One of my major goals with my hydroponics project is to automate as much of it as possible, at as low a price as possible. To do this, I need to be able to source parts and systems to meet engineering requirements; essentially, I have to perform systems engineering. Unfortunately, I’m studying at a liberal arts college. This means that I don’t have access to engineering faculty who may be able to provide insight into the ways that I can optimize my system, or alternate means to do things. The pH adjuster in my last post is one example of a system that I’ve designed which has some bugs which could be avoided with a more robust system (in this case, using a peristaltic pump instead of screw-feed syringes). While this does force me to do much more on my own, and I’m certainly learning a lot, my low budget for this project means that any mistakes significantly slow down the development process. Hopefully I’ll be able to avoid most of the major ones!
On that note, I’m still waiting on some basic components for the auto pH adjuster: stepper motors and drivers. In addition, the epoxy that I used to attach the plunger head to the screw drive was unable to bond effectively to the nylon plunger, and broke off when I was testing the device. I’ll have to machine a pair of plunger heads that screw on to the screw drive for increased resilience. More on that later!