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I just finished my last post where I discussed the system design for my grow stations.  In that post, I decided to evolve BTLE as the communication protocol between a node and the Base Station.  Then the Base Station would talk to my iPhone over BTLE and 802.11, depending on if the iPhone was in range of BTLE.  Keeping in mind that I am lazy, I’ve made one more leap in simplification of my design.  I decided the iPhone app will have the functionality of the Base Station.  Ba Ba Ba BOOMP – good bye middle man hardware!

I enjoy this phase of a project.  It is the time I reflect on how truly lazy I become, especially as I get older.  As I thought through my passion to grow 100% of our lettuce with the least amount of effort on my part, I realized collecting and analyzing sensor readings was not a high priority use case.  What was important was a plant living in an environment with the proper care and feeding.  This boils down to main functions of the water node.  Automatic adjustment of pH and nutrients plus a quick update on the sensor readings just to get a warm and fuzzy that the numbers are within a “normal range”.

By removing the Base Station:

  • The system is less expensive, simpler, and will be faster for me to build.  I will enjoy a focus on the nodes and iPhone app.
  • A significant support challenge has been minimized.  I have a lot of experience in networks not working.  Of course, anyone using an 802.11 shares my experience.  With the first design I had designed for 3 wireless RFs (RFM69HW, 802.11, and BTLE).  Then I went down to two (802.11 and BTLE).  But why stop there?  Do I really need to see what the nutrient level is on a beach?  While it certainly would be nice to get an alert if the pump stopped working when I am on vacation so that I can get someone to look into it, I’ll leave that to future versions.

The Goal

The goal of this post is to iterate on the system design of the growth station such that the iPhone incorporates the functionality of the Base Station.

Updated Lettuce Grow Station

Here is the *new and improved* block diagram.  It is far simpler!


What’s Next

My next post will cover a breadboard version of the water node!


Thanks for reading this.  Any feedback you have would be greatly appreciated.  Please find many things to smile about.