Compile A Hydroponics System From Source

Tending to a garden is usually a rewarding endeavor, as long as there is good soil to work with. If there isn’t, it can either get frustrating quickly having to deal with soils like sand or hard clay, or it can get expensive by having to truck in compost each year. Alternatively, it’s possible to set up systems of growing plants that don’t need any soil at all, although this requires an automated system otherwise known as hydroponics to manage water and nutrients sent to the plants.

This setup by [Kyle] is unique in that it uses his own open-source software which he calls Mycodo to control the hydroponic system. It is loaded onto a Raspberry Pi 4 (which he notes can now be booted from a USB drive instead of an SD card) which controls all of the peripherals needed for making sure that the water has the correct amount of nutrients and chemical composition.

The build is much more than just a software control panel, though. [Kyle] walks through every part of setting up a small hydroponic system capable of effectively growing 15-20 plants indoors. He grows varieties of lettuce and basil, but this system can work for many more types of plants as well. With just slight variations, a similar system can not only grow plants like these, but fish as well.

18 thoughts on “Compile A Hydroponics System From Source

  1. > it can get expensive by having to truck in compost each year

    You can also use fertilizer instead of compost, and then you have similar cost as for hydroponics. Or you can make your own compost, and save on waste at the same time.

  2. Getting started with hydroponics can be really simple, but it’s definitely gonna cost a bit to set up after deciding you want a grow tent, efficient LED lighting and EC/PH meters. Still I have a lot of fun with it and hobbies always cost more money than you get out of it anyways.

    1. If I were going to do this, I would try to grow some exotic stuff like herbs or peppers that you can’t easily buy in a store.

      Going through all the trouble just to grow some plain old lettuce wouldn’t really interest me.

      1. It’s good to start with lettuce because it’s one of the easiest things to grow. After that success, I agree, look for more exotic things that it’s harder to find.

        Think of it as getting an LED to blink before you venture into SDR.

      2. Lettuce is indeed your 5¢ balsa wood glider. You can even use sand or pea gravel, no pump, (an air pump is nice at~4w,) and no light source but a good window. Like a 1 gallon fish bowl, you get started toDAY and expand plans and gather materials for an upgrade over the week/month. My fav, although in enrichened soil in a short narrow window box, is green/bunch onions. I get enough for we two for salads or omelets etc, without, non on hand, or them rotting in the fridge because at 79¢, I got 2/$1.

        Of course you can start big. But sometimes, genius and joy is in simplicity. Are we not a group of, whatcha got on hand? How simple can it be made? Turbo charged monster bikes are ok – but what charm hath a crude brewed mini-bike? And, face it.. most of use could up our lettuce. Small is tender and tastier. Kids are wowed. Miniature indoor gardens! Suddenly it’s; I wanna taste! Build a huge rig and it’s all; “Hey- hands off!” Start small and you can start today. Tonight. This very hour.

  3. I am not the biggest fan of hydroponic growing but it has its place. Balance of soil is the best way to grow healthy plants but you can come close with water culture. Not today s argument, growing your own is always best. The best point is you choose your plants for your food and medicine needs and not for yield or storage and shipping concerns. Instead of buying seed to grow what they sell in the market try to get some of the other 50 types that will not last in the market place, most lettuces will rot in a day and never sold. Professional farmers need to have products that last on the shelf to sell, you only need to pick and eat, so growing enables people a greater variety….. enjoy.

  4. Might I suggest an overflow cutoff switch for the pump in that collector? Bacterial and plant detritus is going to clog that drain eventually. And there’s nothing blocking leaf drop off into the sump. Pump intake won’t be happy with that.

    1. Good idea with the overflow protection. I regularly check the reservoir, so there’s little risk of it occurring, though. Also, there’s a lid for the reservoir to explode light to reduce algal growth, so no chance of leaves falling in.

  5. I always wondering why not just use an old PC (with coreboot/tianocore) + webcam/smartphone instead of RPI?
    Also why not use your own waste as compost + soil/sand/gravel as filter/nutrient suppliant and plant/fungi as payload?
    So something like this: v—————————<[optional wi-fi/bt for redundancy][webcam/smartphone]—-v
    | [encoder | optional?] v |
    | | v———[optional USB>SP for | redundancy]
    | | | [Light sensor/Plant grow |check/CV leak detection?]
    >——————————————————-v-v—-[humidity sensor]v v
    [soil/sand/gravel + compost with plants/fungus] —> [pump] —> [hydroponic/aeroponic/fogponic]
    ^ ^ |
    | [optional anaerobic “membrane for hi-end” bioreactor] |
    | |
    |—- [fish tank]———————————————————————–<

    1. Human waste as compost has the trouble that you are likely to cultivate large populations of human pathogens unless you handle it very carefully. This usually means running a very well managed compost heap that makes heat and sterilises itself (Which will also kill weed seeds, so if ppl tell you not to put weeds in your compost, they aren’t running their compost right)

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