Computer controlled grow box – Part 2

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Though I have made some significant changes to the grow box controller, the actual grow box has undergone some minor but important changes over the past few months.

Automated watering

Now I must say this one is pretty darn simple.  Though I will be planning on a slightly more complicated hydroponic setup later I decided to start with a very easy bottom watering technique.  Just take a regular old fountain pump (I went with the cheapest I could find) drop it in a 5 gallon bucket of water and attach a hose long enough to reach your planting tray and plug in the power to the pump to your grow box controller and that’s about it.

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To prevent evaporation and algae and little bugs making a home in my nice bucket of water, I added a lid with two holes for the water output and power input.  The power input required me to make a straight cut with a utility knife to ensure a snug fit while not requiring me to cur the AC line to feed the wire through.

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I also cut a hole of the same size as the water output on the bucket lid to the grow box to allow the line to enter while still keeping the box closed.

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Exhaust fan control

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Air circulation is important for plants to be healthy but when the box gets warmer than expected I installed two controlled CPU fans to help regulate temperate as well as one static fan that constantly pushes air from the top to bottom.

I added a 12 volt exhaust fan to the top of the box (pictured above) to help push hot air out of the grow box with another (pictured below) at the lower part of the grow box to push in cold air as needed.  Both of these fans are powered by a 12 volt power wall adapter plugged into the grow box controller.

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Heating

Though the computer and lights allow the box to create a comfortable internal temperature, sometimes it needs a little help.  For this I installed a regular old seedling heater to hopefully take a little sting out of the cold floor the seed tray is sitting one.  Like other components this was simply plugged into the grow box controller.

Putting it all together

My previous version was a little sloppily put together with duct/packing tape (lets just call it prototyping).  Though this added some hackiness appear it wasn’t too functional so I added a little strip of wood to support a couple hinges which I created a top which holds the LCD panel.

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Upon opening the top you can see the grow box controller and the state of the art 600 MHz PC in all their glory.

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As you can see I have still have some cleaning up to do with compress air and maybe a few more zip ties but all in all everything seems to have come together nicely.

5 Responses to “Computer controlled grow box – Part 2”

  1. Dan Owen Says:

    You are very innovative and te article was informative and clear. I may give this setup a try over the winter.


  2. The Cheap Vegetable Gardener Says:

    Dan, you really should give it a try. If you are growing in a basement or a heated garage you probably can get away with all the electronics and just use timers since the temperature should be pretty controlled, though for me that is half (it not more the fun) Grow boxes are also a great way to start seedlings, I have had much better luck with this than my windowsill.


  3. Jayson Anders Says:

    There are many people developing open source algae reactors and processing info on the web. Check out algaegeek.com as a great example. http://algaegeek.com


  4. The Cheap Vegetable Gardener Says:

    I have come across that site from their sister site http://inventgeek.com. Some great information on both. Have thought about making one for the office a good conversation starter :)


  5. C Smith Says:

    Iteresting project. How is it doing this year? have you made significant modifications or moth balled the whole idea?


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