Introduction: Hydrofarm / Planter

Hi there

We are a group of Industrial Design Engineering students. For our course of product engineering we had to make a open-ended-design low-end test set-up to plant corn salad. The test set-up needs to allow a research team to test three of the following variables: light, eclipse, root support and watering. We chose light, eclipse and watering to be our variables.
This instructable will show you how we did it.

Step 1: Materials and Tools


- 2 Leadscrew 50cm and nut M8

- Semi flexible motor coupling 5mm motor/ 8mm axis

- Lager axle mounting 8mm

- NEMA17 steppermotor

- Linear axis (hardened aluminum) 8x1000mm

- Linear ball bearings

- Guide belt

- Aquarium filter with water distributor

- Velux blackout

- Aluminium sheet material

- Steel box profile

- LED lamp

- Switch


- Welding machine

- Rivet pliers + rivets

- Drill

- Glue gun

- Grinding wheel

- Metal scissors bank

- Folding bench

- Hacksaw

- Vice

- Soldering iron

- 3D printer

Step 2: Virtual Hydrofarm

Our first action was to make our hydrofarm with Siemens NX. We did that because it gave us a good view how our planter will look like. The most important thing we used of our virtual planter was the drawing of the frame of our planter.

Step 3: Weld the Frame

The first step in the manufacturing proces is to make the frame. With the technical drawing of the frame in step 2 you have all the necessary dimensions you need to make the frame. You better ask to someone who welded before to help you with this.

Step 4: Attach the Lamp

To attach the lamp we made two corners, and then welded it in the right place in the frame. We provided a good finish with the grinding wheel. Thereafter we attach the lamp with two screws.

In one of the corners is also a stepper motor that drives the shaft for the plant level.

Step 5: Bottom Plate

The bottom plate on the frame is the plate on which the sliding blocks for the water container and the movement axes are attached. Cut the aluminum plate (400x1000mm) with the metal scissors bank.

Because the plate is aluminum and the frame is steel, you can't weld it. To attach the plate to the frame you will use the blind rivets. Use the drill to make holes in the plate and the frame, then use the rivet pliers and the blind rivets to connect the plate with the frame.

Step 6: Planting Platform

To make the planting platform (778x60x300mm) you will use the aluminum surplus.

First cut the aluminum with the metal scissors bank. Then folds the sides inwards, and make sure you have some extra material on the sides to connect them with each other. Use the drill and rivet pliers to connect the sides with each other succesfully. Now you have a bin, use the drill to make a grid of holes in the bottom of the bin so that the water can pass through.

Because you have to be able to adjust the height of the platform, there must be room to pierce the shafts. So both end should have connecting points. Make it of aluminum and use a triangular shape so it will be tight, then attach it to the platform with rivets. Make sure one of the two connection points is larger than the other so that you will have a large triangle between the shafts.

Step 7: Attach the Velux

To attach the velux to the frame, you have to make four connection points first. Make the connection points out of steel scraps so you can weld it on the frame. Drill two holes in each one of them so you can put the plastic pins of the velux through it. After you have done this, weld the connection points in the right spots of the frame and place the velux between them.

Now take the guides of the velux. Measure the distance between the velux and the transition point of the frame (transition from oblique to straight). Cut the guides to that length. Place the guides and use the glue gun to glue them to the frame.

Step 8: The Housing

To make the housing, use a aluminum plate. You don't need much instructions for this because you just need to fill in all the open spaces (NOT the top). Also make sure there is room for the water container (300x800x50mm), so that it can be slid in and out of the planter. Fix the aluminum housing to the frame with rivets.

For the top also use aluminum, but since the rest of the case is not removable, we decided to make the top cover so that it can open. Use a hinge to make sure you can open the top cover. If you can't make te top cover out of one piece, use rivets to connect the pieces with each other. Finally make a handle so you can easily open the lid at the top.


You can print a system that allows the lid to remain open.

Step 9: The Shafts

1. Drill holes in the connection points of the planting platform so that the shafts can pass through and the nut M8 can be attached to the connection points.

2. Fix one leadscrew to the smallest connection point and fix one leadscrew + the Linear axis to the other connection point.

3. Print two gears (for the guide belt) and put them on the leadscrews.

4. Now use steel scraps to make up for the shortage of the shafts so you can attach the shafts to the frame. Fix the steel scraps with rivets to the bottom plate.

5. place the belt around the gears.

The height of the planting platform can now be adjusted.

Step 10: Water Container

To make the water container you will need an aluminum plate.

1. Use the metal scissors bank to cut the plate (900x400mm).

2. Use the hacksaw to make four cuts (50mm) in the plate to allow the sides to bend inward.

3. Bend the sides (50mm) inward.

4. Connect the sides together using rivets.


You can add a handle to the water container.

5. Use silicone to make the water container waterproof.

Step 11: Electric Circuit

At least the electric circuit. Follow the electic circuit in the picture above.

Also you will need some more materials: three switches, circuit board, power wires and a distribution plug. You use the distribution plug so that you only have to put one plug in the socket to make your planter work. If you're not sure you're doing it right, ask someone who knows it and wants to help you.


You can print a picture indicating the position of your switch

Step 12: Final Result