Computer grow box gets 120 watts of LEDs

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Always running out of room in my grow box I needed to expand it some.  Though the CFL lights I was using worked great for my 3 square foot space, though by nearly tripling the square footage CFLs wouldn’t scale out anymore.  Looking at my other options such as HPS (High Pressure Sodium) or Metal Halide I really didn’t want to deal with ballasts and cooling I decided on going with LEDs.  After doing some research I came upon the 120w Extreme Flower LED grow light and after talking to the great people at Advanced LED Lights they were gracious enough send me with one of their lights to try out.

Now as soon as I opened the box I noticed the sticker that said "Do not look directly at light.”  Being a moron I just had to plug it in and test out this warning, now it was not like staring at the sun but it was definitely much brighter than my Christmas grow light and I would not recommend others to do this.

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The light offers a unique blend of 11+ wavelengths of color ranging from 380nm to 760nm and if you read my post of the importance of wavelength to plant growth this is critical for vegetative and flowing plant growth.  The great thing about growing with LEDs if you can pick the specific wavelength produced for maximum yields, though other lights also provide this spectrum they also produce much in the range that is appealing to our eyes (yellow and green) which the plants could live without.  This is the reason why this 120 watt grow light can produce the results of a comparable 250w High Pressure Sodium light.

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I still have some work to do on my new bigger grow box before I can move this years plants in, but I am excited to see the results this new light will bring.  Stay tuned for more updates.

Win a Free one year Subscription GrowVeg.com

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GrowVeg.com has graciously offered us a free one year subscription to their site ($25 value) to give away.

If you haven’t heard of GrowVeg it is an online program that allows you to plan you season of gardening and provides you reminders when you should start seeds and move transplants outside.  You can check out my first review and my more recent review for some more specific details of this years new feature enhancements..

There are multiple ways to enter:

  • 1. Add a comment to this post
  • 2. Like CheapVegetableGardener on Facebook (add an additional comment to the post)
  • 3. Mention this giveaway on your site/Twitter (add an additional comment to the post)

We will pick a winner on 02/12/11 but if you can’t wait to get started planning your garden go ahead and sign up for the free 30 day trial and if you are lucky you can continue using it for free.  Good luck.

Controlling my growbox with a mobile phone

 

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How many times have you been riding the bus and have been curious what temperature your computer growbox was running and if the plants needed to be watered?  Ok maybe never, but I decided to solve this problem anyway.  There is also no point in identifying that you may have a problem without having a way to do something about so I also implemented the ability to override the controls on the growbox by using a Windows Phone 7 application on your new T-Mobile cell phone or any other cool Windows phone.

Design

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I made the design for this pretty simple, unfortunately I could not connect with my growbox directly using a mobile device because the computer is behind a firewall (which is a good thing) so I used machine that both the mobile phone and growbox can contact cheapvegetablegardener.com.  After creating a quick web service with the following methods the growbox and mobile device could now talk to each other:

  • SetStatus(StatusInfo) – GrowBox sets this status every minute
  • SetOverride(OverrideInfo) – Mobile sets override to default functionality
  • GetStatus() – Mobile Phone gets status
  • GetOverride() – GrowBox checks for potential overrides requested by Mobile device

Mobile UI

Now I have the two devices talking here is the basic UI.  The top half of the screen shows the growbox temperature, cpu temperature, and the moisture content. All of these statues change color (to yellow and red) as their values get to critical levels (too hot, too cold, too dry)

The middle section shows the current state of the growbox letting me know if the lights, heater, exhaust fan, and/or water pump are on or off.  If a situation occurs where you want to override this state you can do this by simply clicking the status indicator.

The bottom part of the screen shows temperature and moisture levels over the past 24 hours.  The graphs are rendered using Google Charts for simplicity though am thinking about creating my own custom solution to get the graphs just right.  It also displays a current screenshot inside the grow box and you can transition between views with a finger swipe.

Screenshots

Temperature history graph Moisture saturation history graph
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Overriding the heater setting

Status screen following heater override
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Though this covers most of my required functionality, I still need to add some cool transition animations and some additional analytics, but thought I would share my current version.

Grow box during the summertime – UPDATE

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UPDATE: With weather climbing my grow box got up to 111.5 degrees today with the lights off.  If I was using one of those fancy computers with temperature sensors it would have turned itself off by now.  Turning off computer so I will have something working this winter…

[July 25, 2009] I was planning on growing my jalapeno peppers in my grow box this summer, but given the higher than average weather we have been having.

With the weather being in the 90’s 100’s and given the CFLs on average increase the temperature by around 10 degrees the grow box has not been great place to grow plants unless I was thinking of growing cacti.  Looking at my historical data the highest temperature this summer was 107.6 111.5 degrees.

As you can see above I have been making some progress on the computerized grow box, which I will plan on writing it up soon…

And the GrowVeg subscription goes to…

There were 57 entries so I had my kids pick a number between 1 and 57 and they decided on 51.  So the winner is Robj98168 the 51st commenter, please send me an email using the “Contact” link at the top of the page and I will send you the information to activate your one year subscription.

Thank you for everyone that participated and hope to have more contests in the future.

First ever CVG giveaway “ Free one year subscription to GrowVeg.com

Online Garden Planning Tool

GrowVeg.com has graciously offered us a free one year subscription to their site ($25 value) to give away.  To enter simply enter a comment to this post and a name will be randomly selected using some sort of complicated means.

We will pick a winner in a few weeks but if you can’t wait to get started planning your garden go ahead and sign up for the free 30 day trial and if you are lucky you can continue using it for free.  Good luck.

UPDATE: Just for some shameless self promotion, if you mention this contest on your site you are free to add a second comment to double your chances to win.

UPDATE #2: Drawing will be on 03/31/09, so if you have not entered time is running out.

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