I am a new user on Farmhack though I have been a frequent contributor to other open source hardware forums like publiclab.org. I think Farmhack might be the most appropriate online community to document a new indoor hydronics project I'm working on. However, after taking a look at the many great options available on this site, I wanted to get an idea of the best format to begin with before I start.
The general idea is to explore how some of the most recent advancements in open hardware, primarily USB-enabled ATmega32u4 microcontrollers and cloud-enabled platforms like OpenWRT/Beaglebone/Raspberry Pi can make it possible for virtually anyone to grow their own food in even the smallest indoor environments. I realize there is nothing new about this idea per-se. One can easily find any number of well-documented "Arduino Hydroponics" projects dating back as far as 2011. The problem is, in the measure of the tech world, 2011 might as well be 1993! In the last year alone, the Open Hardware/DIY Tech sector has developed capabilities that weren't even imaginable when most Ardu-ponic builds were last documented.
So rather than attempting to create a brand-new, self-contained system, my intent is to merge together and reference several existing open source builds, while experimenting with emerging techniques like Red/BLue LED lighting and Infrared Imaging Cameras.
For example, "Sparky's Widgets" makes some fantastic water quality sensors based on the new "Arduino Leonardo" microcontroller (http://www.sparkyswidgets.com/portfolio-item/open-water-quality-sensors/) while the same chip is also used on an open source, high-power, multicolor lightbulb called the Visualight (www.visualight.org). One approach could be to develop a web-gateway based on OpenWRT that allows each of these sensors to connect via USB OR one could incorporate the schematics for the water sensors and LED drivers into a new board. The result could very well go into production as a kit or integrated system, so my initial idea was to document it as a "new tool", using the handy template. This would be more or less straightforward, if the only research involved were strictly of a technical nature, but my guess is the hardware will be the easy part. The real challenge I want to explore is how plants respond to various patterns of Red and Blue Light emitted by LED arrays in leiu of traditional indoor lighting. Therefore a wiki or research note might be a better format. Likewise, each individual sensor or controller (i.e pH, EC, Water Temp, Flow Meters, Dosing Pumps etc...) might be interesting enough to examine their own accord. But setting up a new wiki for each component would get tiresome quickly...
So I'm looking for the best way to maintain a project cohesion that shows how the parts fit together, while also allowing enough flexibility so that research into subject areas like lighting and pH are adequately documented on their own.
This article yields less information but still echoes the same sentiment-
Of course most of these write-ups are more applicable to large-scale, commercial farming. My interest is in potential uses for the technique in small-scale home setups. To this end, there have been a few tutorials on Instructables.com compiled in this collection
All that said, my own knowledge of this technique is very much on the level of curiosity.LAst year I did build an early-stage prototype hydroponic controller using a Raspberry Pi connected to several Arduinos monitoring ph, ec, water current and simple on/off control of the lighting. Recently, I stumbled upon the above mentioned references in the process of putting together this research note over on publiclab.org wherein I was attempting to apply their IR plant imaging technique to indoor gardens. This grew into another conversation about an open-source, web-controllable high powered RGB LED board called the Visualight.
I was thinking of adding these new LED experiments into the hydro-controller I began last year, though early sketches are revealing an almost entirely new set-up replacing the Raspberry Pi with an Open-WRT base station and deploying a series of "Arduino Leonardo"-based microcontrollers for each sensor. The reason for this change is the new Bridge library developed for the Arduino Yun allows for direct communication between an OpenWRT router and Arduino Leonardo-based boards such as the "Visualight" and the impressive LeoPhi.ph sensor
I'm thinking of putting together a research wiki to track development of the full controller but I figured I should put together a wiki for the Red/Blue LED research first. I still need to add a lot more but your welcome to take a look at- http://farmhack.net/wiki/open-source-pink-gardening-using-redblue-leds-indoor-plant-growth
Please feel welcome to add anything or comment to the wiki if you'd like. In any case I'm interested to hear what you and other folks think.
My name is Andrew Jawitz and I am the Brigade Captain of Code for Maine (code4maine.org) a local affiliate of Code for America. I am also the planner/coordinator of a new hackerspace at the Harpswell Coastal Academy in Harpswell Maine. I am interested in connecting the (primarily software-oriented) Civic Hacking world with the DIY/Maker movement while also finding new ways to leverage rural assets through open source innovation.
I have a profile on publiclab.org where I have been working on related work- http://publiclab.org/profile/code4maine
I am currently interested in indoor gardening techniques using inexpensive sensors and Red/Blue LEDs.