Rain barrel irrigation system keeps your plants fed when you’re too busy


[Kyle Gabriel] moved into a house with a nice tract of land behind it, but due to his busy schedule he had yet to plant the garden he so desperately wanted. He worried that his hectic life and busy hours would lead to accidentally neglecting his garden, so he built a water collection and automated irrigation system to ensure that his plants never went without fresh water.

The system is fed by two large 55 gallon barrels that collect rain from his gutters. A 1/2 HP well pump is used to pressurize the collected water, which is then dispensed throughout his garden by a sprinkler. [Kyle’s] system is run from a small control box where an Arduino is used to control the pump’s schedule. At a predefined time, the Arduino turns the pump on, while monitoring the system for potential problems.

If the system starts running low on water, the Arduino triggers the valve on his spigot to open, keeping the water level above the pump inlet pipe. He also keeps an eye on pump’s outlet pressure, indefinitely disabling it before a blockage causes the pump to cycle repeatedly.

He says that the sprinkler system works quite well, and with his modular design, he can add all sorts of additional functionality in the future.

Arduino lawn care is web-controlled

[Joe Fernandez] is fairly new to the hardware side of the hobby, but he seems to have easily found his way on this project. He wanted to build his own web-bridge for his Toro lawn sprinkler system. He pulled it off with style and shows off the spoils of his work in the clip after the break.

He started with an Android ADK, crafting some web magic to use a REST interface and JSON packets as a communications scheme. This makes it possible to control the system from anywhere as long as you have an Internet connection. The rest of the hardware evolved as his needs became clear. The first hunk was to add an Ethernet shield so that he didn’t need to have his Android phone connected to the system for it to work. From there he needed to control the solenoid valves on the system and grabbed three relay shields from Seeed Studios for this purpose.

As you can see, all of that hardware has a home on a polyethylene cutting board. The terminal blocks at the bottom keep the connections nice and neat as they interface with the sprinkler system. We were happy to hear that the stock controller still works, this add-on doesn’t permanently alter it in any way. That’s going to be important if he ever wants to sell the home.

Still using a traditional sprinkler instead of an in-ground system? Perhaps this variable range hack is for you.

SMS controlled irrigation

[Mhkabir] built an irrigation system that communicates by text message. The concept is simple, sending a text message to the system will cause it to switch on the water pump.

Many times we see text message manipulation via the Internet, or using a GSM module. But in this case an inexpensive cellphone is used as the communication interface. The vibration motor has been removed and those connections are monitored to signal incoming messages. Wire leads were soldered to the keypad contacts which allow an Arduino to send out text messages when there is a problem with watering. This isn’t an iron-clad system, as any incoming message will trigger the system and outgoing messages are limited to saved drafts. But a bit of creative programming and we’re sure more functionality could be squeezed out of this hardware.

Tomato irrigation

No hack will be more readily accepted by the significant other more than an automated vegetable watering system. [Jouni's] homemade rig keeps those tomatoes happy with just the right amount of moisture. A bucket serves as the reservoir, a submersible pump gets the water to the soil through a bit of plastic hose. An Arduino monitors the soil sensor, watering and tweeting about it when things dry out too much. Don’t miss the soil moisture sensor post if you need some tips on how to get that end of things working. The rest is pretty straightforward.