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Arduino Automated Nursery

Author: Jared Bouck

Project Cost:150.00
Est Construction Time: 1.5 Hr
Required Skill Level: Basic Soldering Skills

This project is near and dear to the sprout board crew. Ultimately this concept was the genesis of a flexible platform with many applications. As our designs evolved we realized the tremendous opportunity to create something meaningful with this concept. This focus ultimately guided our decision process create completed projects in place of generic code snippets as a way to encourage the actual use of our projects.

The server room environmental monitoring system is a low cost high performance device with the same onboard features as commercial devices costing hundreds of dollars more. In addition to a low cost platform we will provide low cost sensors for many important devices to insure your equipment stays safe and sound.

For this project we only need a handful things to really make a success. One of the most important is a good shelving unit. Some of the components in this build a little more expensive than our average project, but building something that’s going to last as just as important as learning how to build something cheap. The shelving unit we picked up their home improvement store it’s easy to setup adjustable and very durable all for about $65.00.

For the lighting in this project will use simple inexpensive shop lights available at any home improvement store. If possible it’s always worth looking for a lighting system that utilizes a digital ballast. Digital ballasts are far more energy efficient than the old coil designs.

Another key element that we will need for this project is what refer to as a grow tent. A grow tent is nothing more than a temporary structure designed to for climate control and to ensure optimal use of light.

Another key element there were going to use in this project that ultimately for fills all the automation needs is a sproutboard. The sproutboard is a very simple breakout board designed for the arduino platform. Through this simple device we can monitor all of the environmental variables and even react to dynamically to them as well as send out notifications that a problem may be a rising.

An additional component that will make the control of our electrical devices simple is the power switch tale. This simple device allows a microcontroller to control a high voltage device with low voltage commands. You can find these at SparkFun .Com or in the maker shed as just a couple examples.

One additional component that we will use is the sensor board design for the sproutboard. This simple little sensor board allows us to monitor temperature and humidity with a simple for wire interface.

So step one in assembling, putting together the light tent. Simply follow the instructions that come with your specific light tent. In this case were using a 24 by 48 inch tent that is roughly 7 feet tall. Also worth noting is to get shelving that will actually fit inside the tent.

After we’ve assembled our shelving unit will need to use a little bit of chain from the shop light kit to make hooks that allow us to raise and lower the lights easily.

With the shelving unit inside of the tent now we can now and the lights to the little looks and replaced within.  It’s worth mentioning that you need to make sure that you have enough height for each shelf so that the plans can grow unobstructed.

Now, because we’re going to have water and electricity within the same space is important to have a clean wiring to take the time does that tell your extra loose wires out of the way. When you do this also make sure you leave enough slack in the wire so you can raise and lower the light.

This is a good example of not leaving enough wire seeking raise the lights higher.  Don’t do this it will suck see you later.

Now we get to connect some brains to the grow tent.  With the sproutboard connected to power and Ethernet we simply need to run our sensors inside the tent through one of the access panels.  To make these connections I simply use some telephone wire or cat 5 cables that have been disassembled

Here we can see one of our power tales connected to the lights.  Ultimately be able to control the lights and exhaust fans is ideal for the situation.

A little closer look at the power switch tale and we can see I’m using a pair of wires from a cat five cable to connect the power tale to the sproutboard.

So here we have the beginnings of a wonderful garden this year. With roughly 50 tomato plants several varieties of flowers and even some redwood trees, using the tent this year has been a major load off the cost and babysitting it had to do in the past.

Here we have this starts for some rosemary, some lavender, some hollyhocks all in these wonderful trays that have the little green house stop to them.  Using these trays and lids is an excellent way of controlling humidity on young plants.

And we can see a tray overflowing with tomato seedlings.

And just because I can why not do a closer shot of that one little tray of tomatoes.  This is a great system the use your round for growing things like herbs to bring some life and flavor to your kitchen.


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