Last summer, my small garden was pretty thirsty. I had to keep constant watch, ready to water the plants as they would wilt, to show me they were thirsty. I was watering them too late, luckily they still turned out great... Turning the air conditioner on and off, or up and down, depending on which lights were on. The biggest problem was, we couldn't go anywhere for more than a day, maybe two if we planned it well, and we do like to just take off an go for a couple days at a time when we feel physically able. I needed something to keep my plants alive for a few days at a time, maybe longer if we ever wanted to take a real vacation...
Thus was born, Grow By Wire, and I began to Automate The Grow Room!
Environmental MonitoringI am currently monitoring temperature and humidity in all three growing areas, the Clone Booth, the Veg area, and the Flower Tent. Even though they are all in the same room, they can, and do vary from each other.
I also monitor the outdoor temperature, I have a simple thermistor stuck out through the window screen in our apartment window.
Environmental ControlI am currently using the temperature in the Veg area (open in the room) to control a box fan situated in front of the partially opened window. This will change come summer when it will be expected to control a window air conditioning unit.
Right now, it's doing a pretty good job of keeping the temperature somewhat steady. Much better than when I was going in and turning the fan on and off by hand...
Plant Soil Moisture MonitoringUsing custom designed DIY Soil Moisture Sensors, I monitor the actual water moisture level in each and every individual pot. Many other systems water all your plants at the same time, on the same schedule, and that's fine if you grow single crops of single strains, of clones. I like to grow multiple strains, on a perpetual harvest type schedule, so almost every plant is at a different stage in it's growth, and therefore has it's own individual watering needs.
Automatic Plant WateringOnce we've decided at what point a plant needs to be watered, the system learns this, and is capable of determining when a plant needs watering in the future. Using an ultrasonic ranging sensor, we can accurately detect the amount of water remaining in our watering reservoir, and therefore control exactly how much water we pump to each individual plant. Much care has been taken to ensure the accuracy, and safety of pumping water unattended in the grow room.
Automatic Watering is currently waiting for more hardware. The current system, while fully functional, was a proof of concept, and I only ordered a couple pumps and relays. I have up to 31 plants to be watered, so I have to buy lots more, pumps, relays, even buckets, hose, fittings, and a couple more Wemos Megs 2560's.