Introduction: Water Me Bird, Sweet Reminder to Water My Plants
If you are anything like me, your plants need protection from you.
The 'Water Me Bird' gives you a gentle reminder when they are thirsty by singing you a song.
How does it work!?
It does this by measuring the resistance of the soil, when it gets too low the microcontroller (brain) starts the chirp to let you know your plant is thirsty.
Remember not to water the electronics!
About this guide:
This guide will step you though making the 'Water Me Bird', including where to get the parts.
I look seeing and hearing your success with your own!
I have refined this project continuously from idea to supplying them to Universities to teach soldering, check out the last picture which is one of the original ones I made on my CNC mill. Lets begin!
P.S. This kit is available on Tindie!
If you enjoy this Instructable you can buy me a coffee here, thanks! It keeps the awesome projects coming.
I've also made a video series that gives an overview as well as tips on construction.
Follow instructables for more in depth knowledge.
Step 1: Collect All the Things
To make this cute bird you will need a couple things.
First off is the Printed Circuit Board, you can get this made using the GERBER files attached in the zip though a PCB fab house alternatively I sell the entire kit together in one pack here:
In the picture is listed all the parts. The main part to take note is the microprocessor, this is an ATTINY85V in DIP form. Note the V, this allows for low voltage use =)
The Schematic and the board layout are also attached to allow you to see what it going on and produce it yourself.
Step 2: Construction
The following parts are to be soldered onto the PCB:
- Solder Resistor R3: 100 Ω resistor (Brown, Black, Black, Black, Brown)
- Solder Resistors R1,R2 and R4 10k Ω resistor (Brown, Black, Black, Red,
- Solder Transistor Q1. Remember to align the flat side.
- Solder U1 the socket holder. Align the notch to the front
- Front, notch here
- Solder Switch S2. Note the legs come out on the left and right
- Solder Speaker SP1. Align the (+) with that on the board
- Solder COIN. The battery holder has a distinct circle to be aligned.
- Solder red LED D1. Note the red plastic has a flat side that aligns with the marker. Flat side to the right.
- Solder the screw terminal JP2. Note the open holes face down. They will hold the metal rods.
- Unscrew the terminals JP2 to allow for the size of the rods. Screw the metal rods into JP2 on the left and right. Leave the middle one empty.
- Note the microcontroller has a notch and dot at the front. Align this with the front of U1 on the board. When inserting it ensure the legs don’t bend out of the socket.
- The coin battery is to have the (+) face upward. Insert the battery. She is alive. Congrats.
If you are making this from scratch you will need to upload the code (see attached). You will need to make an ATTINY adapter to be able to achieve this which does take some adjusting to be able to do. Please look for tutorials by SparkFun to achieve this.
Step 3: Operation
Insert the bird’s legs into DRY soil, pack it around the legs.
Press the button to tell it what dry is. You have now told the bird to tweet
when the soil is like this. It will now chatter away periodically.
Water your plant, the bird will now go to sleep
When the soil is dry again the bird will tweet periodically.
Step 4: Trouble Shooting
No sound or light – check battery (+) is face up. Ensure microcontroller
has the notch facing left. Ensure LED has flat side on the right.
No light, but tweets - Ensure LED has flat side on the right.
No tweet but light – Ensure speaker has (+) at top
Tweets once then nothing – The bird thinks it is wet. Place it in soil, then
press the button to tell it’s dry. Chirping should begin. Then water plant
and chirping will stop.
Check transistor is correctly aligned for any other issue
Step 5: How It Works
The microcontroller is a special chip allowing you to program what happens
(outputs like speakers and lights) when it detects certain inputs (water detecting legs). In the case of the bird, the controller is told: when you see the resistance between its legs is high (i.e. nothing conducting) then do a tweeting pattern though the speaker and led (output). Repeat this until you see conduction (water helps). If you have seen water for a while, go to sleep more and more to save battery.
Step 6: Thank You + Going Further
If you enjoy this Instructable you can buy me a coffee using the link below. It keeps the awesome projects coming. Thanks!
The code and circuit for the bird is available at:
This allows you to see how it works and modify it. For more on electronics visit us at: www.johnmissikos.com/
Participated in the
CNC Contest 2016
Participated in the
Brave the Elements 2016
4 years ago
Clever project. Thank you for sharing this information and how-to guide.
6 years ago
Relly nice proyect Im making something similar , for how much time does the battery will make this little bird be active ? thanks.
Reply 6 years ago
A bit over a year, that is one of the main features I built in. The code progressively sends the bird to 'sleep' to get the extra life. Initially it checkes every 8 seconds the moisture, then after a few ok readings it checks in double the time... then double that. This stretches out the battery. The ATTINY85V also has an internal voltage sensor that I use to have an alternative tweet when it is at 2.2/2.4 odd volts. So you know when it is running out. Hope your project is going well Alejandro =) Thanks for the compliment and Q!
Reply 6 years ago
Wow a year , thats nice , thank you very much ThinkerElectric !