Thursday, March 06, 2008

Project Tomato 4

Well, I am finally getting off my butt and putting one of my projects into action. The key to me even starting this project was being stuck on a plane flying from SEA-TAC to Atlanta. Man, that 787 plant is awesome.

This will be the 4th year in a row that I have done some sort of Project Tomato. Each year I have been getting progressively better results. The problem that I have now is that Noelle and I live in a one bedroom apartment, so there is no room or permission to do Project Tomato. Another discovery that I learned from last year was the failings of plant lights. So I want to do this outside in a sunny area to avoid that problem.

My parents live about 10 miles away, so I was thinking that I could do something at their house. But how do I kept track of what is going on?

Here is the idea:
I am going to keep all of the functionality of last year's project and add more sensors and controls. In addition to that, I am going to setup a zigbee transceiver that will relay information back to another arduino (minus the chip) connected to my parent's PC. I am trying to figure out the best way to get the information on the web so that I can view it from my apartment...still working out the details.

I have two arduinos and all the hardware from last year. I have ordered two Xbee shield kits and two Xbee 2.5 Transceivers from Digikey. I went with the new Xbee transceivers because they are a new model, cheaper, and slightly higher wattage. From the little I have read, only a few people have used them with the Xbee shield. They are pin compatible but cannot receive or transmit to the first gen Xbee models. I also ordered some other miscellaneous parts including two more Atmega168. My mega8 is working fine, but something happened to my 16 so I ordered two more just in case.

Three sensors- two temperature, one moisture
I am going to use the same thermistors I used last time, but I am adding one to measure the air temp. I am going to use the moisture circuit from the twitter project.

Two control variables - Heating pad and fan
I was contemplating adding a film heater attached to a heat sink so that I could heat the dome if needed, but since I am starting this so late, I am hoping that it won't be a problem. I could also include some sort of pump for watering, but I think I have all I can handle for now.

1. I gave my dad the biodome enclosure, and he is going to mod it so that I can mount a fan. I
originally wanted a large box to go over the whole dome, i.e. a dome over the dome. He
suggested just adding some lexan or Plexiglas to make the dome taller.

2. When the Xbee kits come in, I need to put them together and test them out.

3. I need to assemble the circuits for the moisture sensor and fan drive and reassemble Project
Tomato v3, with the addition of the other thermistor.

4. Rewrite the code for thermistor reading and start working on the rest of the capabilities.

5. Find a way to upload the data from the usb/arduino/xbee transceiver to a website.

This is a lot to bite off in a small amount of time.
I am not sure that the arduino can handle all the code that I am going to need.
The whole Xbee capability is a big step, especially since I have never done anything with them. Who knows what the weather is going to bring...We had a big storm on Tuesday and that would have destroyed this project.

Any thoughts or ideas that you have? Please comment.

Hopefully if this works I can enter this Arduino Contest.