In the DIY hacker community, the ESP8266 microcontroller is the ideal IoT device for logging data. AGI-ESP8266 is intended to assemble a cheap, robust system for logging temperature/humidity, ambient light and soil moisture data over a long period of time.
What this means for end users is that they can monitor all the necessary information needed to grow plants effectively, and efficiently.
Here is a description of the AGI-ESP8266's project goals:
- Phase One:
The first phase of this project involved programming an esp8266 to utilize MQTT to pass sensor data to a wireless local area network host. This portion is complete and the available code is on the github repository on this page. Following the instructions there will get you a basic system to log temperature, humidity and ambient light via MQTT.
- Phase Two:
The second phase is placing the system onto a constructed window sill planter that end users can build themselves using commonly available building supplies. I'm currently working on the best way to do this.
Current Design: 1x4 planks cut to window size
Advantages: Low cost, user customizable to window size.
Disadvantages: Requires saw, drill, drill bits, wire cutters. Additionally, the 1x4 planks will warp in the sun.
Next Design: 3D Printed PETG brackets on suspended aluminium aircraft cable.
Advantages: Low cost, user customizable to window size, only tool needed is wire cutters.
Disadvantages: 3D Printer required to print planter tray brackets.
Phase Two revisions:
- Add Water reservoir for passive soil temperature regulation and plant watering.
- Add gold-plated soil moisture sensors for long term in situ corrosion resistance testing.
LED grow lighting not required in current testing environment, but will be required in final area of deployment. Once all Phase Two revisions are complete, LED lighting control will need to be tested. Proposed method involves using a UL listed electronic outlet timer to control LED light bars mounted under planters.
- Phase Three:
The third phase involves programming the esp8266 to be easy to use for end users. Involves programming multiple software clients for configuring the system for use by operators without access to the internet and little technical ability.
Design goal: AGI-esp8266 reset button returns uC to default AP state. User connects to esp8266 wifi AP, then uses PC/Phone application to program system. End user runs MQTT software on their computer and/or phone to perform the data logging for plant sensors. Alternatively, cloud MQTT access also an option for users with internet access.
- Phase Four:
Deployment to the arctic for testing this winter. Ship multiple AGI-ESP8266 sensors and all the necessary hardware to construct window sill planters for growing lettuce, watercress, kale, spinach and other leafy vegetables.