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Topic: Watering 8-10 pots intelligently. Where to begin? (Read 1 time) previous topic - next topic


Jun 23, 2012, 07:51 am Last Edit: Jun 23, 2012, 07:55 am by waveking Reason: 1
I have been a mute follower of Arduino since long, and there is a (possibly very common) wish project which I wish to endeavor using it. This is going to be my first attempt at Arduino, and though I am a software engineer, but am not in touch with electronics much. With that as a disclaimer, please hear me out and suggest the best course to for me to begin.

I live in an apartment, and need to save my plans in the balcony from drying up every time I go on a vacation. I have the following things in mind:
I need to water about 8 pots .Some need more water, some need less water. Some may need water twice a day, some may need water just once in 2 days. I would want my project to water the plants on schedule, but be also able to report statistics, and I may monitor using web interface and force water the plants too from there.

I am thinking of a setup where maybe ill group my plants into 2 or 3 sets depending on water requirement. So there will be 2-3 water tubes with T joins in them going to each pot. A very rough diagram is attached to give an idea of my thought plan.

Project would need to keep track of date and time to be able to schedule etc.
Monitor soil moisture level (ideally atleast 2 distinct sensors for large and small pot)
As per time or sensor, turn on/off relay, which can turn on/off an aquarium submersible pump /some way to turn on off water supply
connect via wifi and use maybe something like json to report sensor readings
using above wifi, also accept commands via json etc. to force the relay on/off
I am also hoping I can have some stepper motor or something to be turned on to be able to aim the water pipe in the correct piping system.
Support sleeping/watchdog so that I can save power if running off battery

Which is the least expensive arduino board I should go to be able to achieve this? I am on a tight budget so do not want to buy a board which has more feature than I would need.
I am fine if maybe by paying $5-10 more, if I get a board which has in built in support for wifi etc. to be able to save my first time hassels of having to plug in multiple shields.
I am not sure where to begin and what all parts I need in the most cost effective way
Any suggestions for a better/simpler design?
Possible issue is that I may not find the parts for the tubing/valve/pump etc. easily here as I am not from US


Ive already tried to do exactly what you are doing and I could find
no source of water valves to suit.
Most electronic water valves come in 2 types, either solenoid valves
or ball valves and both are expensive , like $20 each or more.
Neither are designed to control small water flows with a low head
which is what you get with the arrangement you have in mind.
About the only way I could see to do this is with a water pump for each pot
but even using the cheapest pumps I could find , which are small pumps for
car windsceen washers, you are still looking at around $12 per pump.
The Arduino etc is the least costly bit .


Jun 23, 2012, 04:48 pm Last Edit: Jun 23, 2012, 04:51 pm by PeterH Reason: 1
Although most pumps are quite expensive, I found a Chinese retailer who was selling some Japtop JT-180 submersible pumps for about £5 each. These are tiny things that run on anything from 3V - 12V and only need a couple of hundred milliamps at the lower voltages. I use an ordinary motor shield to drive them (also Chinese and also only a few quid each).

Using a separate pump for each plant avoids having to deal with any complex valving and so on. And for the 'Mark 1' version without any soil moisture sensors you can just have a single pump supplying a fixed manifold with restrictors to control how much water each plant gets.
I only provide help via the forum - please do not contact me for private consultancy.


Consider the daffodil. And while you're doing that, I'll be over here, looking through your stuff.   8)

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