In a college class this last year, a group of us were assigned to design a system that would collect and graph environmental data from our campus greenhouse. We would take this data, graph it, and display those graphs on a public website. We’d also use current data to control the greenhouse (i.e. watering, heating, cooling…). Hopefully this information helps you if you are wanting to start your own DIY project and automate your greenhouse.
We decided to use an Arduino UNO, a PICAXE-14M2, and a desktop computer running Windows Vista. The Arduino functioned as the main interface and brain. We dedicated the PICAXE to simply reading sensors and sending that data in a continuous stream to the Arduino via a serial communication protocol.
The Arduino would format and send data to be logged to the PC, which runs MegunoLink. The Arduino would also decide, based on environmental conditions, if the heater/cooler/water should be turned on. Future groups working on the project would have to decided whether the Arduino would do this by sending a command to a dedicated microcontroller (reverse of what we did with the PICAXE being dedicated to sensors) or by directly controlling equipment in the greenhouse.
So, in essence, for this project, we figured out how to set up data logging and automation of the greenhouse environment using cheap materials and open source equipment.
In our report, we provide example code for both microcontrollers and discuss difficulties we ran into along the way. You can read this report by clicking on the PDF link below.
Final Report – COCC Greenhouse IT Group.pdf
IT Budget/Component Pricing.pdf
Tired of using Adobe? Hate getting those Adobe Reader update notices? Unfortunately, Adobe does dominate both the flash and PDF worlds. Fortunately, you can start your escape by using totally free PDF readers!
For Windows users, I have a couple recommendations (Mac users, see the section below). If you are looking for similar features as Adobe Reader, like the annotate, screen shot, and other tools, then I would advise getting Foxit Reader. It is truly amazing. They do want you to register, but so far I’ve found that it isn’t necessary to run the application. Another one you might like, if you’re more of a scientific person, is PDF XChange. Since I found these programs, I will never go back to Adobe Reader.
XChange PDF Viewer
If Foxit Reader is a little complex and you just want a simple PDF reader, then Sumatra PDF might be just the thing for you. They are focused on the simplicity of a PDF reader. It’s got the bare minimums, without any of the frills.
Have a Mac? There’s another free PDF reader you can get too! It’s called Skim. It has many of the features Adobe Reader has (and a couple extras!). As long as you don’t get lost in the program, you’ll be pretty pleased with it!
Skim PDF Reader
So, there’s some ideas to get you out from under the Adobe monopoly. Enjoy!
- Choosing a simple PDF reader if you don’t need anything complex. Extra features may become frustrating if you don’t need or want them.
- Watch out for the extra software these programs will try to install. Go through the “Advanced” install process and uncheck the extra software you don’t want.
Blender is truly an amazing program. What makes it even more appealing is the fact that it is totally and completely FREE (download here)! The things it can do are truly amazing. More and more artists are using this program for their computer graphics and animation needs. A couple short films have already been created using Blender. You can watch some of those here.
Since the Blender website does a much better job at describing what Blender is capable of, we’ll point you to their website to learn about the stunning effects and amazing features of this open source program: Blender Features
We have been writing a couple tutorials on how to do different things with Blender in the Tutorials section. Be sure to check those out as well!
- Windows (32 & 64 bit)
- Fast processor for rendering (i.e. 2.5 GHz Dual Core or better)
- More than 3 GB RAM
- Large screen for modeling and texturing objects