Controlling my growbox with a mobile phone



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.



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  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.


Temperature history graph Moisture saturation history graph
image image

Overriding the heater setting

Status screen following heater override
image image


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.

14 Responses to “Controlling my growbox with a mobile phone”

  1. Ben Czajkowski Says:

    What you’ve done with your growbox never ceases to amaze me.

  2. Tweets that mention Controlling the growbox with a mobile phone -- Says:

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Nick Senzee, Yssel & Son's. Yssel & Son's said: Controlling the growbox with a mobile phone […]

  3. Adding mobile control to your gardening - Hack a Day Says:

    […] Cheap Vegetable Gardener] wanted to check in on his garden from the road so he wrote a control app for his WinPhone. The hardware work is already done; having been built and tested for quite some […]

  4. James Says:

    They have an Arduino-Android SDK that I was considering for my hops and garden.

  5. joe Says:

    is this good for growing weed too?

  6. H4x0r Says:


    Yes you can! i’ve been using a system equivalent to this one for my plants…

    Please note that you cant use a default light scema.. weed is very specific and wont grow if you don’t have the right conditions…

    For the first 2/3 weeks you’ll need: 18h of light, +/- 24 degrees celsius, and a humidity of 50-60%…

    After that trow the light back to 12h of light, keep the temperture steady on 24 degrees celsius and get the humidity down slowly…
    if you dont do this you’ll get funges. if you do it to quick your plant will also die..

    In the last week the humidity needs to be around 30%

    Some last advice!
    make the plant search for its food. so: it’s better to dry out the plant than to overflow it with water…

  7. H4x0r Says:

    Is it possible to obtain the sourcecode of this project somewhere?

    For example:
    the windows mobile app and or the c++ project

  8. The Cheap Vegetable Gardener Says:

    James, cool I haven’t heard of that one.

    joe, good for other herbs…haven’t tried that particular one.

    H4x0r, I probably won’t share the source code but may share the application once I get all the bells and whistles added…might even setup a hosted service to support other’s grow boxes if there is a demand for this.

  9. Top LED Grow Lights Says:

    Dude, this is sick, I wish I could come close to doing stuff like this. I am setting up a grow contest between a couple garden blogs to see how my LEDs stack up, was wondering if you wanted to put your grow box into the contest or maybe your Christmas light grow light, once again sick setup for your grow box

  10. Mobile Phone controlled Plant Growbox - Hacked Gadgets - DIY Tech Blog Says:

    […] and wish you could check out what’s happening when you are on the move take a look at this Mobile Phone controlled Plant Growbox that The Cheap Vegetable Gardener has put together. It has the ability to remotely monitor your […]

  11. Justin Says:

    This cannot be real as the Windows phone is not available…

  12. The Cheap Vegetable Gardener Says:

    Justin, it not available to the public…though everyone can play with the emulator until the launch on Nov 8.

  13. Tom Says:

    I new you were smart. But DAMN!

    CASH IS IN HAND! I’ll buy the beta and the Final Version.

    Tell me where to send the money.

  14. Building of an indoor computerized growbox - The Cheap Vegetable Gardener Says:

    […] as I mentioned previously I have implemented Windows Phone 7 mobile support, which I am still limited to using on an emulator given Verizon taking their sweet time bring a […]

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