The Plant Arm - Garduino Upgrade

Introduction: The Plant Arm - Garduino Upgrade

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UPDATE: the plant arm basic

i have finally finished my garduino plant arm upgrade and can't wait to share it with the community..! to catch up with my work please read the main article The Plant Arm first. this product is the reason why i started posting on


what? The Plant Arm easily attaches to any plant pot and notifies the user about their plant's health. it also documents the entire growth via webcam, and saves the environment data (humidity, temperature, light sensors). you can watch your plant anywhere in the world and make sure it stays alive. It has enough lights to grow many plants. If you think your plant needs more power, please refer to The Plant Shelf for more ideas.

why? how many people do you know just can't ever successfully grow plants, are you one of those people? no problem. with The Plant Arm you will become the best gardener in no time! it teaches you how to take care of your plant AS you are using it, no instructions, no manuals - ALSO because plants make anywhere a lovely place to live, clean the air and give off positive energy. people work in office spaces with zero sunlight and no live plants anywhere, what if we changed that for the common good?

how? I am scared that with the ever growing technology in the agriculture field, we will eventually forget how to take care of a plant especially if they are grown hydroponically. my solution is simpler, the plant arm instead teaches the user how to grow a plant like a game. no prior gardening experience needed. no sun is needed, no ac plug is needed. just a regular plant in a pot, anywhere/anytime.


youtube video in action;


~3 months ago today I created my account on instructables. I DID NOT KNOW how to program, I have never heard of arduino nor did I know anything about circuits other than to never touch the + and - together :) .... I have looked at hundreds of other designs, collected together what I needed. I have read intro to electronics intensively. day and night, eversince....


NOW i can program (still very basic..) I am a professional soldering machine AND can build simple circuit boards ?!?! how crazy is this? which should teach you one very important thing.... YOU CAN TOO !!!


so let's start and see how you can create your very own plant arm ..>

Step 1: Parts, Materials, Tools


1 x arduino uno3 - as low as $15 USD

2 x DC fan (5v @200mA each)

3 x 9v battery (please ONLY use rechargeable batteries and save the planet!)

3 x 9V battery snap connectors + holders

3 x slide switch (SPST or SPDT)

1 x thermistor

1 x photoresistor

4 x 3mm standard LEDs (green, yellow, blue, red)

1 x mini breadboard

4 x 220ohm resistors (for standars LEDs)

2 x 10K ohm resistors (for moisture and light sensors)

2 x 10 ohm resistors (for fans and temperature sensor)

3 x 1W high power LEDs (warm white, cool white, 660nm) - ebay

1 x webcam (ada fruit TTL JPEG camera)

1 x SD breakout board OR wireless breakout board (for webcam pictures)



perforated metal hanger, recycled wood from pallets, small flat aluminium bar, 2x short nuts/bolts, about 10 screws, 2x long nuts/bolts, 3 tiny nails, 22" gauge wire, garden tie, electrical tape, thermal adhesive & metal epoxy



if you have collected all the parts above and if you are an organized person unlike me, this project shouldn't take you more than 2 hours to put together..!

Step 2: Frame

first start off by placing your battery holders on a small piece of wood cut to size.


then do the same for the arduino, cut a piece slightly larger.


attach the two wooden pieces together with the perforated metal hanger and screws. shape it like an L.


bend the upper part of the metal hanger, this is where it attaches and hangs on to the plant pot.


make markings with a pencil where the arduino will sit. you will see that it has 4 holes on the board. put nails thru these holes with a 45degree angle so when you put on your arduino it will just slide in there. make sure your nails have smaller heads then the holes. this was you can remove the arduino at anytime leaving everything else untouched on the plant arm.


here we go, now you can measure a longer piece of metal that will go over the plant and hang the lights. I have an in depth instructable on this step.


Step 3: Battery Pack & Switches

now that we have the batteries attached we can add the switches.


i put the arduino switch on the left side and fans/lights on the right.


ONLY the positive (+) ends of each component connects to the switch as well as the positive from the batteries.


the ground goes straight into the negative (-) of the battery for each component.


I couldn't find a SPST switch at my radioshack so I had to use a SPDT. I left 1 leg open so it is acting like a SPST. there are many in depth instructables on this topic alone so you should do your own research if not comfortable, OR you can ask me anything.. here is a good start tho

Step 4: Lights

the lights are connected in series. the negative goes straight to the negative on the battery. and the positive goes to one of the legs on the switch.


i have here 3 x 1W high power leds. 1 cool white (5000+K), 1 warm white (2800+K) and 1 660nm. which should be a good blend of color spectrum.


if you don't think 3W is enough to grow a plant, please type in to google, " 3w versus 23w grow " and read on...


I have built many of these light bars. this is probably the easiest part of the entire project. just apply a tiny amount of metal epoxy and thermal adhesive under each light and glue them to the aluminium bar. wait AT LEAST 15 minutes before doing any more work...


Step 5: Sensors & Fans

from now on it will get a little bit tricky, but you can easily do it.


we need the moisture sensors to go into the soil as we attach and detach the plant arm from the pot. i secured them together with a chopstick and some tape, this way they don't separate too far from each other. always staying about 0.5" apart.


the light and temperature sensors are pretty much held in air with a thick piece of wire I found. I can easily bend and aim them for better readings.


all 3 of these components are connected to the mini breadboard and to the arduino. the moisture probes and photoresistor have 220ohm resistors and the temperature sensor has a 10ohm resistor.


fans also have a 10ohm resistor, although I would like to make this a bit more, maybe 20-30ohms. because this resistor was getting too hot.


please read the legendary garduino projects to get a clearer idea on how to connect everything and how/why they work;

1. Garduino Upgrade, Now with more Twitter! by natantus

2. Aqua Garduino Mini @hydroFishAqua82 by mcmcccarthy

3. Aruduino gardening by alexgreen00

4. Plantduino Greenhouse by clovercreature


my code and wiring diagram is provided in the following steps..>

Step 6: Arduino + Plant Health Monitor

you can read my in depth post here for this step. I call it the plant health monitor v1.0.


before you can do this first make your arduino run on 9V battery. here is a great tutorial that I have followed exactly, all i did extra was add the toggle switch on the red line.


basically each sensor has a color coded light. when everything is under optimal conditions, the green light stays on.

yellow light is for lack of light

blue is for water

red is for temperature.


if at anytime one of the sensors reads an abnormal activity, the light switches from green to the corresponding color. I could use 1 RGB led instead BUT this way I can see 2 or 3 problems separately at the same time. pinpointing exactly what is wrong.


you can also watch live feed of readings from the sensors on your computer, using the arduino serial monitor.


the tricky part was to fit everything from the large breadboard to the mini one. this was by far the most intricate circuitry i have done..

Step 7: Webcam

I have to voice my personal opinion here.


the webcam option at the moment is for display only and is not taking pictures or uploading them online.


why? i could go to and order a TTL JPEG camera with an SD breakout board and have everything connected, working, uploading etc. in no time. here is an incredible tutorial if you would like to do it..

BUT i am taking a stance against the monopoly ada fruit technology has going on. There is only 1 camera for the arduino and is made/sold by ada fruit technologies. they are an amazing company don't get me wrong but the camera is $40 and the breakout board is $15. I can not spend $55 just on the webcam option when my arduino costs under $15..... ?!!?!?


there are two options to overcome this issue;

first. I have found the only other camera that is sold for arduino which is just $8 BUT you can not just simply connect it via RX / TX . it is very complicated and I can't figure out how to use it.

second. you can do an instructable on how to hack a regular usb webcam to use with an arduino. I feel like there is a very simple way to do this. the camera I have attached on my plant arm is taken out of a used/working usb logitech webcam that I have found at the thrift store for just $3. there just has to be a way to hack this for the arduino.


please don't mention to get a rasberry pi, I know that it has a very cool and simple camera attachment BUT that is again too costly. and to get a new mcu JUST for camera capabilities seems silly on arduino's end. they should just come up with an even simpler/cheaper option.


so HELP NEEDED for this step. please hack a usb webcam for me - this will be the simplest worldwide solution to the problem mentioned above. thank you.

Step 8: Code & Wiring

just save and open the code on your computer, upload it to arduino and you are done !


the pdf file is the wiring schematics..

Step 9: Conclusion & Future Upgrades

my plant is very happy, especially under the new lights.


please DO NOT EVER use disposable batteries like i did here. they hurt the planet way too much. i didn't own a 9V battery charger so I got these just for testing and prototyping. I will be ordering them soon. the idea of throwing away a battery after using it just for 2 hours or smtg is just too silly. homes should come pre-built with battery chargers in the walls next to AC adapters. the solution is this simple, we can rid ourselves from trashed batteries forever.


I could make the system hydroponic and/or add water pump which would take care of the watering part. BUT both of these options require the user to refill the water tank that is ALREADY next to the plant. so if you are next to your plant watering a bucket, you can easily water the plant too. water pumps are noisy, dirty and too mechanical for my taste. instead I chose to teach people how and when to water their plants eliminating the need for both technologies. plants are designed to be in soil and it just feels more natural. also it would be much more complicated for the common simple household user otherwise. assuming that they already have plants in pots at home, they can just attach the plant arm and start growing immediately. less electricity, less carbon footprint. you can even use an old yogurt bin as a plant pot if you wish...


I am scared that with the ever growing technology in the agriculture field, we will eventually forget how to take care of a plant especially if they are made hydroponically. my solution is simpler, the plant arm instead teaches the user how to grow a plant like a game. no prior gardening experience needed. no sun is needed, no ac plug is needed. just a regular plant in a pot, anywhere/anytime.



the lights will be automatic (will need some sort of a relay, a dc relay maybe - you can help me with this)

the fans will be automatic (again i need a relay)

design - i am thinking of 3D printing an arm and place everything inside of it so no wires will be shown - OR I can use a pcb computer cable and make it look much more organized. this idea came to me after I was done with the project, otherwise I would have done it!


mini breadboard can be on top of the arduino (this way the majority of cables should disappear) - i was originally going to place it on the arduino but then decided to put it on top because maybe the user will face the plant pot the other way and not be able to see one of the sensors go off... i figured that if the notifications are above the plant, this risk is eliminated.


sneak preview;

you may not be familiar with my work. I also created a shelf, The Plant Shelf. and I am in the process of turning that into a garduino project as well. above you can see a picture of what it will look like once finished.


all the members that have helped me with my silly questions, other designs that I stole ideas from. there are just too many to say thanks to. I appreciate everyone for being a part of such an incredible community. my life goals have changed completely within the last 2 months. I have never used a 3D printer or a cnc/laser cutter. If only I had the means of an Epilog Zing 16 laser I could make incredible designs and take my ideas to the next level.


thank you all from the bottom of my heart and please remember to subscribe to stay in the loop.


love & peace




* the usual personal suggestion video;




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    12 Discussions


    2 years ago

    hello MR.Akin Yildiz

    thanks for sharing this project ,its really cool.

    can you please send me more information about this project ,i am planning to make it as a project for school >>>> E-mail :

    1 reply

    hello sir <<

    thank u soo much ... I want more information for this cool project pleas my mail is

    1 reply

    hello sir,

    I am engineering student. I want to do this project. can send some more information?

    my mail id is


    1 reply

    hello SnehaJ, I have just sent you an e-mail, please check your inbox.. thank you very much for your interest..!

    Very cool and High Tech plant care setup! You love your plants like your own son! That's very inspiring.

    2 replies

    thank you very much once again. yes i love plants, and i used to live outside the city with a backyard. now i'm in the middle of the city with very limited space. i have a maple tree that i've been taking care of for a while, if i can keep it alive, it is going to outlive me. which is very cool to think about. i also have couple of chestnut and mimosa trees. lots of citruses and apples. all from seeds. they come indoors during winter and outside in the summer.