Below is a breakdown and summary of the competition entry Adapted_Greenhouse.
So the competition is coming to an end, quite a sad day because this competition has become part of daily life. I would like to thank Element14, in particular Dave for his time and the time of any other un-named organisers, the sponsors [Silicone Labs and Wurth ElekTronik] for investing in this competition. Charles Gantt also deserves a mention for his summary of the competition on a weekly basis, his summaries allowed me to easily keep upto date with other entries and their great work.
I have used the word competition quite heavily above but actually there has been more collaboration than competition between the entries, so I would also like to thank the other entries for sharing their work so openly. A big thanks must also go out to the community members who have showed interest in the project, there are over 40 blog posts for the adapted_greenhouse and the main page has had around 1000 views but a hand-full of members have interacted heavily with the progress, your interest and input was a big motivator in writing up the blogs/tutorials.
Here is a little video about my experience at Element14:
Open Source Technology was the main aim of this competition for me, a lot of it has been produced, tested and released. I find that open source projects fall into two categories, one where it is a buzz word and you need a PhD in the subject to replicate it due to the lack of supporting material and a second category where it is released openly with a good set of material so anyone of any educational background can replicate the solution. I try as much as possible to test my solutions before publishing them with source code and tutorials, this has led to the techniques being replicated and used. I have received a lot of feedback about the projects from people implementing them in their systems, mostly positive but also some negative feedback that helps to refine any cloudy aspects of the tutorials and post updates/modifications as needed.
I was concentrating on the aspects of aquaponics/hydroponics that are the most prone to human error and time consuming, they are mainly fish feeding, pH control and nutrient dosing. There are also a lot of other tutorials and write-ups on other aspects of aquaponics click on the home page link at the bottom if you would like to see them all.
There is a folder filed with half completed tutorials/experiments waiting for results and data for publishing here. Some of these experiments are long term other blogs are just waiting for long term testing before releasing, so it is going to be a busy 2016. Expect a lot of opensource 3D printed solutions, we now have access to one thanks to FabLAB Manchester, if you dont know what a FabLab is google it today because if one is near you I advice taking advantage of it:
The work that has come from this competition is only a part of the overall outcomes, publishing the work and becoming active in the aquaponics scene has led to some much needed sponsorship and collaboration with people who share the same goals both on the forum and in person. Here are a few links if you want to know more:
The Blogs and winning Element14's member of the month have also helped greatly in winning free lance jobs for system automation on sites such as upwork. the benefits of this competition have really surpassed my expectations and surprised me. I recommend anyone to take part in a Element14 competition if you find a subject your passionate about, it really is a great door opener and fun!
The growing log for the competition is still ongoing due to the low light intensity here in England at this time of year, growth is happening but at a reduced rate, the results will be published as they come in. I was lucky enough to have a head start on the rest of the entries by having a complete and functioning system, many experiments have been carried out this year and I had time to simulate some failure comparisons at the end of one of them, the video below shows one of these experiments comparing NFT to deep bed in a failure event:
Here are some more good links to the growing logs:
The competition hardware:
I am mainly interested in opensource hardware and software and I believe this has showed in my blogs with the heavy use of the arduino and pi. That being said the EZR32WG Wireless MCU kindly supplied by Silicone Labs has proved to be a great piece of hardware, I have had it set up as a backup warning system. It serves as a wireless dashboard, one mcu lives in the greenhouse and repeats the humidity and temperature readings to the second MCU in my bedroom for viewing. It also serves as an alarm to alert to problems, the MCU in the bedroom has a cheap buzzer that is activated if the greenhouse temperature raises above a critical threshold or if the greenhouse power goes down [opto isolator keeps a pin high and goes low if the DC busbar looses power].
This is in no way a cutting edge application, but it is simple and a simple system is less prone to failure and well suited to a backup alarm system like this.This simple system is based on the tutorial in the link below:
The competition has been great, it moved me away from working in isolation to collaboration, the work will continue until we have real plug and play open source solution to aquaponics automation and optimisation. The end goal is to remove financial and educational barriers to aquaponics, for this farming technique to catch on in a big way we need a system that is self reliant and requires very little financial investment and even less education to use. Aquaponics for everyone everywhere.
Thankyou for reading this summary,It has been a real pleasure to take part. Good luck to all the entries and keep up the great work,
Dont forget to follow the main Blogs home page to keep updated on the progress: