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Internet-of-Farming July 5, 2013

Posted by rik94566 in agponics.com, aquaponic automation, aquaponics electronics, arduino, Cilantro, DIY aquaponics, IoT aquaponics.
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Just got featured on an international blog showing my aquaponic system and work I have been doing with aquaponic automation in ag related technologies. Getting close to 10,000 views on YouTube.

www.faircompanies.com source

system overview

10,000 views surpassed on Instructables June 11, 2011

Posted by rik94566 in aquaponic automation, aquaponics, arduino, CAT 5 Cable, Crop, DIY aquaponics, DS18B20, Float Sensor, Float Switch, general, Glow Panel 45, Gravity feed valves, Hacks, indoor aquaponics, indoor gardens, indoor growing, Instructables, LED growing, LED lights, plumbing, POW-Rduino, Rj45 connector, sensor, Sensor Hub, Stainless Steel Temp Probe, Standards, sunshine systems, Suppliers, Temperature Probe, Yield Results.
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I have written 3 instructables  over the last 2 years.  I have just gone over 10,000 views.  Never thought I would every have had that many views with only 3 instructions.  Always good to know people are interested in what I am interested in.

Passed 10,000 views

SUGRU – fills in the holes June 7, 2011

Posted by rik94566 in aquaponic automation, aquaponics, CAT 5 Cable, DIY aquaponics, DS18B20, Float Sensor, Float Switch, Hacks, Home Depot, indoor aquaponics, indoor gardens, indoor growing, Rj45 connector, sensor, Sensor Hub, Stainless Steel Temp Probe, Standards, SUGRU, Suppliers, Temperature Probe.
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Now that I have working Sensors on a standardized connection platform (CAT 5 & RJ45).  I need to figure out how to use off the shelf housings that will be plug-n-play for my aquaponic units.  The problem is that nothing is water resistant and they all have lots of openings.  That is because most if not all are for indoor use.  All the outdoor options are to large for my applications.  So I went with a standard indoor 2-Port QuickPort I purchased at Home Depot.

Leviton 2-Port Surface Mount Housing

With a little help from SUGRU I was able to fill in the holes and can now mount the completed unit on my aquatubes.  This will allow me to cover all my sensor connections and transition over to RJ45 connectors.

Here is what I started with:

Starting Housing

Here is what it looked like before assembly:

Openings filled before assembly - Inside look

Bottom View

Here is the completed assembly:

Back View of Completed Assembly

Front View of Completed Assembly

How the openings match-up:

Opening that match-up

Now I am ready to connect up the sensors and mount the completed assembly on the aquatubes hook-up my CAT 5 and I am ready to sense all inputs.  O yes, I need some White SUGRU to make it look better.  I am placing my order today!

RJ45 Sensor Hub June 7, 2011

Posted by rik94566 in aquaponic automation, aquaponics, arduino, CAT 5 Cable, DIY aquaponics, DS18B20, Float Switch, Hacks, indoor aquaponics, indoor gardens, indoor growing, sensor, Sensor Hub, Standards, Temperature Probe.
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Now that I have established my standard for sensor connections I will need build the hub to hook up the sensors.  So I build a 2 connector RJ45 jack hub to test the sensors that I build.  This hub will allow me to test different sensor configurations and arduino sketches for test sensors  as I develop them.

Here is what it looks like.

RJ45 Sensor Hub Connector

End view of terminals

I have marked the terminals on both ends so there can be no confusion as to what connections are being used.  Make sure you have test all the connections with your multimeter.  That way you know for sure everything is working before you start testing situations with sensors.

ARDUINO SKETCH — lesson learned November 27, 2010

Posted by rik94566 in aquaponics, arduino, DIY aquaponics, sensor, Temperature Probe.
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I am working with a DS18B20 IC (1-wire).  Which means I am making a temperature probe prototype.  Once I understand the performance issues and how to get my arduino to read the IC, I can construct my Stainless Steel temperature  probes to be put into all my units.


I researched basic sketches to determine the most simple to use so I could get started.  I found two sources for use.

The sketch looked good at the start, but after a review of it I found it hard to use as parts of it were out of order and in the wrong places.

I moved on to:


I reviewed the sketch given in the example.  It was just what I was looking for to test my prototypes and test the individuals probes as I construct them.

So I started my sketch and input the lines of code based on the example.  I did it this way to try and learn the sketches and how they perform.  Once I went to verify my sketch I got an error.

Sketch Error problem

I could not figure out what was wrong with my imputed sketch…

After contacting Miles Burton who wrote the original sketch about my error.  His solution was to just copy and paste his sketch in to my sketch.  Guess what it worked with no errors.

LESSON LEARNED — go with what works and keep it simple at all times.

Float Sensor – where do the wires go June 8, 2010

Posted by rik94566 in aquaponics, arduino, Float Sensor.
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Out of the box the float sensor comes with only 2 wires out the bottom.  My thoughts are that I need 3 wires to get the thing to work correctly.  Not only does the sensor only have 2 wires, but they are both black.   Most sensors I have  ordered or used in the past have always had a red and black wire to work with.  Such is electronics, never what you think it should be.  Not much documentation to help figure this wire situation out either.  I do know from the Instructable by Luke Iseman for the Garduino his sensors only use 2 wires.  Luke was also featured in Make: magazine’s ReMake America volume 18.     

Here is the link to this great project:      


If you look at step 4 this is where he does work with the media probe that he constructed.  You can look at the electrical drawing and figure it out.  I always have a hard time with these as I am new to electronics.  My background is horticulture not electronics.  I can read enough to see that he uses a 10K ohm resistor (1/4 watt will be fine) between ground (BLACK) and the signal (YELLOW) wire.  Good enough for me.  So I will work that into my working model.  You can get the resistor at Radio Shack for .99 cents.      


Here is how I wired up the float sensor to the terminal block on the base unit.      

Sensor wires to Terminal Block

Not knowing which black wire to use for which screw set, I just put them in the way I wanted and tested the results.  Then I switched them and tested again.  I could not tell any difference either way.  So any way you do it is right.  Knowing I needed the 10K resistor I put that in the location shown above.  This is IMPORTANT to get right. I connected one end of the resistor in the bottom terminal connector and then ran it to the middle terminal connector.  I then took one of the Black wires from the float sensor and placed it in the middle terminal connector.  The final connection was to place the unconnected Black wire from the float sensor to the upper terminal connector.  Then I was done with this task.  In the picture you can see that the bottom terminal connector only has a resistor in the connection.  That is because the other side will be where the Arduino ground wire will be placed (BLACK wire).   You can place either end of the resistor where you want them.  It does not matter as resistors restrict the flow of electrons both ways.   Make sure all screw connections are tight or the wires will fall out and you will be doing this again.   

Real application configuration

 Terminal blocks are not used in aquaponic tanks or grow beds.  So we need to see what this will look like in real situations.  The full directions on the connections are below.   

First connect a resistor to the BLACK wire (GND), next connect the YELLOW wire (COM) to either of the Float Sensor black wires, now connect the other Float Sensor black wire to the RED wire (VCC).  Next take the un-connected resistor end and connect to the YELLOW wire & black Float Sensor wire.  You are now wired up and ready to go.     

To make this water tight you will need to use heat shrink tubing over the connections.  If you do not know how to do that ask a friend or check the internet.  You can get heat shrink tubing at Radio Shack also.    It is also a good idea to solder all the connections.  I will be doing an Instructable about how to get the float sensor working and will put a step in to cover the heat shrink thing for everyone.  Right now not important.

Connection to Arduino from Terminal Block

 I am using a ScrewShield to demonstrate the connections better for you.  You can just stick the wire ends in to the correct pins and it will work just fine.  Make sure the wires are stripped of insulation before inserting them into the pins or terminal connectors.   

Connect BLACK wire into the GND pin.  Connect the RED wire into the 5V pin.  Next connect YELLOW wire  into the Analog 0 (zero) pin.  You are now wired up and ready to work with the sensor.   

When completed the connections will look like the picture below:   

Completed Connections

Getting Ready to test FLOAT SENSOR June 6, 2010

Posted by rik94566 in aquaponics, Float Sensor, sensor.
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In order to learn how this float sensor works some advance work needed to be done.  I needed a container to hold the actual unit that was water tight and allowed for the container to be drained.   


This build will allow for testing of a number of situations and help me gain a full understanding of how to use this sensor in aquaponic situations.  

Next I needed to finish the build by adding a method to read the sensor and drain water from the container.  So I added the following features to the float container.  I will cover more on how the wiring works and what is needed to get a reading off the sensor soon.  

Components for testing Float Sensor


Looking into the container you can see the drain hole, float and how they are positioned. 

Float and Drain positioned inside container