The PPlanter is a rapidly deployable, reconfigurable public urinal and sink that uses modular biofilters to treat urine and wastewater. A network of sensors for automated monitoring and a responsive web application enable public feedback and participation in the design of future iterations. The project is one in a toolbox of rapidly deployable urban green infrastructure prototypes designed by the Hyphae Design Laboratory in collaboration with the non-profit Urban Biofilter.
Transform your street, neighborhood, or city! Make public urination more positive!
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Step 1: Materials List
2 or more palletized LDPE bulk bins with metal support structure
Irrigation pipe (??)
Signage/Door Materials (polypro
Locking mechanism for door
Urinal + Sink
PET-G – enough for urinal, sink, and sink privacy screen
MDF for mold
P-trap (U pipe for under sink)
Hose for fresh water supply
Pipe for greywater, threaded to connect to P-trap on one end, urinal on the other
Filter media for urine/greywater
Urine / greywater tank(s) – 1, partitioned, or 2: filtration area + storage area
Freshwater tank or direct connection to freshwater supply
Pump from urine/greywater tank + hose
Connection from pump hose to blulock
Blulock piping: ¾” or 1” (as long as it’s all the same diameter!) to take greywater + urine to planters
Pipe fittings [Elbows (4?), Ts, Blu-lock to male threaded connector (2, or more), Female threaded plug]
Line Clean attachment (backwash?)
Sensors / Electrical:
Microcontroller (Arduino Uno)
Liquid level float sensors (4 or more)
IR distance sensor (3 or more)
Push button (1)
Flow meter for freshwater usage + urine/greywater generation
Wires, alligator clips
Plexiglass case for electronics
Linux WiFi shield
Solar PV panel
inverter (12V to 120V)
Interior light for urinal/sink
Wiring for interior light
Towel rack or towel dispenser + towels
Urine funnel dispenser + urine funnels
Step 2: Tools List
Saw-zall or Jigsaw
Drill with the following attachments: [Small drill bit to put bolts/screws into plastic, Small drill bit to put bolts/screws through metal, Hole cutter to cut holes into plastic, Screwdriver bits corresponding to whatever size/head screws you’re using]
Electric Sanding tool, small grinder, and/or Dremmel
Printer capable of printing on LDPE OR vinyl materials
Soldering iron + solder
Heat gun + heat shrink
Step 3: Build Bamboo Planter(s)!
1. Cut the top portion of the 2 bulks bin off: this may require temporarily removing the metal supports). Sand edges after cutting so they are smooth.
2. Install plug for greywater input to root zone (3/4” or 1” threaded, as appropriate for blu-lock fitting) into one bulk bin. Other bulk bin will be used for the sink and urinal.
3. Place 5’ long 2” diameter clear pipe into bulk bin so that it is vertical. Should be somewhere near a corner of the bulk bin.
Install an irrigation pipe attached to plug that will allow greywater/urine to disperse to
4. Add a layer of gravel (1’ thick), making sure pipe remains vertical in the corner of the container
5. Add a layer of soil (2.5’ thick): this should anchor the pipe in place – again make sure it is vertical using a level.
6. Plant bamboo!
7. Add top irrigation drip pipe (optional)
8. Top with mulch.
9. Make another one or two -- the more bamboo planters, the more privacy you'll have! Also, feel free to try willow or other nutrient loving plants... best to research which plants are salt-tolerant too.
Step 4: Create Sink + Urinal Molds!
1. Glue together sheets of MDF to be 12 inches thick (WARNING: resulting sheets will be very heavy!) with wood glue, then allow to dry.
Notes: work quickly while stacking and gluing each layer of MDF: try to cover the entire sheet of MDF with an even layer of wood glue by spreading it with a tool before quickly placing the next sheep on top of it and applying pressure. Don’t worry if glue seeps out the edges – you can wipe this away if you’d like but it won’t affect the CNC router or mold.
2. Use CNC router to cut molds of sink + urinal using our model files!
3. Sand molds to be as smooth as possible!
Step 5: Mold, Cut, and Finish Urinal and Sink
1. Vacuum-form PET-G in molds (We went to Tech Shop and got trained to do this!)
2. Cut holes in base of sink and urinal for drains to fit in
3. Paint Urinal (Back/underneath only! This way the front will be shiny) using spraypaint, and sink, if desired (sink may remain clear)
4. Add drains: waterless urinal cartridge can be added to urinal provided cut is exactly the right size, and you are using a thin rubber gasket and good plumbing adhesive. Sink drains will also require a small/thin rubber gasket and plumbing adhesive.
Step 6: Arduino Fun!
If you want to make this a sensing device, figure out your sensors as early as possible. You will want to make sure IR sensors or sensors measuring distance are all accurate before you install them. We will have Arduino/sensor code available here soon!
1. Test IR sensor for sensing when people are nearby. Place in a location where people frequently pass by or stand in front of for short periods of time. For example, good locations could be the kitchen or bathroom sink, the water cooler in an office, or a coffee maker or vending machine.
2. Flow rate sensor: try these instructions to measure flow rate for urinal and sink. We didn't use this in the original version, but it would have been nice! You can put the flow rate sensors in the fresh water tube leading from the foot pump to the spigot and in the hose connected to the outlet of urinal cartridge.
3. The liquid levels you will need to measure include the level in the urine/water tank (or bulk container, if using terrarium option), the level in the fresh water tank, and the level in the planter(s).
a. A liquid level float sensor should be placed at the point in the urine/water tank where there is enough liquid to warrant turning the pump on. As soon as the float goes up, it will trigger the pump to start.
b. A liquid level float sensor should reside in the bottom of the fresh water tank: in this case, an alert would be triggered as soon as the float goes down (when the water is almost gone and the tank needs a refill. Ideally, there could also be a pump that turns on or a valve that opens to fill the tank as soon as it is needed.
c. Another liquid level sensor should be placed in the planter(s) to ensure they are never oversaturated or at risk of smelling bad. For this, a soil moisture meter would be one option, or simply using a pipe with perforations in the side (which you should have installed already when building the planter) and an IR or distance sensor placed on the top of the pipe. As soon as the liquid level is within a short enough distance from the sensor, an alert will be sent to PPlanter technicians.
4. Wire up your sensors and code them using Arduino. Test all of them to make sure the distance range is correct and the floats are working. Code coming soon! In the meantime, here are some links to try:
E-tape Liquid Level Sensor instructions: http://itp.nyu.edu/physcomp/sensors/Reports/E-TapeLiquidLevelSensor
Other liquid level sensor video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lu_9eiPu_pA&feature=youtu.be
IR sensor tutorial: http://www.robotshop.com/gorobotics/articles/microcontrollers/arduino-5-minute-tutorials-lesson-4-ir-distance-sensor-push-button
Step 7: Install Air Filter, Sink, & Urinal
1. Cut holes for sink, urinal, and maintenance door using fine saw or dremmel cutting tool, then smooth edges by sanding. Be careful to cut the exact shape of your urinal + sink. Cut a smaller hole first, and then cut a more exact hole after partially inserting sink/urinal
2. Install Air Filter:
a. Cut out a hole the diameter of the 3” clear pipe in the upper portion of the back of the bulk bin container. The back is the side of the container opposite the side used for the sink. Make sure to cut exactly so the pipe can slide directly in – a 3” hole cutter would work well for this.
b. Attach square-cylinder piece to one end of the clear pipe so that it is tight. This will allow you to attach the square part to the wall of the bulk bin container
c. Glue computer fan onto the other end of the clear pipe, making sure there are no gaps (i.e. all air from tube passes directly through fan)
d. stuff filter bag or x-large stocking leg with granulated carbon, then stuff carbon bag inside of clear pipe/tube
e. drill at least 4 holes in the bulk bin container and corresponding holes onto the square portion of the square-cylinder piece (which is attached to your pipe). Use bolts to attach piece/pipe to container wall. The fan end of the pipe should be inside the bulk bin container, the carbon inside the pipe, and the pipe attached to the hole in the container.
f. Attach a piece of window screen or wire mesh to the pipe outlet, against the outer wall of the bulk bin.
3 Install IR sensor:
a. Install IR sensor next to hole where urinal will go. Make sure all wiring is done correctly!
4. Wire up your exhaust fan!
5. Wire up any optional lights you have chosen to include: lights inside the container make for an interesting glowing effect!
6. Install Urinal: While one person holds urinal in place from inside, drill holes through edges of urinal and overlapping edges of container, then attach urinal to container using 1/8” bolts (3/4” length or ½”) + lock nuts.
7. Use the same procedure to attach sink to container.
Step 8: Plumbing!
1. Install faucet behind sink, and connect faucet inlet using appropriately sized sink hose to outlet end of foot pump
2. Attach a second hose to inlet end of foot pump (there should be a nipple connection for a clear hose), and then place the other end of this hose at the bottom of the fresh water tank. If you use the foot pump now, the faucet should work! Check for leaks or problems now.
3. Attach U-pipe to sink drain (may need female to female adapter or other parts for this), and add vent to pipe after U.
4. Attach other end of U-pipe (after vent) to hose connecting to urinal greywater inlet (if you have purchased an off the shelf urinal rather than using our model, don’t worry about this step – just divert sink wastewater (greywater) to a combined urine/water tank/filter using a hose or pipe. If using terrarium, divert to terrarium filtration media surface, preferably to multiple outlet points).
5. Find appropriate size tube to connect to outlet of waterless urinal cartridge, and glue it in place with plumbing adhesive
6. Connect urinal tube to urine/water filter/tank or to terrarium, depending on approach used (see later steps).
Step 9: Urine/Water Filter/Tank (no Terrarium)
If you'd like to use a tank instead of turning your bulk bin into a terrarium, use the following instructions! This is not what we did for our first PPlanter prototype, so we don't have pictures :(
1. Upper portion – bucket, lower portion – tank. Make sure bucket nests inside of tank leaving at least 45 cm of space between the bottom of the bucket and the bottom of the tank. If not, make a wide rim for the bucket using a thin piece of plywood or thick piece of plastic (cut a hole in the sheet and drop bucket into hole so it is stable and supported by the hole)
2. Punch 0.5 cm diameter holes in bottom of bucket, then nest the bucket (or bucket/plywood assembly) into the tank.
3. Using a hole cutter, cut a hole the size of your outlet pump hose in the side of the tank. Glue a screen over the end of pump hose and insert screened hose into side of tank.
4. Fill bottom of tank with course gravel or rocks ~5 cm deep, then top with fine/pea gravel, then top with ceramic , activated carbon granules, zeolite granules, and mulch. All layers should be greater than 3-5 cm thick.
5. The pump inlet should be attached to the urine/water tank/filter, and the pump itself should remain inside the bulk bin container.
Step 10: Terrarium Approach
Layer filter media in bottom of bulk bin container and plant with herbs or hardy plants of your choice. Make sure to use zeolite - or ammonia adsorbing mineral particles!
Step 11: Finishing Touches
Install privacy Screen:
1. Cut out of plastic scraps a privacy screen, as shown in picture.
2. Paint screen
3. Attach screen to bulk bin container.
4. This will make a big difference if people are washing hands while someone is peeing!