brain is where all the other modules come together. Physically the
brain is mostly a couple of little boards and a lot of wires.
Structurally, the brain has two parts to it. There is the
microcontroller, and there is the local circuit.
The microcontroller we are using in this project is an Arduino board
microcontroller is essentially a little computer with a lot of places
to plug things in (like sensors, etc.).
The local circuit is actually the back end for each of the other
modules. Each module has a local circuit component. So the
actual layout for the local circuit in your own GardenBot will be
specific to your particular installation. To see what the local circuit
is for each module, you will have to go to the page for that specific
The main idea is that you
have a board where you can put the "local circuit" part of each module.
This will make it easy for you to plug each module into the brain (and
even rearrange or add new modules later if you need to).
(see the parts page)
- Arduino board
- USB cable
- jumper wires / lead wires
- bread-board / proto-board
- all parts for the local circuit for each of the modules
- the GardenBot software package
The hardware side of the brain
Creating the local circuit board
Here you will be creating a circuit board where you can mount the
local circuit portion of each of the other modules. You will probably
want to have a couple of breadboards side by side to create one giant
breadboard to work out this portion of the brain.
Let's take a look at a potential setup with an Arduino board and a couple of breadboards.
start off by running the two power wires -- ground (0v) shown in black,
and source (5v) shown in red. This way our bread-board has power
for easy access during development.
From here you can build the
local circuit for a particular module, and then use jumper wires to
connect that circuit to the Arduino board. If you are not familiar with
reading circuit diagrams, you will need to study up on that -- I do not
tutorials on that specifically. There are many good resources online
for learning how to read circuit diagrams.
For the specific circuit diagram relating to a particular module, you will need to visit the page for that module.
Isolated power supply option
you can isolate the power supply, leaving only the ground connected to
the Arduino board. This will allow you to shield your sensor readings
from any noisy devices such as a motor, or and LCD.
We use a
standard 5v regulator (looks like a transistor) which will allow us to
use any wall-wart with the appropriate specs (see power supplies
-- so you can buy a plug from a thrift-store and use it to power
projects. The red LED is an indicator light to tell you the power is on.
Moving to a proto-board
if when you find that the local circuit board is not changing much, you
will want to migrate it to a proto-board -- it will make all the
connections permanent, and you get your bread-boards back (see bread-boards/proto-boards
The software side of the brain
Things are very rough still
So, the local circuit board is one part of the brain, and the Arduino is the
other. Since the Arduino is a little computer, everything on the
Arduino side is done with code.
The next version of GardenBot will be built upon AutoTalk and will be much more flexible and easy to modify. Go to the AutoTalk project page
for more info.
is a software package that I developed as I was learning. I do not
think it functions very well -- I am a self-taught programmer,
and GardenBot was one of my first
Arduino projects. My appologies. If you would like to see it, you can
download the old GardenBot software package from the parts page