Automatized Hydroponic Vertical Crop

Ideally, Stablishing an underground crop based on hydroponic technology and controlled through genuino to sustain a plant storage.

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In our lab, we discussed the idea of using plants as a biomarkers for pollution.
The idea was cool but we had a big simple problem: We had no place to grow them.

So we could choose between buying them as needed or thinking outside the box.
Apart from traditional ideas, we found this really interesting proposal of vertical farming and mixed it with the hydroponic irrigation technique. (We know, we are not the first ones doing this)

We plan designing a simple but useful (crossed fingers) vertical crop to sustain our own plant storage (for future experiments). Also, taking care of the crop is not part of the plan (nor anyone in the lab), so we are going to create a remote controller using Genuino, which could take care of the little things (such as water level, nutrients concentration and temperature or pH changes)

Keep coming in for the updates!

Nowadays, people are more enthusiastic about their own nutrition. A healthy lifestyle, culting the body, is rising in between people of all ages and cultures. As a consequence, vegetables are demanded with no chemical compounds added. These additives are used to improve their durability and resilience, so vegetables can be carried large distances from their origin's field to supermarkets without being spoiled.

Therefore, removing additives led to shorten the distance between production and consumption. And eventually, vegetables were brought to the cities. Eco-friendly and sustainable crops were developed above supemarkets and inside terraces.
In other words, urban farming was born.

At the same time, new growing methods appeared to avoid "essential" requirements of large flat fields. Vertical farming solved the need of great areas inside small houses taking advantage of walls' surfaces. Also, hydroponic systems sorted out the necessity of large amounts of dirt. Both systems, combined together, settled the conditions to allow people to develop urban gardening.

However, not everyone has the expertise to grow successfully their personal crop at home. Plants have many needs to be taking care of continuously such as water, nutrients, light, plagues, etc. Also, there are no holidays break or a time out possible to take because nature doesn't stop.

  • How many times have your plants dried because you forgot to water them?
  • How many times have you forgotten to add nutrient solution to help them grow?
  • How many times have they been burnt because it was too shiny and bright that day?
  • How many times was there a leak and the water level was belowed the roots?

Here comes technology to solve all our problems.

Our project aims to create an genuino-based controller, which will potentially:

  • assess the water level; rising and dropping it as needed.
  • grade water's nutrient concentration; increasing and decreasing it as wished.
  • control the light; regulating the plants' time of exposure.
  • register temperature and pH changes; noticing them us through WiFi on a website.
  • keep a record of everything each hour on a microSD card.

All these inconveniences will be dealt with through automation. But more importantly, genuino's board and sensors can be implemented ad lib. So more sensors will be incorporated if we see their usefulness. Also, you can feel free to not implement those sensors nonessential for your garden/crop.

Additionally, genuino's technology will allow us to extend its application to support anyone who is interested in farming or gardening but has not much time to check on it. Genuino is an open-source software and hardware inexpensive and extensible.

When all annoyances are taken care of, all it rests to decide is what plant you wish to grow. What do you prefer strawberries or cherry tomatoes?.

HGC's Box Design.svg

Design for the Wood box used to cover our HGC. It was made through Screws and Nuts are needed.

svg+xml - 41.40 kB - 08/22/2016 at 17:48


HGC boot.mp4

Video showing the initial boot of the Happy Growing Center. A genuino design by DWP and Dlabs collaboration.

MPEG-4 Video - 0 bytes - 08/19/2016 at 09:56



Support structure of the ultimate prototype. it hold the pipes in place and allow us to hang it.

crv - 650.50 kB - 08/18/2016 at 21:25



Funnel design to gather water at the end of the prototype and redirect the water flow to a hose and then a tank.

fcstd - 13.53 kB - 08/18/2016 at 21:25


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  • The End of the Beginning...

    Roberto Vicente Romero08/22/2016 at 18:12 0 comments

    The time limit for the Hackaday price is over. We accomplished most of the planned things.

    And yet, we want to do more.

    Our team members are specialized each one in parts of the projects. As a consequence, we want to teach us all every aspect of it, so any of us could do it entirely.

    Also, we project to expand our work to every layer of the prototype, so we could have more precise masures.

    We aim to fill the water tank everytime it has to work and mix it with the nutrient solution. The pump'd throw the water into the system and then it would throw away the collected water. So every time the pump works it'll send new fresh water.

    We envisage to control the water level of each section and create a controlled fence which could open itself and fill with mixed water the level below. HGC'd manage it.

    We aspire to grow comfortably many Stevia plants in our next future lab experiments.

    Keep in touch!

  • 08/22/2016 - The Beginning of the End

    Roberto Vicente Romero08/22/2016 at 17:50 0 comments

    We arrive at the Deadline with these two video.

    They both show how our HGC and Crop System are work together.

    We tried to customize and show you both videos as one.

    We recorded them at the same time but... our abilities in video remaking are limited.

    So, here you have. Enjoy it!!

  • 08/19/2016 – Ending soon...

    Roberto Vicente Romero08/19/2016 at 17:01 0 comments

    Deadline is closing by.

    The funnel was already printed for the time we arrived at the lab, so we put it on its place.

    Printed Funnel at the end of the prototype

    Today, we turned on the laser cut machine to carve the HGC's box pattern. We expected to screw the Genuino controller inside it and we'd place the box close to the tank and the prototype. Thus, environmental sensors'd be placed on the outer face of the box, next to the prototype. The water sensor'd be submerged inside the tank.

    We have also set up the entire structure, provisionally supported on a rack (the support structure and the water circulating structure).

    HGC's box. Almost assembled

    HGC's box empty but assembled

    HGC assembling process

    HGC box's right side. Seeing microSD converter and relay board

    On Monday we'll put everything in place!

  • HGC's Box

    Roberto Vicente Romero08/19/2016 at 16:13 0 comments

    HGC's box making process

  • Funnel Printing Process

    Roberto Vicente Romero08/19/2016 at 16:11 0 comments

    Zortrax M200 printing our funnel on Z-Ultra grey filament

  • HGC Boot

    Roberto Vicente Romero08/19/2016 at 16:04 0 comments

    Happy Growing Center live on!

  • 08/18/2016 – Divide and Conquer

    Roberto Vicente Romero08/18/2016 at 21:29 0 comments

    Today, we decided to split into groups because we're in a hurry here and there are only a few days left... It seemed necessary, so each team could be more focused while doing their part.

    Three teams were constituted.

    • Structure Team

    The order arrived with the material (pipes and bends).

    material ordered: 4x pipes (3m, 90mm) and 8x bends (90mm)

    This unit took care of two things at first:

    • Drilling holes (Ø 68mm) along the pipe for pots (20 holes/pipe)
    • Assembling the buckets. (a total of 80 pots)

    The PVC plastic wasn’t really thick so drilling the holes with a drill and a circular saw was relatively easy.

    Pipe holed

    circular saw used. 68mm

    Plastic cups (x80) were cut in half, and the upper side was used as the container. The ground was constructed with a black plastic film imitating a base. Their were glued toghether adding non-water-soluble glue on the outer face of the cups to avoid any possible contact between it and plants. (this was easier but it took much time)

    plastic cups used to create pots

    Pipes with pots into the holes

    Pots. Upper side part of a plastic cupe + plastic black film as the base

    • Support Team

    This time, we wanted to hang the ultimate prototype. Thus, this part of the crew had to design and cut a support structure which could hold it in place.

    We drafted through Vcarve a support structure. This design set four levels (one level/pipe) of structure. Four spaces to keep on place the pipes were carved into the wood. Additionally, it had some height differences of 10mm between holes to create a subtle slope along each pipe. Afterwards, we cut it using our lab’s CNC.

    (File link: ).

    CNC and support structure

    We also produce a funnel to gather water at the end of the prototype. In such manner that no water loss occurred. Also, we could redirect the water flow to a hose and then a tank. Therefore our concerns about flooding the floor'd vanish. We left the 3D printer working all night (because it said it'd take almost 8h). We should have thought it before but things come when they come. Anyway, tomorrow it should be finished.

    File link:

    • Electronics Team

    Finally, the most important part.

    After testing every component and having regulated every sensor, it was time for some coding. The third group had the most important part to accomplish:

    It was to programm every aspect of the genuino controller (HGC).

    They had already started for a couple of days with no rush, but today as the self-imposed deadline, it took almost all day to code everything correctly.

    Additionally, they welded the pieces together. On the pictures you can see the main screen of HGC,(already working!) and the website where all data'll be posted.

    The programming was developped in C++, We took advantage of the Object-oriented programming, but some problems emerged, because we didn't organised our library correctly. It has been really interesting working in this project because of its closeness to a real production system. Originally, planification was really strict, but as the project grew, we realised everything wasn't going to be ready for the 2016 Hackaday Prize. In any case, we keep improving the code everyday and the basics are ready to work.

    Temperature, humidity and pH are being controlled. We have incorporated an alarm voice system upon the log error detection. Doing so, we have delimited the alarm noise upon the DEFCON standards (from 1 to 5)

    Programming is ready for error correction, and system's information feedback.

    To find the Initial Boot Video of HGC follow the link:

    It's almost finished guys!

    Welded HGC.

    HGC's Main Screen


  • 08/17/2016 – Results and Genuino Birth

    Roberto Vicente Romero08/17/2016 at 18:44 0 comments

    Good news everyone! (Pr. Farnsworth voice)

    Leaf sprouting from the third prototype

    A cute tiny leaf is sprouting from one of the plants. Success!!

    It’s not like we doubted the hydroponic system… But some of us were sceptical about “accidentally drowning” our own plant storage instead of sustaining it…

    Today, we clarify the Genuino flowchart. Basically, for you to comprehend our messy design. (Link: ).

    Also, we named our Hydroponic Genuino Controller as HGC or Happy Growing Center and we tested individually every part of it. Thus, we could verify they worked correctly.

    SD card test

    We didn’t take photos of every element being checked but here you can find a photo while assessing the SD card lector.

    We had some difficulties while translating the default signal of the temperature sensor because it gave a very tight range of values (100º were only 70 values). We had to intensify the signal with an operational amplifier, and now a difference of 100º equals almost 1024 values.

    Additionally, we prepared some acid and basic solutions at different known pHs (a range from 3 to 10). A pH difference of 1,5 units gave us a value difference of almosy 40 units with the pH sensor. We established a calibration line on genuino software.

    pH tests with a multimeter

    For security reasons, we later compared the results we were obtaining in the pH sensor with those given by a multimeter. Just to be sure we were doing it right.Tomorrow we’ll try to assemble all the pieces together.

    Greetings from Happy Growing Center!

  • 08/16/2016 – Ordering and Starting Genuino

    Roberto Vicente Romero08/16/2016 at 21:44 0 comments

    Today, the 3rd prototype seemed in place. No leaks, no drip. The plants looked well (or rather healthy enough).

    Everything in order.

    We ordered the material for the final structure (pipes and bends) and we started designing the Genuino flowchart.

    We checked the components of everything we wanted to measure such as a pH sensor, a light sensor, a timer, a board, a screen… (All the elements used are listed in the website)

    There were most of them at the lab. But, back at the day, we had many difficulties to buy a pH meter in a good quality/price relation. Eventually, we buy it locally (we have attached many links for you to follow).

    Tomorrow we’ll check the functioning of every part.

    This is starting to take form!

    Arduino Notes

  • 08/15/2016 - 3rd Prototype

    Roberto Vicente Romero08/15/2016 at 17:36 0 comments

    Today, the glue had achieved its maximum endurance and the plastic layer seemed strongly attached. We didn't check it by pulling, just in case it could be removed by sheer force.

    We assembled the whole prototype again (3rd version already) and put everything in their place. We forgot to cut the plastic sheet before gluing it. It is worth mentioning that we were also afraid it wouldn't hold together with a cut piece.

    Anyway, we decided to use one of the cup hole as the entrance for the hose.

    We have started to look for shops where we could buy all the material for the final structure and the Genuino sensors we need.

    We'll keep you updated!



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AVR wrote 08/29/2016 at 17:44 point

glad to see another automated hydroponics project! here are mine

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