The Incredible Aqua Garden

by Naomi

logoThe Incredible Aqua Garden is a project led by Incredible Edible Todmordon. It uses aquaponics and hydroponics to grow sustainable food. I won’t try and describe it here. You can read all about it on the dedicated website. This page is just about its electronic control system.

Layer Zero Labs are the brains behind the electronics and software controlling the aquaponics system. We’ve done it all on an entirely voluntary basis. We’ve been able to deliver so much functionality at such a low cost because we use open source software and designs. We’ve leveraged the enormous amount of work freely shared by other talented engineers across the world. We’ve also written original code and created original designs.

It’s taken us a lot of time, but we’ve learnt so much as we went along. It’s been immensely valuable to us. The end result does more than commercial systems costing many thousands of pounds. Needless to say we didn’t have that sort of budget! And there’s more to come. The Aquaponics system is being installed today, for the launch day tomorrow. We’re still having ideas about what to put in it. We’ll be popping up to the Incredible Aqua Garden regularly to monitor and improve it.

Layer Zero Labs’ contributions to the Incredible Aqua Garden include:

* Sensors for monitoring the light, current, pH and water levels.

* Alerts. It can text and tweet about the state of the aquaponics system.

* Actuators for operating the valve and backlight. The valve is controlled on the basis of the water level.

* A visual interface using node-red that shows the interactions between parts of the system. This is not just for show. It is actually executable!

Our code is free and open. Download it from Layer Zero Labs on Github.

Incredible Aqua Garden Electronic System Overview

The sensors are attached to an Arduino. The Arduino runs C++ / Wiring code to read the sensors and publish the results over mqtt.

The mqtt broker runs on a Raspberry Pi. The Raspberry Pi also runs node.js, with the node-red interface. This interface shows the flow of information between parts of the aquaponics system. You can move them around in order to change how the system works. More complex logic is stored in function nodes, which you can read by clicking on them.

The raspberry pi takes in all the information and decides what to do with it. If the water level changes the pi may activate the valve. This uses the Wiring-Pi extension to node-red. In other cases it can send texts or tweets.

More to come

In the next iteration we will plumb it all into the Incredible Aqua Garden website. By interacting with the website, you will be able to control the backlight and webcam. You can then watch streaming video of the Incredible Aqua Garden. We’re even toying with the idea of the public paying small donations to remotely feed the fish. Stand aside, Internet of Things! We bring you the Internet of Animals.

If you have any questions about the Incredible Aqua Garden aquaponics system please contact Layer Zero Labs

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