Introduction: The Life Seeder - Make an Indoor Seed Starter

Picture of The Life Seeder - Make an Indoor Seed Starter

hello everybody,

in this instrucable I will be sharing with you my newest design, the life seeder.

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what? life seeder is a simple indoor seed starting machine. it has a basic frame with built-in lights and fans. it is completely adjustable as the plant grows, it can house up to 6inch plant pots. and has an operating height of 9inches above soil. so it can actually nurture a citrus / apple tree upto 8 months. but, if you choose to top your trees, it can easily nurture a mini indoor bonsai tree forever. don't forget that it is completely portable.!

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why? starting a tree outdoors has many risks and much harder. planting a tree outdoors that has been very well taken care of indoors has a much higher chance of survival. especially if we are working with fruit trees. although you can easily start any vegetable seeds with the life seeder. the advantages of outdoor cultivation is in most cases you have plenty of space, so you spread a whole bunch of seeds and then eventually thin them out. which in my mind has always been a wasteful act. so I decided to make seed starting a much easier/accurate operation.

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how? with 18x 1watt high power LEDs, the life seeder offers 160+Watts equivalent energy compared to a traditional light bulb. it also has the optimum color spectrum for planth growth. and with 900+ lumens just 0.5 inches above the plant assures very fast, stable and efficient growth.

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now you can pinpoint your tree growth, instead of spreading seeds all over the place. make better calculations for your future transplantings. and with the addition of a simple AC timer outlet, you can make it turn on automatically..! always wanted to grow a tree at home? did you think it was hard, and that you can't be successful? with the life seeder, you are in safe hands.!

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please check out my profile to get familiar with many other horticulture related products, such as;

The Plant Arm

The Plant Shelf

The Plant Health Monitor

Step 1: Frame

Picture of Frame

for the frame we will be needing;

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1x perforated metal hanger ( a good amount, just get a roll for $2.50, it will last you 4-5 projects )

1x wooden plank cut to size

1x large L bracket for back support

1x wine cork ( for bottom legs to level it / smooth cushioned surface )

10x nuts and bolts ( small enough to fit into the small wholes on the perforated metal hanger )

6x tiny nails ( to secure plants pots in place )

2x screws

4x aluminium bars ( you can find these in the aluminium duct work section in the hardware store, .99cents/each )

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first layout your larger plant pots that you would like to use eventually, once the plant grows bigger. make markings on a wooden board and cut it.

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second secure the back support L bracket, this will carry the lights/fans

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now i want to invite you to use your own imagination/creativity. first look at the designs I have mentioned in the previous step, this will give you a broader idea on how you can bend, adjust and use this incredible metal. all you have to do is to make an adjustable flat surface and connect it to the back supporting L bracket, that's it..! it is much simpler than it looks.

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next we have the electrical connections..>

Step 2: Electrical

Picture of Electrical

for the electrical work we will need;

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2x DC computer fans ( thrift store )

1x DC adapter for the fans ( thrift store )

18x 1W high power led.s ( ebay )

1x LED driver ( ebay )

1x AC cable

1x 4-pin molex or usb male/female connectors ( optional, only if you want to be able to dismount the lights )

1x metal epoxy ( to glue the lights to the bars )

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fans;

fans are connected in parallel. keeping the voltage same but adding up the mA. so first locate your fans and look at their power requirements. mine were 12V each and 480mA, so I have to find an adapter 12V and upto 960mA - i was easily able to locate a 12v, 1000mA adapter for just $1. and old phone charger. fans can be found inside old computer cases. they usually always have 2 fans in them... now that your fans are wired, go ahead and choose a nice spot above the lights and secure them with the perforated metal.

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lights;

now we get into very simple schematics & math. first decide about how many LEDs you want per plant. I decided to make 4 individual light bars with 4 LEDs each on them. we have to know this number first so that we can calculate the power requirements of the LED driver. this is how you do it;

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- first we need to figure out how many led's you want to use. depending on this answer we will calculate the required voltage and get the correct led driver.

. search on ebay for 1W 430nm / 1W 660nm / 1W cool white / 1W warm white LEDs. you will get many results from many trusted sellers. get as many as you want. these are all sold in bulk. usually $9 for 20, or sometimes much cheaper. . in my case i have put together 4 light bars, each consisting of;

1x 430nm = 3.4/3.6V

1x 660nm = 2.5/2.7V

1x cool white = 3.2/3.6V

1x warm white = 3.2/3.6V

so each bar is minimum 12.3/13.3V. I have them connected 2 in series and then 2 in parallel. so the final answer is;

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totaling; 24.6V minimum, 26.6V maximum @ 700mA (350x2 because of parallel connection)

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- this is the number we need. all the voltage specs above are always mentioned by the seller so you can calculate all of this before buying anything, very important !also to look for under the specs is the mA rating. i believe that all 1W high power leds are 350mA and there are hundres of drivers on ebay for this setting.

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now search on ebay; " 700ma led driver " as the results show up you will see the voltage rating, look for something that is able to provide 27V or more but @700mA. they have voltage regulators so you can use a higher voltage driver, it is the mA that matters.

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that was the hardest part to this entire project. once you calculate one you will see how easier it actually is..! please don't hesitate to ask me any specific questions you may have, or if confused about a part.

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now your life seeder is ready to planted. remember to add an automatic AC timer outlet. make sure you connect it to both the fans and lights so they turn on/off at the same time as one unit..!

Step 3: Conclusion & Upgrades / Version 1&2 Comparison

Picture of Conclusion & Upgrades / Version 1&2 Comparison

i am planning on using this to start citrus trees indoors. i may make another one for apples tho. it is very powerful and efficient. very easy to adjust to changing circumstances but since we are talking about making growing a safer act, then I have to upgrade with the plant health monitor.!

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at first I started doing a single bar, no fan option. but since the frame ended up being large enough to house an actual indoor small tree i decided to double the lights and add fans to make it more powerful. there is no other technology that provides such intense light exposure at this little distance (only 0.5"inches above the leaves, absolutely cool to touch).

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I have ordered an arduino nano and an LCD display module. I will be upgrading this product with the plant arm and the plant health monitor as soon as the parts arrive. this way I will be able to save very important internal growth data and view over-time growth as a movie and/or chart.

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I am planning on giving the trees away as I get them old and strong enough since I have very limited space in my apartment. try making one today and start the next gardening year one step ahead.!

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please remember to subscribe to stay in the loop. i very actively update my projects. also vote for any of them that you like..!

love & peace

akin,

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*enjoy

Comments

Akin Yildiz (author)2016-02-12

its very unlikely that the switch is not working, but maybe try connecting everything without the switch and see if the lights turn on.?

Akin Yildiz (author)2016-02-03

that's weird. everything looks like connected correctly. which leaves me to think that it is the driver. i'm wondering why the driver says 3W on it, it maybe for 3W LEDs because the current is also 700mA, which is the current for 3W leds. these shouldn't matter tho because you are still in the limits of the voltage requirements.
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my best answer is because the driver doesn't support this wiring somehow, and also maybe your batteries are not fully charged.? do you have a multimeter. you should test the voltage readings from the driver input and output..

Akin Yildiz (author)2016-02-01

can you show me a picture of your LED driver. i believe what is happening is that your driver is AC to DC driver. and you are trying to power it up with a DC battery. this option will work but you will need the right driver. this is why I need to know what driver you are using. can you please share a link/picture.

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you also need to explain your wiring. are they in series, the batteries and the lights. i need more info

MadMuz (author)2014-11-01

Cheers Akin. I tried to do a multi coloured 4 led array off a 1.4A usb port, but had trouble with different colours in parallel. Any how ordered a few of those meanwells, and so the waiting game begins..

Akin Yildiz (author)MadMuz2014-11-06

hey MadMuz, I just saw this comment, sorry for the late reply. i won't get notifications sometimes.. anyhow, yes different colors with the usb won't work. you will never be able to exactly match the voltages. a 430nm LED is usually 3.7V and a 660nm is 2.5V - they will always be above 5V of USB. just by coincidence in life, 660nm LEDs are 2.5V and 350mA, which is perfect for usb ports, which provide 5V. so everytime you connect 2x 1W 660nm in series you will get 5V @350mA. this will connect directly to any laptop. but will provide you with only 2Watts of lighting. which is about 20W incandescent, still not bad. however, if you make two of these 2W modules, you can then connect these modules in parallel, so we have, 2x 2W 5V@350mA LEDs in parallel = 4W 5V@700mA. and if like you've said, your USB port is 1400mA. you can add 2 more ending with, 8W 5V@1400mA and this little light will equal to roughly to 80W incandescent. you can keep a single plant alive forever with this much light, if you are keeping it small as well, everything angled correctly. eventhough I have many examples of USB led light sources, this is still not the safest way to operate things. an led driver is superior, in performance as well especially.

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one more thing, 4x 1W LEDs as close to each other as they are in your picture above, will create a good amount of heat. i'm sure you can feel it from the top. I like your metal frame, it looks thicker than the ones I normally use. can you tell me how thick that is, and also what it is called. I've never seen it in my hardware store before. the metal bars I am using on this post are quite thick and heavy, much more than your setup. you can make a very cool and tiny setup if you want to use these amazing DC fans.

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thank you for sharing your pictures. keep them coming, I also like how organized the cables are. those tiny LEDs are strong, aren't they..!

MadMuz (author)2014-11-03

Heres what i threw together while i wait for my PSUs to arrive. Thanks again for the pointers. Looking forward to expanding on this

Akin Yildiz (author)MadMuz2014-11-03

very nice sir, i really like it. how many leds are there, more than 4?

MadMuz (author)Akin Yildiz2014-11-06

Thx, bah only four. Limited by the fact my usb outlets only put out 1.4A @5v. Also upon more research Ive read that without at least the blue spectrum. I wont be able to sprout seeds. Does that sound about right?

Akin Yildiz (author)MadMuz2014-11-06

if your USB indeed is 1.4A then you can add more !! you just have to do 2x 1W 660nm in series first, totaling to 5V @350mA and then you can connect 4 of these 2 LED modules in parallel, upto 4 of them. so you would have exactly 4x 5V @350mA in parallel = 5V @1400mA. totaling to 8 LEDs. I would only do this with a computer USB tho, not a wall charger.
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the blue light theory has to be explained a bit more. maybe this will help. first of all, no plant needs light to sprout,. the terminology here is wrong. plants sprout in darkness from seed under soil. once they break the surface, now they are in the "vegetative stage", first being seedlings. technically this stage requires more of the blue spectrum instead of red. however, plants are masters at adapting to changing/extreme conditions. they will grow under even only red light from seedling in every chance. they won't choose a certain spectrum when it is for survival. but since our goal is to imitate nature as best as we can, one should use 3:1 ratio of blue to red at this point (3x 430nm - cool white (5000+K) and 1x 430nm - warm white - (2700K) ). the sun doesn't even shine just 1 spectrum of color. there is always a blend. also different plants require different everything (light,water,temp). I have grown many different genres using just 1 spectrum each time (only red, only blue). it will always work. you will always get tomatoes. I've never done a side to side comparison as to taste or yield, quality? but to the eye it will look the same. if one had to choose only one spectrum of light, it will probably always be in the red spectrum as this is what starts the flowering stage in most plants. if your end goal is to flower a plant, 660nm from birth will work flawlessly. the more the spectrum the better it is. plant's won't really waste any of it.

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p.s. you don't have to have the lights on if the seed hasn't sprouted yet. it won't go through the soil anyways. the important thing to focus here is to make sure to be around exactly when the plant breaks surface for the first time. if at this moment you forget to keep the lights on, the seedling will grow skinny, tall and weak. always falling down and requiring excess space. so make sure to check the surface of soil every 12 hrs to make sure nothing came out yet. always keep the soil moist, especially the top surface. you can even loosely cover the surface with plastic wrap, this will create a greenhouse effect and make sure the seed doesn't dry out.

MadMuz (author)2014-10-07

Hey Akin
You couldnt link me to ya led driver on ebay? Iam having trouble finding drivers at 27+v @700ma for less than 50 bucks which kinda defeats the point..

Akin Yildiz (author)MadMuz2014-10-07
Akin Yildiz (author)2014-09-09

if you liked this post, make sure to check out my other plant care products..

thank you for your interest, have a nice day !!

mastersoncraft (author)2014-07-27

Hey I love this project. You've done an excellent job with the build and I like the idea of getting the seeds started inside. Much more controllable.

thank you very much.!! I am trying to set up an experiment to share with everyone how well it works. I am really amazed and still to this day using it. i hope to update this post soon.

Nice, I've been trying start seeds forever but where I live in San Francisco is always too cold and foggy :(

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Bio: Please support & share our mission; http://igg.me/at/smartplants . the Plant Doctor is a non-profit, open source online research laboratory specializing in electronics+plants. Our vision is ... More »
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