hydroponic systems

Monitoring and control of Hydroponic systems

The Inamata IoT platform will be well suited to monitoring and controlling hydroponic systems. On the data collection side, the system’s flexibility allows specialized sensors to be integrated. 

On the control side, control plans allow pumps and water sensors to be controlled by graphically programming control flows. To top it off, monitoring is made easy through the integrated dashboards.
The edge nodes of the platform are based on WiFi-capable ESP32 chips. These chips can be integrated in custom solutions or be bought as industrial-ready packages from Norvi, Athom or Industrial Shields. 

This enables taking advantage of existing supply lines and choosing hardware that is the right tool for the job. The firmware for the nodes is open source which allows you to add support for variants, but we also provide services to take on the task for you.

The advantage of the ESP32 chips is their great interoperability with sensors and actuators across multiple interfaces. On an electrical level, analog and digital interfaces can be used, but support for UART, I2C and SPI protocols is also available. This has been used for peripherals such as the BME280 air sensor and the Atlas Scientific pH, EC and RTD meters

As the firmware is based on the Arduino platform, it allows existing libraries to be reused to quickly add support for new peripherals. On the actuator side, pumps and valves can be controlled via relays to complete the control loop. All in all, this provides a solid foundation on which to build a monitoring and control solution for hydroponic systems.

A single wifi-capable device is only able to monitor and control so much. This is where networking them together comes into play. For DIY setups, projects such as Mycodo for Raspberry Pis, HomeAssistant with ESPHome or NodeRED with MQTT all provide adequate solutions. However, NodeRED’s flexibility limits its cohesion with the code running on the chips. HomeAssitant handles this gracefully, but is limited by its rules engine. Mycodo side-steps these problems but is limited to running on a single device.

This is where control plans shine. They allow multiple controllers to be orchestrated from the server, reacting on data received from one controller and relaying commands to another. The state is streamed to the web app which allows you to inspect what is actually happening within the control plan. Fail-safes are built in as well, allowing action chains to be run purely on device, ensuring that that pump is guaranteed to turn off once it turns on.

The data collected by the pH and EC sensors, the temperature and brightness level sensors, can all be viewed remotely in the dashboard. It allows you to view trends over months and compare them year-over-year. Integrated in the dashboards are buttons to directly trigger actions on the controllers themselves, handling use cases when maintenance has to be performed or emergency halt of pumps.