søndag 28. august 2016

No Pump Automatic Watering

So I've been thinking a lot about automation with my kitchen plants. I don't like having to remember if they need water all the time. While this burden has been reduced with my Electric Soil Finger I would still prefer if everything took care of itself. Enter automatic watering!
There's already a lot of different solutions for automatic plant watering, but I all found them lacking in one aspec: You need to use a pump with special diameter tubing.
I would prefer not using a pump as that would require less power, be a lot more silent - a big pluss in a tiny dorm, and I won't have to buy several meters of tubing that fits the pump.

I solved both of these problems and actually won a prize for doing so! Instead of using a pump I had a servo react to sensor readings regarding soil moisture. The servo then opens or crimps shut a water tube to either let water flow or turn off the stream. Another improvement, I didn't have to buy a water tube. This system works with most tiny water tubes no special size. So I made my own water tubing by using the isolation of a power cord.

These improvements made this instructable my most popular yet with currently over 60.000 views! I also won a prize pack in the Low Water Challenge. Click here to read my full write up!

Introduction at Instructables:
In this instructable I'm going to show you how you can make your very own automatic plant watering system. The best part? This solution requires no pump!

The benefit of using an automatic watering system is that you avoid having your plants start to dry out, and you also wont accidentally soak your plants. The moisture is kept at the perfect level for your plants and you end up using less water!

There's a lot of different automatic watering systems out there. These seem to work great however there has always been something preventing me from building them. They all require a pump. Personally I would prefer not to use a pump because I think they are expensive and makes a lot of noise. I went to the drawing board to see if I could come up with something different!

This system uses a micro controller and soil sensor to monitor the water level of your plants. If your soil is starting to dry out the controller will counter this by watering the soil until it is sufficiently moist again.

Instead of using a costly and noisy water pump, we are going to use a servo to elegantly open and crimp a water tube. So cheap. So easy.

Let's get started!

I've been featured in an article! Gareth Branwyn from Make Magazine has written an article about this project. At the time of writing it's on the front page of makezine.com or you can click here to read it.
Super exciting stuff!

onsdag 22. juni 2016

How to Harvest and Replant Tomato Seeds

For a about half a year I've had a few tomato plants growing in my window sill. They've grown really fast and got so tall I had to tie them up so they wouldn't fall over. Now I'm about to move and transporting the plants presented a bit of a logistics challenge. Then I figured, if I could just harvest the seeds I could very easily regrow plants when I've finished moving.
This is much preferable because that also means I won't have to fiddle as much with the plants when I'm moving, freeing up time for more important stuff.
I delved deep into several google searches before I found the best technique that worked for my kind of tomatoes. Then I aggregated the most important aspects into it's own tutorial that I shared online.

Introduction at instructables:
In this tutorial I'm going to show you how to harvest seeds from ripe tomatoes. Planting seeds and letting them start to sprout is a nice gift to give to someone who either loves plants, sustainability, or food!

This is a great project if you either have your own tomato plant, or is lucky enough to get a fully home grown tomato so you can start your own plant.

Let's get started!

Detailed Water Droplets from Spray Paint

The project I just made is a bit different as it involves no electronics, just paint. I used a technique to create really detailed water droplets from spray paint. The result looks really convincing so I'm pleased with how everything turned out!

Intro at instructables:
In this tutorial I'm going to show you how to spray paint these incredible detailed water droplets!

It's an incredible simple process to paint surfaces with these water droplets. You're sure to amaze the people you show your painted things to!

If you're anything like me, after learning this trick you'll be searching for what things you own that would like nice with a coat of painted droplets.

Let's get started!

DIY Electric Soil Finger

I've just made a small device I can use to get readouts on when to water plants. This works by measuring the conductivity of plant soil. The conductivity changes according to how wet the soil is. This information is read and mapped as servo positions to indicate on a gauge when it's time to water.

Intro at instructables:
Today I'm going to show you how to make your own electric soil finger!

What's an electric soil finger you say? Allow me to explain: This is a sensor for measuring the amount of water in plant soil. This will then in turn show you whether or not it's time to water your plants, or if they are very much happy with the amount of water they have right now!

The inspiration for this was that I was constantly sticking my fingers in my plants dirt to learn if I needed to water them. However, this only gave an idea of the water on the very top layer of soil, no good!

I wanted a deeper and more quantifiable measurement and thus the Electric Soil Finger was born.

Let's get started!

I entered this project in the Automation Contest over at instructables and I was lucky enough to win one of their runner up prizes! This prize includes an instructables t-shirt and a Teensy 3.2 microcontroller! Perfect for future projects with a lot of input/output handling.
I'll update with a picture of the prize when everything arrives.

fredag 17. juni 2016

Automation with Arduino and RF Signals!

I've created yet another tutorial over at instructables.
Just like last time I tried my hands on making a tutorial video. The whole work flow felt a lot smoother and quicker this time. Definitely because this wasn't my first time making a video like this and editing in premiere pro.

I like this new format so I'll be doing more of these videos along with detailed instructions. That is, if I have the time. Making a video along with the project itself takes a lot of time. When a project is pressed for time I'll have to forego the videos to finish the project on time. Or I could live with releasing the video a while after the project has finished.
Either way I'm just happy having the time for DIY stuff!

Introduction at instructables:
Imagine the middle of the winter, it’s cold and dark outside, but thanks to automation you wake up to a warm and bright room, with a hot cup of coffee steaming by the side of your bed. This is what I'll show you!

Learning to control RF signals from an Arduino opens a world of possibilities. Here's some quick examples of what I've previously done with this technique:

  • Turn things on and off with sound or motion
  • Lights that adjust their brightness according to time of day or how bright a room is
  • Turn on a heating oven or a cooling fan according to temperature
  • Automatically turn of your 3D printer when it has finished printing

Let’s get started!

fredag 10. juni 2016

Headset Reduction: Finished product!

As you can see the headset got a slick coat of black paint. Looks fantastic!

Thats a fully 3D printed headset completely designed by myself!

In the previous headset reduction post I was thinking about what to do about the stiff headset band. I tried to solve this by removing some of the plastic from the backside, to make the band weaker. This helped. However, as it turns out this wasn't really necessary. A lot of the bend and flex on the headset comes from the steel wires that grips the ear muffs. Meaning the headset band dosen't really need to be all that flexible. So I was concerned on solving a problem that I actually didn't have. Stiff headset band, no problem!

Logo came out great

When I originally started this project my goal was to minimize the overall size of the headset. I have to say I was only somewhat succesful. The headset is definitaly smaller, especially with the band, but the ear muffs are about as big as they were.
So while I only partially succeeded in making the ovaral size smaller, I'm very much pleased with the end result. I wanted a decent headset that I could wear outside of my home. And this result is a huge improvement over the bulky gaming headset I ripped apart.

I'm so satisfied by the right- and left side indicators

I will eventually do a full write up of all the details in making this headet. I'll link the instructable here when it is finished.

DIY Powerful LED Panel - Video and Work Light

Another new project! I have just created a powerfull LED panel that currently sits and illumates why room. 
This was a fun project for me because I created something I needed. The dorm room I'm renting is dark and I'm not allowed to mount anything to the wall or roof. This meant I needed a compact and bright lamp that would spread a lot of light, without being mounted to anything. That's how I came up with the idea of making a slim LED panel that sits on top a tripod. This I can place nearly everywhere!

It was also fun to try my hands on some filmmaking. I documented the whole build on video with a voice over that I uploaded to youtube. For your viewing pleasure, heres the video:

As always I made detailed build instructions and these can be found at instructables.

Today I am going to show you how to make a bright and cheap LED panel. I wanted a bright light for my working area, this panel comes with over 200 LEDs and I used just about 10 bucks to make it.

The panel is super bright and great to use as a video light, a grow light for plants, or whenever you need a lot of light while working!

We will be making the LED panel and 3D printing a tripod adapter. This means you have a vast amount of options for mounting the light. This also means the complete light takes virtually no space if you need to pack it. Perfect for tiny workspaces or traveling to a photo shoot.

Here we go!

mandag 21. mars 2016

Headset Reduction: Final Design - Sanding and Priming

Another update on the ongoing project of headset size reduction. I've previously written about the tear down of the old headset and a test print of the design.
I have now worked through the design I had for the ear muffs and head band I printed as test pieces. Originally, I was going to only slightly alter the ear muff design by scaling it to make it a bit taller. Instead I chose to completely model it from scratch again, only keeping my original measurements. I made this decision because I had learned several new techniques in Fusion 360.

Here's a comparison between the first test pieces, in blue, and the final design, in silver. At this point I've painted the silver parts with a couple coats of primer. I'm going to lightly sand these before they get some shiny, black spray paint.

The differences between the two design are that the ear muffs in version two of the design are taller, and thus more rounded. This gives two improvements over the previous design: The sound is more well rounded, and it looks more streamlined - which in my opinion looks much better. I also added a small protrusion at the hole for the audio jack. This has the benefit of letting the female audio jack sit closer to the the shell of the ear muff. Which in turn means that I don't have the push the audio cable as far into the headset.

Of course I'm adding my own logo when I make something completely custom!

You always have to balance between a final cost increase from prototyping, and keeping the final cost as low as possible. For this design I did one test print with material that now has to be thrown away. It would could have been better for the final design to do a couple more test prints, but that would have greatly increased the total material used to do this headset remake. I believe I made the right decision by doing one run of test prints and then springing for finishing the headset.

Still, I might have to make one more iteration of the head band. It was printed with 10% infill and this made the band to stiff. When pulled over your head, the band wont flex enough so it's a bit tight. I'm going to fix this either by reprinting the band without infill, or by modifying the band by decreasing it's structural integrity.

lørdag 12. mars 2016

Book of Light

About a year ago I made a gift inspired from an instructable I had read. This instructable detailed how to make a book that lights up with a warm glow when it's opened. Here are the instructions.

I really liked the idea, but there were some areas I wanted to change or improve.
For one, I didn't use batteries in the book. This was to avoid having to either change or recharge batteries. To me this meant the book could be used more freely because there weren't any battery anxiety. Instead of batteries I opted for an USB cable so the book could get power from any old phone charger. The USB cable I ordered was extendable. I chose extendable so the cable could be rolled together and neatly tucked away when the book wasn't powered.
    Another change I did was to use regular 5 mm LEDs. Regular size LEDs are much easier to acquire and they don't develop as much heat. Heat was a big concern to me because all the electronics would be enclosed in old and dry paper. Opting for regular LEDs instead of high wattage LEDs had another positive effect. The book could be made with several more light sources, which meant the light from the book would be spread more evenly.

Video demonstration;

And by the way! The book was made as a gift and I'm happy to report it was a huge success. Appreciation always makes the effort worth it.

lørdag 20. februar 2016

I won another prize

I just received another prize a won!
Because I recently wrote about how I won a prize from Instructables I feel like I'm on lucky strike here!

I won a completely new Arduino the MKR1000. Arduino have partnered with Atmel, Adafruit, and Microsoft and they are hosting the Worlds LargestArduino Maker Challenge.
Here I entered by pitching my idea for what I would like to make with the new Arduino board. The idea I pitched was for a DIY Plant Stick.

The MKR1000 is not yet commercially available but you can read the technical details here. What's really got me excited is its tiny form factor, the built in WiFi chip and the on-board Li-Po battery charger.

The team over at Arduino asked us to not yet share any detailed pictures of the board. This is because it's an exclusive pre-release version of the MKR1000. They said they didn't want third parties to start designing components for a boards that likely will change before final release.

The box. It's not much bigger than a regular match box.

This is an excerpt from the pitch I wrote to the maker challenge:
I really want to use the MKR1000 to make a plant stick.  With this I mean a small stick filled with electronics made to monitor and give essential feedback on plants growing indoors, like small indoor kitchen gardens in urban environments. 
So what is included in this plant stick? The idea I've played around with is this stick you put into the soil of your plants, and then it monitors different parameters of your plants, which are then sent to the cloud.
I want the plant stick to look at the following:
* Soil humidity. Also giving recommendations for when to water the plants
* Temperature
* Humidity
* Light level. This parameter will also trigger a relay for a grow light to make sure the plants receive enough light throughout the day.
* Air quality
* Internet. This is the most exciting and why I'm really looking forward to work with the MKR1000. I will use the internet to connect to Windows Remote Arduino. This will allow people to log and analyze trends for the plants. This is also what will streamline the whole indoor gardening practice.

søndag 14. februar 2016

I won a prize

I won a prize from Instructables!
Now, a while ago I wrote about how I made my own DIY Grow Light. Along with that blog post was the link to a instructable entry I had made. This contained all the details on how the light was made and how other people can make their own.

I entered this instructable in a contest they were running at the time, the theme of the contest was Indoor Gardening. Well apparently enough people liked my design and solution so I won third prize in their competition.

I just received my prize and keeping with the theme of the contest, I received a Hydroponics Experiment Kit. This kit is meant to experiment with different growth solutions for plants in hydroponics. Hydroponics in a couple of words, means growing plants in a water and nutrient solution instead of using soil. Also in my prize pack was an instructables t-shirt and a couple of stickers.
All in all it was really fun getting recognized for one of my projects.

søndag 24. januar 2016

3D Printer Heated Bed Insulation

I have just upgraded my 3D printer.
The heated bed on my printer have been taking some time heating up. I've been guessing this is because the long and flat heating element looses a lot of heat downwards, with only a fraction of the heat going upwards towards the print zone. This is to be expected because the heating element is long, flat, and very thin. This means that the element has a huge surface area with very little mass.
      This was the problem I wanted to solve. My thinking was to insulate the underside of the heating element. Most people know of the insulating properties of cork. It is very common to use circular cork mats to insulate heated pans from a kitchen bench. It's exactly the same thinking I brought to insulating the printer.

I bought cork mats from IKEA. These mats were meant to be kept under plates while eating to reduce mess. They are thinner than usual cork mats used for heat insulation, but they are thick enough for my purpose. The price for four of these are 29 NOK, I only needed one so I have a few for other projects. The description can be found here.

It was super simple to install. What I did was unscrew the print bed and then I used this to make a cut out of the cork mat. Then it was simply a matter of poking holes for the screws in the corners of the mat, and sandwiching everything back together.
I haven't analyzed the heat up difference with and without the insulation yet, but I will at a later time.
The heated bed does seem to heat up faster. I also imagine the printer uses less power during printing, because the heating element wont have to work as hard to maintain a stable temperature.

This is how the final product looks:

onsdag 13. januar 2016

Headset Reduction: Parts and Test Print

Finally all the parts I need for the final headset remake have arrived. The parts I needed was a female audio jack, male to male audio cable, and a bluetooth sound receiver. The bluetooth receiver lets me unplug the audio cable from the headset so I can listen to music over bluetooth whenever I want.

I've also done a test print of the 3D parts for the headest. I was reluctant at first to use filament for something I knew I was going to throw away, but I'm glad I did the test print because it showed some areas of improvement.
When I designed the ear muffs I was focusing on slimming down the profile of the headset. Well, I slimmed it down a tad too much. When I attached the speaker to the ear muff and listened to music, the audio was a bit thin. I'm going to solve this by scaling up the ear muff so it has a bigger air volume.

I also test printed the band between the ear muffs. I was surprised at how much flex and strength the PLA had. I was originally planning on printing the finished design in ABS, but this test print convinced me to print everything in PLA instead.
    I tested both parts by throwing them at the ground and there was not one crack. This is good news because it is much easier to print the finished product in PLA than ABS.

Headset band and ear muff. The final product will be a much finer resolution.

 Came out pretty good just need some scaling.

 Nice red to go with the painted black headset. Female audio jack to go inside one of the ear muffs. Bluetooth audio receiver for wireless playback.

søndag 3. januar 2016

Sweet Talking Box

I've made a new instructable! I'm showing how to create a small box with only a visible audio jack and push button. When the button is pressed a prerecorded message will play through the audio jack.
To read the instructable and all the details on how the box and electronics was made, click here.

The finished product.

The 3D printed box.

The 3D printed box was designed in Fusion 360 and can be downloaded here.

Introduction at instructables.com:

In this instructable I am going to show you how to make your own little sweet talking box.

So what is a sweet talking box? This is a tiny box where all you can see is a headphone jack and a small button. When you connect a headset to the box and press the button a prerecorded message will play for your recipient.

This is a perfect gift idea to make for someone you care about and for someone you want to keep encouraged or reminded by your own words. There are unlimited options to make this gift even more personal by crafting your own box or enclosure!

The project is easy and you neither require a lot of experience or tools. The most challenging in this project is the soldering required.