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This instructable is dedicated to building a vertical hydroponic system based on materials that are easy to obtain. It starts as an ongoing process of development to make rebuilding easier.

Project Authors: Sebastian Rachor, Kana Lantsch, and many more.

Project goal: Grow plants in limited space while using an arduino for automation and surveillance.

The project page can be found here: http://awesomeponics.github.io/index

The Arduino sketch here: https://github.com/Kanabanarama/GrowMeOs-Arduino

Everything is published under the CC BY-SA License by Sebastian Rachor. So you are free to Share — copy and redistribute the material in any medium or format AND Adapt — remix, transform, and build upon the material for any purpose, even commercially. You must give appropriate credit, provide a link to the license, and indicate if changes were made.

For construction following materials and tools are needed:

- 60 l round ferment barrel
- DN120 water pipe
- 2x DN120 end cap
- DN120 connection fitting
- DN50 water pipe
- hydroponic mesh pots
- food safe silicone or installation glue (we used aquarium proof)

- obviously an arduino O_o)

- outdoor casing for plug connection, housing the arduino

- a 5V water-pump (specifications follow)

- ~10 mm drill
- box cutter
- hand saw / band saw / miter saw or similar

Step 1: The Tower

Drill holes in the bottom of the short DN120 pipe like shown in the image. These will allow the water to circulate in the pipe and flow back into the barrel.

Cut an end fitting on a hight it will not overlap these holes. Then clue the end fitting with silicone in the middle of the the ferment barrels bottom.

Use a box cutter or dremel to cut a hole of the lid of the barrel fitting the DN120 pipe. As soon as the silcone is dried, you are ready to put the pipe on top of the end fitting and close the barrel lid.

With the second and longer pipe fit on top your tower should now look like the last picture.

Step 2: A Place for Your Plants

Make a model from a cardboard with the short side about ~1 cm and a long side about ~7 cm. Roll it around the pipe and fix it with sticky tape. Now the pieces to be cut can be drawn, they will hold the mesh pots. They can be turned around to fit on their oblique sides, decreasing cutout waste.

Mark the spot an the tower pipe where the mesh pot holders will go. Leave at least 15 cm between them vertically to insure the plants can grow without being obstructed by themselves (e.g. their roots).

To alternate the hole saw a dremel can be used if the holes are adjusted a bit so the mesh pot holder will fit in.

Clean all the pipe pieces and use alcohol to remove everything that could impair the silicone bonding. After glueing the mesh pot holder onto the tower we kept them in place with copper wire (additional protection against slipping out of position). Let everything dry a for a day.

In a second instructable you will learn how to use the arduino for controlling the water circulation pump and how put everything together.

Step 3: Arduino Casing

Now comes the tricky part. And obviously the following steps strongly depend on any similar casing available in your local hardware store. If anything - it should be water proof.

We used an outdoor plug connector box as arduino casing. It has one entry on each side and more than enough room for the arduino and the hardware we plan to build upon. This setup is perfect a location that grant access to the local grid, like your balcony, south facing window or garden. (At this point we try to figure out a way the arduino and the pump can run on li-ion batteries.)

The casing used had a black plastic piece inside to hold the plugs in place. We drilled four holes into it and used zip ties to fix the arduino.

Finally we unmantled a 12V power adapter and soldered two cables onto it. It may be better to make an Y-Adapter for powering the pump and the arduino to improve savety. At this point the arduino just controls a relais switching the pump on and of in given intervals defined in the code (Get it here).

Now comes the tricky part. And obviously the following steps strongly depend on any similar casing available in your local hardware store. If anything - it should be water proof.

We used an outdoor plug connector box as arduino casing. It has one entry on each side and more than enough room for the arduino and the hardware we plan to build upon. This setup is perfect a location that grant access to the local grid, like your balcony, south facing window or garden. (At this point we try to figure out a way the arduino and the pump can run on li-ion batteries.)

The casing used had a black plastic piece inside to hold the plugs in place. We drilled four holes into it and used zip ties to fix the arduino.

Finally we unmantled a 12V power adapter and soldered two cables onto it. It may be better to make an Y-Adapter for powering the pump and the arduino to improve savety. At this point the arduino just controls a relais switching the pump on and of in given intervals defined in the code (Get it here).

Step 4: "How You Can Participate", or Work in Progress

What we did so far:

  • Hours of designing - testing - trial and error
  • Build a tower for growing plants
  • Use an arduino controlled pump to water the tower
  • Setting up a project page, an entry on instructables and github

What there is to be done:

  • Get some followers to propose improvements :) yes, it's you we are talking about
  • Add a bluetooth-shield for controlling the arduino an reading its output
  • Add fancy sensors for light, water temperature, ph-level and so on
  • make the tower usable off-grid (already working on this)
  • Finally: Grow plants on this thing!

Everybody contributing to this project will be mentioned in the credits.

<p>This looks pretty cool. If you wanted, I think any additional steps would be great to include right here in this instructable, rather than a separate one. Just a tip! ;) </p><p>I'm curious and looking forward to seeing the rest of the process, either way! :)</p>

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