List of parts - GardenBot
This page is here to serve as a guide to locating
the various parts you will need for this project. Some parts you will
be able to locate at a local hardware store (or similar). Other parts
will have to be ordered online. There are some brief descriptions of
things of note, and there is a price sheet just to give you a rough
This page also features basic explanations of some of the kinds of
parts you will be working with. If
you are new to any of these concepts, please be aware that the
information I provide on parts here is very superficial and general.
There is a wealth of information out there online and through your
local hacker clubs about some of the basics covered here.
GardenBot software package
The GardenBot software package is currently not supported. You can
download the exsiting version here, but it is very buggy -- appologies
Download the old
package - (2011-01-13)
Arduino is an open-source microcontroller. The short
that Arduino is a little computer that is designed to make it easy to
hook up various devices for inventing new kinds of interfaces.
Arduino is used as the brain of the GardenBot system. If you are not
familiar with the Arduino platform, you will need to start by going
The official Arduino
You will want to start with the "Getting Started" link at the top. And
proceed to the "Learning" page when you are ready to start building
some simple projects.
You don't need to wait to be a Jedi master to start your GardenBot
project. Just make sure you are comfortable with uploading code to your
Arduino board, and that you have a rough understanding of the different
pins on the board -- for instance digital vs. analog.
Heat shrink tubing is very useful, especially when you are trying to
integrate electronics into dirty environmetns like the garden. It gives
you a cheap and easy way to water-proof your electrical connections.
Heat-shrink is a type of plastic tubing that shrinks to half it's
diameter when you heat it up with a heat gun -- so, yes you will need a
heat-gun. For many of the projects
on this site, we'll be using a variety of heat-shrink that is lined
with a thin layer of glue (the same type as a hot-glue gun). When you
heat the tubing up, the glue will seal around electrical components
creating a water-proof seal.
shrinks down to about half its original diameter. You will probably
want to practice a with a small piece first so you can see just how
much it shrinks (it's not a lot). When you want to seal an electrical
component / connection, select a piece of tubing that is only as big
(in diameter) as
it needs to be to fit over the component. That way when the tubing
shrinks, it will form a nice, tight seal. If the diameter of the tubing
you select is
too big, it will buckle and warp as it shrinks creating air pockets and
holes for water to get in -- not good.
Remember that you will want to leave some extra length on either end
since the tubing shrinks in all directions.
If you have not done much soldering, you will want to get practicing on anything as soon as you can. Soldering
is really kind of an art -- you have to get the knack of it.
There is really only one concept you need to
know. The essence of good soldering is that you DO NOT melt the solder
with the tip of the soldering iron. You must use the iron to heat the
piece you want to solder. And then the piece will get hot enough to
melt the solder onto itself.
If you do it this way, your
solder joints will look clean (don't worry, you'll get better
eventually). If you do not do it this way, you will end up with what we
call "cold welds" -- lumpy mounds of solder that seem to avoid the
piece you want it to stick to.
are many good resources online for learning how to solder -- with
illustrations and everything. The main thing is that you start getting
your hands dirty.
Bread-boards and Proto-boards
When you want to put your parts together and make a circuit board,
you'll want to start with a bread-board, and then move everything to a
This is a bread board. It's purpose is for you to
rough everything out before you commit to soldering things down. You
can stick components in, pull them out, and move them around until you
get a circuit that won't be changing any more.
this is a proto board. On the proto-board, you must solder all the
components down. This means that you are past the bread-board stage,
and are ready to have a permanent circuit.
Junction box or wire
There are a lot of places in this project where you will need to
connect wires in a way that will allow you to disconnect and reconnect,
etc. etc... For this, I like to use little junction boxes.
||To start, you will
need the small proto-board and the screw terminals.
||Now, you just
solder the screw terminals to the proto-board -- being sure NOT to
connect any of the terminal posts to each other (unless you mean to).
There are many other ways to connect wires. Feel free to use
whatever makes you comfortable -- like wire screw-caps, etc.
There are a bunch of options when it comes to power.
The Arduino board provides a basic 5v, regulated power supply. There is
a standard barrel-jack plug that allows you to you a range of
wall-warts (see below). However, you may not want to rely on this if
you need to power heavier load devices like motors, or if you are
getting noise in your sensor readings.
A wall-wart is a cheap power supply used by the various electronics in
your home. It is that little box that you plug into the wall outlet
that then has a thinner cable that you connect to your device. The nice
thing is that you can use this wall-wart to power the Arduino board or
the free-standing voltage regulator (see the brain
If you shop your local thrift store, it's very likely you will be able
to find a good selection of wall-warts (usually $1 or less). The
important thing is that you find one that has specs that work with the
voltage regulator on the Arduino board -- 6 to 12 volts DC, plug tip
polarity positive. And be sure to check that the jack is the right
diameter (you might want to bring a board with you).
ATX power supplies
The ATX power supply is definitely optional. It is mentioned here
because there are water valves and other garden devices that need a
specific voltages. The ATX supply can power many devices simultaneously
without power loss, so it may be worth learning about if you have
devices that require voltages other than the Arduino's 5v.
If you've ever taken apart a desktop PC, then you have seen that metal
box where you plug the power in. This is call an ATX power supply (or
just PC power supply). You can sometimes find these at thrift stores as
well, or if you have a good local recycling center and they accept
computer waste, then you might acquire one that way.
These supplies are a little more complicated to hook up, but they
provide many different voltages and so they are quite useful if you
need to power various devices. There are tutorials online explaining
how to convert an ATX supply so you can use it as a bench-top power
Please note that some of these parts are optional -- in the sense that
your particular build may vary.
just wanna say off the bat that I shamelessly endorse SparkFun
electronics. They have selection, good prices, and they use brown-paper
for packing (I hate styrofoam peanuts and extra plastic bags).
prices in this list are based on what I spent in US dollars
in 2010 to aquire them. This list is
intended to be a rough guide only in helping you estimate the cost of
your garden automation project. This list in no way guarantees that any
of the items listed will be available for the price listed.
||Where I bought it
|Arduino board (brain)
|LM335 temperature sensor
|resistors (various values)
||if you don't already have a collection, you can buy a
kit of resistors from SparkFun
|proto board - 1 in
|proto board - 2 in
|galvanized utility wire, 12 gauge
||my local hardware store
|glue-lined heat-shrink tubing (various sizes)
||Buy Heat Shrink
|electric solenoid water valve (24v DC, 5/8" ID)
|I used Orbit brand valve from Amazon. But can be bought at home garden store
|5/8in ID hose
|my local hardware store
|threaded hose ends (often called
"hose repair kit")
|my local hardware store
|metal hose clamps (screw
adjustable) to fit over 5/8in hose
|my local hardware store
|6-strand phone wire||my local hardware store|
|H-bridge motor controller IC for soil moisture circuit||SparkFun|