420 Magazine Background

Arduinos in the grow room: My project

odam2k

Well-Known Member
Wow, that Library (NewPing) is fantastic if any of you are using this sensor. I've measured the depth with a ruler and compared it to the depth reported by this module, and they are perfectly in synch, at least up to the 40cm depth of my bucket.

This mini project was a complete success!
So my WaterDepth Module is a great success, accurate to within 1cm in determining the depth of the water in the bucket.

For those not familiar with it, this is for the Auto Watering, it measures the water depth in my 23L plastic bucket (a leftover from Wine Making) to make sure there is actually water in there to pump to the plants.

Since I KNOW the bucket holds exactly 20L when there is 40cm of water in it, I can deduce that each cm of water is a half liter, or 500ml

Since I generally use about 3L per watering in Flower, I could simply run the pump until the water level drops 6cm (only one pump will be active at any time in a bucket)

This means the module controlling the relays needs to be the one doing the depth measurement, right now, they are two separate modules. Here's the problem... I did try putting the ultrasonic sensor on the relay control module, but for whatever reason, it did not work... just kept reporting the same number no matter where it was... I had no real need to combine them, so just left it...

Now, if I want to water based on volume, then I will need to combine the modules. The software on both is pretty straightforward, I will review it again, but didn't see any conflicts when I did try. The relay control module is an Arduino Nano v3, the Water Depth module is a Pro/Mini, that shouldn't make a difference... but who knows...

My plan is to build another Water Depth module, make sure it works, THEN I'll add the functionality to toggle the relays, this is in contrast to what I did try, which was adding depth detection to the relay controller, and it didn't work.

As a future benefit to doing this, eventually the system could monitor the amount of water you give a plant, and if it is still too dry, or it dries out too quickly, then it could decide to increase the amount of water it gives per feeding. This would be perfect as your plants grow, and flower...

Now, on the downside of all this.... If watering one plant uses 6cm of water, or 3L, then that means a completely full bucket will only support at most, 7 waterings. The module supports 8 relays, I had planned on having 8 pumps to water 8 plants per bucket/module. So one feeding, lets say I water all 8 today, they will probably need watering in 3-4 days, which the bucket can provide... but 3-4 days later, they will need watering again, and there will be no water!

So this will certainly work on an ongoing basis, just to automate the grow room, and to some extent, for short times away from it, but for anything more than a week, I suppose a 50L Plastic Tote full of water with a pump to transfer to the bucket, as required... This would only be a special circumstance where you needed more than a week, this could extend it to a few weeks... If you have running water in the grow room (basement) then you could simply hook a float valve up to a hose and let it keep the bucket full, but then nutrients becomes an issue... I suppose it's better to provide plain water to plant than no water at all!

All this assumes I get the two modules working as one....
 

odam2k

Well-Known Member
And since my cloning is going SO WELL with the peat pellets again, I stole the water pump from the Aqua Cloner and am using it to keep the water moving, and aerated, in the bucket. This can run on a timer, or all the time.... have to see if it makes the water too warm...

Oh, I guess we need to add some thermistors to the bucket to track the water temp...

I guess I could use a large Tote instead of this bucket, increase the amount of water without having to pump it in from another container.... So many options here to try... but I do think this will be among the most reliable and accurate auto watering systems once it's working... (assuming it works!)
 

Latitude17

Well-Known Member
You can get by just fine with pretty much any of the cheaper tents to save some money, as long as you're willing to accept their faults.

The old adage of "you get what you pay for" has been especially true in tents for me. Read product reviews, see if there are any common themes of "this sucks because component A doesn't do X". The two I linked earlier were reasonably priced for my budget, and have worked well for me. It all depends on what you need them to be.

:Namaste:
 

odam2k

Well-Known Member
Just a couple updates...

First off, one of my health problems that interferes with all this tinkering is that I have the shakes. Somewhat minor these days compared to a couple years ago when I had to keep the car window rolled up when I used my phone, ir I'd actually risk throwing it out the window by accident! I'm convinced it was a side effect of all the drugs I was on (prescribed). Anyhow, now the shaking is quite minor, but can still prevent me from soldering, especially since I end up doing most of it under a magnifying glass.... I have however, found that if I work on the intricate stuff in the middle of the nights, I don't seem to be as shaky, not sure why, but I just go with the flow... (I'm currently up working on the new board for the combined Water Depth / Water Pump Relay module.)

Sensor #68 - one of the new stainless steel soil moisture sensors, I reported earlier that it seems to follow the LIGHT Cycle from the Flower Room, even though the sensor is buried in soil in the Veg Tent... Well, I moved it to a new pot, and it's still doing the same... This is strange indeed, I don't know whether to tear it apart and rebuild it (it's so simple, not sure what that would accomplish) or to patent my new light detection module... <sigh> Perhaps I'll move it to the flower room and see what happens...

I've replaced ALL my soil moisture sensors with the new stainless steel versions, or DIY-3 as I call them :) All my moisture readings (cept for #68) now seem to be much more in synch with what I see looking at the dirt, and with well over a months use already, NO corrosion can be detected, and the readings are as solid as they were when first implemented.

I'm going to need to build a bunch more of these sensors since SO MANY of my clones are rooting! Yeah, I know, I'm not complaining :)

At the end of the month I'm going to order my first 4x4 tent, going to move my existing flowering plants into it (there will only be 4 by then). This will let me take ALL the successful clones, and VEG them under the 400w MH out in the open in the grow room. I'll let these get bigger than usually, I usually flower after about 2 weeks veg under my tiny LED light... I'll veg them for a month under the 400, then at the end of the second month, I';ll order another 4x4 tent, so I can flower in both....

Still a toss-up on whether to get a 600D or 1680D tent, especially given my tiny budget, and the fact that I won't be moving them around, or disturbing them once they are set up, so wear and tear, other than the zipper isn't really a big issue... It's an extra $90 for the 1680D, on 3 tents, that enough to buy a new light and fan! Anyhow, still have 2 weeks to google and decide... leaning toward a cheaper one first, and if I'm not happy, the next 2 can be the expensive ones and use them for flowering where light proofing is more important...
 

odam2k

Well-Known Member
Still a toss-up on whether to get a 600D or 1680D tent, especially given my tiny budget, and the fact that I won't be moving them around, or disturbing them once they are set up, so wear and tear, other than the zipper isn't really a big issue... It's an extra $90 for the 1680D, on 3 tents, that enough to buy a new light and fan! Anyhow, still have 2 weeks to google and decide... leaning toward a cheaper one first, and if I'm not happy, the next 2 can be the expensive ones and use them for flowering where light proofing is more important...
Just watched a video comparing the "budget" vs "premium" tents... Well, a few of them... In one, the guy shows how he can hang from the supports in the premium tent, but when he puts his weight on the supports in the budget tent, it comes crashing down...

Mind made up... gonna go for the 1680D Premium tents, they may be more expensive, but certainly cheaper than buying twice, which was high on my list of NOT TO DO's... :)
 

odam2k

Well-Known Member
I'm thinking I might use a Wemos Mega 2560 with a built in ESP8266 to handle the Automated Watering of the plants. This gives it a singular purpose, rather than relying on a Sensor Module (same hardware) who's main purpose is to scan sensors. Right now, it's an arduino Nano which is hooked up to a sensor module via i2c. If I use a Mega, I'll have a module dedicated to watering, and it has 53 digital pins, more than enough to control ALL the pumps I'll ever need. The onboard ESP8266 simply checks the database for the plants that need watering, and then figure out which pump that is, and turn it on/off

I like this idea....
 

odam2k

Well-Known Member
Sensor #68 - one of the new stainless steel soil moisture sensors, I reported earlier that it seems to follow the LIGHT Cycle from the Flower Room, even though the sensor is buried in soil in the Veg Tent... Well, I moved it to a new pot, and it's still doing the same... This is strange indeed, I don't know whether to tear it apart and rebuild it (it's so simple, not sure what that would accomplish) or to patent my new light detection module... <sigh> Perhaps I'll move it to the flower room and see what happens...

I moved the sensor to a new port on the arduino, and it was fine, so I put a new sensor on this port, and it's doing the same thing, so somehow that port is haunted...
 

odam2k

Well-Known Member
2 more rooted clones today, that's 12 so far out of 19 cuttings, in 15 days! If you've followed along, you know that for the past year I have had major problems with cloning. I'd take 16 cuttings, and be lucky if 2 rooted. I tried every method in the book, until finally, this time around, complete success! I was worried I was going to loose these strains, and had resorted to re-vegging plants after harvest...
 

odam2k

Well-Known Member
Just amazing... Another 2 cuttings have roots showing, that's 14 out of 19 now, with one left to go, but it's one of the smaller ones, so I may just toss it to make room, now that I have 14 NEW PLANTS!

I also decided to set up a security camera in the grow room. It's just the laptop, and software called YawCam on it, and it uses the built in camera to take video when it detects motion. It lets me define the area of the image to watch for motion, so I just highlighted the door. I have a doctors appointment in a couple days, and the building managements just notified us of a fire safety inspection on the same day... They basically just check to make sure the fire alarm sounds in every apartment, they do it every year, and they have no business in the spare room, but I want to be sure... If they so much as open the door, I'll know.
 

odam2k

Well-Known Member
So close, yet so far...

I'm working on the code that actually commands the relay control module to turn on and off the pumps for auto watering...

  1. The Sensor Module takes the readings from the soil moisture sensors and writes them to the database.
  2. The Maintenance Module reads these values, and some other data and actually decides if the plant needs watering, and if it does, adds it to a special table in the database.
  3. The Sensor Module checks this special table every minute, and if it finds any entries for the water pumps on any of it's i2c relay control modules, it will toggle the relay on the appropriate i2c module, causing the plant to be watered.
  4. The Sensor Module will check to ensure the soil moisture level increased, and remove the entry from the special table, the plant has been watered successfully, if not, then probably a notification of some kind...
Of course, before it turns on a pump, it will check the water depth to ensure there is enough water.

Each plant can receive either a default amount of time with the pump running, or specific to a plant, a specific run time, or even a specific volume of water in liters, which can be measured by the ultrasonic sensor detecting a change in depth.

That's the plan at this point, I'm almost done....

I'm still having a real hard time getting motivated since I was sick with the flu, that was weeks ago.... I just can't seem to get back into gear, before I got sick, I was gung ho, 100% focused... Now I seem to spend half my time watching stupid youtube videos, and the other half trying to sleep!
 

Latitude17

Well-Known Member
Now I seem to spend half my time watching stupid youtube videos, and the other half trying to sleep!
The ebb and flow of creative spark, my friend.

Do you find it easy to measure your moisture levels while watering? What happens to your runoff, if any?
 

odam2k

Well-Known Member
The ebb and flow of creative spark, my friend.
I hope the spark comes back soon!

Do you find it easy to measure your moisture levels while watering? What happens to your runoff, if any?
You mean have it actively read the sensor DURING the watering, repeatedly? I could, but it can take up to 3 minutes to water a plant, and I don't want to tie up the sensor module for that period of time. Right now, it will tell the i2c relay control module (arduino pro mini) to water the plant, and then leave it to do so without any further contact.... That's why the module, at it's next scheduled scan time for the sensor, can verify that the moisture DID increase...

Since I'm still in soil, my runoff goes into a plastic circular pan under the pot. If that overflows, the floor is covered in plastic.


I AM starting to seriously think about going hydro, but it will have to wait, I have too many other expenses coming up, but I am watching some youtube videos :)
 

odam2k

Well-Known Member
I also decided to set up a security camera in the grow room. It's just the laptop, and software called YawCam on it, and it uses the built in camera to take video when it detects motion.

I think the HPS and MH Grow lights burned out the camera, it can't see with just regular light any more, only with the super bright grow lights on.... I've adjusted everything I can.... :(
 
Top Bottom