Hello, 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
Questions: 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