Introduction: Hydrosys4 - Connected Automatic Irrigation System

The Hydrosys4 is a hobbyist project based on the raspberry PI3 (but it also works for the RPi0W). I decided to start it because I could not find a proper irrigation system for my balcony and terrace plants, the system then evolved to include quite many features. (details can be found in the Hydrosys4 project site)

The Hydrosys4 is basically a very precise irrigation system with a nice web interface, it currently includes the following functions:

  • Precise irrigation timing (order of seconds), Monthly irrigation scheduling, conditional irrigation based on the temperature and humidity
  • Control up to 16 irrigation lines
  • Possibility to schedule fertilization cycles using liquid fertilizer
  • Sensor data collection:
    • Temperature
    • Soil moisture (up to 6 independent probes)
    • Light intensity
    • Atmospheric pressure
    • Air Humidity
  • Remote access to the system via Wifi connection and internet connection
  • Email notifications and alerts
  • Connection to webcam (up to 4 USB camera) + raspicam to remotely check your plants, schedule of daily pictures.
  • Support for servo motor to be used together with webcam to control the webcam/raspicam direction.
  • Steaming video

The system software is written in python. The hardware is based on raspberry pi3/pi0w plus some additional optional hardware as explained in the hardware section of the hydrosys4 project site. The system includes a web server running on the raspberry using flask and tornado which provides a web interface that is accessible by wifi or LAN. All hardware and software is open source.

Project background:
Back to the beginning, I love to grow plants in my house I found it to be a very relaxing activity, but I have two problems; I do not have a piece of land so I plant everything in pots (pots need very careful water management), I travel very often and cannot take everyday care of the plants. I approached the problem as an engineer and I shortly realized that the economic commercial irrigation systems are too rough for the pot irrigation and most of the time my balcony and terrace were flooded with water. I required more precise control of the timing and the amount of water, moreover it was nice to have some remote control and notification system with pictures of my plants to be accessible when I was travelling.

Step 1: Installing the SW on the Raspberry Pi

The Hydrosys4 is a SW for the raspberry 3 (and RPi0W) which supports several connected hardware configurations. For a first evaluation, it is anyway possible to test the system user interface and the available functions just using the raspberry pi hardware and SD card.

Fast installation: download the SD image (for SD cards equal or larger than 4 GB) from this link: Hydrosys4 SD image

restore the SD image on the SD card, insert it on the raspberry and power on.

How to Reach the system interface
Now that you have the SD card loaded with the Hydrosys4 SW, it is time to power on the Raspberry PI3 . After few seconds the system will be loaded and if everything has gone right you should be able to see a new WiFi network generated by the RPI3 which can act as access point.

Below the name and password of wifi network

  • Name of the network: hydrosys4
  • password: hydrosystem

NOTE: Sometimes the first connection is not successful and the WiFi shows invalid password. If this happen, just wait for 30 seconds and try to connect again. This behavior happen only during the first connection, next connections will just work fine.

Once the network is connected, open any web browser and type the URL as follow:

Great, now the hydrosys4 web interface should be up on your smartphone or PC. (it is suggested to save this URL in the favorite for future reference)

Now enter the default username and password:

  • username: admin
  • password: default

It is recommended to change the login password.

If you want to know more about the interface and functions, you can visit the following link:

Hydrosys4 project

Step 2: Hardware Setting

Hardware description

  • The Hydrosystem hardware is based on the raspberry pi3 and raspberry zero W.
  • The user interface is based on web server hosted on the raspberry itself. Wifi is mandatory for the system to work.
  • Hardware can be equipped to have an hardware Clock, Temperature, humidity sensors etc. These sensors are not mandatory but it is recommended to include at least the DHT22 for humidity and temperature measurement.
  • Electrical Relay are required to manage the actuators. In my implementation I used only 12V actuators as valves, pumps etc. (Which happen to be cheaper than the 24V commonly used for irrigation)
  • The project is designed to be cheap, save money as much as possible and still reach the target.
  • The SW is open source hopefully everybody can contribute to it.
  • For the remote access, there is no external server, connection is made directly to the raspberry server.

Minimal hardware Setting

To test the hydrosys4 system you only require the raspberry pi3 (or the raspberry pi zero W)

With the minimal hardware configuration you can have a look at the interface and evaluate the Software.

If you have a Usb webcam, then try to connect to the USB of RPI.

Full hardware Setting

The full hardware and schematics supported by the system are described in the following link:

Hydrosys4 Hardware

Step 3: The Real Hardware: Pipes, Valves, Sprinklers

To find the right material for the hydraulic system is not often easy, anyway after some research on internet I found the right items, assembling the hydraulic part was easier than I though as shown in the pictures.

Regarding the 12v valves I found on ebay quite cheap valves with price of about 5 eur, working at 12V DC.