Vince81

The making of my connected highland terrarium in (many) pictures

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Hey there,

I thought it was time for me to introduce in this thread my new terrarium. It will be more 'techy' than 'planty', so if you are expecting mainly pictures of plants here, well, you'll be pretty disappointed.

I started over 6 months ago with this new project, as I had to stop growing carnivorous plants and put away my former terrarium. I hope it will meet the same success as its elder brother. The previous one was already running with a RPi, but its use wasn't maxed out.

Here we go, the result as it was a few weeks ago:
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Basically, it's a small terrarium (65x55x65) dedicated to grow highland carnivorous plants, but also, to answer my needs as a grower:  autonomous, tailored set up with remote monitoring. Handy, transportable by one person, and good-looking (enough). Almost bearable in a living room, i.e, not giving away too quickly a vibe of 'eccentricity'.

But behind the scene, it's a different kettle of fish.

I bought the glass panes, and started to drill them. The holes will be used for aquarium tubing:
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Practising:
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Then starting with actual panes:
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Watering the area of interest:
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Then:
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The silicone used to joint the terrarium together:
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A bit messy:
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Top pane set up. I stuck the first rail for sliding panes. Wait of 24h. Then final jointing and installation of the through-tank connectors.
48h wait, and leak test :
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I built a small tank made of 2 cm styrofoam to contribute to insulate the cooled water from the outside of the terrarium. The aim was to prevent cold losses and reduce outside condensation on the window:
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Second profile rail drying:
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As a side note, the bottom profile rail is smaller than the top one, allowing easy removal of the sliding panes :
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Slicing off a gutter, so to make support for gratings :
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To water the plant wall, I set up a pierce hose on top of it:
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Stuck hose:
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Cheeky bubble:
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Same goes with the tree fern panels:
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I made a tank for the fogging system, as well as two shelves (one for the tank, one for the watercooling radiator):
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The shelves:
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Final test:
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Now, about the lighting system.
In short, I wanted LEDs, as they have more opportunities for playing around. They can be dimmed and can have precise wavelengths. So it's possible to roughly mimic sunrise/sunset.
I used several small ones instead of few big ones because I wanted passive cooling (silent installation), and not being forced to have fans running on top of big LEDs to have them cooled down.
I bought MK-R LEDs and no-name ones (blue: 440-445, 430-435nm and red: 660nm), all powered around 4W.

The MK-R as I received them:
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The first step is to mount the MK-R on their individual PCB:
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I spread solder paste on the PCB:
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I did reflow soldering, by making solder paste melt between the PCB and the LED. Information about the specifications on how to carry out this process can be found on the MK-R datasheet:
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Useful thermometer (there wasn't any LED on the pan at the time I took this picture):
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Then, I drilled and mounted some heatsinks together:
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I added some tin to make the connecting easy:
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Thermal paste and other tools:
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The beginning:
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(there was actually a mistake in this wiring at the time of the picture)

Finally:
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White:
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Yellow:
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Red:
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Blue:
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Warm effect (morning):
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Winter-is-coming effect:
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A bit of an overkill, but in case, some fans to help the heatsinks dissipate the heat:
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How the lighting system is fixed. Inspired from aquarium hobby:
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Funny trick - how to adjust the height of the lighting system:
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The fusebox, when I was still tinkering with the RPi:
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The cooling system (below 13°C at night and no higher than 25°C during the day):
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The cooling unit:
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The connectors:
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The watercooling radiator:
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The heating system is based on a heating pad and a fan (that I also use for the fogging system, and all day long to promote air circulation):
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The fogging system, with classic mist makers:
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The watering system is composed of 4 nozzles:
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And a pump:
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And for the geeky part, the Raspberry Pi to rule them all. This is the micro-controller (small computer) which manages all the devices related to the terrarium. Good news, you can do almost everything you want. Bad news, the RPi won't program itself:
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I connected several sensors and other hardware resources to it. To have something neat, I designed a printed circuit board (PCB). Yep, the schematic is quite messy:
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Rendering this after milling (a friend of mine milled it for me):
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I soaked it into liquid tin:
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Then, components' supports:
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Tropicoat coating:
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In the end, more or less:
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A webcam on top of the terrarium:
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Which gives this kind of snapshot (I consider doing time-lapse, as soon as I don't have plastic bags on top of some plants. I removed them for the sake of the pictures):
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How to command the devices ? Using relays. I had some that I very recently replaced with wireless (radio/433 Mhz) ones.
The emitter:
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The relay:
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A receiver (to copy radio signals, or for instance, coupled with a remote controller to switch off the terrarium):
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Family picture:
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And not-so-useful remote controllers, as everything is managed by the RPi.
They bypass the RPi (as they send the same signals as the RPi do), so, I can turn on/off a device without having to use the RPi, and without tampering with the rules I set up. I just have to ensure that I put the device back in its original state after I'm done operating it.
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About coding, I had a first version which was working but far from being optimised. The crucial upgrade was made possible thanks to Clément Lefranc, who gave me his entire code. He is the one who takes the credit.
Thanks to his gesture, I could start from a working base that I adapted to my own needs.
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As you might be assuming, I have developed a website to better introduce the terrarium. Almost finished with it, just left with a few things to correct. It will be more convenient to look up for any information related to the terrarium, as I'm afraid there are too many pictures on this topic.
But in case of major update, I'll make sure to put the info into this topic as well, so that the gist is always presented here.

That was all for the initial investment. Then, what is interesting is to watch how the plants will react to all this attention. Especially in the long run, as, when it comes to growing, that is the only thing which matters in my opinion. And the more it is complex, the more it's likely to break down somewhere. But I'll keep you updated. At least, the start is successfully completed: believe me, it could have not been so.

I hope it might give ideas to some of you.

Vince

P.S: I still can't get my hand on the 'preview button'. Has it totally disappeared? Is there any way to have it back?

Edited by Vince81
English spelling
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OUSTANDING work, Vince. I'm sure that many people will find your topic very helpful. I wish you success with your new setup and don't forget to post some fresh pictures now and then :)

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On 17/04/2017 at 4:44 PM, Ptaah said:

OUSTANDING work, Vince. I'm sure that many people will find your topic very helpful. I wish you success with your new setup and don't forget to post some fresh pictures now and then :)

Thanks Maciej :). I will do so as soon as they have grown up a bit. As of now, it might be still too early for a good bunch of them.

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Spectacular work Vince and you must have a great sense of achievement from creating this from scratch and hand tailoring every aspect.

I've recently put together an LED terrarium with RPi monitoring.... nowhere near as complex as yours though! I'm intrigued at future possibilities using the RPi, but am a total novice with coding!

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-

Edited by Stu
(double post)

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Thank you all for your kind comments.

On 26/04/2017 at 0:26 PM, Stu said:

I've recently put together an LED terrarium with RPi monitoring.... nowhere near as complex as yours though! I'm intrigued at future possibilities using the RPi, but am a total novice with coding!

That sounds like something I can relate to ;-). Have you introduced your setup somewhere?

I am a novice with coding too, but fortunately, the community around the RPi is well developed and provides a substantial amount of resources. What do you have in mind when referring to 'future possibilities'? Anything specific, anything in sight?

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7 minutes ago, Vince81 said:

That sounds like something I can relate to ;-). Have you introduced your setup somewhere?

I am a novice with coding too, but fortunately, the community around the RPi is well developed and provides a substantial amount of resources. What do you have in mind when referring to 'future possibilities'? Anything specific, anything in sight?

Not introduced it as yet but I will imminently! :-)

At the moment I have the Pi logging temp & RH from an AM2302 sensor. I have two energenie sockets and the controller, ready for potential automation options. I have a mister and a small powerhead that I may set up to circulate the water. Will probably introduce a small fan in the tank to circulate the air as well.

All coding I've done so far has been following excellent tutorials by fellow growers. I would be interested in looking into better/alternative data manipulation though as it would be great to have more graphical ways to represent the data both via website/social media and possibly a graphical display attached to the Pi.

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Have you tried this? I use it for remote monitoring of my HL chamber. 529cf3e25c88b88ad4d575b5b2c95509.jpg

Sent from my SM-N910V using Tapatalk

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7 hours ago, Stu said:

Not introduced it as yet but I will imminently! :-)

At the moment I have the Pi logging temp & RH from an AM2302 sensor. I have two energenie sockets and the controller, ready for potential automation options. I have a mister and a small powerhead that I may set up to circulate the water. Will probably introduce a small fan in the tank to circulate the air as well.

All coding I've done so far has been following excellent tutorials by fellow growers. I would be interested in looking into better/alternative data manipulation though as it would be great to have more graphical ways to represent the data both via website/social media and possibly a graphical display attached to the Pi.

Please, do so whenever possible ;).

I got what energenie sockets and powerhead are thanks to Google, but couldn't figure out what 'mister' refers to in this particular case :).

About coding, once again, I opted for the solution developed by my friend, so, I've been using Highcharts library. That allows you to conveniently display your data on graphs.

That does look like pokie22's way (are you using Highcharts too?).

Here is a graph that I have on my website to introduce a 'typical winter day':

33069611382_1c6862a06a_c.jpg

Graphs can be changed accordingly to the desired period, saved, displayed on a php webpage, meaning either on your computer/mobile device or on a screen attached to the RPi (like the one on the picture of my fusebox/consumer unit).

Before getting the code from my friend, I had used this tutorial, that you might already know though:

http://www.instructables.com/id/Raspberry-datalogger-with-Mysql-Highcharts/

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10 hours ago, Vince81 said:

I got what energenie sockets and powerhead are thanks to Google, but couldn't figure out what 'mister' refers to in this particular case :).

About coding, once again, I opted for the solution developed by my friend, so, I've been using Highcharts library. That allows you to conveniently display your data on graphs.

That does look like pokie22's way (are you using Highcharts too?).

Here is a graph that I have on my website to introduce a 'typical winter day':

33069611382_1c6862a06a_c.jpg

Graphs can be changed accordingly to the desired period, saved, displayed on a php webpage, meaning either on your computer/mobile device or on a screen attached to the RPi (like the one on the picture of my fusebox/consumer unit).

Before getting the code from my friend, I had used this tutorial, that you might already know though:

http://www.instructables.com/id/Raspberry-datalogger-with-Mysql-Highcharts/

Thanks to both for the info. I'm currently using a thingspeak channel to push the data to, which displays graphs similar to yours. (Currently my sensor appears to be dead so no point showing you the blank page!) High charts may be a better way to customise the display of data though.

Apologies for confusion on the equipment... Energenie sockets are remote control power sockets (RF triggered) and you can use a specialised Pi-mote (hat?) to trigger them on/off from your RPi. Similar to what you have achieved with relays, but simpler without DIY wiring.

The power head is a small submersible filter pump that circulates water.

The mister is the same as your mist maker (ultrasonic mister/fogger).

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@Vince81 What an incredible setup - thanks so much for posting all these detailed photos and documenting your process. I'm particularly impressed with your watering system, and the use of LEDs in your lighting system. You've given me plenty of ideas for my next setup!

My own terrarium is similar to the one Stu described - an AM2302 sensor firing temp & humidity data to a Raspberry Pi every minute, and switching my cooling fans on or off using Energenie mains sockets depending on the interior conditions. I documented it here. It was my first (serious) terrarium, so I didn't embark on automating watering or building a fogging system like yours. It's been very successful however (the Nepenthes seedlings are fast outgrowing it), so I'm considering an upgrade, or even building a larger one. When I do, I'll definitely be referring to your post.

Please do post an update in the months to come, I'd be very interested to hear about your progress, and any challenges you encounter.

Thanks again!

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Apologies for the delay Stu, I was hopping to get back to you only when able to introduce the website. Well, I believe it will take one more week or so.

On 28/04/2017 at 11:10 AM, Stu said:

The mister is the same as your mist maker (ultrasonic mister/fogger).

Thanks for the pointer: I thought I knew what 'mister' means, but I guess it's always time for a reality check!

Hey Tom, thanks for the nice feedback. I have yet to read your website, but it seems to be a great tutorial! I wish I had something like that when I first started to delve into this kind of endeavour. I'm sure it will be a great help for many growers. Congratulations on presenting your work in a didactic manner. Just skimming through, it looks very neat.

I'm glad you found 'plenty of ideas' for your next setup. I do love how working with a RPi gives you the possibility to explore a prospect and actually make it happen. I can't wait to see your next upgrade or even your new project then.

I'll make sure to post some regular updates (at least one for the website very soon), although I hope the next time will be for pictures of plants ;).

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So far so good, I have yet to bring a few stuff to an end and take some pictures, but I'm happy with the results, especially on the tree fern panels:

Utricularia jamesoniana:

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Ageing flower of Pinguicula hemiepiphytica (three at the moment on the plant):

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And low down :

Drosera roraimae:

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