Week 17 - applications and implications


propose a final project that integrates the range of units covered, answering:

  • what will it do?
  • who's done what beforehand?
  • what materials and components will be required?
  • where will they come from?
  • how much will it cost?
  • what parts and systems will be made?
  • what processes will be used?
  • what tasks need to be completed?
  • what questions need to be answered?
  • what is the schedule?
  • how will it be evaluated?
  • projects can be separate or joint, but need to show individual mastery of the range of skills covered where possible, you should make rather than buy the parts of your project

    What will it do?

    My final project will be a hydroponic growbox. The electronics consists of a total of 4 control units which can communicate via the I2C protocol. The Growbox has an LED lighting which is to be controlled with a relay control unit and has a integrated power adapter.

    The individual control units have integrated an ATMEGA 328P-AU, which could controls the pcbs. On the first control board are the relays, which control a pump, the lighting and a fan

    The second control unit (also with ATMEGA 328 P-AU) has the sensor system. To measure the temperature and humidity in the Growbox, a DHT22 temperature and humidity sensor is used. A water sensor is also planned.

    The third board also has an ATMEGA 328 P-AU, a display and a potentiometer to visualize my sensor data.

    The fourth board, the so-called "Brain" is supposed to have a real time clock and is the "Master-board".

    On the following illiustration you can see the concept:

    who's done what beforehand?

    In the internet there are numerous growbox projects. The most inspiring for me, however, is the great Aquapioneers Growsystem from the Fabacademy last year. The system differs from my planning because the system is an aquaponic system that includes an aquarium with fish. Through the exudations of the fish, the plants are fertilized. The difference is that I as mentioned already no fish would like to breed and my system. Furthermore it is smaller, more cheaper and easier to manufacture.

    In my system there is only a nutrient solution and a pump in the tank, which can be used to fertilize the plants with oxygen and fertilizer

    Main differences to this project:

  • No Fish
  • Hydroponic only
  • Expandable sensor system
  • More compact system
  • Cheaper in manufacturing
  • Easy to carry
  • Last year, I had the opportunity to visit the green fablab in Barcelona and get in contact with the guys of Aquapioneers.

    HRW Fablab in Green Fab Lab Barcelona 2016:

    Farther inspiration for me is the MIT Media Lab Open Agriculture Initiative (OpenAg).

    The open Agriculture Initiative is on a mission to create healthier, more engaging, and more inventive future food systems. They believe the precursor to a healthier and more sustainable food system will be the creation of an open-source ecosystem of food technologies that enable and promote transparency, networked experimentation, education, and hyper-local production.

    OpenAg brings together partners from industry, government, and academia in a research collective that's creating collaborative tools and open technology platforms for the exploration of future food systems (Source. https://www.media.mit.edu/groups/open-agriculture-openag/overview/).

    With a pure hydroponic growsystem as I will build it, I have already made good experiences in my kitchen. This I have achieved with a purchased growbox from a Japanese company U-ING:

    The following photo shows my results from last year:

    What materials and components will be required for my fab-able system?

  • Acryl for the nutrients-tank and the box-housing
  • Silicone and glue
  • Aluminium-profiles for the box-housing
  • 4 pcb controller-units with ATmega 328P-AU
  • 5V/220V 4 Channel Optocouplers Relay Shield for Arduino
  • 5 V switching power supply with Cold-plug connector
  • Real time clock
  • LED Plantlight 45 Watt 225 LEDs
  • Fan
  • Pump
  • Netcups
  • Rockwool
  • Nutrient-solution
  • Where will they come from?

  • Acryl, aluminium-profiles, silicone and glue from do-it-yourself store
  • Electronics: Selfmade from reichelt, Farnell etc.
  • 5V/220V 4 Channel Optocouplers Relay Shield for my selfmade pcb from Eckstein-Komponente
  • 5 V switching power supply from reichelt
  • LED Plantlight 45 Watt 225 LEDs, Fan and Rockwool from Amazon
  • Real time clock: ebay
  • Netcups -> 3D-printer
  • Rockwool and Nutrient-solution from garden store
  • Pump from Aquarium-store
  • Nutrient-solution from gardening store
  • More datails on Final project - electronics

    How much will it cost?

    This is difficult to answer. However, I go from about 150 $. When the project is finished, I will upload an updated list.

  • Acryl, aluminium-profiles, silicone and glue: 40$
  • Electronics: 30 $
  • Optocouplers Relay Shield: 5$
  • Power supply with Cold-plug connector: 7$
  • LED Plantlight 45 Watt 225 LEDs: 35 $
  • Fan: 15 $
  • Rockwool and Nutrient-solution: 10 $
  • Pump: 10 $
  • Real time clock: 1,50 $
  • What parts and systems will be made?

  • The Growbox-housing
  • The Nutrientssolution container
  • Holders for sensors and lighting
  • Pcb controll units
  • Housing for the control units
  • Plantpots/Netcups/Covers/Handle-grips
  • What processes will be used?

  • LPKF-Mill for the electronics
  • Soldering Components
  • Programming the ATmegas
  • 3D-Print for the Netcups/Plantpots/Covers/Handle-grips
  • Lasercut for the hole-plate, the container and the housing
  • Sawing for the aluminium-profiles
  • Drilling for threads
  • What tasks need to be completed?

  • Drawing sketches on CAD
  • 3D-print the plantpots
  • Design the electronics
  • Mill the pcbs
  • Assambling of the housing
  • Assambling of the container
  • Do some test grows
  • What questions need to be answered?

    How do I get a high safety factor for the electronics in the wet room area? In this case, I may decide to offer the electronic components outside of the growbox.

    The LED lighting can plug on top inside the box, which I have already test and it has led to no problems.

    What is the schedule?

    Due to my visit at the Fab13 my deadline is the 9.7

  • 1.6. - 7.6.: Drawings, buy material and assamble the acryl-parts and 3d-prints
  • 8.6-10.6.: Assemble the aluminium-profiles Design and mill the electronics
  • 10.6-12.6: Program the electronics
  • 12.6-14.6: Evaluate and making improvements
  • 9.7.: Deadline !
  • How will it be evaluated?

    At first I will put different plants in the box to test the function. At the beginning I will take plants, which are very insensitive eg garden cress or pea-plants. The effects of the environment in the box, I will gradually adapt to other species, so I can also grow more exotic plants like moroccan mint in the box.

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