Introduction: Self Sustaining Plant Chamber

High School Entry

Box- The box is a place for the plants to grow. It is a 50cm^3 box containing multiple fans for cooling, temperature programming, plumbing and lights to allow it grow in space.

Tools and Supplies- Squaring sheer, C clamp, spot welder, tape measure, pan and box, ball peen hammer, hot glue gun, solder, wire cutters, multi meter, solder wick, flux, sheet metal, aluminum foil backed fiberglass insulation, Arduino mini, LED lights, PVC piping, Temperature and humidity sensor, moisture sensor, pH sensor, LCD screen, water pump, rock wool, Hydro Gro, pH buffer, electrical conductivity meter.

Step 1: Sheet Metal

We are building the box out of sheet metal because it would be more durable than other materials would be.

Tools and supplies- We used the squaring shear to measure out the proper length and width for the base and sides of the box. We used the clamp to hold the walls steady while we spot welded. We used the spot welder to combine the walls to the base. We used the tape measure to measure the length of the walls. We used the pan and box break to cut the sheet metal for the walls and base of the box. We used the ball peen hammer to flatten down the sides of the sheet metal.

Step 2: Wiring


Our brain is an arduino mini. The programming/coding is made of the language C Sharp. The fans, lights, watering system and temperature are all being set-up through relays. Relays control one electrical circuit by opening and closing contacts in another circuit.

LCD screen - The LCD screen reads off the temperature, if it is to hot it will cool the box down.

Temperature and Humidity Sensor - This sensor reads the voltage of the arduino board and do math, reading the temperature and humidity.

Moisture Sensor - The moisture sensor detects the moisture level and will add water if it gets to low. Using the moisture sensor that we put in a slit in the bottle, the sensor will detect when the water level is too low and a pump will add more water when it is needed.

The box will have fans for cooling and exhaust. The cooling fans are for controlling the temperature and the exhaust fans serve a greater function of air circulation and carbon dioxide/oxygen replacement. The exhaust fans cover CFM and the box is 4.37 CF.

The lights we propose to use are plates of RBW lights. Each platform takes 20 Watts of power, Rated Lifetime of LEDs is 20,000 hours, and the wavelengths are 660nm 630nm and 460 nm. The lights will be set on a timer through the sensor relays. The four plates of LEDs will be attached with Velcro to the top of the box.

Step 3: Aluminum Foil Backed Fiberglass Insulation

Inside the sheet metal there will be aluminum foil backed fiberglass insulation this will help us with insulating the box.

Step 4: Plumbing

Tools and Supplies- We used the hot glue gun to connect the tubing to the water pump.

The proposed idea for water is to pump water with a 5v water pump through a plastic tube into a square made of PVC. The water will go directly to the plants through a square PVC piping system. Water is a polar molecule and it sticks to itself so we are using rock wool as a sponge with the capillary action making the water stick to the sponge keeping it in place.

Step 5: Hydroponics

Hydroponics is the process of growing plants in sand, gravel, or liquid, with added nutrients but without soil. In this case we are growing plants in liquid with nutrients added.

Hydro-gro is the main nutrient we will be pumping through the water. For more information on Hydro-gro refer to the images above and find the two Hydro-gro formulas.

pH is a figure expressing the acidity or alkalinity of a solution on a logarithmic scale on which 7 is neutral, lower values are more acid and higher values more alkaline. The pH is equal to −log10 c, where c is the hydrogen ion concentration in moles per liter. We are using a pH sensor to monitor the pH balance of the water.

A buffer solution (more precisely, pH buffer or hydrogen ion buffer) is an aqueous solution consisting of a mixture of a weak acid and its conjugate base, or vice versa. We will be using a pH buffer to calibrate our pH sensor.

We are using an Electrical Conductivity meter to measure the electrical conductivity of the nutrient solution in which the plants are being grown.

Growing Beyond Earth Maker Contest

Runner Up in the
Growing Beyond Earth Maker Contest