It is wonderful to see talented young man who is enchanted to the electronics world. In his high school age, Martin Han has already done many DIY projects. He also joined the NodeMCU team for the IDE development and wrote a few recipes with the board. They had a booth in Maker Faire Shenzhen and for the first time stand in front of the public. This is a story about a Shenzhen school boy who learns and makes electronic projects on his own. Read the full story, and check out his projects on recipe.
NodeMCU become famous as the Lua-based breakout board for the popular ESP8266 module. Its ease of fast prototyping in IoT applications impress people deeply. Could you introduce the NodeMCU Team to us?
The essential development team consists of 5 people: ZeroDay, the leader of the project is an entrepreneur from Hangzhou; Vowstar & Orgmar, two graduate students from Lanzhou University who are now trying to start their company in Shenzhen; a Dutch guy and me. We only built basic functions. Thanks for many contributors at Github, they provided a lot of great features.
Tell us your story about how do you meet NodeMCU Team and join them?
The story starts from a wonderful chip named ESP8266 and a faith that believe the future is IoT. All of us were trying to find a chip that can be used for Smart Home, then ESP8266 came out. The producer of the module set up many QQ Groups at that time, so people met there, and one said, how about we make something to pack the “super-hard-to-use” SDK into a super-simple one?
When they released the first version of NodeMCU, I saw it in one of the QQ Groups, and thought it was a wonderful thing and contacted them at once. I was a user of NodeMCU at first, but then our relationship became closer, I asked if I can join the team, and they say yes.
Attending Maker Faire Shenzhen is the first time of your team appearing in front of the public. Why did you decide to join in Maker Faire Shenzhen? How did you feel?
Maker Faire is a good way to demonstrate your creativities. Share the things you made, your ideas and knowledge. That’s the reason why I was interested. At the same time, we want more people to know about NodeMCU and try to use it. So I applied for a booth and invited the team member to show up. Our table were crowded with many people. We needed to explain the things to everybody who was asking. I still got the time to look around all the booths one by one, and it was very interesting to look at so many brilliant projects.
As you were still a kid in primary school 5 years ago, why did you fall in love with electronic instead of games or sports? How did you learn the relevant knowledge? What kind of difficulties did you meet?
It’s like some other children who go to a theater, watch a person dancing then grows a desire to study dancing. I saw people make interesting things with MCU, so I thought I could make something with it.
At that time, Shenzhen didn’t have an open learning environment for it, so books and videos were my best tutorials. I read many books about micro processor itself and programming languages. The first MCU I used was STC89, which you can download through UART interface(like arduino), but it only has a low performance 8051 core. It is really hard for a child to understand what binary complement is, or how is the RAM related to the OUTPUT, but I can ask no one…Luckily, there are a lot of open source libraries to use, so I could treat it as a blackbox and use them in my project.
You must have made lots of interesting projects over these years. Can you share some of them with us? Tell us the stories behind them.
Yes… For example:
I always forget to turn off the light in my room, and my mother shouts at me every time. So after a long time, I’m tired of it. As a result, I decide to make a system to switch the light automatically. The system consist of 3 parts: the digital light sensor node which is used to gather the light data to determine whether it is necessary to turn the light on or off; the counter node which use two Infrared emitting diode to determine whether there is an object and its direction; and the light node which have a relay to control power.
These nodes are communicating with each other through nRF24L01. I spent serval weeks to built it, and … it didn’t works as good as expected. The Infrared did not work as what I was imagined, because of the interference would have false triggering. Next time, if I want to make a similar thing, laser will be a better idea.
Another project I have done is a mobile weather station, using Arduino and SIM900A, collecting temperature, humidity, and sunshine data, saving them on SD card and then uploading them via GPRS. The device is powered by a battery and charged with a solar board. I was going to add a anemoscope function too, but I failed.
I also design my PCBs and have done a few parttime projects for other people, but I always prefer coming up interesting ideas in my mind and trying to make something new.
This is your first year in high school. Heavier pressure of study makes students spend more and more time in examinations and homework. How do you balance your study and hobby? Do your classmates, teachers or parents support you? What do you think of your future?
I do not do anything to try to balance. In another word, I just follow my heart. I know it may not be a good idea, but as long as my scores are acceptable, I won’t treat my creativity with scores. My teachers and classmates have no idea of what I’m doing, so there is no way to tell whether they support me or not…My future, I want to study abroad because my scores are not competitive in the Chinese education system.
I hope I can enter my dream school MIT, and have fun there.