A tupperware-sized 3D-printed aeroponics cell, a grid-like contraption, with about 30 cloves of garlic in it, about five of them starting to grow. The cell is printed with white plastic, and there's a semi-transparent acrylic roof with LED strips attached to its underside, lifted about 3-4 inches above the garlic.

Aeroponic Cell Grows Garlic, Forwards CellSol Packets

Certain pictures draw attention like no other, and that’s what happened when we stumbled upon a Twitter post about “resuscitating supermarket garlic” by [Robots Everywhere]. The more we looked at this photo, the more questions popped up, and we couldn’t resist contacting the author on Twitter – here’s what we’ve learned!

This is an aeroponics cell – a contraption that creates suitable conditions for a plant to grow. The difference of aeroponics, when compared to soil or hydroponics methods, is that the plant isn’t being submerged in soil or water. Instead, its roots are held in the air and sprayed with water mist, providing both plenty of water but also an excess of oxygen, as well as a low-resistance space for accelerated root growth – all of these factors that dramatically accelerate nutrient absorption and development of the plant. This cell design only takes up a tiny bit of space on the kitchen countertop, and, in a week’s time, at least half of the cloves have sprouted!

Much like a garlic bulb, this project has layers to it – in that this aeroponic cell is also a CellSol node! The CellSol project is a distributed communication system that can use LoRa and WiFi for its physical layer, enabling you to build widely spanning mesh networks that even lets you connect your smartphone to it where it’s called for – say, as an internet-connected hub for other devices to send their data through. We’ve covered CellSol and it’s hacker-friendliness previously, and one of the intentions of this design is to show how any device with a bit of brains and a SX1276 module can help you form a local CellSol network, or participate in some larger volunteer-driven CellSol-powered effort.

If, like us, you’re looking at this picture and thinking “this is something I’d love to see on my desk”, [Robots Everywhere] has published the STL files for making a hydroponic cell like this at home, as well as all the code involved, and some demo videos. Hopefully, the amount of aeroponics projects in our tips line is only going to increase! We’ve covered Project EDEN before, a Hackaday Prize 2017 entry that works to perfect an aeroponics approach to create an indoor greenhouse. There’s also a slew of hydroponics projects to have graced our pages, from hardware store-built to 3D printed ones!

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Hackaday Prize Entry: Vertical Aeroponics

For his Hackaday Prize entry, [MIPS ARMSTRONG] is working on an open-source terrarium that will be one of the fastest way to grow foodstuffs or other edible greens. He’s calling it Project EDEN, and it’s shaping up to be one of the most advanced homebrew horticultural devices ever made.

There are a few things that make this indoor greenhouse unique. The most obvious is the incredible number of LEDs used as grow lights. [MIPS] is using 900 Watts worth of Royal Blue and Deep Red LEDs. To water these plants, [MIPS] is taking a cue from NASA and building a High Pressure Aeroponics system – a device that shoots droplets of water only 50 microns in diameter directly onto the roots of the plants.

One of the more interesting aspects of EDEN is the CO2 system. The bulk of plant biomass Рlike humans Рcomes from carbon, and plants get their carbon from the atmosphere. Studies have shown that increasing the concentration of CO2 in a grow chamber can increase plant growth. There is a limit before CO2 becomes toxic to plants, so [MIPS] will have to keep a close eye on the CO2 levels with gas sensors.

With high-pressure watering, a CO2 system, and an amazing array of LEDs, this is one of the most advanced homebrew horticulture projects on the planet. It’s also a great fit for this year’s Hackaday prize theme of ‘build something that matters’, and we can’t wait to see [MIPS]’s future developments of his awesome aeroponic terrarium.

The 2015 Hackaday Prize is sponsored by: