This project is part of Intel Make It Challenge
Each plant has it’s own characteristics concerning need for water, need for nitrate etc. Therefore the experienced “house gardener” follows each individual plant’s need and supplies water and fertilizer etc. as needed. Mini Garden Grow supports the user in becoming an experienced house gardener.
The Mini Garden Grow system reads moisture, light, and temperature sensors and based on that information controls the irrigation. Via web interface the user has access to actual and historical data and can choose between automatic and manual control.
The central control of the system is implemented via the Intel Edison Board which via wifi reads data from each plant and starts/stops irrigation of the individual plant via the Nodemcu board. The Edison board functions as well as server for the web page.
This Mini Garden Grow system may be extended by a module for fertilizing and a module for extended user interaction (e.g. more historical data, photos, sharing opportunity, analyses of growth).
Mini Garden Grow is an extension to existing irrigation systems for house gardening, typically drip-based systems like those produced by Gardenia and Claber.
Step 1: VIDEO
Step 2: The Essential Features
The most outstanding part of the system, is the individual plant focus. The amount of water supplied to the individual plant is directly based on the need of the individual plant. Through exact knowledge of the soil moisture, the size of the plants and their needs for water and light, and more generally of the environment around it (amount of sun, weather etc) a very precise irrigation may be achieved. An optimal environment for the individual plant.
Secondly the system provides data logging giving the user a variety of learning opportunities. This Mini Garden Grow is in fact a system for diving into the world of gardening getting more and more knowledgeable about the complex development of plants. As the system are being extended with more sensors the possibility for learning increases hugely.
A third reason for the system concerns the environment and economy. Using less water - especially in the city - means less use of energy on cleaning water. Experience shows that using automated systems makes it possible to reduce water consumption to one third. When implementing the fertilizer part into the system this makes even more meaning as fertilizer is to be used very exact not to create unnecessary pollution of water and plants.
Contributing to e.g. openweathermap.org with data on local weater. Thereby as a fourth reason for the concept the system provides data for others to use and at the same time utilize the access to data provided by other users / weather stations in the area where it’s installed.
Step 3: The System
The system combines the basic functions of the plant unit (soil humidity sensor, valve and wifi connection) the control unit (temperature, light, air humidity and water flow sensors, valve and wifi connection) user (user interface for initializing, manual control and monitoring) water unit (controlling the main valve of the irrigation system)
Step 4: Configuration
Unit Specifications Control Unit
Intel® Edison board Power supply: 12V, 1.5A
Sensor: Air humidity Plant unit Wifi board: NodeMCU board v. 1.0
Valve: Plastic Water Solenoid Valve - 12V - 1/4" Normally closed
Sensor: Soil Humidity Operating voltage 3.3V-5V Output: digital (high - low) and analog User interface Based on Intel IoT Analytics For PC and mobilphone Cloud solution Intel IoT Analytics
Water Unit Valve: Plastic Water Solenoid Valve - 12V - 1/2" Nominal
Sensor Flow: YF-S402B G1/4 PE Pipe 0.2-8L/min 3.5 12VDC Water Flow Sensor
Sensor air humidity
Step 5: Data Structure
This database is maintained by the user and provides the key information on the individual plants needs.
ID (unique number) Name Description Size of the plant/the pot (4 point scala: From 2 l to 75 l) Need for water (5 point scala: From low to high need) Need for light (3 point scala: shade, light, direct sun)
This database records the individual plant events / logging plant status and irrigation data. The database is updated every four hour.
ID Date/Time Soil Humidity (%) Irrigation time (minutes)
This database records the general environment of the individual plants. The database is updated every hour.
ID Date/Time Air Temperature (Celsius) Air Humidity (%) Light (minutes of light and of sunshine) Irrigation water (liter)
Step 6: Main Processes
Updating the plant information
These processes are initiated and run by the user (client) and have two main purposes: initalizing the plantDatabase maintaining the plantDatabase
Monitoring the plants
These processes are run by the server and consist of two different types of processes: monitoring each plant, from plant to plant for each plant reading soil humidity
Controlling the plants
These processes are of two different types, automatic or manual. The user decides which type of control to use. automatic control reading plantDatabase for data on plant parameters reading actual soil humidity from plantInfo reading actual air humidity from gardenInfo. calculating need for water manual control reading input from user (plantId and need for water(minutes)) starting and stopping irrigation, each plant at a time
Controlling the water
These processes works partly as a security measure and as part of the irrigation controlling system. watering status, telling if main valve is open or closed - and how much water is actually pouring out to the plants watering stop and start, control of the main valve. When irrigating a plant both main valve and plant valve have to be opened and closed
These processes ensures that the plant readings and irrigation is recorded. GardenInfo is updated each hour. PlantInfo is updated each four hours.
Learning from data These processes prepare data for the user to be downloaded by the user and/or shown in graphical form using plantInfo/gardenInfo for a certain period based on input from user.
These processes reads data from OpenWeatherMap and contributes data to OpenWeaterMap.
Step 7: Plant Unit Cabinet and Main Components
Given the wet environment the plant unit has to be build into a water proof cabinet allowing for wifi connection.
This cabinet is made of three chambers to keep the water flow separated from the control flow. The right chamber contains the controlling units. The middle chamber the power supply and the left chamber the valve and connections to the irrigation system.
The cabinet measures app. 115 X 70 X 40 mm.
In the picture are shown the pump, battery, relay, wifi board and sensor as they are placed in the cabinet.
Step 8: The Irrigation System
The typical irrigation system of today for terraces and small gardens consists typically of the sprinklers/drippers, the tubes and an automated open and close valve.
This system ensures that watering is happening at the amount of water to the individual plant is controlled by the number of drippers to the individual plant. This control system is very simple.
The Mini Garden Grow supplies the plant with af box which is put on the tubes already existing. Therefore the Mini Garden Grow does not have to deal with watering in itself. It is just using the existing system and qualifying it by using a much more individualized and intelligent control system.
Step 9: Considerations on Price and Size of the Plant Unit
As the idea of the Mini Garden Grow is to put at plant unit i every important plant, it has to be fairly cheap. As a prototype the use of components has not been based on price but on availability and usability in the development process.
Plant unit Wifi board Used here:
NodeMCU (7.50 €)
Basic esp8266-12 2.50 €
Solenoid valve Used here: 6.50 € Cheapest price found 4.00 €
Relay Used here: 2.50 Made to system 1.00 €
Sensor Used here