The Planter is Built

Finally after some issues finding cutting tools, we were finally able to build the planter box. Pictures are shown below. It is 8 feet by 4 feet and is raised about nine inches off the ground to preserve the growing space underneath for when we have to remove our project.

Plantation
Some progress was also made on the real time monitoring system and the output from the Photon board. The Photon now outputs real time data every one minute to Dweet.io and our website auto refreshes the readings from our sensors every minute using a jQuery setInterval function. It now looks something like this.

Screen Shot 2016-04-23 at 12.05.55 PM
In the future we will have more data points posted, each according to the quadrant of the planter.

Looking forward, we have an order sent out for analog muxes and water sensors. Since the photon board only has so many analog inputs, we will need a way to select which we want to read at a certain time. The water sensors will allow us to monitor our soil moisture.

We are also working to figure out a system to control the watering of the planter. Since automating a PVC valve proved to be pretty difficult due to how tight the valve is, we are playing with some other ideas. It will most likely implement a gravity-fed drip system where we control the flow out of an elevated reservoir.

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We Found a Home!

Since our last post, a lot has happened.

We were able to secure a spot to build our entire rig in between Skirkanich and Levine. We plan on building it and leaving it over the summer for long term tests. It provides a relatively shaded area which means we have more control over the light portion of the living conditions.
Because of some issues with finding cutting tools, the construction of the actual planter has been somewhat delayed but we are confident the base will be completed tomorrow. After we have that built, we will move forward with adding the cover for the greenhouse part.

As far as the electrical implementations go, we have made significant progress.

First off, we are building a website using Bootstrap to show information on our rig. There will be a QR code next to the rig where people can visit our website and stay updated on the progress of the entire system. At this point, it looks something like what is pasted below.

Screen Shot 2016-04-20 at 11.02.11 PM
Here is an example of the heat map we plan to use to show the intensities of the light sources and water saturation levels at different points in the grid. The website will be hosted on a Raspberry Pi where we will manage incoming data sent by the Photon board.

A nice feature of the Photon board is native support for web hooks. We can “publish” data from the Photon where it is sent to the Particle’s online service and dispatched out to a web hook event that we choose. For simplicity’s sake, we think we are going to use Dweet.io where it automatically publishes the data we send (via a URL) to a JSON file. With that we can parse it and display it on our website or save the data to our database for future use.

We currently have a temperature, humidity, and light sensor interfaced with our Photon. In the coming days we will order the water sensors which should just about complete the array of sensors for our greenhouse. Because of high cost, we have delayed the purchase of the water sensors as long as possible to be sure we are being as cost effective as possible.

Looking forward, we are working on creating a database for a set of preselected plants for which to have “recipes” for specific living conditions. We are also working on two separate integrations for the website. The first is outputting the real-time sensor data to the dashboard. The second is maintaining historical data in a data base and displaying that in a chronological manner; an example might be a bar graph of water saturation over the week.

Next week, we plan on starting the green house portion of the build and interfacing the various control components for things such as ventilation and irrigation.