Make Your Own Hydrofarm Test Enclosure

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Introduction: Make Your Own Hydrofarm Test Enclosure

Hi, we are Seppe, Mehdi & Meerten, 3 Industrial Product Design students at Howest in Kortrijk, Belgium.

One of our assignments was to create a test enclosure for hydrofarming, titled the IDC-Planter, for which we would like to share the instructions on how to make one for yourself.

This test enclosure lets you adjust:

  • Light intensity
  • Humidity
  • Ventilation
  • Blocking of light

Supplies

Materials:

  • Green MDF (18mm thick)
  • Plastic bin (no lid needed)
  • Door hinges
  • 2 door handles
  • 2 door magnets
  • Screws (3.9x35)
  • Substrate

Electronics:

  • Nebulizer/Humidifier
  • 80mm case fan
  • Dimmer
  • 2 on/off switches
  • Transformer
  • 230V plug
  • Cable
  • Lamp (Ø30mmx780mm)

Tools:

  • Panel saw or table saw
  • Jigsaw
  • Hacksaw
  • Drill with Ø3 & Ø10 drill bits
  • Flathead and Phillips screwdrivers or impact driver
  • 3D-printer or lasercutter

Step 1: Cutting the Panels

The first step is cutting all the green MDF panels to size in order to assemble the enclosure.

Included is an image of all the panels (and sizes) that will be needed for the project. 3 additional smaller panels will be needed after assembling the electronics, you will have to decide what the right dimensions are to fit your particular components.

All panels were cut using a panel saw.

Step 2: Adding the Cutouts

In order to mount the case fan and allow ventilation you will need to make a cutout on each side panel. The side panels are 500mmx480mm. At the end we will add covers to these cutouts.

Mark a rectangle of 94mmx178mm on one side panel, and a square of 80mmx80mm on the other, each about 180mm from the bottom of the 480mm wide side (check the the panel layout for reference).

Drill a hole in one of the corners of the rectangle/square and then cut the rest out using a jigsaw.

Step 3: Assembling the Enclosure

It's now time to start mounting the panels. Mark and pre-drill some holes for the screws to go in. In our case we marked a hole 50mm from each end and one in the middle. Make sure to mark them 9mm from the edge so that they line up with the middle of the panels' edges/sides.

The smaller pieces (30mmx462mm) will be used as guides/rails for the plastic bin so you will have to measure and mount these next to both sides of your bin.

For the doors we mounted 2 hinges on either door approx. 50mm from the top and bottom.

We mounted the lamp approx. 30mm from the top, the lamp fits right in between the sides of the enclosure and will have to be mounted using 2 M3 bolts for which you will need to drill a hole in either side.

It is best to use a drill bit that is slightly smaller than your screws. In our case we used 3.9x35 Phillips head screws so we went with a Ø3mm drill bit.

To mount the screws you could use a screwdriver or impact driver.

Step 4: Assembling the Electronics

It is now time to start assembling and test-fitting the electronics. If you are making use of a transformer you will be able to connect all other components (fan, lamp & nebulizer/humidifier), this also means that you will only need one cord/plug.

The lamp's cable will have to be connected to the dimmer, which then goes to the transformer. We will add a switch to both the nebulizer/humidifier and the fan.

It is best to use a set of cutters, strippers and a soldering iron. If you do not have a soldering iron or would like to avoid using one you could twist the cables together and use heatshrinks, or you could use cable connectors.

After all that is done, find a good place to mount everything and either build a small enclosure or tape everything down.

Step 5: Printing

We decided to print both the fan/ventilation covers and the substrate holder/assembly. Alternatively these parts would also be able to be lasercut except for the risers and feet, which could be made out of round stock.

The following STL files have been included:

  • Fan_Cover_v1 - A cover for the case fan
  • Intake_Cover_v1 - A cover for the passive/large ventilation cutout
  • Substraat_Plaat - A plate/grid to mount the substrate between, 2 are needed
  • Substraat_Tussenstuk - A small riser between the plates, 4 are needed
  • Substraat_Voet - Feet for the substrate holder, 4 are needed

Step 6: Finishing Touches

Now that the enclosure is assembled, works and you've printed your final parts it is time to add the finishing touches.

For ease of use we mounted simple door handles to the doors of the enclosure. To ensure that these sat closed we mounted magnets to the top of the doors and the enclosure.

We gave everything a coat of black paint in order to make the enclosure as dark as possible and avoid any unwanted light or reflections.

And that's it! You are now ready to start experimenting with hydrofarming.

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