Using hydroMazing to Monitor your Grow Space

The hydroMazing Smart Garden System does not require an Internet connection in order to grow plants.  The Internet access is for you, the user and administrator of the system and any updates that I release.  Data logged by the system is saved locally on the Raspberry Pi where it is processed. I designed hydroMazing Smart Garden System to grow with you as you become more advanced in your growing knowledge and techniques.  The default system settings are set to grow most herbs and lettuces.  These settings also include the notifications that you will receive when the system detects issues.  

Daily Light Integral

Daily Light Integral is a way to measure how much light is available on average to plants for their absorption. Or, as described on Wikipedia, "Daily light integral (DLI) describes the number of photosynthetically active photons (individual particles of light in the 400-700 nm range) that are delivered to a specific area over a 24-hour period."

The DIY Smart Garden System

My name is Cory, I'm a Technical Craftsman specializing in creative problem solving within electronics and software engineering.  Professionally, I've worked as an electronics engineer, a plastics fabricator, software engineer, an industrial laser technician, and, of course, a coffee barista.  I've spent the last several years working on a Smart Garden System project I named, hydroMazing.  I'm sharing my work with you because I would like to empower everyone who is interested in a "Smart" approach to gardening.

Managing Nutrient Solution Systems

A nutrient solution system typically consists of a two or three part liquid solution containing the essential diet for a plant added to clean tap water.  The manufacturer of the nutrient solution will include or reference a feeding schedule recommended for various common types of plants. Unfortunately, most minerals are mined and processed by the manufacturers, however, many offer an organic option while some specialize in only organic.

Wired or Wireless?

Electricity replaces the sun, wind, and some natural processes as the dependency for plants to grow indoors.   The first glaring problem with the typical indoor garden is that extension wires are annoying and a potential safety hazard.  On the other hand, wireless communications can lack the reliability of the wired variant.  Going further, should the system be available to the local network or should it be connected to the Internet?

Why Arduino when you can Pi?

The greatest advantage to using the Arduino family of microcontrollers for DIY electronics projects, is that they are ubiquitous.  Since they are so available, they are inexpensive and you can find open-source software to get started. If you’ve ever had the opportunity to work with an Arduino Uno microcontroller board, then you’ve probably executed the flashing LED example.  Going further, you might attach a button, or switch, to trigger the LED or to turn it off making the project interactive.  There are many sensors that could be connected to the Arduino Uno and setup to trigger events, such as the LED flashing, using threshold values that we would need to experiment with in order to figure out what settings work best for creating the effect we want.

Maintaining your Indoor Garden

What needs monitoring?  What needs to be done to make sure plants grow well? Research your plant's needs.  Many cool weather plants typically enjoy temperature​s in the day of ​70°-­75°F​, and night ​55°-­60°F​ with a relative-humidity​ of ​40%-­60%​ for most growing plants.  A water and nutrient solution system should have a temperature between ​18­-21°​C (​64­-70°​F).  These factors vary depending on variety, selection, phase of growth that the plants are currently growing, and hardiness, some plants can tolerate stress better than others.

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