Moisture Control For A DIY Greenhouse


[Clover] loves plant biology, and tends a small garden while she is at home during breaks from college. She says that her family is notoriously unreliable when it comes to caring for plants, so she decided to construct a greenhouse to ensure that her garden will still be around the next time she comes home.

With her raised bed garden built and her seeds planted, she started work on the greenhouse itself, which was constructed using PVC pipe and clear plastic sheeting. Satisfied with how the structure came out, she focused on the greenhouse’s watering system and moisture sensors. The watering system uses solenoids that are connected to a pair of Arduino regulated relays. The Arduino uses moisture sensors constructed from nails, triggering the water flow when things get too dry.

The controller along with its LCD status panel was mounted inside a bird house to protect it from the elements while keeping in line with the house’s decor. [Clover] seems pretty happy with the build, but we suspect she will be adding some temperature and regulation at some point, to facilitate longer growing cycles.

Check out the video below for a quick tour of her setup.


32 thoughts on “Moisture Control For A DIY Greenhouse

  1. “half a person, or lots of plants” haha

    Looks nicely done. Might have some issues with corrosion and dust, but it’s simple enough to replace if that becomes necessary.

  2. I was wondering how many posts it would take for the sexism to appear. The geek/tech community has such a problem with this.

    Thanks for the cool project Clover, I’ll definitely keep your design in mind when I’m working on my “have houseplants that don’t just die” system.

  3. Well it looks like they use a perfduino, not an Arduino. While the plantduino is OK, other than the young woman it was the perfduino that caught my eye. That is if there’s a dollar or two be saved, although I hadn’t looked into that yet.

  4. @ anonymouse

    I’m with James on this one. It’s not every day that a beautiful girl is highlighted for her accomplishments in DIY electronics. If anything, it’s positive reinforcement to get more women interested in the field of hobby electronics.

  5. As neat as this project is, the wiring job on that relay box is dangerous. That relay doesn’t look like it’s rated for 15A VAC (especially with those tiny leads), which it would need to be in this application given its placement before the outlet. Furthermore, the metal housing isn’t grounded, which is extra bad since they look to have confused the polarity of the mains side of the wiring. This would mean that the outlet is always hot, but current won’t flow until the relay closes and connects the neutral wiring. Those cold solder joints and burned insulation don’t inspire confidence, either. I certainly applaud the low voltage work, and it’s a fantastically executed project otherwise, but the mains wiring isn’t an example that should be followed.

  6. Great job…

    I like the simple method to detect moisture and will for sure check the Web site for more details on that.

    You might want to consider a backflow preventer and GFCI protected outlet if you don’t already have those in place.

  7. @patman2700:

    Except you seem to be implying that we shouldn’t be encouraging the less attractive women to be in electronics. Or just assuming that since they don’t have looks, they’d try hard anyway?

    How about we just encourage women without mentioning their looks, much like we do with guys?

  8. Because the geek world is awkward enough to mention an attractive woman’s looks, and independent enough to resist the PC police’s attempts to shame them in to stopping.

    Some people are both attractive and technically adroit. Which I prefer to notice depends on my mood and context.

    It is never going to be OK to notice beauty and competence at the same time, I guess, and since both are relatively rare, seeing both in a single person and expressing delight is pretty damned natural, despite the grievance mongering. I never agreed to turn my senses off to become a scientist, but I’ve sure learned to keep my mouth closed in professional settings.

  9. @zing – Or we could start mentioning guy’s looks in our comments. “Great hack lardass”, or “Not bad for a hipster wannabe”. But that doesn’t level the playing field does it?

    The truth is, men are pigs (myself included). But some of us rise above the muck far enough to not vocalize our opinions of every female we see online. Ever read the comments on a porn site? Hilarious – no wonder some of those guys get their only gratification there.

  10. I checked out the source article. My thoughts were “Wow- cute.” Then “Clover. Nice name.” Then I read the article, and did not think another second about Clover or her cuteness. I saw an article by someone clearly motivated by science and engineering, a combo I also like. One doesn’t have to be a pig. Nor does one have to be a eunuch.

  11. Merely noting that a person of person is attractive isn’t sexist. Using that one lone physical attribute to judge another in unrelated matters would be sexist. I just can’t recall comments here ever doing that. Stating that women are people too would be stating the obvious. Women themselves note if someone is attractive.

  12. Just a hint for anyone constructing a greenhouse using pvc pipe and plastic; You should always paint the pvc pipe first, otherwise the off-gassing from the pipe will cause the greenhouse plastic to disintegrate way quicker than it would purely from UV damage.

  13. I knew an attractive woman, one of the nicest people I’ve met, who had quit EE (and, fortunately, entered another technical field) because she couldn’t deal with the constant attention. It’s not “PC” to be aware of this and try to make it a little easier for women in tech. Just stay on topic like the headliners here do so well.

  14. What, it’s now self-depreciating for me to politely say she’s good-looking? I would think that to be a compliment.

    I love the project, it seems to fit the bill quite nicely. Am I still one of those “pigs” to whom the majority seem to be referring?

  15. Neato.

    When I saw the title “moisture control” I thought of controlling dampness in the air and immediately imagined a vent/window that was opened by a super-strength Rittenhouse hygrometer.

    Ah, the objectification of women and the dehumanizing of men by likening them to animals that always seems to follow…Not everything that is thought should be said(typed).

  16. > What, it’s now self-depreciating for me to politely say she’s good-looking? I would think that to be a compliment.

    If you were a white guy in Detroit or a limited to a wheelchair, what do you think will always come up as a topic of conversation? Don’t you think you’d get sick of it? Wouldn’t you rather people ask you how the Lions are doing or if you’d like to go see a band this weekend instead of gaping at you like some sort of freak shows?

    We’re here to bond over hacks and bitch about them calling things Arduinos when they ain’t. We should be complaining about her putting hot glue on high-current connections. Bad! And those look like shitty terminal blocks. Trust me, spend the extra $0.75 for the better ones! Especially in a one-off, they just ain’t worth it. And Randomlaughter got good advice as well — PVC has shit like lead and cadmium in it as well.

  17. I wonder how long it will take for the nails to generate false readings due to rust.

    And I guess I’m the only one thinking that the girl is just eye candy in the video and never took part on the project?
    You would let a dude present your own project and just strike a pose, smiling at the camera anytime you can ? Bogus.
    It’s a geeks’ trap to attract attention. Nothing more.

    Anyway, nice project :)

  18. @ino: I don’t know, From the looks of all of it, I have a strong intuitive feeling the presenter is the maker. At the very least, main idea is hers even if there are some invisible helpers behind the sceens.

    As far as praising cute women geeks, being a guy myself, I have a feeling it is predominately just a “ha, in your face, jocks!” sweet-revenge-for-all-the-mocking moment. We are proud that geekdom also includes individuals whose appeal transcends its domain and who, although attractive, would probably not be bored by what we like to talk about and who probably has similar definition of what is cool and what isn’t.

    We women YOU would certainly like would probably hang with us – it means we ARE normal people (actually, we are better, because we make cool stuff)!

  19. @Rick

    FYI, something is an “Arduino” once it uses the Arduino boot loader. It doesn’t matter if the thing is deadbugged, on breadboard, or a full fledged ‘duino from a store.

    @the “she’s hot” morons
    Statistically, there must be gay hackaday readers. You don’t see them talking about how hot a male hacker is or complimenting male hacker looks. So why is it relevant when there is a woman involved?

    Trust me I do my fair share of neck craning, but when I come here looking for stuff to read it doesn’t matter if a guy or a girl made it. It only matters if its good. You don’t walk around all day vocalizing every attractive person you see on the street, do you? Then don’t do it here under the cloak of anonymity. No one gives a damn if you think she’s hot, so keep your internal dialogue that – internal.

  20. @Rick, I’m an above average good looking man and I never get tired of hearing about it. I love to be complimented. Now if I got some fat troll following me around pawing at me THAT is annoying, but to simply say to someone, wow you are very attractive, or OMG you have a nice smile, or I love your eyes. That stuff never ever gets old, I think the only people who complain about good looking people being complimented are those that don’t recieve those compliments.

    Fact of the matter is that your physical appearance is as much of an asset in today’s world as any other asset you may be born with. Think Justin Beiber would be where he is without his boyish good looks? Think Jeri Elisworth would have pulled the cover of wired if she had shingles and a hump on her back?

    If you are good looking use it to your advantage, if not well, to bad for you, you better find some other way of standing out perhaps by being much better at what you do than the good looking person beside you.

  21. @Gottabethatguy:

    You’d think with the paucity of famous female engineers you could keep them distinct. Jeri’s never been on the cover of Wired, that was Ada/Limor Fried.

    And you’re just driving it in deeper by saying Ada was only put on the cover because she was attractive, not because she is a successful engineer running a multi-million dollar business.

    Attractive isn’t a complement if it really means “You did so well for someone as attractive as you are, but if you weren’t this would be mediocre.”

  22. If anyone minds being complimented it’s because they have their own issues, not because compliments are bad. If a person can’t cope with being politely complimented on their looks (regardless of technically savvy or not) then they have issues they need to deal with, not everyone else. If they become impolite or aimed to abuse/upset then it becomes a different matter. If it’s the only attribute anyone feels worth noting when there are others on display (skills) then it’s not OK, but I don’t think it’s out of place to say someone is attractive while noting their abilities in other fields. Sexism would be to say women can’t code, or blokes can’t cook. Saying (for example) “jamie oliver makes a nice steak, and he’s a looker too” isn’t negative, or sexist, or a problem until the over-sensitive folk arrive.

    It’s nice work, nicely presented. It’s congratulated on here.

  23. @Zing whoops you are correct wrong female engineer. She was on the cover because she is both succesful and attractive. Simple as that. Like I said think she would have made the cover if she looked like a mongloid?

    Also I never said she only made the cover because she was attractive, you said that. I said she wouldn’t have been on the cover IF she wasn’t attractive. Its a fact of life sex sells. Deal with it.

    I’ll go back to enjoying my beautiful life now.

  24. There doesn’t seem to be anything in here except the LCD (it is unclear to me how they are using that) that would need a processor. They seem to run the water until the sensor reads that it is wet and turn it of when it is dry. A pretty simple circuit. You could even throw in a potentiometer so you could adjust what “wet” actually means. Dry -> ON, Wet -> OFF. If there was a timed element like don’t water for more then 3 hours in one day, 5 minutes at a time, then I could see the need for the processor.

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