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View Full Version : Cheap & Simple Growroom Automation!



Reefer420
02-12-07, 10:18 PM
I'm looking into growroom automation AND security with home automation as a sideline - all using one system attached to the PC's serial port - or USB maybe.

I got the inspiration from Growtronix - A system which is very similar to the one I'm going to build.

It will consist of a number of sensors and switches (temperature, humidity, solar intensity, window & door contact switches, PIR motion sensors and eventually pH and CF, maybe dissolved oxygen content sensors too). Each of these 'modules' can be connected in any standard network topology (daisychain, star etc.) simply by connecting them with Cat5 network cable. The cable will need a bit of rewiring so it's easier if I make my own.

I will write the software - I'm no programmer but have some limited experience and have been assured by various sources that the programming shouldn't be too difficult to get to grips with.

I will be using a low spec PC to run the software to test it's capabilities on a slow machine. It is connected to the PC via a small serial to RJ45 connector or using a master hub with multiple RJ45 channels.

The PC (The Master) will continuously monitor whatever sensors or switches are attached to the system and use a number of relays to control various aspects of the growroom. For instance, high temp switches on fans, low temp switches on a heater, lights can be controlled by the PC rather than those temperamental mechanical timers, window,door and motion sensors could send SMS message when activated, flood sensors could do the same. Couple these with a couple of webcams and a seure server and you can do it all. I also hope to produce a module that can sense the temperature, humidity and solar intensity all in one.

I hope to have all the parts necessary to start building the system this week and would like some input as the project progresses. Also, I hope to be able to manufacture these devices once I have sorted out any bugs and have everything working perfectly. It would seem to have a demand - especially if they're cheap enough! I reckon I could sell them for around 20-40 per device. You could have a whole system measuring temp, humidity & solar in two zones with a couple of other sensors for just a couple hundred quid - including a crappy old PC!

Anyway, I'll shut up now

Bitterfly
02-12-07, 11:26 PM
now mate if you can do this and then have it controlled via the internet then ill be really interested!!!

Reefer420
02-12-07, 11:36 PM
It's a possibility, but why would you need to control it via the Internet?? Really? The system will be designed around the objective which is to maintain growroom conditions such as temperature, humidity, lighting, as well as security issues automatically. I would consider the option maybe of resetting any alarms via the Internet and the CCTV console but other than that?? I dunno. Let me know what you had in mind.

Bitterfly
02-12-07, 11:43 PM
what if (for example) i had i house in the middle of nowhere that i wanted to do a grow in so even if things fucked up nothing could be linked back to me??


who doesnt want a no risk grow??

Reefer420
03-12-07, 12:08 AM
Everyone wants a risk-free grow, but the house would be linked back to you anyway - wouldn't it? Therefore you'd be implicated immediately. I suppose if you are growing remotely then it would be advantageous to be able to change timer regimes, temperature/humidity settings etc.

Another idea I considered (when I was stoned as a twat!) - When the motion detectors are activated or a window or door contact is broken or both, the system gives an audible voice warning (your own voice maybe!?) telling them to "Fuck off out of this house before all door handles are electrified" then a count down maybe! Ha! i seen a similar idea on a post somewhere else - what an idea, you could set a load of traps couldn't ya and watch it all from your secure online cctv console! LOL!

Bitterfly
03-12-07, 12:19 AM
Everyone wants a risk-free grow, but the house would be linked back to you anyway - wouldn't it? Therefore you'd be implicated immediately.

there'd be ways round it. i cant think of them precisely right now tho :P


and anyway, if this house was right out in the country or some shit, its highly doubtful any police are gonna be sniffing about!

Growz
03-12-07, 01:51 AM
mate welcome to THC

Mind if i pull up a chair buddy this sounds very interesting

:joint:

How-High
03-12-07, 10:13 AM
I like Bitterfly's thinking, Cash unfront, Wireless networks and your away!

More on the subject sounds like a great idea, another reason why you would want to check out over the internet is to check if the light needs moving up if its not convinient to check at the time!

Go for it man, defo wanna see it when its finished.

Ragemonkey
03-12-07, 04:23 PM
Wheres the fun if you can't get your fingers dirty :P

Reefer420
03-12-07, 04:34 PM
... You want to get your fingers dirty fiddling with timers every time the weather changes? manually monitoring thermometers? humidity gauges??

This system is going to be designed to
1. be modular - so you can add as many of as few sensors as yu want.
2. be simple to use and expand
3. maintain growroom or home conditions ie. temperature, humdity, etc and also act as a security suite for the paranoid amongst us (that's all of us then!)

It will not be a replacement for the gardener/horticulturist - you'll still need to trim your plants, take clones, plant seeds, transplant your infants, spray them, watch for spider mites, check for fungus ... the list goes on!!! This is not COMPLETE growroom automation, more Growroom ASSISTANCE.

...:toke:

skunklover
03-12-07, 05:02 PM
...additional assistance could be offered by a pair of trained monkeys to trim your plants, take clones, plant seeds, transplant your infants, spray them, watch for spider mites, check for fungus etc. I guess they could take care of the harvest too, you could just visit every now and then to pick up a new stash and feed them some bananas.

Just don't tech them how to smoke too, or they'll blaze through the lot.

lkdj2003
04-12-07, 02:36 AM
I will be watching this one, it will be very interesting if you get it all together and working. :pimped:

Best of luck with it mate. :smokie:

Welcome to THC btw. http://www.thctalk.com/cannabis-forum/images/icons/icon6.gif

Reefer420
04-12-07, 12:28 PM
Well, just to update y'all...

I'm waiting on most of the components and materials I need to start putting together a sensor and the serial interface. I've just been in touch with the state-side supplier and the order is now in the 'processing' stage? I can't make much sense of most these online tracking systems - first it says PREPARING? then it says PENDING? now it says PROCESSING? What does all that tell me ... feck all!

Anyway, i have pretty much all my gear - soldering iron, solder, helping hands, anti-static mat etc - ready to go! I'm just waiting on these other few bits.

I will begin by building one sensor, the interface and making them talk to each other.

In addition, I bought a few small project boxes (58x35x21mm) a couple of days ago and with a few holes in the lid, I think will be perfect for containing at least the smaller sensors such as temperature and humidity.

I also picked up something called Plasti-Dip - it's a spray on rubber/plastic coating and can be used for all sorts of applications. I will use it to waterproof my circuits.

lkdj2003
04-12-07, 03:25 PM
Cool, im really looking forward to this, who knows it may well become the next big idea. :toke:

Blueberryog
04-12-07, 06:24 PM
Its possible to have an automated grow room and controll it from a satallite location. Theres a few problems with it though. Im sure you can be tracked through the internet and all that crap but they can also track ordershipments of lights so that doesnt really concern me. The plants are what concerns me. It seems hard enough to grow when the damn things are in my closet and im checking them everyday. I dont believe theres a proven equation for a sucessful grow, individual attention is always needed. So i dont think your grow would be that sucessful unless you had a check up every couple of days.

Reefer420
04-12-07, 09:38 PM
This system is by no means a replacement for the gardener and regular checks must be made as per usual - I wouldn't rely on technology 100% either! As I said, the purpose is to maintain growroom conditions such as temperature and humidity, check that lights are working when they should be working, detecting intruders, either the mundane tasks will be eliminated like altering timer schedules for heaters as the weather changes, you'd know when your bulb blew or a reservoir leaked because your growroom assistant will let you know. The point of this post is ... 'You WILL still need to get your hands dirty! I know how much you all love that aspect of it too.

Ragemonkey
05-12-07, 12:14 PM
This system is by no means a replacement for the gardener and regular checks must be made as per usual - I wouldn't rely on technology 100% either! As I said, the purpose is to maintain growroom conditions such as temperature and humidity, check that lights are working when they should be working, detecting intruders, either the mundane tasks will be eliminated like altering timer schedules for heaters as the weather changes, you'd know when your bulb blew or a reservoir leaked because your growroom assistant will let you know. The point of this post is ... 'You WILL still need to get your hands dirty! I know how much you all love that aspect of it too.

That sells it for me !

D
05-12-07, 08:05 PM
...additional assistance could be offered by a pair of trained monkeys to trim your plants, take clones, plant seeds, transplant your infants, spray them, watch for spider mites, check for fungus etc. I guess they could take care of the harvest too, you could just visit every now and then to pick up a new stash and feed them some bananas.

Just don't tech them how to smoke too, or they'll blaze through the lot.

Or you could just get married ;)





...mind you, I'd rather have the monkeys :p :thefinger:

asci
06-12-07, 01:28 PM
Nice idea mate but I reckon you're over complicating things. If you want it to shut down when an intruder appears, that bit is easy and without programming! Simply have a sensor set up to a power switch so that if triggered, all goes off.

You can autonomise the watering (if using soil) with a setup written on thc somewhere. Humidity sensors linked directly to rvks will sort out temps and humidity...

Still, fantastic idea you have, but you must have been very stoned when you first came up with it! :)

Reefer420
25-12-07, 06:53 PM
Well, it's Christmas and I was hoping to have this bloody project well underway by now, however, the package has been seized at customs this side of the water for VAT purposes so once I pay the VAT (only about £25) they will deliver the next day! I will sort this out ASAP but suspect it will have to be the New Year now.

I've received the webcams, hub and extension cables for the CCTV system so have made a start on that. The cams are wicked. By that, I mean they seem to be solid sturdy well built units and the actual camera part is only about 1.5"x1.5"x1.5". They also feature 6x Infrared LEDs for night vision - please note when purchasing webcams for night vision that some feature normal LEDs designed to light the area it is capturing on vid rather than provide infrared light.

I bought five of these little buggers and have positioned one near the PC covering the entrance to my grow, one covering the vegetative grow room and one covering the flowering grow room. Each one is set to detect motion in it's entire field of vision and record for a minimum of 30 seconds each time motion is detected. At the moment, the webcam near the entrance is also set to send a pic via email when motion is detected - it will eventually send a SMS text message too. The veg cam takes a still jpg image every 30 seconds too as i am hoping to try a bit of time lapse. I have a problem to overcome with the flowering cam though - the light is too bright! Way too bright!! I only use a single 400W Grolux lamp, but it burnt one camera out before I even used it!! I will have to mount a lense off a pair of sunglasses to protect it. I have also covered the infrared LEDs on this unit to prevent any unwanted light (visible or not) upsetting the flowering cycle. I also want to place one viewing each main door to the property ie. front & back.

None of the webcams are set up to sound an alarm when motion is detected so any intruder will not know they have been spotted.

The software I am using is 'Cam Wizard' - I downloaded the trial and am considering paying for the full version as it seems to do all the things I need - including ftp, http, email etc. Google 'Cam Wizard' for loads of download sites.

COSTS (Roughly):

5x Webcams..........£25 (1 broke so around £6 per camera)
1x 7-port USB Hub..........£7
2x USB Extension Cables (3m & 5m)..........£6.50

Here is a pic of the webcams I am using. They are simple, compact, good quality and well-made.

Reefer420
28-12-07, 12:06 AM
Paid the VAT earlier on the package from the states, I estimated about 25 (taking into consideration unreasonable fees etc.) - It was 36.xx due to some ParcelForce Charge! Unbelievable! Anyways it's paid and they should arrive tomorrow ... um, later today!

:P

Reefer420
05-01-08, 10:39 PM
OK cool, got my package from the states and have finally begun construction - some practical hands on rather than just theory! Also got the RS CD ROM now and their website is back up and running (kind of... it's intermittent!) so I've sourced almost all the components I'm going to require for the various units, however, on my first visit to the RS warehouse shop I discovered that I can only purchase over the counter if I am trade :(

It seems I can place an order online for collection as I am registered, but I can't 'just' drop in... I have a business that I can register with though and I only need a letterhead apparently so I will do that when I go down to collect my items.

I'm going to insert here some of the results of my brainstorming over the last couple of weeks - please give your opinion...


I have decided to use the 1-wire bus as the basis for the system due to its simplicity, it's inexpensive compared to other methods and can be used over longer cable lengths.

The system will consist of a number of modules/units that can be built up individually to suit the users specific needs or purchased in a package format ie. starter package, ph control package, nutrient control package, etc.

As far as I can determine, there will be three main types of module...
__________________________________________________ _______________________

1. Controller Module - Each system requires either one of these to function.

Option 1. A Core Unit which has RF capabilities (ie. remote shutdown and remote unlock via RF keyfob) and does not need a PC to operate, although a computer will be required to program it....OR....
Option 2. Serial interface - requires always on PC connection. No RF functionality.
__________________________________________________ _______________________

2. Sensor Modules - Each system can include as many of these modules as required. The modules below are the INPUTS to the system and provide all the real-time information to control the OUTPUTS.

Humidity/Temperature/Solar Module *
Liquid Temperature Module *
Moisture Module *
* These modules could be combined with a relay unit to operate appliances like fans, pumps, humidifiers, etc.
pH Module **
TDS Module **
** Use these in combination with the Peristaltic Pump Modules to dose your tanks
Ionisation Sensor Module [Fire] ***
Flood Warning Module ***
Motion Detector Module ***
Door/Window Status Module ***
*** These modules would ideally be used with the GSM Module for sending text alerts when something could be wrong.
Float Module [Detects current water level]
__________________________________________________ _______________________

3. Control Modules - Each system can include as many of these modules as required. The modules below are the OUTPUTS to the system and are operated by the core unit/pc based on real-time data from the INPUT Modules.

Door Lock Module
CO2 Doser Module [would require additional equipment eg. co2 tank etc]
Relay Module [Four 13A sockets - No hard wiring]
GSM Module
Peristaltic Pump Module *
* Combine with pH and TDS Modules for complete nutrient maintenance and control.
Water Valve Module **
** Toying with this one... Control the flow of mains water - designed for use with the Float Module.
__________________________________________________ _______________________

Other accessories required to complete the system...

Cables to connect between modules - Necessary.
Hub - May be necessary depending on requirements.
Power Injector - Some Modules require an extra power source. May be necessary.
RJ45 Coupler - May be required to extend cable lengths.

__________________________________________________ _______________________

I will be looking for help with the following in the future ...

Building a suitable standalone unit (The Core Unit) that will be able to store a number of days worth of data, send sms messages, maybe act as a web server too?? Help on this will be much appreciated.

I am looking at various pH and TDS sensors - any help with this.

May need help with Netbeans & Java at a later stage.

Does anyone have any contacts within the industry ie commercial growers, grow shops, I thought it may be an idea to contact someone like Growell or another large retailer to see if they may be interested in funding the development of the system in return for some exclusive distribution rights or something?? In any case, I will be needing help with distribution, marketing, I can build a good website, packaging, pcb manufacture... ah! there's a question mark - Anyone who can help with pcb manufacture... would it be cheaper to make my own or get em made n China or similar?

... if you think you might be able to help in any way, please message me, add me as a buddy - just get in touch.

Also, anyone wishing to invest some capital into this project is more than welcome to get in touch.

Bitterfly
06-01-08, 09:58 AM
although i cant really help ya mate, i do think you've done a bang on job so far, and a really hope you get rewarded for all your hard work man!

its been thoroughly interesting thus far!!

lkdj2003
07-01-08, 04:48 PM
Im with bitter on this one mate, it's all way over my head. But very very interesting none the less. :smokie:

I know greens sell a BlueLab CF Truncheon & PH Meter (http://www.greenshorticulture.co.uk/details.asp?searchterm=TDS&productid=823) that measures TDS.

Reefer420
07-01-08, 11:56 PM
Im with bitter on this one mate, it's all way over my head. But very very interesting none the less. :smokie:

I know greens sell a BlueLab CF Truncheon & PH Meter (http://www.greenshorticulture.co.uk/details.asp?searchterm=TDS&productid=823) that measures TDS.

I actually use one of the CF Truncheons at the moment. Only had it a couple of months but seems to working a treat so far. Quick and easy! Highly recommended.

green_machine
09-01-08, 01:24 PM
There is already products on the market that do this - IntelliDose is one.

They certainly aren't as cheap as that though...so if you couldhook it up for that...well...count me in!

green_machine :shocked:

Reefer420
10-01-08, 04:16 PM
...certainly aren't as cheap as that though...so if you could hook it up for that...well...count me in!



Without actually knowing ALL the costs involved at the moment, it is difficult to put a price on the modules but just to give you all an idea, these are the prices I am aiming to achieve.

1. Controller Modules
Standalone Core Unit.............. 60-80 depending on functionality ie. RF, GSM built in?, etc.
Serial interface...... 20-30
2. Sensor Modules
Humidity/Temperature/Solar Module...... 20-30
* may also consider producing JUST Temp Module and JUST Solar Module .... 10-15
Liquid Temperature Module .................. 20
Moisture Module ................................. 20
pH Module .......................................... 30-40
TDS Module ........................................ ????
Ionisation Sensor Module [Fire] ........... 15-20
Flood Warning Module ......................... 20
Motion Detector Module ....................... 30
Door/Window Status Module ................ 10-15
Float Module ....................................... 20
3. Control Modules
Door Lock Module ................................ ????
CO2 Doser Module ............................... 40-50
Relay Module ...................................... 30-40
GSM Module ....................................... 50-60
Peristaltic Pump Module ....................... ?? - These could be quite expensive depending on the cost price of the pump. Some cost hundreds and I am sure would produce excellent results every time, but how cheap can we get without sacrificing quality and reliability? I hope to get them on the shelves to the public for around 40-50 per unit.
Water Valve Module ............................. 20-30

Cables to connect between modules ....... 5 or Free 'make your own' instructions available online.
Hub .................................................. ... 30-40
Power Injector ...................................... 10-15
RJ45 Coupler ........................................ <5

I think if we can achieve the above prices (roughly) then we will have an extremely marketable range of products. For example, if you wanted to just monitor conditions in your growroom, you could buy two HTS Modules (one for each room), a moisture module for each room and a core unit for around 100 which would allow graphical representation of temp, humidity, light operations, and growing medium moisture. Handy to know when temps are dropping too low, or getting too high. Min-Max thermometers just can't cut it! And then for another few quid, you can add a relay unit for controlling pumps (when it's too dry), humidifers, dehumidifiers, fans, extractor fans, electric heaters, nutrient heaters/chillers, whatever you need. All in all the system has only cost just over 100.

26point2
13-11-08, 03:50 PM
Just found your thread. I am very interested in your results. Have you created a working prototype yet. Was considering trying to do the same thing you have done, but why reinvent the wheel. I am in the states but would buy this thing if it worked. As far as my two cents, the basic modules I would want would be these:

Master Controller
Light timer
Temp sensor w/relay for AC
Humidity sensor w/relay for dehumidifier
CO2 sensor w/relay to turn on CO2 below xx PPM
other sensors are just nice to haves.

The key, as in the growtronix, would be the remote sensor that would allow email/txt message to be sent if alarm is triggered, or temp setting go through the roof.

I have been looking into getting the Growtronix for a while, but there is so much bad feedback about the guy, that it is too much of a gamble. If you could design a master controller and software to be purchased from you, and then allow off the shelf products to be used that would be great. The growtronix requires a unique software update anytime you add an additional sensor making you totally reliant on the company if you want to expand.

Anyway great job, really just looking for an update on your project.

The_Hunter
13-11-08, 04:02 PM
its looking goos so far dude
shame about the pigs.
this idea is very intresting to me as i am studying computer science.

whitewidman
13-11-08, 08:13 PM
Sorry to say lads if you check, the last activity by reefer420 was on 06/05/08 so I recon this died a while back unless you know different. Shame it sounded quite interesting.