Introduction: Plant Incubator (A Micro Gravity Incubator for Plants)
Hello peeps, and welcome to this awesome Instructable. Here, I would like to share my optimized design of plant incubation which I think is the best way to grow plants in any environment. This incubator can be used for many purposes like growing plants on ISS or any microgravity environment, removing some parts it can also use as a plant incubator for a research facility also can be used to grow plants in harsh places like our earth's pole.
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Step 1: Incubator
Growing plants is not an easy task especially in harsh environments just like human plants also need many things to grow and nurture so to provide these things here we have an incubator that will provide right pressure temperature and nutrients to plants. The incubator is a 50x50x50 cm cube with storing a volume of 41x41x43 cm. As seen form 1st photo, It has a 70x150cm touch screen and few keys to control the settings of the incubator such as inside temperature, water flow rate, and etc. A monitor is also placed at the bottom side of the incubator just beside the inlet/outlet of air and water. And on the right side just below the keypad, there is a slot is for sensor inputs(sensors such as temperature pressure). A glass shield in front will protect it from the outside environment and make the system airtight.
Step 2: Plant Pillows
Veggie plant pillow is the bags of dirt and fertilizer enclosed with plastic and kevlar created by NASA for there mission to grow and experiment plant on a microgravity environment. As in space, there is no gravity it is hard to deal with soil. Apparently, because of that NASA came up with this not so cushiony plant pillow. As I want to reduce the size of my design I need the exact or near dimension of these pillows. For that, I have gone through some paper available on google scholar and surf NASA website which seemingly gives me the approx. length and width of these pillows which is 15x13cm (including clearance). and for the height, I literally send an email to NASA but didn't get any reply so far (probably I will never get a reply :P). So still I am not able to find the height of these pillows then I go through some images and assume the height which is now 6cm.
These Veggie pillows have a slot in the center from where plant seed is inserted and a nozzle is connected to it so that water can easily pass through and moist the soil.
P.S.: These pillows can be used once only
Step 3: Base Plate
This is the base where plants will be grown this is a 32x32cm aluminum plate. Each side has one slider so that side plates can be easily attached, bolted or removed. In the center, there is a box of 30x30x06 cm where 4 plant pillows can be placed
Step 4: Holders (because Cages Sounds Bit Cruel)
There are two holders square and triangular. The square holder will be mounted on the top of base to hold a plant pillow on their own position. above that triangular holder is mounted with square LED lights on top and dual side trapezium LED on each side faces clearly shown is assembly below.
Step 5: Few More Parts
Top LED-panel: - These are rectangle shape LED to provide light on the plants which are grown on the base plate
Side LED-panel: - These are trapezoidal shaped LED light so that it can perfectly fit on the sides of the triangular holder. This will provide plants on the side walls enough light to grow.
Air Duct: - Hollow rectangular piece has 4 holes on each corner where the input and output pipes can be connected. also, each side has slots form where airflow is controlled and conditioned. Moreover, it also helps to regulate the overall temperature just as AC does.
Side Plate: - For using empty spaces on the sidewall this plate was designed. It one small box in the center, so that one veggie plant pillow can be placed into that and because of that, this optimized design can grow plants not only on one surface but on 5 surfaces of a cube. Two small rectangular boxes on side are used for watering the plants as one end is connected with the main reservoir of liquid and the other end has 2 small holes. Form where a small pipe is connected to the veggie plant pillow to provide it basic liquid.
Step 6: Assembly
Base Assembly:- As base plate has a hollow square in the centre we can maximum put 4 veggie plant pillows. And between box and slider air duct can be fitted. Afterward, to avoid movement of veggie plant pillow square holder will be mounted on top of that, which is followed by the triangular holder As shown in the picture. Trapezoidal LED panels are attached to each side and a rectangular LED panel will be fitted in the top of the triangular holder.
Full Assembly:- After Finishing base assembly, the side plates can be attached to the base plates as 4 sliders are provided on each base plate. The final assembly will consist of 3 side plates and 2 plates.
As the Baseplate can hold 4 plant pillows and side plates hold one plant pillow each.
So, in total it can hold 11 plants in a compact size of 40cm cube
Step 7: Working
After placing assembly into the plant incubator. The Air conditioning system lies at the bottom of the incubator and it should be connected to the air duct with the help of a pipe. This will create a perfect environment for our plants to grow and nurture.
To provide basic nutrients to our plants only water is not sufficient they also need some other minerals such as magesium, iron, etc . Moreover, every plant need different amount of water and to regulate the flow and provide additional minerals with water for this purpose two liquid regulator is placed on every side plate which will provide two plants water at a time. These regulator has orifice meter in them which will sense the flow of water so that user can see how much water every plant is consuming in the monitor.
This system will be best suited for research on plants such as how plants behave in different light wavelength or in different temperature.
Futher increasing the scope of this design. is can also be used in space to grow plants in micro gravity
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