How to Build an end-to-end engineering and data science project: Automated Garden

Introduction

Many people are interested in completing personal “passion projects,” in engineering and data science to prove that they have a passion in their field. Most of those people don’t know where to start. That’s why I have chosen to document an end-to-end project for you!

Since I’m interested in gardening, and especially interested in the new trend of indoor farming, I have chosen to build an automated indoor farm as my project example. I will take you through all the steps from conception to automation and analytics.

This will be the home page that links back to every step.

Part 1: Conception

I chose to do the automated garden because I enjoy gardening and eating my own home-grown, fresh foods. I am also interested in environmental protection. Runoff from farming is a major contributor to ocean damage. In many hot and dry climates, water is also becoming increasingly scarce mostly due to agriculture. Indoor farming can save up to 95% of the water of outdoor farming. Therefore, I will make an automated indoor garden to see if I can achieve water saving and delicious produce for myself using my data science and engineering skills.

Part 2: Purchasing Parts and Building the Basic System

Re-purposed wood from my deck was used to build a frame for the light and the plants. A large, 6′ 10″ frame was chosen so I could try growing trees if I want in the future. I started my first plants using a 72 piece seed starter kit from Home Depot. Seeds for various vegetables such as egg plant, lettuce and microgreens were started by placing them on the warmest place in my house, the top of my dryer. Surprisingly, about 20 of the seeds germinated within 3 days. Since the directions say to move the seed starter from dark to light after the first leaves show, I moved the seed starter and the light to the frame. Now the seeds for the initial trial run are growing under the light for 15-18 hrs/day. Luckily, this is still a relatively eco-friendly system since I purchased my house with solar panels which produce more solar power than my wife and I can use. Next week, I will discuss the sensors and control system I plan to use.

Part 3: Sensor and Monitoring Development Phase 1

Part 4: Warehousing the Data

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