Combining common hardware store parts with readily available micro-controllers yields an automated vertical hydroponic garden system for indoors or outdoor growing.
Got garden fever but the cold and snowy weather is keeping you inside? Here's one antidote, at least for the DIY crowd: build a robotic vertical garden for automated indoor gardening!
The Robotic Urban Farm System (RUFS), from Paul Langdon of BLT Robotics, calls for parts readily available from most hardware stores for building the growing system itself, and then integrates several Arduino micro-controllers and a Raspberry Pi for automation and monitoring of the system.
The vertical hydroponic garden, which has space for "up to 160 plants" in an area of about 25 square feet, uses PVC pipe and gutter parts for the frame, which are easily sourced and can be worked with mostly basic tools (though an electric heat gun is required for one step).
The automation side of the RUFS is a bit more complex, yet because it uses the readily available Arduino components and a Raspberry Pi to do the heavy lifting, electronically speaking, it's well within the reach of a hobbyist or DIY builder.
The Arduino and Raspberry Pi components allow for not only environmental monitoring (temperature, humidity, lighting) of the conditions near the growing unit, but are also used to automate watering cycles, to monitor and manage nutrients in the water, as well as monitor and correct pH in the system. The RUFS plans also feature the use of a smartphone app using the Raspberry Pi as a webserver for monitoring and control of the system, but the management interface is said to still be in a development stage, and the API and SDK have not yet been released.
The RUFS was presented at the 2014 Maker Faire New York, where it was awarded Best in Class - Sustainability, and the plans are published in full on Instructables, where it was chosen as the Grand Prize winner for the 2014 Tech Contest.
Find out more about the RUFS vertical garden system at BLT Robotics.