Hydroponic garden automation and monitoring

bkuschak(N. California)December 1, 2004

Is there any interest here in automation (i.e. automatic nutrient addition, automatic fill/flush)? What about using a PC to monitor the hydroponic system parameters, such as pH, EC, temperature, light, etc?

I've started an open-source project to address some of these goals. I'd be interested in hearing from any technically-minded folks with similar interests or ideas.



Here is a link that might be useful: hmeter project

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This is awesome - I've wanted to do something like this for a long time. I am limited by my total and complete incompetence, though. Love to learn by watching talented people think.


    Bookmark   December 1, 2004 at 10:09PM
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chuck(Z10,SW FL)

Hi, I have been thinking about this for a while and would recommend using the basic stamp module as the heart of an automated system. Just do a search on google for basic stamp. It is made by a company called parallax. It can be programmed using windows and one model has 16 I/Os. Just a thought I wanted to share. chuck

    Bookmark   December 20, 2004 at 9:19AM
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wampuscat(z9 fl)

Brian..You are way out of my scope of hydro.
but I do use the micro II doser for nutrients and control the ph auto..
I only grow tomatoes and peppers and both are about the same as far as the ec and the ph go..I noticed that you are growing other veggies as well..Is that why you run your EC's so low?


    Bookmark   January 21, 2005 at 9:16PM
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bkuschak(N. California)


It looks like the microdoser II has been discontinued. It looks decent for the price, but I wanted a system which would allow me to easily change the nutrient mix over time (vegetative vs. flowering/fruiting). I was running a low EC since I had other plants (lettuce, cucumber) which didn't like the high concentration. Now these are running off a separate reservoir so that isn't a problem anymore.


    Bookmark   January 24, 2005 at 1:14PM
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wampuscat(z9 fl)

Brian..the microdoser is still available..at present I have mine on the air pump but just got a couple of selenoids in to change over..that way I can use 5 gal.doser containers..and not worry bout air leaks..


    Bookmark   January 27, 2005 at 6:37AM
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    Bookmark   February 3, 2005 at 9:30PM
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bkuschak(N. California)

Not even close...

My system is intended to be much more than simply a pH monitor. It feeds real time pH, EC, water level, temperature data to a PC for logging and graph/statistics generation. The PC serves this data on a webpage. User is notified via email or page if preset conditions are exceeded. The PC also controls an accurate nutrient doeser to feed 4 separate nutrients to the reservoir. (The nutrient ratios may change over time). It can also control lamp and pump cycles and performs automatic fill/flush.

It may completely automate everything except planting and harvesting ;-)

Not completely finished yet, but getting there...

    Bookmark   February 4, 2005 at 4:02AM
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In my opinion the most basic automated system is one where the nutrient in the reservoir can be dumped and replaced without hands-on intervention.
This would take two timers and two pumps.
One timer/pump combo would remove the nutrient and the other combo would replace it.
You would have to determine the replacement interval, the volume of the reservoir, and the pump rate.
For the dump cycle Timer On = Volume of Reservoir/Pump Rate
The replacement cycle would occur several minutes after the dump cycle ends. Assuming the same pump type the replacement timer on interval would be the same as the dump cycle. Running the replacement cycle on time alone however could run the risk of overfilling the reservoir. So an electrical float switch could be placed in series in replacement pump circuit to cut off the pump at a predetermined level.

To make the system more advanced one could use a sensor/switch to control the pumps instead of using timers. EC and pH sensors would determine the nutrient replacement interval.

One can also add a float valve with a gravity feed water reservoir to compensate for water loss due to transpiration and evaporation.

    Bookmark   February 12, 2005 at 6:00PM
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The Grobot is a total ripoff

    Bookmark   November 24, 2011 at 2:04PM
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Before I bought the grobot system I went looking for grobot reviews and didn't find much of anything good or bad. The features seemed to be exactly what any grower would want but for me the gamble didn't pay off. In my opinion the Grobot system is a $3000 unreliable piece of garbage. Once you figure out that it can't be relied upon your out of luck because they don't offer refunds! Even worse their support is absolutely useless. The most common problem was that the system regularly wouldn't turn off the lights in the room when it was supposed to! Even worse several times the system WAY overdosed the reservoir with ph down which cause a cascade of problems. And I frequently can't login without having to restart it and/or my router. This thing stressed out the plants to no end. Currently I can only use it as a monitor, the control features just can't be relied upon.

I really wish I wouldn't have bought it :(

    Bookmark   February 13, 2012 at 5:14AM
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Actually the main business is computers and networks, and we are involved with many environmental control systems. I've actually been thinking along the lines of an automated system using a STAMP type setup similar to what we use in robotics

The A/D converters are the fun part

    Bookmark   February 15, 2012 at 12:51PM
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Sorry for bringing up a 10 year old post but I thought you all would get a kick out of this. I engineer and install building automation systems for a living and I have brought the technology to my garden and sprinkler system. I have 4 valves installed that are all computer controlled and will open when I want them too or according to a program. I also have a chemical feeder that can automatically mix chemicals and dump them into the garden. I can set a schedule for the valves to open and close so I never have to go and water the garden anymore!

Here is a link that might be useful: What I Do

    Bookmark   August 1, 2013 at 4:02PM
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    Bookmark   September 17, 2013 at 11:37PM
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There's a lot of bleed over between hydroponcs and the reef keeping communities need for monitoring parameters and automation. if someone is superhandy, arduino based controllers for the diy crowd is a popular starting point.

for monitoring, you could modify an APEX or reefangel system to cover the basics, EC, PH, temp, nutrient feeding on a basic timer, with access and control via iphone or internet

for automated water changes, a liter meter dual pump could do the trick.

    Bookmark   October 20, 2013 at 8:10AM
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