This is a very simply designed laser cut acrylic ring that is stringed to produce a grid for training plants under. The ring friction fits into a standard 5 gallon bucket, such as those used by the Space Buckets community. The idea is that you can bend your plants grow out before they grow up, thus achieving the 'screen of green' (SCROG) and increasing your harvest, whether they be fruits or flowers.
The instructable only has three steps, and I've included extra bonus designs at the end for a solid acrylic grid with no string, and a thicker ring design that you can use with thinner acrylic.
- one square foot of acrylic, 3/16 or 1/4 inch thick. For 1/8 inch acrylic, see the bonus design with a thicker ring for better durability
- string, either something synthetic like nylon (you can buy this in bead stores) or natural fibre coated with wax. Avoid uncoated natural fibre as this will disintegrate eventually.
- Laser cutter that can cut through acrylic
Getting access to acrylic sheet and a laser cutter sounds hard, but I've lived in Toronto, New York, and San Francisco, and these things were accessible in all three cities. Ask the maker space or hackerspace that hosts the laser cutter - you will likely be required to go through some sort of safety training before being able to use it. You may also be able to convince a kind maker space member to help you cut your acrylic for you.
Toronto: Plastic from Plastic World (http://plasticworld.ca/), laser cutter at HackLab (https://hacklab.to/)
New York: Plastic from Canal Plastics (http://canalplastic.com/), laser cutter at NYC Resistor (http://www.nycresistor.com/)
San Francisco: Plastic from TAP Plastics (http://www.tapplastics.com/), laser cutter at Noisebridge (https://www.noisebridge.net//)
I haven't used the laser cutter in Toronto, but I've bought plastic at all the places listed and used the laser cutter at NYC Resistor and Noisebridge.
Step 1: Measure Your Bucket
The design that I've included I've found to work with most 5 gallon buckets with a 11.75 inch inner rim diameter. However, half of the buckets I've collected from local bakeries have a smaller 10.75 inch inner rim diameter. To find the diameter of the ring, measure the diameter of the bucket at the height you want the grid to sit. You can resize the vector file provided in the next step to fit your diameter. I use Inkscape, a free and open source software, for editing my vector files.
Step 2: Cut Acrylic
Cut the acrylic on the laser cutter, using the manufacturer recommended settings. I like to leave the plastic film on the bottom side of the acrylic while it is being cut to prevent it from getting scratched. Don't forget to peel it off afterwards.
Step 3: Wrap String
Wrap the string onto the acrylic ring. Start by tying a knot on one corner, and as you wrap, be sure to not have any string on the outside edge of the ring that is not in a notch (otherwise your ring will not fit perfectly into the bucket). When you get to the end, tie a double knot, and leave some string (I left 1cm) so that the string won't fray from being cut too close to the knot. Tie a double knot at the beginning of the string too.
Step 4: Bonus Designs
That's it, you're done!
Included is an early prototype using solid acrylic. I was told by Ekrof from the Space Buckets community via the community Slack chat that the plants liked string better because they could push against it.
Also included is a string design with a thicker ring for better durability if you're using thinner 1/8 inch thick acrylic.