Our prototyping so far

After having built our first few automated food-computers, we felt the need to share the valuable lessons we have learned from our experience. Growing crops hydroponically is a challenging task, but with a little bit of know-how, it can yield impressive results. Here's what we learned from our first trials:First of all, the strength and spectrum of your LED grow-lights plays a major role when it comes to yields. Therefore, when it comes to choosing grow-lights, one must make sure to have a good Wattage and the right light-spectra. Don't forget that LED grow-lights need a descent cooling system to ensure their efficiency! Second of all, an insulated system protects from outside pests and infestations. It is surprising how easy it is for little parasites to infest home-grown crops.[caption id="attachment_45" align="aligncenter" width="300"]


Hydroponic lettuce and arugula[/caption]After having reached our conclusions on our first hydroponic trials, we went back to the drawing board to improve our design and made our second generation of prototypes way more sophisticated! Our Prototype v1.1 with its hand-made blue LED system, although not very pretty, managed to grow us some hydroponic lettuce and some arugula in a matter of days. Since our sprouts were propagated, we only had to wait for three weeks before tasting our crops.[caption id="attachment_42" align="aligncenter" width="346"]


Mad scientist soldering circuitry[/caption]Our prototype v1.2, this time with a more sober –white LED system, not only managed to grow us lettuce, but even strawberries! We tested an ever-bearing variety and succeeded quite well. Strawberry plants take more time to mature and flower, but we proved it can be done![caption id="attachment_175" align="aligncenter" width="300"]


Indoor leafy greens and strawberries[/caption]When we started working on our prototype v1.3, we really had some experience when it came to controlled indoor farming. We integrated a humidifier and stronger ventilation, more sensors, extractors and carbon filters, added better insulation, and gave it an even more sober and simple design. Our little invention was able to grow us some cherry tomatoes in record time! In terms of connectivity, we managed to integrate a Temperature/Humidity sensor, a water temperature sensor, an ultrasound probe to check water level, and radio-frequency switches to remotely turn on and off the LED lights as well as the air-pump. The results on crop growing were more than satisfying![caption id="attachment_43" align="aligncenter" width="348"]


Small sized food computer prototype[/caption]While our new fancy prototype is busy growing those very special plants we all love, don't forget to keep in touch! more news coming soon on blog.planthive.com !

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