Introduction: AreoGarden Repair

Picture of AreoGarden Repair


  I know that you can build your own hydroponics system, but not everyone wants to. A simple solution is to buy an AeroGarden , a self contained unit that has everything built in. We love ours because we can grow veggies indoors all year round. These units aren't that big and can even be mounted on the wall to save space.
 
The only bad thing about these units is that the boards are not coated for protection from water and chemicals. Of the three I own, two have failed for this reason. I will fix this on any other units I buy, but the pumps and lights are still working on these. It's only the controls that have failed. I decided to rewire the units without the controls because the pump and lights are what is needed for the plants to grow. I can add a timer on the outside to control when it comes on and off if I want that to happen

Tools Needed:
Small wire
Soldering iron
Solder
Small wire cutter or pliers
#15H Trox security screwdriver
Small #1 Phillips screwdriver.
Electrical tape or very small shrink tubing.




Step 1: The Workings


The first thing to do is take it apart.  The pod that has the water and plants lifts off the base. Unplug the lights and remove them as well.

All the controls and the power supply are in the base unit. Flip it over and remove the screws. Two of them are Trox 15H security screws. The rest are small #1 Phillips. You will have screws left over from the removal of the control board after the repair and if you are not going to replace the bad board can use those screws to replace the Trox when finished.

Step 2: What You Will See

Picture of What You Will See


With the cover removed we find two boards, a power supply and a control board. On both of my units the control board (the one with the nasty brown goo on it) was all that was damaged. I cut the wires connecting the boards and taped them up. Once damaged, the board is not really repairable, and can be discarded. Save the three screws that were used to mount it for later.

Step 3: What Needs to Happen

Picture of What Needs to Happen


All that remains to bring this unit back to life is rerouteing the connections. The lights are straight 120 VAC, but the pump runs on 12 VAC. I added two jumpers to power up the lights and pump and removed a link to cut down on feedback from the controls no longer used.

Step 4: The Fix

Picture of The Fix

I have already traced out the board, so I won't bore you with that part.


On the bottom of the power supply board:
   The first jumper (longer white one) goes from the other side of the fuse to the L (hot leg) of the lights. The neutral side of the lights is directly connected on the board and nothing needs to be done to it.  Light problem solved.

  The second jumper runs power from the secondary side of the transformer to the pump. One side is directly connected so we only need to reroute one leg to supply voltage to the pump.

On the top of the power supply board:
  The last thing to do to the board is to disable the link JP1 on the secondary side. This link is just a piece of wire. I pulled mine off with a pair of needle point pliers, but cutting it works just as well.

Step 5: Wrap Up


Put it back together, plug it in and you are ready to grow something again! Just remember to unplug it to turn it off. Plug it into a timer to replace the timed on/off feature if you what that and it will be almost as good as new.

Comments

diy_bloke (author)2012-09-07

So -as I have a brand new one- what is the best way to protect the boards?

redkcir (author)diy_bloke2012-09-07

The problem seems to be that when you over fill the container it leaks into the board. The fluid is very corrosive to the boards. When I buy some new ones I plan on taking them apart and coating the boards with a silicone based spray, or liquid tape. The only hot surface would be the transformer on the back board, which I have not had a problem with. Most of the problem it the IC chip and lead wires from the LEDs on the front control board. A coating of liquid electrical tape should be able to protect theses parts with no problem.

diy_bloke (author)redkcir2012-09-07

tnx. i have it in action now but i surely will take it apart after it is done

redkcir (author)diy_bloke2012-09-08

Hope you have as good luck as we have. I plan on taking this to a higher level next year. The main thing is the lights, which I found can be bought at my local Lowe's. I have some plastic 55 gal. barrels I'm going to use to make a larger version next year. It's one drawback is that you must disassemble it at the end of the grow cycle to clean it. The roots get everywhere, even in the motor housing. I'm going to try and add a filter so the roots won't get in the water section and foul the pumps..

diy_bloke (author)redkcir2012-09-08

good to know about th ecleaning:-). The basil I have in there indeed is developing massive roots already.
I have thought about a bigger version as well. The current AG 7 that I have is great but the pods at the sides dont insert well coz of the round shape of the drum.
As I am in Europe, I also will encounter a problem replacing the growlights as they are 110V with an abberant socket. May have to replace the sockets and attach it to a regular timer for 220V direct feed

redkcir (author)diy_bloke2012-09-12

How is your unit running now? Was it set for 220V when you got it? I can find the grow lights here at Lowe's (hardware store) but finding the sockets is a different matter. If you go to a larger system (like the 55gal drum) you can use grow lamps from a high end gardening store. The main thing you need to look for is the lights temperature and if the gas inside is rated for growing.

diy_bloke (author)redkcir2012-09-12

It is running great. It was set for 110V but I just bought a converter-transformer of I think 75 wat which is enough.

When the lamps need to be replaced I will probably just replace the sockets so it will fit E27 lamps (220 Volt) and feed the lamps from a seperate timer.

In the USA CFL lights at high wattage seem affordable, overhere if even available, they are quite expensive. Well I'll cross that bridge when I get there

redkcir (author)diy_bloke2012-09-14

Bummer about the light bulb cost. There is a good piece on Wikipedia about grow lights and their temperatures that may come in handy when you start looking for replacement bulbs.

diy_bloke (author)redkcir2012-09-14

Thanks I will check that

andybuda (author)2011-11-02

how long did the thing last befor that happened.. there very expensive aswell was going to get 1 for my mum last christmas

redkcir (author)andybuda2011-11-02

A little over a year, but my wife kept overfilling the base and liquid got into the electronics on the front. I plan on coating any more I buy to prevent that. I still use all three and the only thing affected is the time the light stays on, which I can duplicate with a timing device. .

andybuda (author)redkcir2011-11-02

so there worth the money then. iv used fluorescent tubes to start plant off in the garage then i move them in to the garden but in england we have had afew crap years of weather and they have not done well i prefer to grow chilly plant indoors but iv been growing tobacco plants and they need alot of space. oh buy the way iv never seen the areo extend that much in hight is that the top of the range one iv only seen the smaller table top one`s... looks good..

redkcir (author)andybuda2011-11-03

As far as I know it's the biggest one they make. Our biggest problem has been keeping them pruned back because they grow so fast. We grow bell peppers, tomatoes and herbs mainly.

diy_bloke (author)redkcir2012-09-08

It is the AG Extra right? That will extend to 24 inch and has 2x the light of the AG 7

redkcir (author)diy_bloke2012-09-12

Yes. We got the biggest they had so we could grow tomatoes. Even then the tomatoes over grew the planter. I rigged some extra lights to handel the overflow.

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Bio: No longer working, but was a specialist maintenance worker when I did. Masters Electrician Lic. and Assoc. degree in Computer Networking. Had a fiber optic ... More »
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