Lazy Gardner Project – An Intro

I’ve been wanting to get back into the Arduino scene for some time. But, until now, it’s always been a battle between lack of time or just pure laziness.

I decided enough was enough and decided on a project that would be both fun and useful – introducing the Lazy Gardener!

You’ve probably seen many of these projects on the net. An arduino powered plant irrigation system. I decided to build my own but without any help from other guides.

I’ve been procuring lots of stuff from my new favorite site But I also had a bunch of existing stuff laying around, such as my Arduino Pro Mini’s (5v).

The first utility tool I have built is a simple soil moisture level tester. To build it, I used:

  1. 1x Arduino Pro Mini 5v
  2. 1x SSD1306 0.96″ OLED Display (I used the 6-pin, careful as there are many different types with different numbers of pins)
  3. 1x YL-69 Soil Moisture sensor (this link is to a pack of 20 but you can easily find single lots)
  4. Various cables, headers, jumpers and a 4 AA batter module (since we need at least 5v)

I’ll draw out a schematic soon but here are some pictures. It isn’t pretty but it’s functional. I’ve been reading the soil moisture sensor has accuracy issues, but at this time I’m ok with that since I don’t need a 100% accurate reading, I just need ballparks since I’ll use this reading to determine whether or not to pump water into the plant periodically.

The sensor in action. You can see my soil is quite hydrated. I’m growing baby tomatoes here.
The Code

Power Solutions

I have a goal – to get my sensors to run on AA batteries for several months at a go. We’ll see if I can achieve that.

First batch of arduino parts received [Updated]

I posted a few weeks ago about a recent purchase I made on eBay for raw parts that would allow me to make my own sensors for my home automation project. I received a few items already.

What is pictured is the following:

I’m waiting or the rest of the items including the larger Arduino board for the base station, wiring, and other sensors. I’ll post when I receive them.

Update on 26 March

A couple more parts came today.

Prepping for Arduino Sensors with Vera (Z-Wave) Controller

I posted about my recent purchase of the Vera Lite Z-Wave controller the other day in a rather ambiguous blog title. Since then, I’ve been researching ways in which I can build my own sensors that would ultimately be much cheaper than buying ready-made Z-Wave sensors.

I came across this website that details a project that allows you to build your own sensors using Arduino, and it plugs directly into a Vera. On average, the sensors should cost anywhere around USD 10, but I’ll see what the actuals will be after I get all the pieces.

My initial plan is to get the following sensors built:

  1. Temperature for each room of the house (5 or 6)
  2. Humidity+Temperature for the two bathrooms (more on this later!)
  3. Barometric pressure+Temperature for outside (for fun)
I thought about trying to locate most of this stuff in Singapore but I figured I’d end up paying more than double of what I would if I sourced from China myself (and not to mention the time it would take for me to drive around and locate everything!)
The above linked project site was nice enough to link to individual products on eBay, so I decided to dust off my old eBay account and get purchasing.
Phase 1 cost me just about USD 120 (or about SGD 160) for the raw materials. This should get me a good 8 different sensors. Compare this to getting a Z-Wave-enabled Fibaro Universal sensor at GBP 36, plus the cost of the actual sensor chip – I think going this DIY route will save quite a bit of money. 
Future Plans
I have some thoughts of what to do in “Phase 2”. Building on the base, I want to do the following:
  1. Automated bathroom exhaust fan (using the humidity sensor)
  2. Automated plant waterer (using the not-yet-purchased moisture sensor)
I’ll report back when I get the devices. Work can’t start until I move in April or so any way..