Introduction: Computer Aided Plant Care System

About: Please support and share our mission; the Plant Doctor is a non-profit, open source online research laboratory specializing in electronics+plants. Our vision is to bring together nature and technology in a sim…

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UPDATE 10/25/2014:Planterbot-The-Plant-Monitoring-Robot/ ( big thanks to appleman123987 !!! )


this is an update to my previous post, "easy & cheap auto-grow system" - which didn't have the computer on it yet (please read as well to get up to speed)



in this instructable I will be sharing with you how to put together a computer aided plant care system. the system is very simple in nature. it has a light sensor, a temperature sensor and soil water level sensor. the values are collected by arduino and displayed on the LCD screen.


if all sensors are normal;

a status green led blinks every 5 seconds indicating the plant is alive & healthy.

if light source is cut off, the yellow led stays on

if temperature gets too high/low, the red led stays on

if water level is too low, the blue led stays on, disabling the green blink.


you do not need prior gardening experience to keep plants alive anymore..! this small system can be attached to any existing plant pot and pretty much grow a plant on it's own. and as you use the device, you actually end up learning how plants grow and become an expert gardener in no time.!


the system is also safe, solder-free (non toxic) to accommodate any age group that wants to learn how electronics work, how to build circuits and code/program a computer. which means that you also do not need prior electrical experience. color coded cables, snap in/out cables and visual step by step tutorial turns the whole process into a game like environment.


for this experiment I am growing a citrus tree from seed.


let's build..!

Step 1: Parts + Plant Doctor Upgrade


1x NTC + 1x LDR + 1x soil probes

2x 10K + 1x 10 ohm resistors

1x microcontroller (arduino uno) + 2x mini breadboard

1x 16x2 LCD

jumper cables

1x 10k potentiometer


optional plant doctor upgrade

4x 3mm leds (R, G, B, Y)

4x 220 ohm resistors.


planned upgrade is a wireless module with SD card so the system can e-mail the user when any of the sensors are triggered, it can also collect data on the cloud.


I am also about to upgrade the system with a camera module, so it can take pictures of growth and upload it to the cloud. so I can watch the plant grow in a time-lapse movie. stay tuned as this is still in the works..

Step 2: Frame

you can find here the original box frame for the pot and lights - no computer design


I started by cutting a hole for the breadboard of the LCD screen. if you cut an exact size hole, both the screen and the breadboard will be secured tightly and sit on there without needing any other tools.


I then secured the arduino on the other side of the frame and added another breadboard in the middle


Now that everything is secured in place, we can start the wiring. don't worry it is much simpler and easier to do than it looks :)


Step 3: Electronics + Code


take your time and slowly wire everything as noted here. if you use female to male & male to male jumper cables, the entire project can be done without the need of soldering. you can also use light module, temperature module and water module.


VSS on LCD to 3rd leg of potentiometer

VDD on LCD to 1st leg of potentiometer

V0 on LCD to middle leg of potentiometer

RS on LCD to D12 on arduino

RW on LCD to 3rd leg of potentiometer

E on LCD to D11 on arduino

D4 on LCD to D5 on arduino

D5 on LCD to D4 on arduino

D6 on LCD to D3 on arduino

D7 on LCD to D2 on arduino

A on LCD to D13 on arduino

K on LCD to GND on arduino

connect the 1st leg of potentiometer to 5V on arduino

connect the 3rd leg of potentiometer to GND on arduino


sensors; (please check out the sensory device post for more in-depth understanding)

one leg of the LDR light sensor goes to 5V , the other first to A2 and then to GND with 1x 10K ohm resistor on the arduino

one leg of the NTC temperature sensor goes to 5V, the other first to A1 and then to GND with 1x 10 ohm resistor on the arduino

one leg of the Soil Probes goes to 5V, the other first to A0 and then to GND with 1x 10K ohm resistor on the arduino nano.


notification LEDs; (please check out the sensory device post for more in-depth understanding)

connect all the - negative legs of the LEDs together and then to GND on arduino

connect 1x 220 ohm resistor to the + positive leg of each LED seperately and then connect them to:

D9 on arduino - blue led / water

D8 on arduino - red led / temperature

D7 on arduino - yellow led / sun

D6 on arduino - green led / health


upload code; the code can be adjusted specifically to any type/strain of plant. since different plants need different amount of water/light/temperature requirements. ask me if you need help with this.


first test

** adjust the potentiometer by turning it left/right if you don't see characters on the LCD screen first **

Step 4: Conclusion

please vote for me at microcontrollers and tech contests (top right corner of this page).


it was 6 months ago when I learned about instructables. at this time I had never heard of arduino, didn't know how to code or build circuits. basically I had no idea about electronics and how they worked. Now I am convinced that one can learn ANYTHING from this webpage. if not in one specific post, a combination of many great ones will teach you everything that you need to know to bring your dream to reality. and if that isn't helpful enough, you can always ask questions to the authors..!!


if you are new to electronics and microcontrollers, here are some great articles to get started; (arduino) (basic electronics - circuits) (leds) (arduino) (LCD monitor tutorial) (gardening + arduino = garduino projects)


if you have any specific questions regarding this post, please comment below or message me. I will get back to you within the same day.!


thank you for your interest, please remember to subscribe and check out my other plant care instruments.


love & peace


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