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Easiest/cheapest way to computerize and automate a grow?

Discussion in 'Grow Room Design & Setup' started by ourkansaw, Mar 29, 2012.


    ourkansaw Active Member

    So I'm a bit of a computer/tech nerd and a programmer by hobby, and I'd really like to find a way to have a basic computer hooked up to my grow box, acting as a server for the op. It would have a wifi card to connect to my network, and I could log into the server and check the moisture, humidity, temperature, etc. It would be pretty rudimentary to write a script that would water when moisture or humidity drop too low, for example, but I would also like to be able to remotely control the lights and fans. I think I could figure out how to set up the computer and software side of things, but I'm not sure where to start with the hardware interface. Is there a simple commercially available serial port controller for this kind of thing that research labs use? Will I have to do some soldering of wires from serial cables to some kind of switches? What kind of hardware would I need? The purpose of this is to be able to monitor and control my attic grow without having to climb up my attic hatch every day (or maybe even a couple times a day). Obviously I'll need to refill water reservoirs and adjust the lights or prune the plants once in awhile, but I'm trying to get my in-person visits to the grow box down to one or two times per week, preferably once a week. Any help is greatly appreciated! I prefer a DIY approach, but I will consider commercially available products if they are reasonably priced.

    greengrowthexpert Active Member

    Hey man im interested in this. I myself am pretty knowledgeable with php html javascript java Also c++,you would need a very good(expensive) meter but i think something could happen. Look into it man

    phillipchristian New Member

    Not sure, I bought an Agrowtek Controller after checking it and the iPonic 600 out. It controls both 5 ton air handlers and their dehumidification separetly; my lights, fans, nutrient reservoir feeding pumps and schedules; and Co2 generators for 3 different grow rooms (flower, clones, moms/veg). The software is great. I then installed a VPN and can dial in anytime and get real time readings and also change any presets or schedules. Also have 4 cameras which I can check via the network as well. The only thing I can't do is mix nutrient solutions with it. I've been looking into the Easy Feed and the Argus Controls units but they are just way to expensive and I'm not yet sold on the reliability of their units. Anyway, just thought I would share.

    ganjagoddess Well-Known Member

    AGrowtek controller are the best.. If your looking for cheaper internet based monitoring for temp/humidity/soil dryness we use WEATHER DIRECT units, lets me log data throughout my day every 30 mins so I can make sure my systems are operating perfectly... Has really helped me see how my humidity in my rooms was functioning.

    phillipchristian New Member

    Been testing out their new GC-PRO and it is fantastic. Allows for multiple enviroment control.


    ourkansaw Active Member

    Wow, those are some amazing looking systems. If I had a large grow op I would definitely consider forking over the cash for something like that. However, I think those might be overkill for my needs. I really just want to control the water sprayers, and to be able to log and view data from sensors for temperature, humidity, and soil moisture.

    So really I guess I have two questions: (1) What's the easiest way to control a pump (turn it on/off) using a computer? (2) What options are there for temperature/humidity/soil moisture sensors that can be connected to a computer?

    ganjagoddess: Can you explain a little better how to use the Weather Direct units? It looks from their website that they are designed to connect through the internet to their servers, which is not something I would want. Will they function without an internet connection? Right now my plan is to use an old wireless router I have just for this purpose and not allow that router to access the internet, for security reasons. I would then switch my laptop from my usual wifi network to the dedicated network whenever I wanted to log into the grow server.

    iriesmiley Member

    Now that, tome, is my kind of internet porn! GREEN PORN!!!
    I love this thread!
    I read about a tech guy, back in the 90's, in Parade magazine of all places,who set up numersous grow houses across the east coast. He used PC's toremotely monitor and control everything inside the grow, and used the internet,likely a dial-up connection at the time, to alert him of any emergencies eithergrow room functions or or unexpected security breaches. If I remeber correctlyhe did it for a while, then split for Amsterdam, where he was being intereiwedfor the article.
    I was always surprised at Parade for running the article and amazed by the geekingenuity of the project. I love it!


    forgetfulpenguin Active Member

    Check out http://gardenbot.org/howTo/
    "GardenBot is an open source garden monitoring system. This site is a collection of tutorials for how to build things (like a soil moisture sensor), software for running GardenBot, resources, links, and more.

    To get started, you will want to browse the How-To section to see what is required to build the various modules."

    edit:The about page has link to a bunch of other similar projects

    (1) Microcontroller + Relay = WIN


    (2) Plenty of OTC temp, and humidity sensors to choose from. Soil moisture should just be a measure of electrical conductivity so I'd say just DIY it. OTC soil moisture probes do exist.
    For example
    OTC temp/humidity
    DIY probes
    OTC probes
    ganjagoddess likes this.

    budleydoright Well-Known Member

    If you want a quick and dirty DIY. Look at the webcontrol board on ebay. Other webserver remote controlboards can be adapted easily. this one does 1wire temp, humidity can accept 0-10v from a co2 controller and has 8 relay outputs.

    ganjagoddess Well-Known Member

    Cool website Penguin!! Ty

    OURKANSAW, yes they need constant internet connection and do store data of temp, humdity on thier server, which can be viewed on your computer or smartphone...

    In reality this isnt as bad as you think, and is very convient.. I think putting your grow "on" the internet is questionable for some though..

    frankreynolds Member

    I use z wave stuff with Vera 3 controller, works great

    ourkansaw Active Member

    Thank you everyone for the helpful responses! This looks like a fun side project, I'll report back with my setup once it's in place.
    good to go

    good to go New Member

    Hi Phillipchristian, could you pm me? I am about to buy the agrowtek controller, but I want to complete my design before I purchase it. How do you control 3 rooms? They advertise 2 environments.

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