This project was created by Foundation For A New Tomorrow, a 501c3 non-profit, for the Intel IoT Detroit competition as an attempt to explore a potential technological solution to the problem of 23 million Americans (6.5 million of which are children) not having year-round access to a clean, high-quality, and nutritious food supply.
To produce an IoT-powered self-regulating prototype organic garden enclosure that is capable of providing light, heat, and hydration with little to no user intervention. Demonstrate a use for IoT that would potentially compel others to build similar projects and spread knowledge that will improve the human condition via production of more available food for public consumption.
1. Use the Arduino IDE interface because it is extensively documented, easier to use, and depends on automatic looping by default (which is ideal for continuously polling sensors).
2. Focus on obtaining data from the sensors and event-based triggering of relays to operate heat, water pump, and lights.
3. Use the LCD display to show system status in terms of temperature, light status, and water tank fill status.
The design consisted of a wooden box 2'x2' on top and bottom and left and right sides, respectively. The left and right sides sit on top of the bottom piece, such that 3/4" is added to the height of the box. As a result, the front and back pieces will need to be 2ft 3/4" x 2 ft long in order to cover the box flush. The front piece is further cut along the 2 ft. edge into two 1 ft. pieces in order to create doors for the box. The diagram of cuts is below:
We opted to have the entire unit as self-contained as possible so as to be non-intrusive to a user.
The enclosure is held together with wood screws for easy dismantling. The thickness of the wood allows for screwing in fixtures internally. The doors were affixed with swinging hinges and inside, we set up two light fixtures in perpendicular orientation for the heating lamp and light bulb, respectively.
The garden is housed inside a formaldehyde-free wood enclosure. This is important because formaldehyde gas can be absorbed by plants and is a known carcinogen, so you don't want to eat it/ingest it.
The automated garden operates by relying on sensor data to dynamically control relays connected to the various systems (lighting, heat, hydration).
Upon initializing, the system runs a check of all of the systems, by default the lights are turned on. Every 12h, the lights turn off automatically, based on a timer count. The water levels are also checked via the water sensor. If water is not present, then the LCD will flash red, alerting the user that the tank needs to be refilled. The moisture sensor alerts the system as to whether the water pump needs to be run to re-hydrate the soil. The temperature sensor monitors ambient temperature inside and if less than 25C, will engage the heating lamp. At all times, the temperature and light statuses are shown on the LCD display.
The lighting systems are run through relays via mains power (120V AC - from the wall). This was done by splicing an extension cable into standard light sockets and through the Smart Relay. Be careful when dealing with mains power!
We were able to successfully operate all of our systems and grow a garden.
Most importantly, we were able to successfully grow some lush, organic, and delicious cucumbers, leeks, and sweet peppers!
This project was enjoyable and really impressed upon us the infinite possibilities of IoT devices, in particular the Edison.
We hope to continue further work on this system by adding real-time statistics, a web interface, remote controls, and possibly a webcam/recording features so the growth rate of the plants can be documented and observed.