Automatic Seedling Nurturer : A Programmable Robot toy to automate plant watering

The Magpi magazine is out with its new edition MagPi105. It covered all the hi-tech products that developed or came into the market recently. This time they covered Automatic Seedling Nurturer, an automated plant watering system that ease the process of taking care of plants. The creator, Engineering Girl, aka Chloe Alfonso, observed the problem with the people who do gardening and want something to take care of their plants. She went a different way of developing the VEX IQ robot system that is a programmable construction block robot instead of custom building a system or hooking up prosumer grade plant care stuff. It is powered by Raspberry Pi which is a good news to all the Raspberry Pi Fans out there. Let’s understand this powerful product with more insights in this blog. 

Raspberry Pi and VEX IQ System

If you are interested in STEM education and its products then most of you might have heard about the VEX IQ System. VEX IQ System is an advanced system that is a snap-together programmable robotic assembly method that helps the people to learn about the hardware and software in a better way. A lot of students from primary to university level students are learning about the robotic system by this method. It got an exponential rise in popularity because of its easy working and understanding among the tech-enthusiasts. Now the creator, Engineering Girl, amagmate VEX IQ System with the Raspberry Pi that not only made the project better but also increased the efficiency of the projects. Idea behind Automated Seedling Nurturer

It is an hi-tech system in which there is an integration of VEX IQ System and Raspberry Pi that builds an automated plant watering and lighting system. Chloe said in an interview with the Magpi Magazine team that she faced while gardening like one of the most common mistakes that she did, not watering seeds or turning on the grow lights in a disciplinary way on time. It makes the planting process inefficient that should not happen to perform the gardening. Chloe has seen these issues which made her to build an automatic system that would take care of the plants. She thought it would be better to use VEX with its motors, sensors and lego to make a structure. In the start, there was no internal time-keeping system which was a major hurdle in the project then she used Raspberry Pi to make it effective. 

Use of Raspberry Pi

Raspberry Pi, a hi-tech card sized micro-processor, that helped Chloe to automate the system with the internet. The real-time clock system of Raspberry Pi made the mechanism of sensors and motors triggered which opened up many opportunities down the lane like accessing the system with the help of the internet or developing data management of temperature, humidity etc. We understand that Raspberry Pi has a high power but it is so surprising about the things that can be done with it. Chloe reveles in the interview with the Magpi Magazine that ““Initially, the goal was to water seedlings automatically, However, as the idea formed, other benefits of using a Raspberry Pi arose. From an educational standpoint, I learned how to wire a breadboard, an LED light, and a button. Learning to do these tasks with a Raspberry Pi was rewarding in itself, but applying a flexible solution that could not only be used in this project, but whose lessons could be expanded to other projects. This project could have been done more simply with a UART connection using an older model VEX EDR microcontroller. This way, the transmission of information would have then been direct. But by doing the project with the Raspberry Pi VEX IQ communicator, I learned about 3D printing, circuits, LEDs, and GPIO pins.” 

Let the plants grow in a better wayThere are examples that we have seen in which Raspberry Pi helps the plants to grow in a better way. The main question came that if the Raspberry Pi and construction block robot hybrid will do the same thing. “It works quite well,” Chloe says. “There is a YouTube video that shows not only how it works, but a couple examples of seedling growth (magpi.cc/seedling).

Final Product

Chloe says further “I had to connect the VEX IQ microcontroller to a constant DC power supply. Sometimes, one in 40 waterings, one of the motors would seize up and my apparatus would commit egregious overwatering. This was uncommon, however.” Chloe isn’t resting on her laurels either: “I want to learn more about networking. My goal is to create an easy-to-use interface to be able to manipulate the apparatus from distant sites. I also used the Raspberry Pi VEX IQ Communicator to create an automatic pet feeder and water bowl filler. There is a short video on the same YouTube channel of this device. The pet carer is in a more nascent stage of development.” It is so fascinating that people all around the world create amazing things with the help of Raspberry Pi. Just wait no more and comment down your ideas and projects in the below section.

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