Instructables

The Hydroponic, Automated, Networking, Climate Controlled Greenhouse Project Update (July 22, 2012)

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This is a quick update to show what I've accomplished so far in the construction of my greenhouse. As usual I'm far behind schedule mainly due to weather, landscaping projects, work, etc. It's hard to find the time right now to write full instructables on my projects with the level of detail that I try to provide. I expect to have the hydroponics system as well as the climate control equipment installed and in working order just in time for the end of the growing season :( The programming however, is waaaaay over my head for the moment and I believe I'll be working on that all winter long.

I will try to make another one of these update slideshows in 1-2 months when I hopefully have a lot more done. Shortly after that I will try to write detailed instructables on how I did it all. Please subscribe to stay tuned.

I hope I've provided enough information in the details of the photographs. As always, if you have any questions, comments or constructive criticism I'd be happy to hear it. Thanks for looking!
brad.gee.563 months ago

Very nice work. how have you come along with the programming? I am a C++ developer and just about to embark on a similar project myself. Im intrigued as to why you used those large relays when you have 16 available rated at 10A/250V AC? Also, what is the item next to the large relays in the middle of the unit? Couldn't figure that one out :)

EcoMotive (author)  brad.gee.563 months ago

Hi. Because of time and budget issues and because of an epiphany that simpler is better I have abandoned this project in favor of a passive solar greenhouse. I recently bought a large lot of land in the country and will eventually build a homestead and move there.

The reason I used the large relays instead of the ones built into the blue board is that the blue board is not UL listed or CSA approved and I don't trust them with 120 VAC. Instead, the blue board relays are used to switch the 12VDC coil on the larger relays which are UL listed.

That small green thing that you asked about is another relay. It's used to activate the big motor contactor beside it. The motor contactor has a 120VAC coil so again, I didn't trust those blue board relays with 120VAC so the blue board relays activate the small green realy which activates the motor contactor.

Hope this helps! Let me know if you have any more questions and good luck on your project.

Thanks for the info, I can see the logic behind using more heavy duty relays now. ah, thats a shame to hear you've dropped the project. Well if you need any help with that kind of programming feel free to drop me a message in the future

R-A6 months ago

Hi,

I'm quite interested in your greenhouse project and have a question for which I can't seem to get a clean answer.

Where do you place the temperature sensor, inside the greenhouse? And how do you protect it from the sun, and moisture / wind?

i.e. how do you know the temperatures reported are accurate, and not affected by the elements?

EcoMotive (author)  R-A6 months ago

I mounted my interior temperature sensor in the center of the greenhouse. That way it isn't affected by any false temperature reading that could occur near the exterior walls and especially the door.

It's mounted at the same height as the white PVC pipes that the plants sit in. In case there is any temperature stratification in the greenhouse the sensor gives the reading from the same level as the plants which is the most important. However, a circulation fan in the greenhouse prevents temperature stratification.

There is also a plywood "awning" that is mounted over the temperature sensor that shields it from direct sunlight and prevents any false temperature readings that way.

Thanks for your questions.

R-A EcoMotive6 months ago

Thanx for the reply. I'm having some troubles with my temperature sensors, inside the greenhouse and suspect it's because it's "wide open". Would you mind showing me a closup of your sensor and it's enclosure?

EcoMotive (author)  R-A3 months ago

Hi. sorry for the late reply. The thermostats were taken down a while ago and I can't seem to find a picture of it anywhere. I've included a picture of the "awning" that the thermostats were mounted under and a picture of the thermostats themselves.

They can both be wired to be heating or cooling thermostats depending on what way you wire them. I had one wired to activate a heater when the temperature got too low and the other one activated the ventilation fans when the temperature got too high. There is an opening at the top to connect a PVC conduit and I fished the Arduino temperature sensor wire through one of the conduits and just let it hang inside the thermostat enclosure (in addition to the wires for the thermostat itself).

I have all of that stuff taken apart now as I've abandoned the project to build a passive solar greenhouse on my new property. A passive solar greenhouse is what I would recommend to you if you live in a cold climate. Also, the "awning" pictured is facing East in the picture. You should face yours North so that it does not receive any direct sunlight and throw off your temperature measurements.

Again, sorry for the late reply and I hope this helps. Let me know if you have any other questions.

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jdunlap86 months ago

Your green house project has inspired me to do one of my own. I've been looking into hydroponic urban farming for quit sometime. I'm most interested in your Automated, Networking, Controlled box. Wanted to know if you have a wiring schematic with a in depth parts listing and diagram for your completed box?

EcoMotive (author)  jdunlap86 months ago

I'm sorry I do not have a wiring diagram of the control panel at the present time other than some rough sketches that I have drawn. The control panel is not as complicated as it looks. If you're familiar with general wiring, circuits and relays then it's pretty easy. The hard part is figuring out what components to select based on voltage, current and temperature limitations according to the National Electrical Codebook.

If you want to build an automated greenhouse my official recommendation is to buy an off the shelf controller and use that. There are websites that specialize in such equipment. You'll save a lot of money, time and frustration. You'll have more flexibility in your design as well.

Thanks for your comments.

gnewton10 months ago

I was wondering if you can provide an in-depth guide of how you made this complete with wiring diagram. only the arduino side of things.

gnewton10 months ago

I was wondering if you can provide an in-depth guide of how you made this complete with wiring diagram.

diy_bloke1 year ago
impressive. But I agree with Samw, that seems like a lot of hardware for a small greenhouse :-) I think out local powerplant has less :-)
Still, I love yr plants
Samw1 year ago
Love to see where this is at. Seems like a lot of controls for such a small greenhouse. I've seen industrial setups with less than this. Do you think it will be feasible in regards to cost saving in energy reduction?
EcoMotive (author)  Samw1 year ago
Hi. Thanks you your interest. Unfortunately I have not made much progress on my greenhouse project since this update. I have a bunch of other stuff I have to take care of around the house and this has sort of been put on the backburner. I'm hoping to have it fully functional by the beginning of next year's growing season. As for the feasibility of this project there isn't much. I only built this greenhouse as a hobby and for the "cool" factor. I don't expect it to pay for itself. However, I may be able to add enough insulation and thermal mass to get it to passively keep warm enough to grow greens all year long. Depending on the cost of food (which is constantly rising) I may get a ROI on it. Thanks for your comment.
zealroy1 year ago

Cant wait to see the whole outcome of the project. :)
smokie19692 years ago
Love this 100x!!! Just curious with yr fans....will they both be extraction fans or will one work in reverse to provide fresh air in? Cant wait to see this completed! Its SO inspiring :-)))
EcoMotive (author)  smokie19692 years ago
Hi thank you for your interest. The two fans you see with the grey grilles are both extration fans. The fresh air will come from two doors in the roof that will open or shut automatically when the fans are activated. Stay tuned for more updates hopefully in a few more weeks.
koegies2 years ago
I am blown away with this project. We are desperately looking for an alternative climate control system for our business. The commercial products are too expensive and the uses are limited, definately not value for money. This is exactly what we are looking for. I am also looking for someone who can make a climate control system. You should definately work on an instructable for this project. Or perhaps just share what you've got with the rest of us. Well done. This is impressive.
toadsmash2 years ago
This is very intriguing. This seems like something I will try to do after I graduate from pharmacy school. Is there anyway that you could create an instructable about this whole project between now and six years (because that's when I hopefully graduate :)?
haszto2 years ago
Can you tell us how you built the box holding all the components. I can find the Bud box and it looks like you are using DIN rails to mount all the components. I can't figure out what you are using for the cable management surrounding the 3 sections in the box, or how they are mounted to the box.
I would like to use a similar box design for another project with different components.
Thanks
EcoMotive (author)  haszto2 years ago
The box is a polycarbonate NEMA 4X enclosure built by Bud Industries. I ordered it from digikey.ca for about $250. All of the components are mounted to a backplane made of 16 gauge galvanized sheet metal. The backplane mounts to a set of raised mounting bosses inside the enclosure.
You are correct that I am using 35mm DIN rail to mount most of the devices. The cable managment is "wire duct" or more commonly called "Panduit" because Panduit is the name of the company that makes it. I bought the DIN rail and the Panduit for a very good price at elecdirect.com The DIN rail and Panduit are mounted to the backplane with sheet metal screws. There is a good video on YouTube about building an enclosure such as this. Here is the link http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ERLkFat_FTA&feature=plcp
I hope this helps, if you have any more questions I'll be happy to hear them.
Thanks, so much, for the reply. I checked out the elecdirect.com site and searched for Panduit and got back "no matches". I assume you are using the product called wide finger, wire duct on the site (it looks like your pictures). What size are you using, I'm guessing the "1x2 1/4".

The youtube video was very helpful, thanks.
EcoMotive (author)  haszto2 years ago
I am using the narrow finger stuff. It's 1' by 2 1/4' like you said. The specific part number is S2560C. You can enter the part number in a search bar in the top right of the home page. I just noticed that there is now a minumim order of five pieces. When I ordered it back in January I only ordered two. Thanks for your interest and good luck.
SinAmos2 years ago
You are nutz, and I love it.
mtebert2 years ago
At first I thought I was going to be able to replicate this instructable at my own house. But unfortunately that one nema 4x enclosure with all the equipment mounted into it is well beyond my budget. You must have a ton of money or a very cheap supplier for all the AB equipment mounted in that baby. I know that stuff isn't cheap. Amazing work though wish I could pull it off at my house. Keep on posting :)
EcoMotive (author)  mtebert2 years ago
I get most of my stuff from digikey.ca or techspan.ca. No it's not cheap but I spend a little bit at a time and it all adds up slowly. I dont make a ton of money but I have little expenses. I built my house with my own two hands and I saved about $150 000 in labour so my mortgage payment is miniscule, my car burns about $20 in gas per week, my wife does the extreme coupon thing, a portion of my home heating is from solar hot water, etc. When this project is finished I'll likely have sunk $5000 into it but the way I look at it is most people who make just as much or even less money as me drop twice as much money into an RV or a snowmobile, or a boat, or an ATV or a sports car . Then their purchase costs them even more money in insurance payments, gasoline, repairs, parts, and the need for things like trailers and storage space. As for me, I would be suprosed if I didnt save at least a couple hundred dollars a year in food costs while enjoying fresh fruits and vegetables. There may even be a return of investment period on this thing, who knows? I plan to record the quantities of food I produce each year and tally up the total retail price of what I grow. Also, it's possible and even quite easy to replicate what I've done without spending a lot of money. Thank you for your comment.
I really like your rationale for this...seems logical and energy friendly. I am really looking forward to seeing the full instructable once it is done. I want to do this very badly so I need your parts list :) I don't have a lot of expenses either as far as mortgage and fuel--I didn't build my house but I do all my own upgrades/repairs and such. I love the idea of year round fresh fruits and veggies and so does my family. Also I love the small footprint of your greenhouse and the yield that it will produce with minimal gardening needs (ie weeding and bugs). Anyway Lance I always enjoy your stuff and I voted for you to win something here on the site.
Browncoat2 years ago
You might try entering this in the Water Challenge.
http://www.instructables.com/id/Summer-Water-Challenge/
The above images are good and interesting. Recently, I came to know about new hydroponics grow lights in the following article, can anyone say how much it is useful for hydroponics plants? - http://www.rosebudmag.com/growers/hydroponics-grow-lights-hid-digital-ballasts