LCD for Arduino Internet of Things Garden

I’m learning so much!

Today I learned how to display my sensor readings on a LCD.  I think now I’m ready to work for NASA.

But seriously, it’s quite rewarding to finish an arduino sketch, upload it to the board, and have it do what it’s supposed to.

arduino IoT hydroponic garden controller

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How to Make Rain Barrels for Hydroponic Garden

Starting with the right water is absolutely essential to the success of your hydroponic system.  If I had a Reverse Osmosis (RO) filter, I’d probably use that water.

But, I don’t. And I also interested in making better use of the rain we get.  So I’ll be gathering our rain and using it for my garden!

I found these barrels on craigslist for $20.  Most of the ones I found in my area were chemical barrels which I didn’t want to use.  These were food-grade pickle barrels.  They stunk until I washed them. Now they’re in place and ready to go!

rain barrel for hydroponic garden

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I’m no programmer. But I have a vision!

I now have about all the parts and sensors I think I need for my arduino controller.  Next I need to get a clear plan for the logic of my arduino sketch.  This will be my first real arduino project, so I’m not positive this loop will be workable.

So, if I can have everything my way, here’s what I want to happen:

Every 15 Minutes around the clock:

  • Measure Air temp, record to database, display on screen
  • measure air humidity, record, display
  • measure if it is raining (yes/no), record
  • measure water temp, record, display
  • measure pH, record, display
  • measure water level alarm (yes/no), record

Then, when the night flag is set:

  • every 15 minutes, check for daylight.   If daylight is detected, set day flag to 1.
  • At next check, if still light, set night flag to zero, daytime flag to 2.
  • Or, if it’s dark again, set daytime flag back to zero. This helps eliminate false day starting because of a flashlight or something.

Once Day has started:

  • Turn on the Dutch Bucket pump for X minutes. Log event in journal.
  • After X time is done, turn off, log event
  • After Y minutes of pause, repeat, log, etc.
  • Every 15 minutes, check for night. (same process as we used for detecting day, just reversed)

Additionally, I need a couple triggers to occur if certain probe readings are out of range.

  • If the water tank level switch is on (water low) send me a text, log event
  • if pH is too high or low, text, log event
  • if dutch bucket moisture sensor is dry, start the pump even if it isn’t time yet

Now, to do some coding…

arduino controlled hydroponics garden system

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Drip Irrigation Manifold for Hydroponics System

After building my a-frame, I was having trouble getting even water pressure and nutrient delivery all the way to the top.  I found this 9-spot manifold at Lowes that is perfect!

hydroponics water manifold distributor

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My hydroponics NFT a-frame is ready!

It took some math to make this work on a slope, but it’s done

DIY hydroponics a-frame

Anyone want the plans?

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Where should I plant my garden?

After reading about the kinds of plants I’m hoping to grow, I decided I need a spot that gets full sun most of the day.  I’ll put all my full-sun plants on one side of my NFT A-Frame, then the partial sun plants on the back where they can get some shade.

To find the best spot, I did a sun study one Saturday.  Here’s the steps:

  1. sketch out your yard
  2. number potential garden areas on your sketch
  3. Starting at sunrise, check these spots in your yard every hour (or half hour if you can).  Mark each area with No Sun, Partial Sun, Shade, or Full Sun.
  4. At the end of the day, find the spot that has the most “Full Sun” (or whatever you need).

I love data!  Here’s how I did my sun study:

where should I plant my garden

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I’m planning my first garden.  Everything on the right will probably be in a NFT system.

Everything on the bottom left will be in dutch buckets.

what can I grow in dutch buckets

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My first APDuino build is ready!

I mentioned the APDuino project before.  They have a file ready to flash to your arduino that will measure a couple sensors and upload the data.

My data is even live and accessible anywhere via the interwebs. See?

APDUINO dashboard

I think APDuino has a couple shortfalls:

  • You can’t edit the code to add or change sensors
  • only 30 days of readings are stored
  • Your account is only live for 30 days.  I asked what happens after that and they said something vague like, “It depends how far you get.”

I like where they’re headed.  For someone not interested in coding anything themselves, it could be an option to check out.

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