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Gutters to Gardens

A Solar Powered IoT Rain Barrel.

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Gutters To Gardens is a system for remotely activating a water distribution system for home gardens beds using the (IoT)Internet of Things. This project is fully open-source and is intended to address the world-scale problems of climate change and food insecurity by starting at home: making gardening more accessible and less time-consuming for the average citizen. My intent is to make this process as simple as possible, allowing those with even no coding experience to bring the benefits of connected devices into their own home garden. My other goal is to power the system using solar energy in hopes of encouraging a more accessible attitude toward sustainable energy solutions.


Situation

When we drive to the grocery store, as most Americans do to get their food, we burn fossil fuels to get there. Likewise, the trucks that distribute that food from the farm to store are also burning immense amounts of fossil fuel along their trips. All of this driving back and forth is contributing heavily to the destabilization of our planet's climate, and is ultimately unsustainable.

At Gutters To Gardens, we wanted to use our dual passions of horticulture and technology to do our part in addressing this problem. Our solution: If more people start their own personal gardens, there will be less need for all this driving! Not only that, I hope the more that people engage in the age-old human tradition of cultivating the land for food, the happier they will be.

As we set off on our research, we were happily surprised to find that gardening seems to be on the rise in the US. According to a report by the National Gardening Association, Garden To Table: A 5-Year Look At Gardening In America, one in three American households is now food gardening. The report goes on to state that the “total spent on food gardening rose 40% from $2.5 billion in 2008, to $3.5 billion in 2013.”

Though one-in-three is an impressive statistic, It would be nice to see this number rise even more over the next few years.

What is it that is keeping the other two thirds of Americans still driving back and forth from the supermarket to buy their tomatoes and cukes? 


According to an article by Growertalks.com, time is "a leading factor regarding why people don’t garden. Most respondents stated that they lack the time due to variables such as work, family and other extracurricular activities. This made it clear that the opportunity cost of gardening was too high when compared to other activities."

            A Graph From The Article: "A College Class Asks: Why Don’t People Garden?" by GrowerTalks.com


Could automation be the missing piece for the busy and the time-crunched to finally take the plunge into adopting a horticultural practice of their own?

We think so. That is why Gutters To Gardens has developed TechTOWER, an open-source system for automating drip-line irrigation in raised garden beds.

Vision

Provide people with tech-based solutions to common gardening problems. We'll start with the initial TechTOWER system depicted here, which gives people the ability to control the flow of water in their gardens remotely. Whether that is from their home, using AI assistants like Amazon's Alexa, or whether that's from their mobile phone half-way across the world, the TechTOWER solution will work just the same. However, the TechTOWER in its current form is only the beginning. With this technology, it would be possible to integrate automated temperature and humidity sensors as well as deploying components like fans, lights, and opening and closing vents. With this system, it would also be possible to connect a camera as a kind of horticultural version of a baby monitor. The opportunities for innovating off of this initial platform are diverse and exciting. TechTOWER isn't a product for people to buy; it is an open-source solution to a common problem, and others are free to adjust and improve upon it as needed. As more and more people begin incorporating solutions into the system, we hope to see a renaissance in sustainable...

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Nybox.cdr

If you have access to a laser cutter and CorelDraw you can use this file to cut a box to hold components.

cdr - 705.02 kB - 10/20/2018 at 21:03

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  • SketchUp3D

    Kent Rueckert10/11/2018 at 00:01 0 comments

    Drawing of a water storage container connected to raised bed with drip line.

  • SMOKE ON THE WATER v0.2

    Kent Rueckert10/08/2018 at 07:53 0 comments

    Attempted a second time to get the correct BPM. I would like to also point out this demonstrates that you may have multiple valves that lead to more garden beds.


  • SMOKE ON THE WATER

    Kent Rueckert10/07/2018 at 19:23 0 comments


    The "Smoke on the Water" intro beat has always been a go-to song since I was young.

    When trying to expand on my project, I wanted to use multiple valves so that I could water more garden beds. But when playing with the four valves, I thought it was only timing that I need to make the beat. I must admit I have no natural ability to keep a beat or have any rhythm, so I am proud of what I learned about music. Tabs on guitar are awesome and I hope I can build my skills. If it wasn't for the musical instrument challenge I wouldn't know about tabs on a guitar or BPM.

  • APP

    Kent Rueckert09/01/2018 at 21:58 0 comments

    This app was created for my own use, but Blynk can still be used. My app has an on and off remote push buttons, and an automation switch that is connected to a moisture sensor. One may set the threshold to water plants desired moisture level.

  • Box for Components

    Kent Rueckert07/06/2018 at 17:08 0 comments

     
    The file titled NyBox.cdr is a CorelDraw file that you can use to laser cut a box identical to the one pictured above. I use the box to hold all my components.

  • System installed May 25 2018

    Kent Rueckert06/03/2018 at 01:39 0 comments

  • REAL TIME CLOCK

    Kent Rueckert05/20/2018 at 01:08 0 comments

    Found out that It may be beneficial to have a RTC.  Found out that microelectronics can put into a deep sleep mode and wake them up when you need them to do something. I will be activating the device between 5:00 to 6:00am/\pm to take moisture reading and decided if the garden bed needs to be watered. Furthermore having the device only awake for a few hours per day a save energy on my 12v battery powering the device.

View all 7 project logs

  • 1
    circuit components
  • 2
    Download Blynk app on your mobile phone

    We used an app called Blynk to allow remote access to the controller of the TechTOWER via a mobile device. The app uses a simple, drag-and-drop interface that requires no coding experience. Using the application builder within Blynk, an individual can set the necessary commands to run the system. Specific instructions on how this is done are listed below.

    INSTRUCTIONS FOR MOBILE INTERFACE SETUP:

    • STEP ONE: Download the Blynk app on your mobile phone.
    • STEP TWO: Once you have downloaded and opened the Blynk app, select "New Project" and Enter your project name and then select the Particle device you're using (in this case, the Particle Photon) from the drop down menu. When you have completed these steps, click "Create".
    • STEP THREE: You will be sent an authentication token via email. Enter this code into the web-based IDE Follow the instructions in the email. This authentication token encrypts your handshake with the Blynk server, so you are the only one who will be able interface with your Photon.
    • STEP FOUR: Returning to the Particle app, click the plus sign icon to add components. In my prototype, I used three different components:

    -Button: This is the on/off switch which connects to the digital pins in the Particle Photon.

    -Eventor Settings: This component basically tells the TechTOWER to turn on or off automatically at given dates and times.

    -Webhook Settings: This allows you to integrate local weather forecasts into your mobile interface to help inform your irrigation choices.

    BLYNK APP: FREE

    https://examples.blynk.cc/?board=Particle%20Photon&shield=Particle%20WiFi&example=GettingStarted%2FBlynkBlink

  • 3
    Download the Particle app and create an account.

    The Particle App and create a particle account. It is my opinion that using this app is the easiest way to claim your device. once you have downloaded the app go to https://www.particle.io/ and access the Web IDE under the pull down bar "For Developers" once in the IDE you can add the Blynk library.

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jonny_g1917 wrote 10/21/2018 at 01:39 point

Ive been battling with something like this for a few years. I keep getting problems with impurities in the water running off my shed roof into the barrel. After a while the organisms start multiplying and blocking the drippers. As well I made a ring circuit with the drippers to try to even out the pressure and delivery to each plant. I try to keep it as simply gravity powered thing with the weight of the water in the barrel pushing it.  I like your project mines completely made out of bits and pieces apart from the 12 quid ebay battery powered water timer which is just a microswitch, geared up dc motor and a ball valve. Would like it to run in conjunction with a moisture sensor but have found organism rich water mechanics enough to think about for now. Im always thinking the cost has to be as near zero as possible for it to work for me. Anyway all the best with it !

  Are you sure? yes | no

ccmech3 wrote 04/24/2018 at 12:25 point

That's awesome bro! -Creed

  Are you sure? yes | no

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