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Louis's picture


Member for
2 years 1 month


# of Wiki Edits: 116

# of Forum topics submitted: 17

# of Comments: 74

Stream of Wiki Edits

Title Edited on Edit message
Greenhouse Monitoring with Text Message Alerts Thursday, January 30, 2014 - 18:10 View changes View current version
Getting Started Sunday, June 9, 2013 - 18:27 View changes View current version
Getting Started Sunday, June 9, 2013 - 17:03 View changes View current version
FarmHack Event Tool Friday, January 25, 2013 - 15:46 View changes View current version
FarmHack Event Tool Sunday, January 20, 2013 - 17:09 View changes View current version
electronic flame weeder ignition/electronic LP solenoid on/off Thursday, January 10, 2013 - 12:56 View changes View current version
electronic flame weeder ignition/electronic LP solenoid on/off Thursday, January 10, 2013 - 12:46 View changes View current version
electronic flame weeder ignition/electronic LP solenoid on/off Thursday, January 10, 2013 - 12:44 View changes View current version
electronic flame weeder ignition/electronic LP solenoid on/off Thursday, January 10, 2013 - 11:09 View changes View current version
electronic flame weeder ignition/electronic LP solenoid on/off Thursday, January 10, 2013 - 10:50 View changes View current version


Stream of Forum Topics

In 50 characters or less... Posted by Post date Last comment Number of Commentssort ascending # of Comments new to you
Done: No clear way to browse wiki Louis Sunday, March 4, 2012 - 23:59 Wednesday, May 30, 2012 - 14:14 13
Local Zigbee Network on a Farm Louis Saturday, April 28, 2012 - 15:06 Sunday, September 2, 2012 - 22:29 12
Simplifying the Site for New Users Louis Friday, May 17, 2013 - 10:48 Thursday, February 27, 2014 - 00:26 11
[Solved] Running out of Pins Louis Wednesday, March 28, 2012 - 15:16 Thursday, March 29, 2012 - 10:52 5
Done: Can I edit my posts on the forum retroactively? Louis Sunday, March 4, 2012 - 23:13 Thursday, March 29, 2012 - 21:49 4
Anybody find a green jacket Hard Wear at the Essex Grange? Louis Monday, April 30, 2012 - 11:50 Sunday, November 4, 2012 - 22:02 4
Fido for Sale (Coming Soon) Louis Friday, June 29, 2012 - 10:01 Thursday, July 5, 2012 - 17:40 2
Pushing Arduino Memory Louis Friday, April 6, 2012 - 00:04 Sunday, April 8, 2012 - 20:07 1
Syncing Excel with Google Calendar Louis Sunday, March 4, 2012 - 23:42 Friday, December 28, 2012 - 17:55 1
#Tags Don't Link to Topic Louis Wednesday, August 8, 2012 - 00:58 Tuesday, October 2, 2012 - 15:16 1


Stream of Forum Comments

Louis's picture

Hi Jenna,

I just wanted to chime in and say that I've seen your previous tools and I like 'em! I realized that your temperature logger was intentionally a stripped down version compared to my Fido project and that idea struck a chord with me. A lot of the work that I'm trying to post-Fido is to try to make the communications part easier -- which is essentially what made Fido more complicated than your device.

Anyway, I just wanted to say, that I'd like to send you an Apitronics Bee to help you as a controller and as a charger for what you're doing (in reference to your italics Housing). Worst case, it's just a charge controller. But based on what I've seen of your previous hacks, you know how to write some Arduino code so you'll at least make a good local controller out of it. Plus, if I've done a good job, you'll also be able to figure out how to use the networking side of it and be able to monitor things remotely, but that'd be a bonus.

Amongst other things, the Bee might also help with food dispensing. If you could find some kind of motor or actuator to dump a ration, you could put it on a timer or on remote control. I've also used Bees to monitor water levels in tanks but that might not work with the buckets.

Let me know if you want to talk sensors or anything like that!


Louis's picture

I agree - great write up!

Although Arduino controller might be cheaper that some of those Johnson controllers, those are ruggedized and work off the shelf so that seems like a pretty nice way to go.

Unless you're interested in responding to humidity instead of temperature! Then I could see some use out of an Arduino.

Louis's picture

Congratulations! My weather station project didn't get funded I'm afraid :(

Louis's picture

I want to play with that! Looking forward to your crowdfunding campaign.

Louis's picture

Yes we're definitely working on integrating that onto the Apitronics platform - basically a browser based interface where you can choose any sensor, give it upper and lower bounds, and ask for text or email alerts based on that.

Also, a demo video for that is here (skip to 1:50)

Louis's picture

We're almost there with the new product! It'll be ready for shipping mid-March right (I need to update my Kickstarter backers since the projection was February).

So that's all I can tell you. Hopefully the new (Zigbee) architecture works for your range. Modules can go up to a mile without too much interference. Here's a tutorial about it from the Kickstarter.

Louis's picture

Hi Katrina

My company, Apitronics, is an open-source platform for deploying wireless sensor and automation networks on farms. We are currently manufacturing our base unit, the Bee, a battery powered, solar rechargeable, wireless device, and our Weather Plug, which enables the Bee to become a weather station.

It's possible that we could come up with an application that we could collaborate on. Things we'd like to manufacture next are controllers for irrigation, greenhouse, aquaponic, what have you. We're designing our systems to communicate between nodes and to leverage the benefit of having everything networked. With a weather station AND a greenhouse controller, you could start coming up with some really interesting automation. Is it "too hot" but almost night fall and a cold night is coming up? A simple thermostat might release that heat, while a networked system could easily have the intelligence to capture that heat for the night.

Anyway, that's just an idea. We basically have a core of any wireless system and have designed everything to make it easy to prototype new ideas. So we could try out just about anything for this competition. We're already open-source and would have no problem maintaing that with you :)


Louis's picture

I saw a Samet's TED talk and then I read one of his mushroom books and I'm hooked. I just haven't had an opportunity to experiment and research further. I'm working on a business that makes sensor networks for farms though so using those to manage mushroom cultures sounds intriguing to me.

Louis's picture

Hi isdale - welcome to the website! You can browse lots of projets in the Tools section :)

I just wanted to share a picture with everyone of the tools in the truck. It's kind of funny for me to see all those interesting tools loaded up like that.

Louis's picture

I'm more of an engineer than a farmer, but I thought it'd be fun to browse seeds. I realized that I had to prompt it with a word and the only thing I could think of was "carrot". That's OK - I like carrots.

I like the clean design but I wonder if you could allow browsing your database? You could keep things clean by just using a drop down or something... Just a thought.

Louis's picture

Also, I like the sound of the categories you listed. Thanks, Dan!

Louis's picture

By tabs I meant what goes on top of the site beneath the banner, where ABOUT, EVENTS, FAQ... is right now.

I think that headings in the categories might be helpful, but I imagine those headings would be TOOLS, ORGANIZATIONS, DISCUSSION or something like that.

The blog thing could make sense... I am just afraid that it might distract people from exploring the community (forums and tools). It could be as simple as switching the order on the land page making it the third item from the left rather than the first.

Also, any idea why the leaves on this cucumber plant are in so much pain? Too much sun? I want it to be happy as that horse.

Louis's picture

Hi Jeff,

It's great to see that there are some standard being put into motion, both locally managed and with global connections!

It looks like the NEFKE is in development but how would I go about finding out the specifications so I could potentially export my data in that format? Are they still being developed? Will the exporting be periodic data-dumps or will the system be setup for dynamic data sharing?

Louis's picture

Hi Terry

You are welcome to post this project on your website - hopefully with a reference back to here :)

Something we've been investigating are ways to allow sites to share source to the same project. Kind of like the way branching and forking work in GitHub (we're actually exploring that as the back-end) - that way I could easily merge edits from your branch on ArduinoInfo. RJ might come along and tell you more about that.

Anyway, about collaboration, I'd love any contributions you'd have to the tool page here. I was planning to go through and try to simplify the page as much as possible soon anyway. I'd really appreciate your perspective on the general structure since you've no doubt spent a lot of type thinking about how tutorials need to be written.


Louis's picture

This is something that I'm trying to position Apitronics to help with. Since many farms will have identical sensors deployed, the sensor specifications will be open of course, and the location will be paired with all the data being gathered, I think it could be a great component to the platform being proposed.

I would love to be part of this discussion and to hear what the research needs are. I will have my own practical uses for the data (primarily building physical models for simulations and automation) but I would love to know how to make the datasets more accessible to others.

Louis's picture

Yeah this is very cool. I think this is great that you are starting simple since know you know how it all works yourself and are able to expand from here now!

Louis's picture

The code is broken currently...?

Louis's picture

Hi there Wyatt! Welcome

That Batt-Latch has a wild price tag! Depending on the application, you could probably hack something together with an Arduino and a servo or something. Looks like that device can hold a lot of pressure though so matching that may be tough. And then there's waterproofing...

Have you ever played with Arduino?

The other devices you speak about are a little bit outside of my domain but somebody may come along with some ideas!

Louis's picture

I wonder if there is a kind of balance that can be had. I think a traditional licensing model could end up being more trouble than its worth. Companies like Apple spend more on legal fees than R&D!

One solution is that the developer try to maintain an online storefront, but to outsource actual production and fulfillment as much as possible. Perhaps this means a one month lead-time for these types of mechanical projects.

Granted that it takes more involvement than licensing, but it gives the developer a stronger "brand-name" helping them compete against possible knock-offs. It benefits the developer too because they have direct customer contact and feedback this way. Its certainly money well spent compared to legal fees.

Work could then still be released open-source, but periodically allowing the developer to arrange parternships for distribution. Openness for physical tools is less of a catalyst for parallel development since they have more barriers than that of software. Generating an identical build to someone else's is exceedingly difficult. On the other hand, providing kits so that co-developers can exist may be a revenue stream in itself.

Louis's picture

This looks very cool! Looking at things, I understand you space issue. Bladders or something to store water beneath the pallets seems a good idea. Hanging something from the hoops inside might block the sun for your plants though?

Maybe you could design a system to circulate water outside during the day to capture sunlight and heat.

Louis's picture

So you're doing:
Panel -(1)-> 12V Battery -(2)-> 115V AC -(3)-> Appliances

Seems like you have (2) and (3) pretty well figured out. The inverter is definitely right I take it the bucket and base both have standard outlets for 115-120V AC.

I would wonder about (1) on the input side (the output to the battery makes sense). Specifically, what are the min and max voltage panel inputs it expects? Have you selected a panel that matches that?

Now that all the voltages line up, I would think about watts/current (remember, Watts = Current * Voltage). How often does the heater and pad need to be on? How many watts do they consume when they are on?

Given your charger, you can only draw 5W from the solar panels, regardless of voltage. If you always had 5W from solar panels and always had your appliances on, you would need to make sure you only drew 5W, not the 400W maximum that it is rated for.

But your panels aren't always on and I doubt your appliances draw THAT much current, so do the calculation of how much sun you can expect and how much current you will be drawing. You will probably want a timer so that you can switch the appliances on and off.

Also, just a thought, have you looked at solar water heaters? You might get away with more that way. The reason is, all this conversion of electricity gives you an efficiency drops. It's too bad that most appliances need 120V AC because they end up rectifying it and using DC locally. It would be nice to regulate the 12V DC another DC level rather than going DC-AC-DC.

Louis's picture

Glad you pointed that out.

Please let me know if you spot any other issues!

Louis's picture

That's a relief!

Louis's picture

Irrigation Caddy ($180):
- ethernet cable based
- wire up to 10 valves (including master)
- browser based
- allows user to create up to 4 programs that can then have up to 5 start times

Above is my summary of irrigation caddy. It does seem to have some of the elements that we discussed, but it doesn't include sensors and it is all wired. EZ-VRC (with its own subscription and which isn't even accepting new subscribers) might fill that void but now you have two seperate user interfaces, one for irrigation control and one for sensors. How do you use the sensors to dictate your watering schedule? Build a layer on top of both UI? Not to mention that you're cloud-dependant with this EZ-VRC. Same deal with bringing in wireless - you'd have to hack a black-box and figure out how it works so that you could integrate an Xbee.

The end-result is you've cobbled together a few proprietary devices to make the device you actually want. That solution isn't optimized and it's not scalable. It might work fine for one person and it might work especially fine for Andy since you have everything wired up already, but I am interested in developing an application that can easily be replicated and expanded upon.

Louis's picture

An Arduino could definitely be used to do something along these lines. The trick is figuring out how to sense the depth of your tank. Here's one of the first google results I came across which uses pressure sensors.

Then you have to find a way to get the 5V Arduino to actuate your pumps... Relays and such will probably be needed.

Sounds like you wouldn't require an SMS alarm system so you could make a cheaper and more simple system fairly easily. If you wanted to add an alarm though, following the Fido tutorial related to the phone may help.

If you don't know much about Arduinos or electronics, don't worry - it's easy to get started. Adafruit has a great learning system.

Louis's picture

RJ and I will be getting in late (11pm or midnight) on Friday night. Two questions:

1) Anybody care to host us? We'll have sleeping pads and sleeping bags so a floor indoors would be fantastic! Email me: thiery.louis@gmail.com

2) If not, how does the Ecovillage camping work? Is there a contact person for that?

Louis's picture

Sounds intriguing! I would love to hear about it. Is any documentation still up?

Louis's picture

My 5 passenger car will be leaving around 6pm in an effort to meet Ithaca, NY before midnight. Entertainment for the driver, gas, and a lack of farting are expected of passengers.

0. Louis
1. RJ

Louis's picture

Hi Andy,

This sounds very interesting to me. I'm currently developing a general purpose long-range, weather-proofed, sensing and automation board. The communication options will include Zigbee (local wireless protocol, longer range, lower bandwith than WiFi) and 3G. The idea is to have real-time monitoring as well as user-determined logic (if sensor A reads above threshold X, do action 1) and schedules.

I would love to hear about this application and any others you may think up. Initially, I was actually thinking more along the lines of your post below which talks about the motorized flaps.


Louis's picture

Thanks for bringing this up. The component [you mention](https://www.adafruit.com/products/735) is the same that I used and it will do the trick! I edited the tool page to include this.