Bridging the Technical with the Creative
by Ronnie Bathoorn, on Jan 17, 2023 5:41:42 PM
Here at Crystalloids, we recognize the technicality of our work as data experts and engineers. Our staff would rather–more likely than not– find it more natural to develop a new data platform architecture for a client than to deliver a self-portrait or sculpture.
That doesn’t mean our staff isn’t artistic or creative. Take our Lead Software Developer Ronnie Bathoorn. With Crystalloids for 15 years, Ronnie spends his time on current projects with FDMG or leading data engineering projects with other staff to centralize client data.
But despite his fascination with data, engineering and hard sciences, Ronnie also finds ways to use his skills and thirst for knowledge, creatively.
“I’ve always liked to understand exactly how things work and to best learn is to try to make it yourself,” explains Ronnie.
Having grown up with an electrician as a father, Ronnie believes he grew up surrounded by a fascinating balance of the technical and innovative. “My father was always making things and when I was young I began making things with lego’s.”
Today, Ronnie has graduated from his lego building. Considered an inventor by colleagues, Ronnie uses his spare time to build his own hardware or enhance and customize everyday tools.
Last year, Ronnie shared how he once built his own keyboard. Since then, Ronnie has expanded his portfolio. Most recently, Ronnie has redesigned and re-built the iSpindel.
A Tool for Brewers
The iSpindel is a fermenting tool used by homebrewers to measure the gravity of fermentation. Basically, it works as a digital hydrometer that can send you gravity and temperature readings as your beer or liquid ferments.
So when Ronnie’s wife began brewing her own cider, he got creative.
“An iSpindel floats in the brew you are making at a specific angle based on the fluid’s current density. When you brew, sugar is turned into alcohol. Sugar is heavier than water, so during the brew process density goes down, changing the angle at which the iSpindel floats,” shares Ronnie.
The tool then delivers its readings every five minutes to your computer via wifi. Once you see density readings plateau it means your fermentation is complete. “Before this kind of tool we would have to take a sample from the brew and use a hydrometer to check density levels,” notes Ronnie.
When breaking down the logic and functionality of the tool, Ronnie realized he could rebuild it and make it better.
“I didn’t like that the circuit board was not open source so I reverse engineered it and built my own using Kicad so I could easily make changes and have my own logos on it.”
It took Ronnie a few weeks to reverse engineer the circuit board. But once the redesign was finalized he sent the board to be printed and shipped from China.
“Once we had the circuit board I then was able to change how the on/off switch operates. With the iSpindel you had to open and close the liquid you were brewing each time you wanted to turn it on or off. Now, you can operate the on/off switch with a magnet.”
For Ronnie, this improvement solves the problem brewers face regarding contaminants getting in after fermentation has begun. When it comes to cider or beer, after the yeast has begun fermentation, you would like to keep it sealed off from outside pollutants.
Now Ronnie’s wife doesn't have to open her containers with cider - exposing them to oxygen - each time she wants to switch her iSpindel on or off.
The Technical can be Creative
While Ronnie recognizes this kind of tinkering and building has heavy technical aspects, he also considers it creative work.
Ronnie posits that creativity lies in creation. Whether you are creating something on canvas or coding on-top of a current product or solution to add a new feature, the creativity and innovation lies in the final creation and variance.
“With math and code there is creative art. You create something…and when done right it is similar to painting or other creative work…you start with a cleanslate and use math and code to create something,” he explains.
“If you look at software, there is a certain beauty to how it’s created…You can have ten of the same programs but one might have a different calculation for how to get to the same endpoint, and that’s the variance - that’s the art.”
Currently, Ronnie has begun a new project that will make his telescope remote controlled so he can optimize location based on star maps off an app on his phone.
“With this GoTo mount for my telescope…I will be able to select a star in an app on my phone and then the GoTo mount will move my telescope to that star so I can see it.”
Although these building projects get pricey, you can’t place monetary value on learning how something works from the inside-out and the experience of using your hands and having a tangible finished product, according to Ronnie.
“It’s always more expensive but I like it when I build it myself and I also know that after building it I know exactly how it works… and this lets you touch and consider the physical elements you are using as you build.”
The Creative with Client Work
While Ronnie enjoys his current work at Crystalloids, he recognizes that building and programming on a computer will always be abstract and intangible. But even in programming, Ronnie finds creativity.
“I also approach my client work with a similar creative mindframe as I have when building things. I invent ways to enhance what our clients currently have programmed or improve on the systems they currently have in place.”
“Whether building an actual product or building a solution for a client via coding - it’s all about taking the current framework and finding ways to improve and enhance.”
Crystalloids helps companies improve their customer experiences and build marketing technology. Founded in 2006 in the Netherlands, Crystalloids builds crystal-clear solutions that turn customer data into information and knowledge into wisdom. As a leading Google Cloud Partner, Crystalloids combines experience in software development, data science, and marketing, making them one of a kind IT company. Using the Agile approach, Crystalloids ensures that use cases show immediate value to their clients and make their job focus more on decision making and less on programming.