This hydroponic system takes care automatically of your plant during 2 months by controlling its temperature, light, humidity (ground and environment), water quantity and quality (with its acidity).
You can control it remotely with an application which shows you the plant’s needs and the actions automatically performed by the system to fit these needs.
Technologies usedArduino CNC milling Aquaponics & hydroponics Hot wire cutting
- What’s the project story?
The project is part of a compulsory activity for students of the UTEC University in Lima, called “Live engineering”. After the first cycle (4 months) in this school, we have to select an interdisciplinary project among a list offered by all the teachers and we have to perform the project during this second cycle. The experience is reproduced during the third and fourth cycles. It could be a new project or an improvement of an existing project. At the end of each cycle, an internal contest is organized to show the projects and to reward the most promising. During the first cycle, I made a programming project so this year I chose a project more comprehensive and concrete which was offered by the Fablab UTEC. With 7 other students coming from different fields, we had to develop a system to control the light of a plant and to send all the data on Internet. This system aims to be installed on the last floor of the University where students can already enjoye opened and green spaces. With my experience in electronics to help my father with his machines company and to develop my own business in PLC (Programmable Logic Controller), I offered the team to go further. I made investigations to look for existing systems and I identified the sensors we can add to create an automatic and comprehensive system that could fit anyone need, beginning with my mother 🙂
- How the workshop was useful?
First, what was great was the complementarity of the 3 digital fabrication spaces in UTEC. The first one, the Garage Lab, is specialized in electronics and it is crowded with makers. It was the perfect place to brainstorm with students and with the lab managers to shape my ideas. They gave me good advice in electronics and good contacts for the rest. Then I went to the first space of the Fablab UTEC, in the 4th floor, where the team helped me with the mechanical part to make the first basic prototype and they offered me a secure and private space to put the project and all the components. Isaac Robles, Director and Fabmanager, also helped us to work in a team, to make decisions and it financially supported us with the most expensive components. Eventually, we will use the second space of the Fablab UTEC, on the ground floor, with all the big machines (laser cutter, CNC, …) to build our final prototype.
- What’s the project’s greatest success so far?
I am glad that I managed to push this project further and to put all the team on board. If they used to think that electronics and programming were reserved for genius, through this project they progressively realized that it is accessible and that anyone can make it.
- What’s your greatest failure(s)& lesson(s) so far?
I am passionate about programming and electronics but this project pushed me out of my comfort zone. I had to learn to work in a team, to design the box with ergonomics and aesthetic purposes and to develop web applications. I discovered, for instance, the technology Blink which is perfect to quickly build an application linked to Arduino. I used it in a event to show to industrials the potential of the PLC I’m selling and it was a success.
- What’s your vision for the project & next steps?
First, we have to finish the project in 6 weeks to present it to the University contest. I will buy the application to host it on my server and we will test it with the most challenging plant: the orchids! We will also write a paper to present the investigation and the business model. If we win, we will receive money to improve it and maybe later to start a business with it. In any case, I hope the Fablab will offer to students to pursue this project during the next cycle and I will definitely be part of it!
- How anyone interested can contribute to the project?
I will be very happy to work with anyone interested! In particular, I am looking for either a web developer to improve the user application or for someone with experience in CO2 injection system to fasten the growth of the plant. Investors are of course more than welcome to support the investigation and the product development 🙂