The Hydrofarm-Mini was an extension from the Hydrofarm itself for more practical usage in an agriculture format rather than gathering information via experimentation. The Hydrofarm-Mini is a vertical hydroponics farm, designed to be compact as to allow for any individual to be able to automate plant growth without much human input. The main body has the water trickle down containing growth medium and plants, reaches the bottom reservoir at bottom and eventually recycles the water back into the reservoir at the top. Additionally, it contains a sensor that measure the levels of water to prevent overflow or spillage. If necessary, the farm can even detect water leaks, and sound a small alarm to alert the user of the problem. The plants are grown with LED in as long as the user requires to stimulate plant growth while fans ventilate air in and out of the system.
Step 1: Main Body Tube
- Cut out one 16’’ PVC pipe (4” diameter) as part of the Main Body Tube
- Cut a 1’’ wide slit that is 12’’ in length, equidistant from both ends of the pipe.
Step 2: Transitions Tubes
- Cut out 2 PVC pipes, 5.25’’ in length (4” Diameter). These will act as the transition pipes between the couplers in the reservoirs.
Step 3: Drip Plate
- Make a Circular Drip Plate with a diameter of 4’’ with 1/4” thickness. Then drill ten holes of 1/8" diameter and then drill hole into the drip plate that is the same diameter as the OD of your tubing. (The holes do not have to be in any particular order so long as the center hole is the OD of your tubing and there is no more than ten or else too much water will overflow into the main body.)
- Make sure that in the process of drilling that the drip plate does not crack, which will happen when too much force is applied.
NOTE: In the Introduction, you may have saw the drip plate having more then ten holes which is actually a mistake. The extra holes were sealed with clear glue which was not visible with the photo.
Step 4: Caps
- In one of the PVC caps, drill hole that have the same diameter as the tubing for the pump, one in the center of the cap and one hole that is 1" from the center along the radius of the cap.
The caps, transition pipes and junction pipes will act as the reservoirs where water fills up.
Step 5: Assembly of the Body
- Silicone the Drip Plate to the Inner Edge of the Coupler
- The top coupler should be the one with the drip plate and the top cap, should have the two holes.
- Assemble the Hydrofarm Mini in the configuration shown above.
- In the process of assembly, apply primer and cement to every junction where the pipes meet except the junction between the Top and Bottom Cap.
- In the bottom reservoir, place the pump of your choice, connect it to the rubber tubing, and route the rubber tubing thru the central hole of the drip plate and the two holes in the top cap. This will aid in essentially circulating the water through out the entire system.
Note: The drip plate on the cap in the real version is actually unnecessary the operation of the system; its the two holes that are actually required as the one in the CAD model.
Step 6: Water Collection Basin
- Because of the way the drip system is designed for the Hydrofarm, a water basin is required to capture the water that leaves the system.
- For the water collection basin
- Using sheet metal, create the base of basin (MAKE TWO OF THESE as the other one will be utilized in the next step).
- Make a lip around the outer edge of the base which will allow the base to sit snug inside of the lip.
- Silicone the edge of the base and the lip so that no water falls out.
- Mount the the collection basin at an angle so that all of the water flows back into the slot of the HydroFarm-Mini (For this prototype, the lip wraps around the outer edge of the collection basin and the PVC pipe where the lip is screw onto the rear of the of the HydroFarm-Mini.
NOTE: The sheet metal bases are not to scale in the CAD model but give an idea as to what the base should look like. (The complete basin should more like the real prototype but does not have to be exact.)
Step 7: Shower Curtain and Fans
- Using the extra sheet metal base, punch seven holes using a single-hole puncher and zip tie a shower curtain to the holes. (As shown above).
- Cut out two holes for the fans in the places shown above for the fans and screw the fans into the base..
- Make a lip for the INNER EDGE of the sheet metal base, screw the base into the lip and then the lip into the PVC pipe. (In the picture above, a metal clamp was used to mount the lip to the PVC pipe, but screwing it in accomplishes the same thing.)
Step 8: Planting Area
- Cutout a 12" x 4" piece of of Bio-Filter material.
- Cut out small holes for the plants to be inserted into.
- Insert the Bio Filter into the 12" Slit on the PVC Pipe. (The Bio-Filter should be flush with outer surface of the PVC pipe).
Step 9: Lamp and Electronic Enclosure
- Mount a Lamp (or any Light Source) to the front of the Curtain.
- Mount an Electronic Enclosure in the back that will contain two switches that will control the fans and the light source.
- Connect the Electronic Enclosure to your power source for the Fan and the Lamp.
If you wish to see the Larger-Scale version of the Hydro-Farm in action, please visit the Link below.