Agricoltura, an RS485 and Wireless Sense and Control System for Agriculture, Farming, and More

Built around a BeagleBone Green, with a shift to a custom board with Octavo SIP in the works, Agricoltura ticks a lot of boxes.

Engineer Adam Vadala-Roth is working on a project dubbed Agricoltura, building on earlier efforts to create an all-in-one system for agriculture, gardening, and farming projects — based on RS485 connectivity.

"Agricoltura is the culmination of multiple projects I've worked on in the past related to the sensing and control of agriculture systems, notably HydroPWNics and SunLeaf," Vadala-Roth explains of the project. "Agricoltura aims to unite all the concepts of those past projects into a new system based primarily on RS485 nodes for control of pumps, sensor sampling, and light control."

"The base system will be a gateway controller linked to daisy-chainable RS485 nodes designed for specific functions. These nodes are built around a board called Vine. Vine allows interfacing of Qwiic connect sensors and devices as well as relay control. Coming in as two variants Vine can be used to setup and control complete hydroponic farming systems or any other agriculture system."

Vine, which centers around an STMicro STM32 microcontroller with Arm Cortex-M4F processor core running at 180MHz, offers eight I2C interfaces with Qwiic-format connectors, four UARTs, eight 5V outputs, eight 5V digital input/output (IO) ports, USB 2.0 connectivity, and an RS485 port, along with 2A each of 3.3V and 5V regulated power output from a 24V AC input.

Vine is only part of the system, though: Ivy is a similar design, but replaces the Qwiic connectors with a single-row 2.54mm male pitch header designed for connectivity to daughterboard cards; Madre is a master controller, built around the Octavo OSD335x system-in-package — a BeagleBone Green for the prototype — with sub-1GHz and 2.4GHz radio connectivity along with four RS485 ports; and wireless battery-powered sensor devices dubbed the PicoLeaf and SunLeaf.

More information on the board designs, which have been created in the open source KiCAD electronic design automation (EDA) package, can be found on the Agricoltura project page; Vadala-Roth has not yet, however, released any design files.

Gareth Halfacree
Freelance journalist, technical author, hacker, tinkerer, erstwhile sysadmin. For hire: freelance@halfacree.co.uk.
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