H.E.R.M.E.T. stands for « Hermetic Environment Regulating Machine for Epiphyte Types ». In other words, it’s a biological chamber that aims to grow almost anything by automatically controlling temperature and humidity. With this open-source project, anyone can build the environment required to grow seeds with specific temperature and humidity conditions. Seeds are put in a mini tree made of plastic vases where each vase is filled with a nourishing liquid. This tree, made with a 3D printer, is put in a hermetic jar sterilized with fire. This jar is put in the HERMET container connected with temperature and humidity sensors to a cooling system (at the right entry of the container) and a heating system (at the left entry of the container) by a Fabduino. For instance, if the temperature increases inside the container, the Fabduino will automatically switch on the cooler until the temperature reaches its reference value. The container benefits also from a lighting system to monitor the growth and for esthetic purpose.
Technologies usedElectronics Computing & softwares Laser cutting 3D printing
What’s the project story?
One of the Panama’s treasure is its biodiversity. Scientific from all over the word come here to find extraordinary plants and seeds hidden in the jungle. They took them in their country to study them while Panamanian don’t have a clue nor the chance to benefit from their discoveries. Because of it’s limited and dangerous access, it remains difficult for anyone to enter in the jungle. In addition, some plants bloom for a day only once a year. Do you know that Vanilla come from orchid and it exists more than 3600 species of orchids in earth? I am passionate about this plant from many years and I dreamt to be able to investigate its high diversity to discover unexpected perfumes or medicinal properties. I though it was inaccessible until I created the first Fablab and makerspace in Panama and took FabAcademy courses. Then I realized that I was trained to « make almost anything » so that I can make my dream possible : I got the machines, a network of talented people and a great motivation. Progressively, the idea of building a growing chamber emerged and it became my Fabacademy project.
How the workshop was useful ?
The makerspace provides me the machine and the network of experts, in the lab but also in the fablab international network, to help me at each stage of the project. As an architect, I designed the chambers to be aesthetic and practical : people can pile them to spare room and to build a wall of biodiversity. I used laser cutter and 3D printing. I couldn’t find any information on internet to build the electronic part. Fortunately, the maker community helped me to find the good components, they shared their experience and learnt me how to program Arduino.
What’s the project’s greatest success so far?
I succeeded to build an efficient machines and to grow 2 seeds out of 30 attempts. I am very happy to finish it in time to be graduated from FabAcademy. Combining the diploma with my passion was a great opportunity.
What’s your greatest failure(s)& lesson(s) so far?
This project learnt me a lot about biology and electronics. I burnt components and I failed to grow seeds but it developed my patience and perseverance. I also discovered a great community of makers I can rely on and I can share my experience in return.
What’s your vision for the project & next steps?
I would like to see the project replicated in other makerspaces to improve it and to share our discoveries. This project is the first stone of a bigger dream I have : creating a biolab in Panama where anyone can learn about plants while scientifics investigate and share their knowledge.
How can anyone interested can contribute to the project?
The version is open source for everyone who wants to build it. Try it and share your experience with me. I am also looking for scientifics interested in this project and especially in orchids to go further.