Hear Your Plant Make Music! - Ethernet Version

Introduction: Hear Your Plant Make Music! - Ethernet Version

This walk-through will show you how to build a sensor to monitor your plant's environment and use Stats in Sound's ERC-20 app to turn this data into music, allowing you to listen to your plant's reaction to it's environment.  For more information on this project, please visit www.statsinsound.org.uk. Below is a sample of music generated by the ERC-20 app, monitoring a happy healthy chilli plant.
You will need some basic experience with soldering, breadboarding and using the Arduino platform for this tutorial.

This particular instructable is for a sensor that will upload it's data via an Ethernet connection. Your plant will preferably be indoors. It's a bit cheaper and easier than the WIFI version, but if you're feeling adventurous, you can check out the WIFI version here.

To build a plant sensor, you will need the following:

] 1 x Arduino Ethernet
] 1 x FTDI > USB cable
] 1 x Ethernet Cable (Cat 5E patch)
] 1 x DHT22 Temperature + Humidity sensor
] 1 x LDR (Light dependent resistor)
] 2 x 10Kohm resistors
] 2 x Nails  (Any nails will do for now, galvanized is best though)
] Plenty of hook up wire (single core wire)
] A Soldering iron & plenty of solder
] A Mac or windows computer

We have provided links to some of the trickier parts to find.

Once you think you have everything, you can continue to the next step to get started!

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Step 1: Connect Up the DHT22

The DHT22 is a great temperature and humidity sensor for projects like this because it's pretty accurate and very cheap.

Here's a few specs:

- 3 to 5V tolerant
-  Good for 0-100% humidity readings with 2-5% accuracy
- Good for -40 to 125°C temperature readings ±0.5°C accuracy
- No more than 0.5 Hz sampling rate (once every 2 seconds)
- Body size 15.1mm x 25mm x 7.7mm

There are four pins but only three are used as follows:

1- Power
2- Data
3- GND
4- N/A

So we just need to connect the Arduino 5V to pin 1, Arduino digital pin5  to pin 2 and GND to pin 3.  Check the picture for the pin numbers.

As far a reading the data goes, there is a library included with the files in this intractable that will sort that out for you.

Step 2: Connect Up the LDR

LDRs are really easy to use.   They are basically just a resistor whose impedance is dependant on the amount of light hitting it's surface. The circuit we use to read them is therefore just a simple voltage divider using and LDR as one of the resistors:

Hook it up as in the digram below.

Step 3: Connect Up the Moisture Sensor

The theory behind measuring moisture is simple.  Since water conducts electricity, if soil is moist it will have a lower impedance than when it is dry, therefore it acts as a resistor and we can measure it in a voltage divider circuit just like an LDR. 

Unfortunately if we just stick two wires into the soil and pass a DC current through it, we will be performing electrolysis, which causes the water molecules in contact with the wires to breakdown, releasing oxygen and hydrogen.  Not only does this cause little bubbles to appear over the wire's surface thus reducing it's ability to pass current, but it will also rapidly erode the wires.  

The 'solution'  (I use inverted commas since it doesn't solve the problem as much as to slow it..) is to alternate the current.  This means you send the current through the wires one way then the other way, in theory preventing electrolysis.  In practice, it doesn't work forever, so we may have to change the soil contacts every couple of months, but that's a small price to pay for the simplicity of this method of moisture measurement.  

Below is the circuit we use to connect it up.

The code to alternate the current and take a reading is all in the Arduino sketch later in this instructable.

Step 4: Create a Cosm Feed

We want to record our sensor readings over time so that we can play back through them later on.  Cosm is  great online platform for doing just that, allowing you to upload data to 'datastreams' and query it later on to visualise or sonify your data.  

You will need to set up a 'feed', which will hold all the sensor data for your plant. 

Head over to http://cosm.com  set up an account.  The website will guide you through this process.

Create a new feed and make a note of your api key,feed number and project title.

We can then put these in your arduino sketch so that the data ends up in the right place.

Step 5: Program Arduino

The last step in getting your sensor up and running is to program the Arduino.

Attached below is a zip file with the following folder:

DHT22 - Library to get data from the DHT22 sensor.  
stats_ethernet - The stats in sound arduino sketch

First, add the DHT22 library to Arduino (if unsure how check here).  Next, move the stats_ethernet folder to your Arduino folder and open up the sketch inside.  Towards the top of the sketch there are the settings for your API key, feed ID and project title. All you need to do is fill those in, upload the sketch and it should start working.  If you are having difficulties, you can try modifying the static IP address and MAC address in the code, as mentioned in the code comments.

You should now be able to see the uploaded data on your Cosm page.

Step 6: Listen to the Music!

In order to start listening to your plant through the Stats in Sound ERC-20, just head over to www.statsinsound.org.uk and download a copy for Mac or Windows. 

Mac: statsinsound.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/ERC-20/ERC-20.zip

Type your feed ID into the box and select the type of composition you would like to hear.  Remember you will need a week's worth of data in your Cosm feed before you can use the 'Past week' or 'Past day' functions.

Enjoy and please let us know how it goes.

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    3 Discussions


    2 years ago


    Hope all is well.

    This is Jim from WIZnet.

    As you might already know, WIZnet is well known for its hardwired TCP/IP chip and its W5100 being used in Arduino’s official Ethernet shield.

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    We expect and hope that many makers, including members of WIZnet Museum www.wiznetmuseum.com, will participate and share their knowledge.

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    More details of the contest are available at www.CyberMakerSpace.com and technical questions are answered at https://forum.wiznet.io/

    Hopefully, you’ll find interest in this contest and we look forward to your next creative IoT project!


    Best Regards,


    this sounds very interesting but I'm a little confused about what the final product is like. Do you have a video that shows the types of sounds you might hear, how does the algorithm work?


    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    The WAV file on the first page shows an example of the music. The algorithm takes all the data and compares it with ideal values for most plants and comes up with a rough level of respiration, transpiration and photosynthesis. These elements are reflected in the music along with any extreme conditions, such as too hot, too cold, too wet etc, so you can identify the problem. It is an art project though, so is not 100% accurate, but a representation.

    You can read all about the project here: