Introduction: ZeroG Hydroponic 3x3 Planter(High School Entry)

About: Hello there, my name is Damian. I am 15 years young and I love Drawing, Gardening, Science, Engineering, Chemistry, Mathematics, Designing and building Aircraft, Rockets, Circuits, Computers, Computer programm…

Hello, Today I'll be sharing my Hydroponic "ZeroG" Planter Design. Its primarily focused on the Planter itself but I've included a Little Light For Seedlings. For the ones who don't know what Hydroponics is, Hydroponics is pretty much a method of growing plants suspended in a nutrient-rich solution of water

This is a base for others to build upon, just be creative and feel free to change my design to your desire. I would also like to have constructive and detailed Feedbacks in the comments so I could change my design in the near future.


  • Growth Medium;
  • Distilled Water;
  • Water-Soluble Nutrients;
  • A Power Supply(That Meets The Air pumps and Lights* requirements);
  • An Air pump;
  • Vinyl Tubing;
  • LEDs;
  • Fabric(I used Landscaping Fabric)


  • Scissors;
  • Syringe or Funnel
  • Soldering Iron(Optional);
  • Solder(Optional);
  • 3D Printer(Optional);

Growth Mediums:

  • Rockwool;
  • Oasis Cubes;
  • Expanded Clay;
  • Coco Chips/Fiber;
  • Perlite;
  • Grow Stones
  • Vermiculite;
  • Sand;
  • Rocks/Gravel;
  • Kitty Litter(Fired Clay);
  • Floral Foam;
  • Rice Hulls;
  • Pumice;
  • Wood Chips/Shavings;
  • Polystyrene.

Choosing the right Growth Medium is Important Ill be going through most of the qualities of different popular Growth Mediums that I've Listed;

Rockwool is a growth medium that is commonly used in hydroponics due to its ability to retain water well, it is Reusable, has an average PH of 8, a downside to Rockwool is it has the tendency to dry out too quickly just like most Growth Mediums(Such as Cococoir, Expanded Clay, RiceHulls and Polystyrene), another downside of Rockwool is that it is pretty expensive especially when compared to other growing mediums.

Coco Coir is also another popular growth medium, it is widely used in starting seedlings due to its ability to be reused, retain water, Naturally has Beneficial Fungus(Trichoderma) and it slowly releases potassium as it degrades. Coco Coir also Has Downsides such as being easily overwatered and causing calcium deficiencies.

Step 1: The Setup

I started by printing my planter in White PLA that I designed in AutoCAD it has a total of 9 Planting cubes each with a 1" by 1" Planting Space, if you don't have a printer you can use the design as a guide to fit your needs, I used an electric air-pump and clear vinyl tubing to prevent the water from sitting and also to help provide a mixture of air I also had to use Silicone Sealant to make sure if it would stay leak-free(You can do without it or even use hot glue). For my growth medium, I choose Coco Coir due to its reusability, ability to retain water.

Step 2: Preparing to Put in the Soil

I put Landscaping Fabric inside of each of the different holes to help prevent the growing medium from falling out through the spaces into the water reservoir, This isn't necessary depending on what growth medium you chose, You can use almost any fabric as long as the roots can grow through it so the can reach the water.

Step 3: Injecting, Planting and Watering Your Plants

Seedlings don't need many Nutrients or else they will be burned from the harsh nutrients. I recommend using Water Soluble Nutrients that have been mixed into a solution of distilled water and I also recommend only to use nutrients after the fact that the plants have completely sprouted.

I decided to plant a variety of different plants such as Basil, Sweet Basil, Egg Plant, and Cucumber into each individual planting square, After planting I injected a Nutrient Solution directly into the water reservoir of the planter using a syringe.

Step 4: Lighting

I didn't need to make my own Lighting Since I already have a light that fits within 50cm but I've decided to add this just for the ones who don't have a light. Proper Lighting is very Important for Seedlings and if seedlings don't receive proper lighting they can become Leggy and have trouble forming cell walls, They will also have a hard time getting around which can lead to them dying. I used multiple LEDs (Red, Blue, and White) and I connected them up in series. The LEDs I used should have just enough power to be used on seedlings without them becoming leggy, I then modeled and printed a LED Template and I put my LEDs in there, I didn't have to use a soldering iron since I just had to bend the legs of the LEDs in order to complete the circuit.

Step 5: Conclusion and Files

Making this ZeroG Hydroponic Plant has me thinking of the application of botany beyond Earth and the difficulties you may face as in the result of Zero Gravity. I've given the Project files and 3D Models of the ZeroG 3x3 Planter and a template for making your own LED Lighting.

Have a Great Day and I hope you have been inspired by my Creation.

Growing Beyond Earth Maker Contest

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