Week 3: The Design

Week 3: 6 hrs

This was a hands on week. In addition to starting (online) school full time for the semester, I was tasked with– wait for it– coming up with the design for the indoor garden. While it felt nice to put pen to paper, I couldn’t help but feel stuck once I finished drawing the leaves on the hopeful test-subject of our experiment. How tall was this thing supposed to be? Where should I put the water? What are we even growing again?

When I looked up easy vegetables to grow indoors, I came across a list with mainly root veggies; radishes, onions, carrots. That’s not exciting, so my brother and I decided on hot peppers. With the help of this instuctables project that my brother had linked me, I was able to come up with an initial plan that seemed, at the very least, feasible. Please excuse my panicked pen drawings and chicken scratch handwriting.

Part 4, which is supposed to be where all the technical and programming working of the project are is aptly represented by a question mark.

I figured with so many working parts, I should just take them one at a time and look up how other people have figured them in the past. First up was the watering system. I took some (most) of my inspiration from this DIY irrigation system I found online. The idea is that water and water-based fertilizer would be stored in containers under the plant and have a peristaltic pump bring the liquid up through hosing attached to the sides, watering the plant at timed intervals, and disbursing the fertilizer at more infrequent intervals. I’m realizing now that I completely forgot to integrate the soil-moisture sensor into this system. Ideally, we’ll figure out a way to get the sensor to send a message to the water pump when the plant is dry so that the watering system can be fully automated.

Here we have part 2 of the design, which is the cooling / temperature control aspect of the project. When ordering parts, we got a four-pack of Raspberry Pi controlled fans, which, as it turns out, are meant for Raspberry Pi’s, meaning, they’re tiny. Oh well, I figured if we have four of them, we could still give one little pepper plant enough of a breeze to do the job. I drew up what I thought could work well for our project with help from this instructables project on setting up these fans. It talked about things that I had a vague understanding of, breadboards, jumper wires, Ohm resistors, but it wasn’t until my brother explained it to me step by step that I could actually get a grip on what was going on. The power flows through the circuit and is toggled on and off with the code that we give it via Raspberry Pi and python. I coulda guessed that much. But, anyways, I realized after the fact that I again forgot to integrate the temperature and humidity sensor into the system. Let me be clear, these designs are far from perfect.

Finally, I have this little design for the lighting system, which will consist of blue and red LED lights. I’m hoping that the straight-forwardness of this article means that the lighting system will be the least complicated thing I have to face. Because we will probably set the lighting system to be toggled on and off at set intervals, I don’t have to worry about integrating (or forgetting to integrate) sensors into the mix.

After a long meeting with my brother, I’m realizing I have a much more flimsy grasp on all of this than I initially thought. Hopefully this trial-by-fire is going to be a fruitful (ha) learning experience for me. I definitely need to be doing more research, watching more YouTube videos, and reading more articles about how the schematics of this project actually work. Maybe next time you hear from me I’ll have prettier sketches with ALL of the pieces included.

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