More progress on most projects

Just waiting on a few things to appear in my mailbox, it does seem that way since everything has been due for a week now. I think that everybody, very much including the USPS on that list, is doing awesome with everything going on. Going to the store wearing a mask and it actually being encouraged is a bit odd, though. Though, I do miss seeing the wall of boxes of filament and having to go through each shelf looking for a certain colour, type and size, because right now the selection is….nothing. Still printing the parts I need, just not in the colours that I desire. The printers keep on going and going.

The hydroponic garden is coming along, waiting for various things to come in the mail and printing the connectors for the PVC pipe as I type. I’m still researching a lot of things on hydroponics and thinking of what things are going to be needed to automate the process of having a hydroponic garden that is beneficial and grows nutritious food. Task to overcome to automate the growth process that have come to mind are;

  • Nutrient level in the reservoir
  • Electro conductivity of the nutrient in the reservoir
  • PH balance of the nutrient
  • When to turn on or off the light
  • When to turn on or off the pumps
  • Adding nutrients to the nutrient
  • Taking into account of human feedback to adjust nutrient levels

As you can see, there is a list of tasks to overcome, but nothing seems insurmountable as of yet. While I am waiting on things to arrive, I do have other projects to work on, such as the PCB factory and the robot. I’ll be assembling my notes of different plants and their different preferences. By the way, going to try to separate the mint and try to convince the cuttings to grow roots.

It seems that the process to get it to take root is to cut the stems, pinch the tops and place in water. I’m not to sure about the process, but will try it and see what happens. I probably didn’t let the water sit long enough for the chlorine to evaporate out of it, or some such. Onward to other projects!

Almost all the printed parts for the PCB are done, still have a few pieces to print and have some that are waiting arrival. I’ve decided to go ahead with the 52mm spindle, since it’s designed for use in CNC machines and would be way easier to control since it’s a DC motor. The next step will be assembling the machine and finding the missing parts for it.

As far as the robot goes, got the cogs, frames and some of the tracks printed. Even got some of the tracks linked together, which takes about an hour to do about 15, not too bad since each track looks to take about 60 tracks. Thinking of making it a puller, since I want the batteries in back to keep it’s center of gravity low and towards the back, under the eventual arm. Did get the 18650 LiPo charger boards in the mail, so that is an upcoming challenge to wade through.

Till next time,

Mech

Delays, research and 3D printing

Seems that certain things are not ‘critical’, but that just means that patience is required. By patience I mean, finding alternative sources for the things that I want and finding other things to do while waiting for deliveries. There is a difference between need and want, one is necessary and the other is desired; the former causes fury and the latter creates disappointment when unavailable. I’ve not been idle of mind or with hands since the last post. Amazon is having massive delays on ‘non-critical’ items, so tried researching the companies to contact directly to little avail, therefore using my go to solution of finding parts that I can’t get source locally, Ebay.

So what have I been doing since the last post, I shall inform thee. Been doing quite a bit of research, which it has been hard to not go down a bunch of rabbit holes that has created. It has certainly proven the fact of the more you know, the less you know. For instance, seeds started in soil seem to do better than seeds in a pure hydroponic situation and it might be due to the lack of certain type of root fungi. The fungi that I am typing about is Mycorrhizal fungi, it’s type of fungus that attaches to the roots and assists the plant with water and absorbing various nutrients from the soil that the plant needs to grow and therefore provide the fungi room to grow as well, it’s a symbiotic relationship between plant and fungi. Mycorrhizal fungi is not just one specific fungus, but is actually a group of similar fungus who do the same job, for more information on how they work and how this relates to hydroponic gardening, click here – https://mycorrhizae.com/do-Mycorrhizae-have-a-role-in-hydroponics/. Also been designing the 3D printed PVC connectors for the hydroponic garden.

Speaking of 3D printed things, the Cyclone PCB maker is coming along quite well, each set of prints is taking about 20 hours of print, so about down to the wire of whether or not getting a 52mm spindle or try using a dremel tool for the business end of the Cyclone. Leaning towards the 52mm spindle, because it’s used in CNC mills for wood working, PCB making, etc,. It’s also driven by a DC motor that would require a simple H Bridge to control it’s speed. There are a few ways to sense it’s speed and that’s a whole discussion in of itself. So going to make a jig for the wire to go into and a guide for the saw to keep it in a straight-ish line so it’s easier to make the connectors for the treads.

Overall, I’m quite happy about the progress on these projects, so far. Considering that I’m using a bit better than hobby grade 3D printers and hobby grade electronic components from China, everything is going along quite well.

Almost there, sorta?

Almost have all the parts necessary to start the hydroponic gardening hobby, but due to effects of the covid 19 epidemic. I’m about to be tempted to design connector pieces for the PVC pipe that is going to be holding the PVC pipe up. The PVC pipe is going to hold everything up, from the hydroponic garden, the grow light and the grow tent, which is why I am in two camps about designing, printing and waiting for the object to fail. I could order the parts and hope they are the right ones and not bad knockoffs. It would be a grand luxury to just go out and get everything, slap it all together and just wait for seeds to either grow and bear fruit or fail.

This did NOT publish for some odd reason a few days, ago.

Hurry up and get busy!

My days are filled with waiting for things to get here, research for my current projects and working on the other projects. My current list of projects are upgrades for my printers mainly things to keep it trammed in and such(waiting on a camera for the pi, shipping from China), the hydroponic stuff(lots of research, mainly), working PCB Cyclone(printing, printing, wait on mail) and my robot which is still in the design stage.

The printers are at a very stable stage, so basically just doing maintenance and minor things to them such as adding octoprint and things that make them easier to use. Going to have figure out a way or four to make them into a money stream, because filament ain’t free yanno! Been doing a few side jobs with them for friends, mostly just to practice and get a home cooked meal, yay for living alone. I’m still in awe of what they can do, they are tools that can make other tools and that is really awesome.

The hydroponic garden is my main focus, lots of research such as what plants share the same pH needs and such that requires a megaton of research to even get started. It’s quite complicated, especially if you are trying to maximize space and conserve on resources all the while trying to make it as hands off as possible. A very steep learning curve that requires a huge time investment, but there’s lots of information on the internet which is a boon and a bane at the same time. The great thing is that I can keep tweaking things till I get them right and I have 3D printing capability to either repair broken parts and make new designs that can be tested almost immediately.

The PCB Cyclone that I am working on is another fantastic tool(I hope), that makes other tools(again, I hope). It’s basic design is pretty awesome, my plans are to make it safer to use. I’m incorporating an emergency stop button that will cut the power to the entire machine so that it’s safe to put fingers, hands and tools in it’s enclosure for maintenance, upgrades and placing and retrieve media from it’s build volume. Guess, I let that cat out of the bag about making an enclosure to not only contain it, but from experience smaller tool ends tend to be more fragile than their larger counterparts and I really don’t want to get hit by a tiny runaway piece of metal that moments before was spinning several thousand RPM. Plus, it will help contain the debris that is the byproduct of milling fiberglass backed copper, and improve the vacuum’s ability to keep such out of the build volume.

During this time of waiting for the postman and amazon drivers to bring the various bits and pieces that are going to be incorporated into the various machines, I’ve been designing a robot that isn’t a toy to get bored with due to lack of functionality. To be fair, the current design is a rough draft and a way to hammer out problems like battery charging, drift compensation of the tracks and environmental surfaces and creating, testing and modifying subsystems when it is costing a few bucks for different key components, filament and print time. Ultimately, my hope is to design and build something that is somewhat close to having an assistant, which with the current technology is most likely a huge over reach.

Lots of stuff to do, to design and and work on.

Still in the planning stages

So here’s the basic list of basic parts that I recommend to get started with a basic hydroponic garden. It’s a mixture of 3D printed parts and manufactured parts. Most of the latter can be sourced either locally or on http://www.amazon.com. For the 3D printed parts there is a link at the bottom of the list.

List for Basic Hydroponics
4 Drip Nozzles4 Empty 2L Bottles
4 Sprinklers10 feet of tubing
4 Root ShieldsPVC pipe
Hydroton
http://www.3DPonics.comHeavy String

This is an incomplete list, due to this being a rough draft. I am still doing quite a bit of research and designing to make sure that the plants and project have a decent chance of survival.

By the way, I found a mint plant in my last foray into the civilized part of society they call a store. It’s still in shock so giving it quite a bit of light, water and such to see if it comes out of it.

My Inspiration

The inspiration for the partially automated hydroponic system came from a lot of places. My personal inspiration is having an indoor garden that is smallish and containable, plus another reason to use my 3D printer. The big inspiration was when I found the http://www.3DPonics.com website, though I was disappointed when I started looking at the forums and they seem pretty dead. Though the lack of assistance is not something that I find daunting, because there internet to tap into in case I run into a huge roadblock and there I can find a few hundred thousand solutions to my problem, the only issue is finding the proper solution to my problem at the time. The biggest inspiration is that I can use lots of skills to make something that will help myself and possibly others.