I am approaching my first growing season and as I plan my system growth, I can't help but think that we as a community must have some simple and inexpensive automation solution out there.
I have been watching Arduino and Raspberry Pi processor creations pop up here and there and much interest in the possibilities. Other than Rik Kretzinger, I don't find many who have completed a fully funcional system. I haven't programmed since my Commodore 64, so the learning curve will be very steep for me to do this all by myself.
Before I get too far into the weeds, let me say, I am a father of 4 kids and started this process to grow quality fresh food and learn how to grow as close to year round as possible. I am a contractor with extensive experience in many things from aviation to residential and industrial construction. My weakness is in the controls automation aspect of things. I am not looking for an endless hobby of programming or tinkering, so I continue to seek simple solutions of off the shelf timers and such. This limits heavily what I feel could be done. Also, I find some intriguing products made for such purposes, but the cost is prohibitive. I have a 20' x 32' greenhouse that has a gravel bed and DWC as well as about 12 Dutch buckets. I am thinking that I will max out the remaining space with about 70-75 more dutch buckets and possibly a NFT wall. I have installed a home built solar collector that is working well to heat. Later will likely add a LP water heater for deep winter heating. Like I said, this isn't a hobby with endless funds, so I am looking for advise here. Is it practical to even go down this road?
Here's the dream list:
Scope of Design:
It seems once the hardware is in place and you have the ability to set the parameters, the sky is the limit. I would love to contribute to a system that would be low cost and user friendly.
Thought, Interest, Great big belly laughs are welcome.
I have found likely the closest complete system build to what I am looking to build. I am researching control valves before I proceed to make sure . Here is the link to the system build I am going to emulate.