Advice on building big project

hello Everyone. I have designed a system on the farm which makes day to day running easier. We have 6 sheds of cattle and have come up of feeding solution to make it quicker. It consists of; each shed there are 4 feeding stations ( each feed station consists of 1 stepper motor and 2 actuator , in total 24 feeding stations.

I need to control each station remotely from my phone. There would only be 2 stations in use at one time. And when they have finished the next two would start.

How would I do it?

Kinds regards Matt

hello Everyone. I have designed a system on the farm which makes day to day running easier. We have 6 sheds of cattle and have come up of feeding solution to make it quicker. It consists of; each shed there are 4 feeding stations ( each feed station consists of 1 stepper motor and 2 actuator , in total 24 feeding stations.

I need to control each station remotely from my phone. There would only be 2 stations in use at one time. And when they have finished the next two would start.

How would I do it?

regards Matt

I would probably set up a basic website for your phone to use to control your feeding stations. Maybe on a Pi, but an Arduino with enough RAM could do it too. And enough in this context probably isn't much.

Give each feeding station a controller, or each shed if the distances are manageable. Choosing the tech to communicate from the web server to the controllers will depend on the distances and building construction. If you're lucky, wifi will do it but I doubt it. LoRa is another possibility. A mesh system like xBee might be good as you can keep adding intermediate nodes (at a price) until it works.

A prototype for one station seems key, especially to find out how well you can communicate across the farm.

Also, if it were me, I would want some mechanism to confirm that food was actually dispensed.

Great application for the use of MQTT.

Run the broker on a local computer, have the remote devices connect to the, local network, to send data and receive data via the MQTT broker.

On the station the motor would rotate a pipe and the actualtors would open and shut a valve. My goal is to set it up we're I would manual move it via the phone but have an option where it can remember the sequence of movements to do it by itself a bit like a automated robotic arm in a factory.

But once the feeding station has finished it would start the next one and repeat.

So if I had multiple cintrollers (one per station), could i get them to communicate with each other?

Matt, it seems there are a number of aspects to this: a) the design of the actual feeder; b) how to link and control multiple units; c) wireless access and control; d) mobile app;

a) when you say “I have designed” does this mean that you have a working prototype of a feeder, or is it at the stage of being an idea only? Can you share some details of how this is to operate, i.e. how the stepper motor and actuators are being controlled? Did you write the sketch for this?

b) will each feeder be a stand-alone unit, or will more than one feeding station run of a single microcontroller? Will each controller be accessed as a single discrete unit, or will there be a broker/server (e.g. a Pi) to serve as a hub for all the units? (The number of feeders that can be controlled per board will depend on the number of GPIO pins required to drive the servo, actuators and sensors on each feeder as well as wireless.)

c) how far apart are the sheds? Are they within the reach of a WiFi signal? Do they all have power?

d) will you be using an “off-the-shelf” existing app, something you intend to write yourself, or access something via a web browser or perhaps MQTT?

Perhaps the fist stage is to better understand what (a) looks like and your ideas for (b) as well as the answers to (c)? It might then be possible to start considering (d).

Each station will need to communicate with a central server to get it's instructions, so no reason it can't talk to the others too. The question is how much the distances and shed construction interfere with the communication mechanism.

You might find that it's beneficial for the stations to pass on instructions depending on how your sheds are laid out but then you have a dependency that might be undesirable.

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