How to start a Arduino Gardening project ?

Hey guys,

first of all: I am new to this forum so I am very sorry if i don´t follow any conventions or stuff with this post.

So let´s get started with the actual question. I plan to begin a small arguino garden project. Basically with two functions : switch on/off a lamp and pump water into the pots. The garden/pots themselves won´t become that huge. Maybe 50cm x 20cm (app.).

I don´t really know how i can start that project cause I am pretty strong with coding in Java but I am very new to all this electrical stuff. That´s a little confusing to me cause I don´t really know how to controll a few sensor without putting millions of wires into the arduino.

It´d be very cool if you can give me some advices of how to start the easiest way. (maybe without reading tons of books) I found some cool tutorials also but I don´t feel very sure about the electrical part.

Hope you´re not too bored now :P

Cheers

In general, what you are looking to do isn't overly complicated either electrically or coding. You will need to mesh together a couple different codes to get the system you want.

As for what sensors you want, you need a way to tell what time it is, so a RTC module, a way to measure the moisture of the soil so you don't overwater the plant, so a soil sensor, and a means to deliver the water , solenoid operated water valve. As for the light, without any electrical knowledge and the safest means, look at a relay controlled pigtail. It will allow you to simply plug in the light and control it with the arduino without having exposed mains power.

Sparkfun has all the items I listed, and they have the libraries and example codes to get the individual items going. Then you have to mesh them together, which shouldn't be too horrible.

google arduino garden and find a project you like. do some simple things, temperature is easy, get it to read temp and then add a layer. after your second or third sensor, things will fall into place.

I do sugguest you have two Arduinos, one that you play/practice with and one you use as the fundamental center of your project.

Indeed start simple. Temperature sensor (NTC or digital); soil moisture sensor (analog usually). Simple sensors, connect with minimal extra components, a good way to grind your teeth on it. Get that working. Add an LED that lights up when the moisture level goes too low, alerting you that the plant needs watering. You'll probably want to be able to check the status of your plants - Internet connectivity - look into the ESP8266 (very capable of doing just that all by itself), can be programmed just like an Arduino, just under the hood it's a different thing. Built in WiFi and web server. Next step: the lamp. Look into either a MOSFET switch (if you use a low voltage LED) or a relay (if your lamp connects directly to mains power). Switch it timer based, or add a brightness sensor to switch it on/off as needed based on available light. Finally, the hardest one: the watering. I would go for a peristaltic pump rather than a solenoid. Should be easier to install and definitely more controlled. You probably only want very small quantities of water, not simply open the tap and let it run which is what a solenoid does. You'll need a (second) MOSFET switch for this pump, plus the proper code to switch it on and off for the required duration which would depend on the reading of your moisture sensor.