Wireless Greenhouse Monitor: Update two
We have been hard at work developing our farmer-built Wireless Greenhouse Monitor that we were funded to prototype and test through a SARE farmer grant, which we outlined in our first post on this topic.
Louis, the lead hardware developer and programmer for our device, has been testing different configurations of parts, with an eye toward making things as simple and as useful as possible for farmers who want to monitor the temperature of their greenhouses from afar, using cell phone text messages.
The heart of this tool will be an Arduino, an open-source microcontroller circuit board that is beloved by hobbyists and DIY-robot-builders. Just as open-source computer programmers work on projects with the intention that their programs will free and accessible for all to use and modify, the Arduino is a design of a circuit board that is meant to be a platform free for all to use and to build using off-the-shelf parts. The Arduino can handle simple tasks such as receiving signals from sensors, doing some calculations, and taking an action like turning on or off a switch or motor. In our case, the Arduino will be sensing temperature in the greenhouse, processing that information based on the parameters that the farmer has set, and then sending (or not sending) the farmer a text message in response. For example the farmer could set the Arduino to send out a text message alert whenever the temperature in the greenhouse rises above 90 degrees, or falls below 35 degrees. Or the farmer could just set it to send out an update with the current temperature every hour; or to simply reply with the temperature whenever the farmer sends a text message to inquire.
Louis has been keeping track of developments on the project, and the current list of materials, on the page for the Wireless Greenhouse Monitor on the new Farm Hack Tools Wiki. Check there for updates and to give your own feedback about the project: how you might use it, features you hope it will have, etc. This is a textbook Farm Hack opportunity for collaborative tool development!
Meanwhile, we will be updating you here on the blog as we make progress on the tool. Next step: a trial run of assembly and testing in the greenhouse at Hearty Roots Farm, in two weeks.