Introducing the JG PiPlanter


Well, it’s been about seven months in the making, but it’s finally alive: my PiPlanter.

Taylor gave me a box of tubing, resistors and electrical components for Christmas last year, along with a web address for instructions to build us a Raspberry Pi-powered automated plant growing robot (or “growbot,” as I like to say now that I just thought of it just right now). Challenge accepted!

The project was created, designed, coded, everything-ed, by Devon Bray at Esologic (@eso_logic), so I simply set out to replicate his basic PiPlanter 2 Lite model.

The PiPlanter monitors light, air temperature and soil moisture levels, and then – my primary albeit minor modification – waters the plants when it detects that the soil has become too dry. It also tweets an hourly photo and update on the readings, as well as periodic charts and videos documenting the planter’s status and growth.

As it turned out, everything from Devon worked great. I would have been done a lot sooner, but I am not skilled nor wise with either Raspberry Pi or Python, so I managed to completely brick my Pi twice before I even got the basic software packages downloaded. Then, a third time, after the Pi had been running for a few weeks, I tried to delete a folder of photos and ended up wiping every file and program off my computer. Whoops. I am not a skilled programmer. I can barely make a robot arm dance.

But, hey, even I figured out how to eventually make the code and circuits work. I got pretty skilled at starting from scratch with the Pi, and the final reinstall took me less than 90 minutes. I learned quite a bit about Raspbian, Python, etc. This was a fun, challenging, next-level project for me, and, to boot, I might even have some decent basil and thyme out of all of this soon.

My goal now is to not touch the PiPlanter for a few weeks and see if the plant survive without my human interference. In the meantime, I’ll be trying to figure out what else around the house I can automate…

Check out my PiPlanter page here: JG PiPlanter. I’ve got some photos, Tweet samples and videos there. I’ve also put up my final code (I made a few tweaks and updates to the Esologic code, but again I take no credit for creating this project). Feel free to borrow, replicate, improve and try your own PiPlanter!


3 thoughts on “Introducing the JG PiPlanter

  1. Hi, very cool project! I see on your Twitter that you are still using it, are your plants growing well? I am also thinking of building it, did you use the same schematics that are posted on esologic? Or did you modify them as well? I am also curious if you have the led light hooked up to the pi as well, in order to have it on automatically some hours a day?

    • Hi, thanks for reading! I had to restart the plants with new seeds after a while, but if you check the Twitter page, they are coming up nicely again! I did use the same schematics as esologic. I only modified the code. Feel free to message me if you do attempt to build – I’m happy to help answer any questions. The light is just a simple fluorescent grow light on a timer. It is separate from the Pi.

      • It can take a while but I am scavenging the parts to build one. I just checked your twitter, they seem to be growing good again! Thank you for the offer, I will start and lets see how it goes.

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