International. Today we’re hearing from Kobe, a Ninja from the Zandhoven Dojo in Belgium. Kobe is a 16-year-old industrial sciences student, and I interviewed him about his impressive project Light Up My Helmet, which focuses on bike safety.

 

How Kobe came up with Light Up My Helmet

Kobe is a big advocate for technology and electronics, and runs his own Youtube channel called Electronics Time. He said: “Working with electronics is my passion and covers a big part of my free time. I like to make projects that help people with their job or with everyday tasks, like a humidity regulator for a garage or a camera crane for filming events, and also IT-related projects like building a storage server that I use for all my data.

When I asked Kobe about what inspired him to pursue a project about bike safety, he told me that he is an avid cyclist and cycles to school everyday. Whether it is at the crack of dawn or late in the evening, he can be found cycling, often while it is dark. “Making something that makes you more visible in traffic would be a good improvement. I always wear a helmet, because it is much safer in case you would fall or crash.”

Building Light Up My Helmet

Kobe made Light Up My Helmet using a set of LED strips and a receiver that you can attach to the back of your bicycle helmet, ensuring that you are seen at all times when riding in traffic. His project also includes a remote control that hooks up to your handlebar. You use the remote to control indicator lights similar to ones found on a car. Commenting on the hardware he used, Kobe said: “It’s built with two Arduino Pro Micros: one inside the remote reads the buttons and sends data to the RF transmitter (Nrf24), and the other one is in the receiver to read the received signal from the RF receiver (Nrf24) and controls the LED strips. In the transmitter, a 3.7V LiPo battery powers the whole circuit, and in the receiver, there are two 3.7V Lithium-ion batteries, which both are rechargeable with a USB cable.

I asked Kobe if he had plans to add more features to his project in the future, and he enthusiastically responded: “Of course I do! A project is never finished, it can always be improved. In this case I want to make it weatherproof, lighter, and more compact. I also want to improve the code and make it more efficient. I want to change the batteries and the powering circuit. The next step for me is to further improve it and hopefully find someone who can help me produce it.

 

Overcoming challenges

It is impossible to complete a project without coming up against challenges. That’s a good thing, however, as we learn new things and improve our skills by solving these problems. I asked Kobe what he found tricky while building Light Up My Helmet. “The coding was probably the most challenging part of the project. I wrote parts of the code, but when I put them together, it didn’t work that well. I spent so many nights behind my workstation, debugging the code. Aside from the coding part, it was hard to put all the components on a small prototype PCB. Luckily, I had some experience with small projects and I’ve soldered a lot before.

Kobe also has some advice for other young people who are considering joining a Dojo or entering a project in Coolest Projects: “Believe in yourself and your project! If you think it’s a cool project, just work it out and improve it. Joining a Dojo can really help you with extending your knowledge and hearing other opinions. Search for another coder who wants to help and work together, because then you can join forces: one person writes the code and the other makes the hardware or the graphics, and if you’ve got a problem, you can just ask your partner.

Kobe’s time at Coolest Projects International

Kobe had a great time in Dublin at Coolest Projects International. The best part for him: “Seeing all the coders from around the world with all the projects — it’s so cool to see them all together! Talking with other people to get inspired by them and inspire other people is just awesome. I was so lucky to meet all the coders who attended Coolest Projects with their cool projects.” Kobe also commented on the trip itself and said that going through the airport with two bicycle helmets with tonnes of wires attached was “an exciting moment, but it all worked out!

At the end of our interview, Kobe had a final thing he wanted to say to other Ninjas who are contemplating entering: “Attending Coolest Projects is something really cool to do, hearing other people’s opinions and getting some inspiration. Even if your project isn’t finished, you can still attend the event and hear other people’s advice. In general, being interested in programming, technology, and electronics is something good and is definitely the future.

I’d like to thank Kobe for coming along to Coolest Projects this year and for helping us all out by sharing his thoughts and insights. Keep up the amazing work, Kobe!

 

Coolest Projects North America is coming up!

If you’re a North American Ninja and are inspired by Kobe, make sure to register for Coolest Projects North America here. This awesome event is happening at the Discovery Cube Orange County, Santa Ana, California on September 23. Project registrations close on 2 August, so be quick — and you don’t have to have a finished project to register!

 

We’ve put together a guide to help you build your project, from idea all the way to completion. Travel stipends are also available to help you get to California, and applications for these are also closing soon, on July 31.

 

And if you are not from North America but also feel inspired by Kobe, it’s never too early to start working on your project for Coolest Projects International 2019. Remember, a journey of a thousand miles starts with one step!