When "forever" starts to become forever...

A project log for Smart Greenhouse using a Raspberry Pi & Launchpad

As a part of my work/private investigation regarding sensor networks and Internet of things, I am discovering the works using a toy project.

eelco.rouweelco.rouw 03/14/2016 at 09:350 Comments

Good morning,

I finally found time to update my project log. A lot has happened since the last update, unfortunately not related to the Smart Greenhouse, which has been in use by my wife for her dings and dents.

3D printing

3D printing happened to me, and I have been perfecting my Prusa i3 printer, which has been very time consuming but also very rewarding (I'll probably start another project blog for all printer related stuff). Basically half of the printer has been replaced with better components. Direct drive has become Bowden with an official E3D v6 hotend, M5 lead screw have become TR8 lead screws with brass nuts, the PCB heated bed has become a Silicone AC heatbed, manual bed levelling has become auto bed levelling and the Megatronics controller has become a MKS SBase smoothieware compatible controller. The final step is a housing to move the printer to our shed.

Lately I have been thinking about the direction the Greenhouse should be taking. I still would like to create an autonomous greenhouse solely powered by small solar panels.


Another very important development is the availability of the ESP8266 or WiFi on the cheap. With its low power operation of 1uA in deep sleep and 70-100mA when transmitting, it would be able to send back telemetry without relying on external power. I have been experimenting with MQTT and the lmroy library seems to be a perfect fit. Combined with a linux server, NodeRed, Python Flask/iPython and MongoDB would be a perfect learning platform for the Smart Greenhouse.

Arduino compatibility is a boon for this platform and the use of its huge library of libraries makes it easy to prototype.

Raspberry Pi 2 and 3

The raspberry Pi 2 and 3 have increased computational oompfh and could be easily used as low power data analysis platforms. All packages mentioned earlier work like a charm (although MongoDB is a pain).

I have been thinking to power the Raspberry Pi from Solar, but somehow this does not seem to add up favorably in the Netherlands (you will need a big solar panel). Maybe the NEMA17 wind mills will be able to power the platform. I need to look into a suitable charging system to rely on both solar and wind power.

Team additions

It is nice to see that although I have not updated the project log for a long while, people found it worthwile to join the project. I hope that the greenhouse will be a collaborative project sharing best practices for mechanical, electronic and software best practices.

Next steps

As I mentioned earlier, I am still pondering where to take the project next. There are still a lot of things to be sorted out. I am looking into several scenario's:

1. Building the complete data pipeline - Start with one plant, temp/humidity sensor and build a data collection, aggregation and presentation platform.

2. Adapt the greenhouse for actuators - Being able to open and close the greenhouse with servo's and create an irrigation infrastructure using pumps and silicone hoses.

3. Enable autonomous operation - Use solar panels to charge batteries and look into possibility to power platform, actuators (servos/pumps) and a Raspberry Pi (optional).

4. Advanced photometry - This has been suggested by one of the team members. Use spectrography to determine the health of the plants.

Of course help and tips would be greatly appreciated ;)

Hope to update you soon on new progress!