• GrowBot: Tech + Renewable Building Material

    ProgressTH04/09/2016 at 08:28 0 comments

    April 9, 2016 | ProgressTH It was much easier than expected to put together the first 1x2m raised grow bed on the roof using bamboo. We have one 1x1m ferrocement bed and plan several pallet wood beds as well to demonstrate and teach people how to use different materials and to test the pros and cons of each.

    Bamboo is particularly attractive because you can grow some as part of your garden and use it as a renewable biological input material for building. We have enough for another two 1x2m beds. Together, so far, we have 7 square meters of rooftop garden planned with an unknown area more when we get our free pallets delivered.

    We also tested our perastaltic water pump with our spare solar panel. Next we will try to use this panel to power an Arduino project, and acquire a larger panel to drive a more substantial water pump controlled by the former via a relay.

    Once this is set up and finally automated, migrating it out into the countryside on our farm will be the next step. We'll probably start a "smart farm" project separately on Hackaday.io when that happens.

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  • Rooftop Garden Bed 01

    ProgressTH04/08/2016 at 19:47 0 comments

    April 9, 2016 | ProgressTH The first 1x1m raised bed is up and running. There's some vermiculture taking place in it on one side, basil and eggplant growing on the other. There is also an attempt being made to prototype a basic solar-powered irrigation system.

    It consists of a 12v peristaltic water pump, a small solar panel, and a water reservoir. When the sun is intense enough, it will empty the water reservoir into the raised bed. The small pump moves about 6000mL an hour and we're not really sure how this can be even distributed over the entire 1x1m bed.

    Of course this will eventually require a charging solution for a battery to run an automated system using moisture sensors, timers, or weather data, and one that could run off battery power at any time day or night.

    More immediately will be the construction of beds 02 and 03. 01 is built using ferrocement. 02 and 03 will be using bamboo to test their resilience in the hopes of perhaps growing a little bamboo as a renewable source of building material in situ. We have a mountain of 3m long 40mm diameter bamboo poles waiting to be cut and bound to construct the beds this week.

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  • Rooftop Garden Nearing Completion

    ProgressTH03/21/2016 at 19:02 0 comments

    March 22, 2016 | ProgressTH It looks like our deadline of completing the first phase of the rooftop garden is still on track. We picked up some earthworms from a vermiculture operation who helped us learn how to keep them healthy and producing onsite organic fertilizer. The vermiculture stock also makes great feedstock if we decide to go into crayfish aquaponics.

    The machine below (Phetchaburi, Thailand 2016) is used to sift the earthworms out of the compost. The soil on the ground is very rich. The worms come out the lower end of the spinning drum and end up in a container for aspiring worm ranchers to start their own operation.

    We have 1 square meter bed already in place and will be making the ferrocement boards for at least another 1x2 meter bed.

    Automation and sensors will come shortly after. We want to focus on creating a sustainable, basic organic garden first, then add layers of technology on top of that to give us better insight into the problems gardeners face and how best to solve them.

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  • Rooftop Garden Taking Shape

    ProgressTH03/14/2016 at 13:02 0 comments

    March 14, 2016 | ProgressTH The indoor garden is on hold for a while, because we're trying to get a much larger rooftop garden up and running. Both are essential for the automation system, which we hope will work for everyone's gardens, big and small, indoor and outdoor.

    We have some experience working with ferrocement (2:1 sand-cement mix spread over a steel wire frame) and we've constructed a 1x1 meter grow bed to start with. By the end of the month we hope to have a 1x1 and 1x2 bed, filled with soil, the first being compost and vermiculture, and the second for actually growing food.

    Sensors and automation will be next, but we're still trying to source the best solar powered options to power the system since there are no accessible utilities on the roof. We're also contemplating water condensing to fill a rooftop reservoir.

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  • Concrete Components

    ProgressTH03/01/2016 at 12:02 0 comments

    March 1, 2016 | ProgressTH This garden project is quickly expanding. We still have the indoor system, but we're also working on a rooftop garden that will use exactly the same monitoring and automation systems the indoor system will use.

    We're also working on ferrocement raised beds, and possibly some aquaponic systems as well. This could be applied to the indoor or rooftop systems.

    In this picture you can see the first of 4 panels planned for rooftop raised beds. They will be modular so you can pick them up and reconfigure them to make small square beds, or larger rectangular beds.

    We have some experience (see our old project here) with ferrocement. Projects get heavy very quickly, so you have to really gain some experience in building in sections and thinking ahead in case you ever need to move something after it is assembled. For the indoor system, the forms will be much, much smaller.

    The advantage of using ferrocement is that you can make wire meshes into almost any shape, then apply the cement mixture (2:1 sand/cement) to it, giving you a high level of customization.

    It is approximately 20mm thick, using art board with packing tape over it to make the forms, with wire mesh picked up from the local hardware store serving as the "ferro" component. We'll

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  • Using MIT's App Inventor?

    ProgressTH01/27/2016 at 16:13 0 comments

    January 27, 2016 | ProgressTH | Using MIT's App Inventor?

    It's one thing to have a custom and modular 3D printed frame for your indoor garden, another to start adding sensors and automation to it, and then another to connect it all together using an app you can use on your phone, over Bluetooth and WiFi.

    Doing all of this, from 3D design to 3D printing, to the electronics, coding, and then the app would require a very wide range of skills. Since I'm doing this all by myself, I need simple tools and hacks to get by.

    I recently discovered MIT's App Inventor. If you have never heard of it, and aren't capable of making your own apps, I highly recommend you check it out. I literally had an app on my phone working in just 5 minutes after watching their first tutorial, and I have never attempted to make an app before.

    All the links you need can be found here in this write up and the first tutorial video is embedded as well. Good luck!

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  • Sprouting Peppers

    ProgressTH01/12/2016 at 14:38 0 comments

    January 12, 2016 | ProgressTH | Sprouting Peppers

    It is actually not that hard to get most things to sprout, least of all peppers. The real test will be vegetation growth (skinny, tall plants are less desirable than full plants that grow outward as well as upward), as well as flowering and the production of peppers.

    If this 30W 6500K white LED floodlight doesn't do the trick, another may be added (the original design calls for two and there is space for it to be mounted in the frame) and if that doesn't work, another type of light will have to be tested.

    An aquaponic component is to be added soon too. If not, these sprouts will have to be put into proper soil and maybe different containers.

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  • Other Configurations

    ProgressTH01/04/2016 at 20:48 0 comments

    January 5, 2016 | ProgressTH | Other Configurations

    Just to give people an idea of what other configurations you can make with PVC pipes and the connector system, the original design was supposed to look something like this...
    We don't have the 3D files for these connecting joints, but you can just take the STL file of the single cube and import it into your favorite 3D design software and make them there, or you can open up the SketchUp file we provided, both of which can be found here in our Thingiverse entry.

    Again, this is just the frame system, the automation and brains are in the works!

    Quick tip: If you make any of these, note the gap between the PVC pipes, you can easily fit in white art board you find at a stationary shop to help reflect light back inward toward your plants. You can also adhere reflective tape to the inward side of the board as well.

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  • 3D Printed Files on Thingiverse

    ProgressTH01/04/2016 at 17:13 0 comments

    January 5, 2016 | ProgressTH | 3D Printed Files on Thingiverse

    We've put up all the files, including the SketchUp file we've developed the frame and joints in, on Thingiverse. Find them here.

    The basic unit is a cube with 18mm holes on each face. These are then combined into different shapes to create standard joints and mounts. There are "spacers" that fill into the holes.

    In fact, the original design was supposed to be box-shaped, and only because we didn't buy enough pipe for the design, did we redesign the joints to make a triangular shape. Feel free to make your own configurations!

    You can drill holes into your PVC pipe and put a bolt or dowel through these spacers and the pipe to keep joints from slipping (see photo).

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  • Indoor GrowBot Intro

    ProgressTH01/04/2016 at 11:27 0 comments

    January 4, 2016 | ProgressTH | Indoor GrowBot Intro

    The project is starting out as a very basic frame, literally just 18mm PVC pipe and 3D printed connectors designed to be modular, and eventually will be built on top of over the next several weeks and months.

    It is the continuation of previous projects we've worked on since Bangkok's maker scene really starting growing last year. We'd love to see other people take this design and run with it.

    We already have prototyped an automatic fish feeder for an aquaponics system, have been working on a 3D printed water pump (peristaltic), and stand-alone sensors for everything from temperature and humidity monitoring, to soil moisture, water levels, and even a webcam to keep an eye on it all remotely.

    Now it is time to integrate it all together.

    It's fun, educational, and has already helped inspire others locally to get involved in designing their own fish feeders, gardening systems etc. We'd like to see this mature into full-fledged system and even see the vegetables produced in them at all the artisan farmers' markets popping up everywhere.