Penn State- Vertical Hydroponic Farm Project Progress Report
Description: The club met every Thursday night for an hour, mostly at Penn State’s Student Farm Greenhouse. The hydroponics project is still in the prototype phase. The prototype has two tiers and can hold 4 plants. We designed the prototype like this because it reduced size and pricing while keeping the main factors that we need to test of the final project in tact. The PVC reservoirs are held in place on the wooden frame by J-hooks. The reservoirs have rubber caps with drilled holes for the solenoids to go into. The solenoids on each end are connected to a hose that uses a 3 way connector to connect the hose back into one stream into the water container, creating a water cycle loop. Our original time line aimed to have the prototype running by February, which did not happen. An aspect that we struggled with was the PVC connections. The solenoids, pump, and reservoir endings were all different sizes, which required us to use many converters. During this time, PVC was hard to come by due to a shortage, but more expensive metal converters were available some of the time. This is one aspect that pushed our timeline back due to the unavailability of essential parts. We also ran into some issues with the electronic aspects. Our group is composed of a wide variety of engineering students, however this does not include an electrical engineering student. We ran into the problem that our pump turns on and off when it is or isn’t plugged in, instead of having an “ON/OFF” switch. Due to this, we needed to create an electrical box to allow the project to function as planned for if the pump did have a switch. This took us a month worth of meetings in order to figure out. Another problem that we ran into is voltage requirements. The solenoids require at the very least 6 volts to open, however, the arduino or raspberry pi were only delivering around 3 volts (we had an arduino donated to us). After trying to work through this problem and reaching out to a few people outside of our group, we attempted to sauder the connection and to use a MOSFET. We found that the metal on the solenoids do not sauder and the MOSFET only barely increased the voltage. This brought us to the end of the school year. With all of these electrical problems, I aim to recruit electrical engineering students to the project during ESW’s general body meeting at the beginning of the fall semester, since this meeting usually brings in a large group. We still plan on donating the structure to a local family or school once it is complete. This will allow more people to be exposed to the practice of vertical hydroponic farming, provide fresh produce, and encourage learning.
Finances: Description Amount Ras Pi $ 49.99 Seeds $ 10.90 Net Pots $ 14.95 Hose Connectors $ 8.15 Hydrogen Peroxide $ 9.16 pH balance $ 15.99 hose adapter $ 8.99 pump $ 54.10 ph meter $ 11.99 Y hose splitter $ 15.99 drilling set $ 9.99 drill $ 34.99 j hooks $ 5.20 pvc pipe $ 14.24 end cap $ 2.60 pvc cement $ 5.94 hose $ 19.98 pvc adapter $ 1.71 rubber cap $ 9.10 adapter $ 4.12 rubber cap $ 5.14 electrical $ 12.66 solenoids $ 39.63 adapters $ 7.01 wires $ 7.49 SD card $ 12.49 relay $ 5.50 hose $ 12.99 wire connectors $ 8.99 adapter $ 7.99 power supply $ 9.99 mosfet $ 8.99 adapter $ 15.98 wire connectors $ 6.79 Pre tax total $ 469.72 Post tax total $ 497.90