Overall Controller

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K

kingmax

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Hi Farmers

I am the newbie in here and I am glad having found this rich community board.

Since I do not have much time to take care my hobby lately, my kids take most of the time besides work and sleep 😁.
I am looking for a master controller which can handle all of my equipment, such as lights, humidifier, dehumidifier, heater or cooler, watering management with aquarium fertilizer mixer and other devices.
Are there any products available on the market which could control and manage my equipment build from divers manufacturers, such as SanLight, InkBird temp and humidity controller, Mitsubishi AC ?

Best regards Max
 
ChuckFinnl3y

ChuckFinnl3y

214
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Hey Max,
Welcome to the Farm!
Might be hard if you already have all the equipment.
Do all the devices have either a Controller/remote port or the ability to "auto run" after you cut and give back power?

If one of those deviced needs to manually switched back on after an outage and doesnt bring a controller port you wont be able to automate them easily.
 
K

kingmax

9
3
Hi

Thanks for replies, that's what I expected, and @Natep, I don't plan to buy new equipment. AC Infinity has good products. I have been looking at their systems and it looks really professional.

@ChuckFinnl3y, I have chosen products that are capable of running when the power is turned on, such as timers, heater or inkbird controllers. It's a semi-automatic system.

Watering is a still my main time-consuming part, which I would like to optimize for a dosing pump system. For example, https://www.chihirosaquaticstudio.com/products/chihiros-dosing-pump-system

My SanLight has Bluetooth but is hooked up to a timer, the AC works on infrared, InkBirds have wifi, timers have wifi.

Has anyone thought about building such a device ?
 
ChuckFinnl3y

ChuckFinnl3y

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Cant say much for the Watering aspect, if you dont wanna get too much extra equipment maybe an passive drip irrigation systems but that might take some time to dial in aswell and prob isnt the best.
Some other people here that are using Watering systems prob can give you an better advice.

For Master Controllers, ive only ever saw 2 Commercial products that would work with almost anything and didnt look like whack but they cost a fortune (1k and up).
Then there are microcontrollers but those take time to build and require some knownledge, so prob not what your looking for either but the only real possibility to get it right exactly as you want.

Youll have to make some sacrifices for where you at, i would prob suggest looking into Devices that can be incorporated into Home Assistant.
(Can re-use parts for other things if you wanna up your game later on or go back to manual, while you prob would toss an "Grow Monitor" thats obsolete into the Corner)
-Get sensors for Temp/Humid
-Feed those into Home Assist
-Get smart outlets/plugs
-Set conditions for what should turn on/off at which point.


Sensors for Soil are a bit wacky, few out there that will refuse to work on you after a couple of months or even weeks. I wouldnt suggest getting one and just controll your Water intake based on time and dial it in, say turn on the pump for X Minutes have it off for X Hours then repeat the cycle(Through an smart outlet if you wanna have central control otherwise a timer will do).

Is that what you were looking for ?

I don't plan to buy new equipment. AC Infinity has good products. I have been looking at their systems and it looks really professional.

just saw the not buying new equipment part to late, what exactly do you mean?
 
Natep

Natep

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93
If you did an organic grow it would be much easier to automate the watering. No nutrients required.
 
H

Happyfarms209

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I have Trolmaster and the AC infinity. Not a lot of people like the Trolmaster. I really haven't had any problems with mine. They are just so expensive. I just got the AC infinity so I'm still trying to figure it out. You can always use smart plugs that you can program and control from your phone. They all work great you just have to figure out what works for you.
 
ChuckFinnl3y

ChuckFinnl3y

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Gave it a thought, honestly just avoid automating the fertilizer part if you don't grow in coco. You'll prob spend more time getting it to run properly then just doing it manually especially if your on synthetic nutes.
Once you got enough time feel free to step into it but prob won't be something you can just throw together and use right away
 
K

kingmax

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@ChuckFinnl3y, I am not looking to change my current system to some system like AC Infinity offer.
I haven't thought about implementing some of my smart home capable devices into the tent, but it could lead me to my solution. Will have to dig into that, after the kids and work, late into night sessions. Building some own device would be the solution, but that's out of my capability.
But for now I am looking around what other growers have tried by themselves, combining their current products.
A possibility to measure the soil approximate humity level, could be of a waterproofed scale under each pot and triggering the water pump.

Well yes, you are probably right. A chef still needs to put his ingredients into the pan to make a great space cake, fertilizer and nutes should be handcrafted.
I know my imagination is huge, but unfortunately I am not an engineer. I wish I would have studied that 30 years ago.

@Natep, I have not mastered this technique yet, but I'll buy it on my grow bucket list. Do you use full organic rich soil from veg to bloom without adding any nutrients? That might be an outdoor project.

@Happyfarms209, haven't looked into their products, thanks for your advice.

Again, thanks for your input guys.
 
ChuckFinnl3y

ChuckFinnl3y

214
63
@ChuckFinnl3y, I am not looking to change my current system to some system like AC Infinity offer.
He was refering to an Controller offered by Ac that connects Lights,Fans,Humids and stuff and as far as i know can be conncted to other brands aswell.

Offering a kinda master controller, though too limited for my liking and not something worth the price, thats just me though many people on here like them.
So other may point out its "benefits" better, i didnt bother to check further once i saw someone taking one apart seeing the components used and the price they are asking for.

But if you have no time spare, and comfy spending that much money on a little plastic box its prob your best call.

For the Home Assistant part i found Shelly to be the best option so far, got many connectors,switcher,plugs relays and stuff that doesnt require soldering and the Sensors wont quit on you after a few months unlike some other smart home Thermo/Hydrometers.
And if for whatever reason a part does go into retirement you can easily exchange it and keep the rest of the system running while exchanging it.
A possibility to measure the soil approximate humity level, could be of a waterproofed scale under each pot and triggering the water pump.

Well yes, you are probably right. A chef still needs to put his ingredients into the pan to make a great space cake, fertilizer and nutes should be handcrafted.
I know my imagination is huge, but unfortunately I am not an engineer. I wish I would have studied that 30 years ago.
I thought about that aswell, but would need some kind of logic behind it to take the added weight from the plant into account.

Ive seen people automate the whole Fertilizer mixing process, taking every single detail in account like ph and ppm, but it took them upwards to half a year maybe even more cant recall excatly, to have it at the point where everything was running smoothly and making many mistakes in the process.

If you dont have time to spare i really woudnt bother with automating that part of the Job not as easy as you might think.

The watering, i would dial in with your current habits. Say you water right now every 4 days for a good dryback just replicate the same with a smart plug and a water pump+reservoir.

Youll still have to check for errors and changes in the plants though, people that start to automate generally do it so they have more time for training etc.
without checking your Plants manually every other day you can run into problems fast if something isnt set up properly and youll prob regret starting to use it.

I would highly suggest adding little by little, starting with Watering if thats what takes most of your time, so your still in there for other things and can check if everything went well.
You could check some Hydro/Coco growers and see how they went about stuff and mix those together with what youll need.

But thats just me in the end do whatever youll feel comfy with, dont let people dictate what you wanna use people have used many things to ease up on gardening and just because they dont use/recommend a specific part doesnt mean its bad just doesnt suit them in their case.
 
ChuckFinnl3y

ChuckFinnl3y

214
63
Btw to have some better idea whats your general Setup? Medium, number of plants, Room/Tent size etc.
 
LoveGrowingIt

LoveGrowingIt

Supporter
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I am not looking to change my current system to some system like AC Infinity offer.
It's what I use most, but wish it weren't proprietary. I also have Inkbird controllers, and I use Alexa smart plugs sometimes. Even so, I've occasionally wanted more capability. A few days ago, I decided I wanted two circulation fans to alternate their on/off cycles. It seemed like a good idea, but I couldn't find a way to do that with my controllers. I'm a small-scale grower and retired, however, so I'm able to tend to my gardens and do myself what the controllers won't do. One of my wish list items is to have a way to monitor the ambient environment, which would include both the weather and the status of the lung room, and make adjustment accordingly. I want to control devices like the gas fireplace based on weather.

I haven't thought about implementing some of my smart home capable devices into the tent, but it could lead me to my solution. Will have to dig into that, after the kids and work, late into night sessions.
I've been doing smart home since the days of the now-obsolete X-10 system. Our home currently has over 50 automation devices. I've thought about using a computer as a programmable environment controller, but I'm getting too old for that type of project. I've heard rumors of a few individuals doing some development. I'm sure the scope must be daunting.
 
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PooToe

PooToe

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If I'm reading this correctly what you are trying to accomplish is a fully automated system. It sounds like most of your system is already somewhat automated other than irrigation but just not controlled from a central controller that can put it all in front of you.

Some suggested AC Infinity and I would also agree they probably have one of the best hobby level systems around. What you want to do with the current setup you own, though, goes beyond what is currently available at that level unless you had planned it from the outset and used compatible gear.
Using auto dosers in a small setup is not viable. I've worked at licensed grow ops along with one of my side hustles having been doing grow room buildouts so I have a pretty good idea how all this can work in a real world situation. Auto dosers are good when you are doing things on a large scale like in an LGO. Small batch mixes will not be as accurate as you want unless you're ready to shell out for the laboratory grade stuff and all its supporting hardware.

Look at a Pulse Pro controller. It may get you at least part of the way there. As far as irrigation, if you are using chelated nutes then your limitation will be how large a reservoir you use in relation to the time you'll be away from your grow. If your automation times are within a couple months, depending on how many plant sites you have, 55 gal drums should do the trick as far as having the volume of pre-prepared solution you'll need. One complication that you'll need to address when you are running reservoirs is the need to separate your calcium based products from your nitrate and phosphate products to avoid tank precipitation.
I ran a 5 x 5 tent for 6 weeks while I was away with a 5 and 30 gal reservoir tank. I used the dehumidifier condensate to refresh the 30 gal tank. The 5 gal had cal/mag as that is the only product I use that has calcium in it. When I got back the 30 gal reservoir had around 5 gallons of solution left, PPMed at 340 and pHed at 6.8. I harvested a week later. I built the entire system from scratch but you may want to look at FloraFlex for a fully fleshed out irrigation system if you feel like you can't do it yourself.

Another option would be to build a custom controller through Arduino or Raspberry Pi modules. I've seen a few people do this. You may want to seek out someone that can do this for you and provide a solution to your issue.

Good Luck!
 
K

kingmax

9
3
Hi , since it's getting late here, cet+1, I won't be able to reply to everything, but let's share some thoughts.

Yes, I would like to have more time for LST and taking care of my plants, but all I do is watering and check the environment and plants visually.

For the visual part, I plan to use cams to monitor the tent from different angles. It would be also very useful to visualize a fully or semi automated system. (Water dosage system could also be video monitored live, but you are right PooToe aka MistZeh, it's too much hassle for a small environment, therefore semi-automated. For now.... 😁

And here we come to the point about spending precious time and money for new devices.
Well, what I meant earlier, is that this device - lets call it a growers dream box - would need to be programmed/coded on whatever platform available such as esp32, Raspberry Pi or Arduino mentioned by MistZeh, but mentioned by myself not being gifted with this language. 🫣

After having crazy thoughts 🤖, since I am into tech stuff and iT, I might have to spend some more time to check if such a device could be coded on a common open source platform under whatever license.

Lucky me, I know 3+ persons and a connection to cnc manufacturer. I will check it out with these guys, developing and programming industrial cnc machines, fanuc and stuff. That might be a good source to get some Information if it's feasible on developer boards, cost and of course time consuming. For our hobby, there is always some spare time to waste 😇 between daily tasks and before bedtime

The software part, my so-called “DreamBox” should be compatible with existing and active developing smart home or automated apps and/or web based locally. All for monitoring, controlling and configuration.

And that’s for sure not just a walk in the park 🤫

That's all folks, for now….

Good night, so long
Max
 
Natep

Natep

723
93
My grow is pretty much automated. I still have to refill the reservoir with water, dry amend and refill the humidifier.
 
ChuckFinnl3y

ChuckFinnl3y

214
63
Hi , since it's getting late here, cet+1, I won't be able to reply to everything, but let's share some thoughts.

Yes, I would like to have more time for LST and taking care of my plants, but all I do is watering and check the environment and plants visually.

For the visual part, I plan to use cams to monitor the tent from different angles. It would be also very useful to visualize a fully or semi automated system. (Water dosage system could also be video monitored live, but you are right PooToe aka MistZeh, it's too much hassle for a small environment, therefore semi-automated. For now.... 😁

And here we come to the point about spending precious time and money for new devices.
Well, what I meant earlier, is that this device - lets call it a growers dream box - would need to be programmed/coded on whatever platform available such as esp32, Raspberry Pi or Arduino mentioned by MistZeh, but mentioned by myself not being gifted with this language. 🫣

After having crazy thoughts 🤖, since I am into tech stuff and iT, I might have to spend some more time to check if such a device could be coded on a common open source platform under whatever license.

Lucky me, I know 3+ persons and a connection to cnc manufacturer. I will check it out with these guys, developing and programming industrial cnc machines, fanuc and stuff. That might be a good source to get some Information if it's feasible on developer boards, cost and of course time consuming. For our hobby, there is always some spare time to waste 😇 between daily tasks and before bedtime

The software part, my so-called “DreamBox” should be compatible with existing and active developing smart home or automated apps and/or web based locally. All for monitoring, controlling and configuration.

And that’s for sure not just a walk in the park 🤫

That's all folks, for now….

Good night, so long
Max

If your leaning towards the diy side i wouldnt start from scratch, there are a few projects out there that tried to archieving the same. Still wont be plug and play but youll have a prebuild codebase with acess to libaries and wont take as much time. I'll try to find the one i was most impressed by the most if you consider going this route, development started from a project to grow Mushromms ages ago and have been updated since for all kind of things.

Wouldnt use something that was only Uploaded once and "dead" since then .

On another Note, if your Kid/s are also into tech and old enough it could be good project to build together with them.
Get them a something along the line of an learning kit for microcontrollers with different projects and if they like it go for it.

Depending on their age and how aware they are of what your doing you could build a systems with them for microgreens,Strawberries or whatever they like and use it with inexpsive Shop lights and copy one for your Tent. Or if available use them in a Greenhouse outside and leave the light out in that equation.
 
ChuckFinnl3y

ChuckFinnl3y

214
63
My grow is pretty much automated. I still have to refill the reservoir with water, dry amend and refill the humidifier.
Sound interesting, you have your setup documented in a Grow Journal or something similar?
 
Natep

Natep

723
93
Sound interesting, you have your setup documented in a Grow Journal or something similar?
I do not keep a journal. I have an organic grow. I reamend twice per cycle. Once before I flip to flower once when I cut down my plants. That way the soil is ready again when drying is complete. I use a 4x4 bed in a 5x5 tent. The bed has a small sprinkler system that is connected to a pump in a five gallon bucket. I use a eco wit soil moisture meter. When the moisture gets below 35% i water. I have not figure out a way to activate the pump. I have it connected to my model 69 controller with a uis plug. I still have to fill the bucket and the humidifier.
 
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