.08 House Plant Thrive! [Michael Lin]

1. Abstract

House Plan Thrive! is a mechanism that would help people take care of their potted plants.  This includes creating a solar tracking system that would point the plant towards the sunlight, a moisture sensor to alert the caretaker to water the plant, and a temperature sensor to warn the caretaker that the plant is in less-than-ideal heat or cold.  By providing the caretaker with various health indicators of the plant as well as automating some care taking tasks, I hope to promote a more responsible and greener environment.

2. Video Sketch

3. How it works

*Please refer to 5. Coding also

1. Build the hardboard box housing

This box structure houses the components of House Plant Thrive! Various holes are cut to allow the LED display to be shown, servo and wires to be connected to the plant platform, and external power cord to be connected to the arduino.  I used a 18 x 24in hardboard bought from the UC Art Store and then used the laser cutter to cut the various parts.

2. Setup the Servo Motor

Servo motor rotates the plant platform when the mechanism detects light with the photoresistors which then rotates the plant to the greatest source of light.

3. Setup the LCD Display

To provide the user feedback of the plant’s health status, a character LCD display will display messages indicating if light is being tracked, its current temp, moisture level, and various warnings of less-than-ideal temperatures.

Bought a 16×2 LCD display from adafruit.com and followed the tutorial to set this up: http://www.ladyada.net/learn/lcd/charlcd.html

4. Setup Moisture Sensor

I created my own moisture sensor by soldering two nails to wires connected to the arduino.  The wires are connected to the 5v and ground (with resistor) as well as the analog input to read the voltage input with the nails are stuck in soil.  If there is moisture inside the soil, a current will run through the soil and nails detected by the arduino.  Obviously, the more moisture that is in the soil, the greater the current.

5. Add Temperature Sensor

Purchased a temperature sensor from adafruit and attached it to the breadboard.  Easy setup since all it needs is to attach power, ground, and analog input.

6. Setup the Breadboard Plant Platform

A breadboard was modified to serve as a platform where the small house plant will sit.  This breadboard holds two photoresistors on each side to calculate the greatest source of light, a temperature sensor, and moisture sensor.  On the bottom of the breadboard has a servo attachment to connect to the servo.

4. Schematic Design

5. Coding

Arduino Sketch: Dowload here

6. Parts

(most parts can be purchased from adafruit.com)

  • 18x24in Hardboard
  • Arduino Duemilanove
  • Hitec HS-311 Servo Motor
  • Temperature Sensor
  • LCD 16×2 Display
  • Nails and wires
  • Breadboard

7. What I learned:

  • How to use photo-resistors and servo with programming algorithms that results in light tracking
  • How to create a structure to hold the potted plant and point it towards sunlight
  • How to effectively translate sensor values to a warning system using LCD display
  • How to create a homemade moisture sensor using nails and wires.
  • How to design and construct a housing box using illustrator and laser cutter

~ by Michael Lin on May 12, 2010.

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