Plant Monitor Project Diary Part 1

**** Editors Note ****

Before you read this post I want to explain why this Diary seems to have died a death.

1st it was not my fault. The LEDs for the ‘green house’ broke and the whole thing had to be returned so we were without a light this year.

2nd the making timelapse was tricky to do over terminal (you had to set it at a time with fixed settings) then you had to check it was working… When headless it was too much of a fuss…. So I jumped into a rabbit hole of building a new webUI for the camera! You can find more info about it here and I will be making a new post soon!

My wife has a wonderful green finger. Last year we had tomatoes, peppers, chillies, apples and strawberries. This year she is got a whole lot more going on – Same as above with some fig plants herbs and hoping for some cherries and kiwi berries.

Last year I had set a Pi up to take some timelapse photos and record some plant data. But it was (at least in the code side of things) a little too diy and was messy as hell. Not to mention I did not document a single thing. This year I want to do this better.

From Part 1 of this project I will be looking at the timelapse side of things, after that I will move on to the data recording.

Above is the little indoor green house light box sorta thing (I guess we call it a light box) that she uses to start the seedlings and get some of the plants going before they can be planted outside when the warmer weather comes.

To start off with I will need the following:

  • Raspberry Pi
  • Cable for power
  • Camera (this case I am using a Pi Camera v3 Wide angle)
  • Micro SD card

I picked the Raspberry Pi 3 A+ for the form factor and wifi. Also I have the awesome Pimoroni Pibow case which lets be honest is swish. But is also affords me some options in terms of mounting the Pi for picture and data recording. I have used this Pi in the past for timelapse and is perfect when a Pi Zero is just not powerful enough for multiple operations like taking photos and collecting data. Also I have the USB port that could power…. something. But I am getting a little ahead of myself there.

Because this setup will be temporary or could have the need to be moved around. Screwing something into the light box is not really going to be a good option. As luck would have it however the light box itself offers a neat little solution.

Roof of the box is lower than the top of the walls so there is a little hook bit that with the help of some 3d printing I can make something that attaches to the Pi and hangs off the side pointing the camera inwards.

The camera holder and hooks I had for another project but with a little drilling and smooshing together it looks the part when built up. To be honest I had used this last year so if its not crap, don’t change it.

All thats left is find some power and get started with the code. Which I will document in Part 2.

Before I end the post here is the video I created from last years growing.


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