The Plant Arm




About: Please support and share our mission; the Plant Doctor is a non-profit, open source online research laboratory specializing in electronics+plants. Our vision is to bring together nature and technology in a s...

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update September, 16, 2014 - The Plant Arm basic

update June 30, 2014 - The Plant Arm - Garduino Upgrade


[ new design;The Plant Shelf - The Plant Shelf, a form of live art.

" Why? because plants make anywhere a lovely place to live, clean the air and give off positive energy. we can have walls covered with these shelves with different sizes and shapes. what if paintings weren't the only form of art to hang on a wall ?! people work in office spaces with zero sunlight and no live plants anywhere, what if we changed that for the common good. " ]

hello everyone,

in this instructable i have collaborated all my plant arm projects to get everyone upto speed. and a better understanding to previous viewers. thank you all for your interest !

once finished you will;

- be able to put together a plant arm on your own

- learn everything about high power led.s & the future of lighting

- gain basic/novice electrical - soldering skills !

- be able to imagine vast amounts of other applications for this technology.

*this metal is very easy to bend, but at the same time very strong, yet again you can rip it with your bare hands. it is extremely cheap and very easy to find, especially in developing/3rd world countries.


here we go..>


*plants used in the pictures are; the branchy, miniature tree looking friend is a citrus tree. I have eaten some lemons, oranges, grapefruit etc. and planted the seeds all over the garden. I have about 10 of them now still growing, about 1.5yrs old. I trim it and keep it small on purpose, but you can easily grow a very large and a tall plant this way. use the lights as branches and stick them in there with the tree. not 1 HUGE light above, just a couple mini lights all around and inside the plant :) this is my theory, and so far so good. trust me, I have done all that from above stuff, but if space is an issue, this is the way to go ! the other plant is a cat plant, some sort of grass that is supposed to calm them down, but my cat isn't interested in it at all so I stole it from him and now it is my test subject, it get's trimmed to, because if I don't almost every week it touches the lights... some plants grow faster then others and require different light spectrum, you will learn about all of this on your own during your research journey.

it's not that complicated, plants already know how to grow, they just need simple things, light, water and attention, just like any other pet.

Step 1: 1W Plant Arm

step 1; arm & light

step 2; solar pack

some close ups
this is wired in series > 3.2 - 3.4V @ 350mA / 1 x 1W 430nm high power led

eBay price; $9.00USD (free shipping) for 20 pack so, $0.45USD for this system the adapter to run it was $1.00 from the local thrift store - make sure the mA and Voltage matches !

total cost $1.45USD (+solder+22"wire+metal hanger+etc.)

Step 2: 3W Plant Arm

some close ups

this is wired in series > 9.6 - 10.2V @ 350mA / 3 x 1W 430nm high power led

eBay price; $9.00USD (free shipping) for 20 pack so, $1.35USD for this system

the adapter to run it was $1.00 from the local thrift store - make sure the mA and Voltage matches !

total cost $2.35USD (+solder+22"wire+metal hanger+etc.)

Step 3: 7W Plant Arm

some close ups

this is wired in series, actually more like combined as a frame. 2 seperate light arms secured to each other, calculating angles, with nut&bolt.

3W 430nm arm + 4W 660nm red arm, both connected in series.

4W arm specs;

this is wired 2 in series, 2 in parallel > 5V @ 700mA / 4 x 1W 660nm high power led
eBay price; $9.00USD (free shipping) for 20 pack so, $1.80USD for this system the adapter to run it was $1.00 from the local thrift store - make sure the mA and Voltage matches !

Step 4: 10W Plant Arm

I'm at 10Watts and still no need for a heat sink. no other light source can get this close to the plant. cool to touch, no heat

this is a bit tricky, red lights are again connected 2 in series, 2 in parallel so; 4x1W 660nm 5V @ 350mA then I have on top of it all in series 6 x 1W 430nm 19.2-20.4V @350mA totaling upto 10Watts of incredible brightness.

I mean I have been working with CFL lights for years but after my first arm's success, i've put them all in to the dark places of the storage room. these lights are so bright that you can.t even stare next to them, incomparable, HPS lights create soooo much waste and take so much space. this arm should be producing ~1000lumens (does anyone know how to calculate this exactly, i can give detailed specs info).

total cost $4.50USD for LEDs (+solder+22"wire+metal hanger+etc.) + LED driver ($2.75 lots of options here...) = $7.25USD
good enough price to convince many CFL users to switch I bet. see the cool thing is that the more you connect, the cheaper it gets kind of :) you can get them in 50 packs and 10 pack drivers... it's amazingly getting cheaper each day. If I used a single 10W high power led, I would need a huge heat sink and a fan ! this is much better

so there you have it, just use the perforated metal hanger wisely and with some nut&bolts, metal glue anything is possible !

Step 5: History, Future, Applications


it all started with....


I am adding moisture, temperature and light sensors + webcam all run by arduino. lights will come on when the sun is weak, will e-mail me when water or temperature drops, also be able to view live from anywhere and take pictures to see over-time growth;


we can transfer empty dark indoor cubicals/walls/hallways into living, breathing places of love;

3 People Made This Project!


  • Tape Contest

    Tape Contest
  • Arduino Contest 2019

    Arduino Contest 2019
  • Trash to Treasure

    Trash to Treasure

8 Discussions


4 years ago on Step 3

Can you use pre made LED strips if they have red or blue lights in them? Or is that kind of "color" in the typical light strips not true red or blue light?

3 replies
Akin YildizMorNiLachnan

Reply 4 years ago on Step 3

hello MorNLachnan,

i don't think it is an issue of the right spectrum/color, but more about the strength of light. these are each 1W @350mA leds. the current especially is very high per led. which produces stronger light, more importantly the light reaches further - more area coverage.


if you must use LED strips, yes those reds and blues will probably be fine, but honestly you can just use warm/cool whites. check these out;





thank you for your interest.

MorNiLachnanAkin Yildiz

Reply 4 years ago on Step 3

I had been wondering about this issue re: color, intensity etc. but it rarely is mentioned elsewhere.


4 years ago

Hello Akin Ive started following your posts. I like what u have done. So should I use red and UV lights together or was it just a cosmetic choice?

1 reply
Akin YildizMadMuz

Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

hello madmuz,


from my experiments I do not see any difference between 660nm or warm white, same as 430nm and cool white. basically;

660nm LED = warm white LED = 2700K CFL for flowering stage

430nm LED = cool white LED = 5000+L CFL for vegetative stage

since in nature the light isn't just 1 spectrum but more of a combination of all, I would still mix and match as many different colored LEDs as I can find. but if I am trying to flower a plant, I would use more 660nm/warm white combination, always throwing in a few 430nm and cool whites.


it was a cosmetic choice in this case, but again, it works the same. so if you are to use the lights in your living room and don't want it to look like a space station, go ahead and use the regular colored ones, but I would suggest to throw in a few different colors. to give you a better idea, if we were to make an LED grow light using 11x1W leds, for the flowering stage I would mix;

8x 1W warm white + 2x 1W 660nm + 1x 1W coolwhite (or 430nm) = 11W

and for the vegetative stage I would mix;

8x 1W cool white + 2x 1W 430nm + 1x 1W 660nm (or warm white) = 11W


they sell the LEDs in bulk, just remember to get a few LED drivers and create your own color spectrum and experiement. I have once made 20x 1W 660nm ONLY, and it was so red, that you actually couldn't even look at anywhere near the light, it got very annoying - it worked amazingly however.


thank you for your interest. to see a better use of my mixed color grow lights, check out;

the life seeder:

the plant box:



Akin Yildiz

4 years ago on Introduction

exactly, that's the point. i can stick a tiny led light right on top of a new branching stem within the branches of the tree, to give it some boost. or around the plant to get an overall coverage as well. and best of all I can take my plant anywhere with my, no sun is needed.