The Aeroponic 3D Greenhouse (3D Model)

When I started brainstorming ideas for this project, I was trying to figure out how I could make the most out of the area of a 50x50x50 cm cube. I concluded that using the base, sides and top of the cube would provide 5x more growing space (excluding one face of the cube for access to the plants) compared to a growing area that only utilizes the base of the cube.

Their are a couple of parts that have not yet been included into the final assembly, which are:

  • Water Pumps w/ pipes and nozzle
  • Full Spectrum LEDs
  • Heat Lamps with Edison sockets
  • LCD touch screen w/ Arduino MEGA 2560 micro-controller
  • Thermisters and Conductivity sensors
  • Grow Pots with Seed-Pads
  • Growing Area for the ceiling

This instructables will guide you on how to recreate the assembly in Solidworks 2019.

Concept

When the design is finished, the prototype should be able to:

  • Have adjustable timers for the amount of time the grow lights show be active
  • Have adjustable timers for how frequent the fertilizing solution is sprayed
  • Can accommodate 35+ plants
  • Maintain the temperature of the growing environment (set by user)
  • Provide easily accessible light to any plant in the area (via LED columns)
  • Display information on the growing environment.
  • Receive nutrient solution and remove waste solution from/to another area.

Important Note: The pictures available in each step have numbers that correlate to the sub steps used to create the part. This will provide some clarity on how to achieve the final result.

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Step 1: Create the Chassis

The chassis is the center piece of the assembly; it will hold the LCD display, the electrical components and the growing area. To create the part in Solidworks:

1. Create a sketch on the top place, and create a 48x48 cm sq square, centered about the origin. The square should be fully defined.

2. Exit the sketch, and click on Boss-Extrude in the features tab. Add a blind extrude of 10cm to the sketch. The chassis needs to be 10cm to allow the grow area enough room to carry ample amounts of the nutrient solution, as well as allow enough room for grow pots to be placed.

3. After the blind extrusion, create a sketch on the top face of the cube. Then create a square within the work area. The new square will have all of its edges be 6cm away from the square that is the work area. The sketch should be fully defined at this point.

4. On the most recent sketch, create a cut-extrude feature with a blind cut of 9cm into the cube. This will allow the growing area to be inserted into the chassis.

5. Shift the camera to view the front plane, and create a sketch on the of side of the hollowed cube. Create a center line from the middle of the far edges of the work area. In the center of that line, create a rectangle, with the dimensions, 7.34x4.9 cm sq +/- 0.5. The reason for the tolerance is that an LCD touch screen will be purchased, and is related to this rectangle. The accuracy of the specification is unknown, so a tolerance was provided to accommodate it. The rectangle should be fully defined.

6. On the new sketch, add a cut extrude feature. The feature should have it's direction settings to, "Up to Next," with it's direction set to move towards the hollowed region of the cube.

7. Create a new sketch on the front plane, and have your camera oriented on the front plane. Create a rectangle with its top and bottom edges 1cm within the rectangle, and its sides 5mm within the rectangle. The rectangle should be fully defined.

8.Go to the features tab, and select cut extrude for the sketch created on step 7. The direction settings should be configured to be, "mid plane" with an extrusion of 47 cm.

9. On one of the corners of the top portion of the cube, create a sketch on the non-hollowed portion of the cube. In the corner, create a 6x6 cm sq square. Two edges of the square should have a co-linear relation to the two edges that reside in the corner you're located at. The square should then be selected, and have its "for construction" checkbox be marked. Within the square, create a center line that connects that bisects the top and bottom edge of the square. On the line, sketch two circles with a size of 5/16". The center of each circle should be 1 cm are from the center of the center line, in opposite directions. The sketch should be fully defined at this point.

10. On the sketch from step 9, add a cut extrude feature. The feature should have it's direction configured to, "Up to next," with it's cut direction toward the opposite end of the chassis.

11. On the feature from step 10, mirror the feature across the front plane. Afterwards, mirror the feature, "Mirror1" across the right plane. The the chassis is now complete, and will be assigned the material, Aluminum 1060 Alloy.

Step 2: Creating the Growing Area (Floor)

The growing area will be inserted into the chassis, and is comprised of a nutrient storage chamber, as well as a top layer with holes designed to accommodate 3" diameter grow pots. To build the growing area:

1. Create a sketch of a 48x48 cm sq square on the top plane. The square should be centered on the origin. The sketch should be fully defined at this point.

2. Add a boss extrude feature on the sketch from step one. The square should have a thickness of 5mm via blind extrusion.

3. Go to Features -> Reference Geometry -> Plane. Then set the first reference to be the top face of the plane. Then set the reference plane to offset the top face by 8cm. The new plane should be fully defined.

4. Create a sketch on the recently created plane ("Plane1"). Create a 35x35 cm sq square, which will be centered on the origin. The sketch should be fully defined.

5. On the features tab, add a boss-extrude feature on the sketch from step 4. In the feature settings for this boss extrude, have the direction be set to, "Up to Next."

6. Create a sketch on the larger square face. The sketch should be a 34x34 cm sq square, centered on the origin. The sketch should be fully defined at this point.

7. Add a cut-extrude feature to the sketch from step 6. The direction should be configured as, "Offset From Surface," and the face that is referenced is the opposite end of the growing area. The cut is 1 cm offset from the opposite end of the growing area.

8. The following will be a repeat of step 9 from the chassis instructions. On one of the corners of the top portion of the cube, create a sketch on the non-hollowed portion of the growing area. In a corner, create a 6x6 cm sq square. Two edges of the square should have a co-linear relation to the two edges that reside in the corner you're located at. The square should then be selected, and have its "for construction" checkbox be marked. Within the square, create a center line that connects that bisects the top and bottom edge of the square. On the line, sketch two circles with a size of 5/16". The center of each circle should be 1 cm are from the center of the center line, in opposite directions. The sketch should be fully defined at this point.

9. Add a cut-extrude feature to the sketch created in step 8. The feature will be a blind cut of 1cm (Or up to next).

10. Go to Feature -> Mirror and have the feature from step 9 be copied across the right plane. With the new feature, "Mirror1," add another mirror, copying it across the front plane.

11. Create a sketch using "Plane 1," from step 3. Then select the perimeter of the inner square which separates the upper and lower portion of the growing area. Select convert entities from the sketch tab. The sketch should be fully defined.

12. Add a boss-extrude feature onto the sketch from step 11, and configure the extrusion to be a 5mm blind extrusion towards the base of the growing area.

13. Create a sketch on the feature from step 12. Then select sketch 6 from the side bar (from step 11) and convert entities. This is so the boundaries of the liquid storage chamber will be accounted for in future steps. With the square implemented in the sketch, select the entire square, and select the "For Construction" checkbox in the side bar. Then create a circle with a diameter of 3". The center of the circle will be placed 4.5cm from the the top edge, and 4.25cm from the side edge of the "for construction" square. With the circle fully defined, create 3 more circles. Give the center of all of the circles in the sketch a horizontal relation, then space each circle by 8.5 cm. The sketch is now fully defined.

14. Add a cut extrude feature to the sketch from step 13. Configure the direction as, "Up to Next", which will cut multiple holes into the liquid storage chamber.

15. Select the feature from step 14, add a linear pattern feature to replicate the holes on the rest of the growing area top surface. Select the direction of the pattern by selecting an edge of the growing area that is perpendicular to the alignment of the holes. Set the distance of each row to 8.5cm and create 4 rows.

16. Create a sketch on the side of the growing area. In the sketch, draw a circle on the center of the surface, using a vertical relation in respect to the origin, and a horizontal relation with the center point of the edge of the surface. The circle will be 2cm in diameter.

17. Add a cut-extrude feature to the sketch from step 16. Configure the circle to have through all cut, so that both sides of the growing area have a hole.

18. Create a sketch on the top surface of the growing area (The area with the holes). In the center of the growing area in between 4 holes, create a square. Then add a coincident relation to each corner of that square, so that each edge will be in contact with a circle. Afterwards, add an equal relation to each side of the square, and mark the square, "For construction." Within the constructed square, create a square. The new square will have it's edges be 2.5mm within the constructed square. The sketch will now be fully defined.

19. Add a boss extrusion to the sketch. The feature will be configured as a blind extrusion of 4cm, away from the growing area.

20. Create a sketch on the top of the extrusion from step 19. The square will be within the boundaries of the square column, with its edges 2.5mm away from the edges of the column.

21. Add a cut-extrude feature onto sketch from step 20. The feature will be a blind 4cm cut towards the growing area. This structure will be used to house the LED columns, which will provide light to plants.

22. Create a linear pattern of the feature in step 21. The direction will be toward the x direction.

23. Repeat step 22, but set the direction to be opposite of the direction set in step 22.

24. Repeat step 22, but set the direction to be towards the negative z direction.

25. Repeat step 22, but set the direction towards the positive z, and change the amount of structures to 3. The columns should look like a cross when seen from above.

26. (Unnecessary)

27. Create sketch on a column side. Specifically, on the bottom of the cross configuration, on the side closest to the edge of the growing area. Create a semi-circle about the origin, on the base of the column. It will have a radius of 5mm and the base will have a co-linear relation with the base of the column. The sketch should now be fully defined.

28. Add a cut-extrude feature to the sketch from step 27. The cut should be configured as "through all". This will allow a pathway of the wiring of the LEDs.

29. Create a sketch on the left of the cross configuration. Specifically on the side facing away from the growing area. Create a semi-circle about the origin, on the base of the column. It will have a radius of 5mm and the base will have a co-linear relation with the base of the column. The sketch should now be fully defined.

30. Repeat step 28 for the sketch on step 29. This concludes the build of the growing area. Also, the material for this part is ABS.

Step 3: Creating the Border Columns

The border columns connect the growing area to the grow walls and grow ceiling. To make the boarder columns:

1. Create a sketch on the top plane. The sketch will contain a 6x6 cm sq square, centered about the origin.

2. Add a boss extrude feature to the sketch from step 1. The feature will blind extrude the sketch by 38.5cm. This number was chosen to meet the maximum constants of a 50x50x50 cm cu. cube.

3. Create a sketch on the top of the column. Create a square where 3 of its edges are spaced 1 cm within the pedestal. The final edge will have a co-linear relation to the edge its parallel to.

4. Add a cut-extrude feature to the sketch in step 3. The feature will be configured as, "Offset From Surface," with an offset of 2.5mm.

5. Create a sketch at the other end of the column. Create a center-line that connects the midpoint of the "open" side with the midpoint of the opposite side. Then create 2 circles with a diameter of 5/16". The center of the circles should be coincident to the center-line, and each circle should be spaced 1 cm away from the origin, in opposite directions.

6. Add a cut-extrude feature to the sketch from step 5. The cut should be configured as, "Up to Next", cutting towards the opposite end of the column.

7. Create a sketch on one of edges perpendicular to the "open" side. Draw a center line along the length of the column, connecting the middle points of the opposite edges. Create 2 circles with their centers 1 cm away from an edge (each circle will be located at opposite sides of the column). Create another circle at the middle of the center line. Set the diameter of each circle to be 5/16". The sketch should now be fully defined.

8. Add a cut-extrude feature to the sketch from step 7. The cut should be configured as, "Through All".

9. (Optional) Add a fillet to the 4 corners of the pedestal. The radius for the fillet is 5mm and is symmetric. The boarder pedestal is now complete.

Step 4: Creating the LED Column

The LED column was created as a housing for the full spectrum LEDs that will act as grow lights. They will be placed within the column holes in the growing area. To create the LED column:

1. Create a sketch on the top plane. Create a 2.11x2.11 cm sq square. The square needs to be centered about the origin to be fully defined.

2. Add a boss-extrude feature to the sketch on step 1. It will be configured as a blind 30cm extrusion.

3. On the top of the extrusion, create a sketch. Create a square with its sides 2.5mm within the extrusion, and centered on the origin.

4. Add a cut-extrude feature to the sketch on step 3. Have the cut be configured as, "Offset from Surface." Set the surface to be the face at the opposite end of the column, and the offset as 2.5mm.

5. On one of the column sides, create a sketch. On the base of the column (closed side), create a semicircle with a radius of 5mm. The semi-circle must have it's base be given co-linear relation to the bottom edge of the column. The center of the semi-circles base must also have it's center be coincident to the origin.

6. Add a cut-extrude feature to the sketch from step 5. The cut is "Through All."

7. Create a sketch on the bottom of the column. Create a 5x5 mm sq square, centered about the origin.

8. Add a blind 30cm boss-extrusion to the sketch from step 7. The extrusion should travel through the column. The LED column is now complete. The column is made of Acrylic, however, it's recommended that you don't change the material to acrylic until after the assembly, or else it will be more difficult to use in the final assembly.

Step 5: The Final Assembly

Note: Not all of the parts necessary for the final assembly were covered in this instructables. However, this issue will be resolved in the near future. Now then, to assemble parts:

1. Create a Solidworks assembly file. Then, go to insert -> Add Existing Component. Then select the chassis from your files. The chassis should then be placed onto the work area, and be fully defined.

2. Insert the grow area into the chassis. The corner holes of the growing area should have concentric mates to the corner holes of the chassis. Their should also be a coincident mate between the top of the chassis and upper base of the growing area. The lower base of the growing area does not need a mate.

3. Insert a border column onto the work area. The holes at the base of the column should have concentric mates to the corner holes. The "open" side of the column should face towards the assembly. The base of the column should also have a coincident mate with the top of the growing area.

4. Once the column in step three is fully defined, right click on the border column, and select "Copy with Mates". After this step, configure the columns so that 4 boarder columns are connected to the growing area. All of the open sides of the columns should face into the assembly.

5. Insert a LED column into a LED column slot located on the growing area part. The base of the column should be coincident to the bottom of the column slot, the semi-circle cut on the LED column must have a concentric mate with the semi-circle cut on the LED column slot. Finally, an edge of the LED column should have a coincident relation to a inner wall of the LED column slot. If the LED column is not fully defined, add more definitions as need be.

6. Right click on the fully defined LED column that was inserted on step 5, and select "Copy with Mates." Insert LED columns to the remaining LED column slots.

(For steps 7-10, part instructions are not yet provided)

7. Insert a Side Wall Grow Area into the work environment. The side wall will have it's side holes have a concentric mate with the holes on two of the border pedestals. Furthermore, either the front or back side of the wall needs to have a coincident mate with the front/back interior of the pedestal. The side grow wall should now be fully defined.

8. Right click on the fully defined side wall on step 7, and select "Copy with Mates." Place another side grow wall with the openings of the other 2 pedestals. Make the same mates shown on step 7.

9. Insert the back grow wall into the work area. Place the back grow wall on the back of the growing area (away from the front hole on the chassis). Create a concentric mate of the side holes of the back grow wall with the holes of the pedestal. Then create a coincident mate between the side of the back grow wall and it's nearest pedestal.

10. Insert the grow roof onto the work area. Mate the roof so that it's interior edges are coincident with the edges of the pedestals. Also add a coincident mate between the interior "ceiling" of the roof and a pedestal. That concludes the assembly.

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    2 Discussions

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    Akrem DawedPenolopy Bulnick

    Reply 5 days ago

    Thanks! The actual build is a work in progress, but efficiently using space is the primary goal of the project.