Welcome back for another Design Challenge Project Summary. I apologize for my posting schedule being off, but recent bad weather here in South Carolina has put me a little behind. This week we are featuring Project: Automated Farm, by Ognyan Chikov (ochikov). A late starter due to shipping delays, project Automated Farm is now in full swing, and progressing quickly.

 

Ognyan is keeping the environment in mind by recycling an old shipping pallet as his vertical growing medium, something I applaud him for. He is also one of the only contestants who is using what looks like a peat moss or coir-based growing medium. This looks like a nifty setup, and something someone could replicate during a weekend, without spending a lot of money on expensive hydroponic systems.

 

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While web programming is more Ognyan’s style, he has managed to get some of the examples up and running with the Silicon Labs EZR32WG kitsSilicon Labs EZR32WG kits, and has been able to connect and read data via the Android app Silicon Labs provides.

 

 

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Ognyan put together an impressive infographic that fully lays out his plans for the Automated Vertical Farm. He has broken the project into several different systems, that will be controlled by two Arduino’s and 433Mhz modules at first, then transfered over to the Silicon Labs boards once he better understands C programming.

 

You can see that he plans to power the entire project via solar power using two 6V .33A solar panels, that will charge two 1.2V NiMH batteries each. Data will be acquired by one of the development boards, and then displayed on a 1.8-inch LCD Monitor.  This development board will also host a web server via an Arduino Ethernet Shield which will then store and serve that data to a website accessible by remote devices.

 

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The other MCU will handle the task of controlling the feeding and watering systems, as well as the onsite data gathering device. The system will record air temperature, humidity, soil moisture, soil temperature, rain, and luminosity levels, and send them to the other MCU via a wireless connection. As many of you know, I am a huge fan of environmental data gathering, and I am quite curious to see how Ognyan plans on reading rainfall levels, or how he will be detecting rainfall. These are two issues I have struggled with in the past in my own experiments.

 

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Well that is going to wrap up my project summary for project, Automated Farm.Ognyan’s work has definitely caught my eye, and with about a month left in the challenge, I really hope he keeps at it! I really like the idea of the recycled pallet as a growing container, but I definitely see drawbacks to using it. Scalability is one major issue, and the added weight of the growing medium could prevent a very small footprint building that is very tall. With that said, this could be an excellent solution to someone with a very small back yard, or balcony who wants to grow their own food. Thank’s for taking the time to read this installment!  I will be back next week with another Design Challenge Project Summary. Until then, remember to Hack The World, and Make Awesome!