Tag Archives: aquaponics

Creating a 3D-printed automatic fish feeder


Helios Labs has designed an automatic fish feeder using Arduino and a 3D printer. 


Aquaponics is a food production system that combines conventional aquaculture (such as raising aquatic animals) with hydroponics (cultivating plants in water) in a symbiotic environment. Fish are the power house of any good aquaponics system, as they provide the nutrients for the plants. In an effort to ensure that the creatures are properly fed, the crew over at Helios Labs has come up with a DIY solution. The Makers recently created a 3D-printed fish feeder that hangs from a planter over a tank in an aquaponics system.

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The project was programmed with a rather simple code that works by feeding the fish twice a day — once when first plugged in and then again several hours later using a “delay” function. After the fish are fed for the second time, the delay function is called upon again in order to wait until the original starting time, which in their case was 7am.

The unit itself is comprised of a hopper that holds the fish food, as well as 3D-printed auger that is superglued to the gear of a 9g micro servo. In between feedings, the servo, which is controlled by an Arduino Uno (ATmega328), is detached as it can only rotate about 180 degrees. The auger was designed to prevent the fish food from accidentally entering the electronics compartment.

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“Ideally you should connect the servo to its own 5V power source and power the Arduino via a USB/DC adapter separately. The servo, if powered by the Arduino directly, might overdraw amps and reset the Arduino. This will essentially ruin the timer’s accuracy and require you to reset it,” the team writes.

If any of you have ever owned fish, then you know how easy it can be to forget to feed poor little Nemo from time to time. Good news, Helios Labs says that they will also be creating one for in-home tanks as well. Interested in learning more? Head over to the project’s page here.

Aquaponics and hydroponics sensor platforms for Makers

Cooking Hacks, the open hardware division of Libelium, has launched two new sensor platforms that automate control and maintenance tasks in aquariums and in gardens through wireless connectivity and using open-source APIs. Designed for Makers, the new IoT solutions are based on Arduino, and include specialized sensors to measure parameters vital to aquatic life in ponds and fish tanks, or for indoor and outdoor gardening.

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Powered by an ATtiny84 microcontroller (MCU), the Arduino Uno-compatible Open Garden platform consists of three separate kits equipped with sensors to maintain healthy growth, despite whether plants are located indoors, outside or in water. A suite of sensors, ranging from humidity and temperature to light and soil moisture, monitor plants for optimal care wherever they are situated. The platform’s actuators can control irrigation, as well as activate lights and oxygen pumps. A hydroponics kit is also available, which includes both pH and conductivity probes.

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Open Aquarium has been designed to help Makers care for their fish by automating the control and maintenance tasks that are typically required in tanks and ponds. This newly-unveiled platform monitors water factors such as temperature, pH and conductivity. In addition, the fully Arduino-compatible system has the ability to measure water levels and leakage, as well as deploy actuators that can feed the fish, regulate water heating / cooling, activate pumps to change water or administer medicine, and control light intensity to simulate day and night cycles. The sensors send information using wireless interfaces such as Wi-Fi, GPRS and 3G.

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Each product comes with a complete open source API to easily control the board through an ATmega328 based Arduino, as well as a web application that allows users to easily access and visualize relevant information from a browser or iPhone/Android device.

“We design connected technology using open source code to help makers discover, improve, and scale new sensor-based solutions for the Internet of Things,” explained David Gascón, CTO at Libelium.

Interested in learning more? You can check out the official Open Garden page here. Readers may also want to browse through some of our previous articles on open source agriculture, including “Vertical Farming with Arduino,” “The Internet of Things, Stalk by Stalk,” “Smart Urban Aquaponics in West Oakland,” “DIY Farming with Atmel and Arduino,” “Open Source Aquaponics with APDuino,” “Agricultural Monitoring with Atmel AVR
,” “Arduino-Based Farming in Maine” and “Building a DIY Moisture Monitor.”

Let’s Make the world a better place

It was 1974 when tech pioneer Ted Nelson first asked a nascent industry to hand over “computer power to the people.” A few years later, Commodore founder Jack Tramiel expressed similar sentiments, proclaiming that “we need to build computers for the masses, not the classes.”

As we’ve previously discussed on Bits & Pieces, empowering individuals and communities is a core value of the international Maker Movement. Makers, with an open source philosophy, affordable technology and “can do” attitude, are truly helping to make the world a better place.

Indeed, medical implants designed with 3D printers (long championed by Makers) are saving lives, while 3D printed prosthetics allow physicians to restore physical capabilities lost in accidents or at birth.

Makers are also active in agriculture to ensure an organic, green and sustainable food supply for us all. To be sure, Atmel-based Arduino boards are currently being used to facilitate a plethora of open source platforms tasked with regulating everything from urban-based aquaponics to rural greenhouses constructed out of recyclable materials.

Photo Credit: Scott Taylor, Sun Journal

In addition, Makers are at the forefront of reversing bee colony collapse disorder, with the Atmel-powered (ATmega32U4 MCU) Smart Citizen Kit (SCK) currently monitoring 3D-printed hives around the world.

Unsurprisingly, Makers looking to the future are designing open source home automation platforms to help individuals conserve water and reduce energy consumption by linking various “smart” appliances to the rapidly evolving Internet of Things.

Last, but certainly not least, open source Arduino boards used by Makers across the globe are an important tool for the STEM community (science, technology, education and mathematics), with science and computing teachers in secondary schools and universities choosing the popular platform to teach students the basic principles of programming and computational thinking.

We at Atmel are proud to be at the very heart of the Maker Movement, with microcontrollers that power a wide range of open source platforms and devices, from 3D printers to Arduino boards. For us, Maker Faire is one of the Greatest Show (and Tell) on Earth – a family-friendly showcase of invention, creativity, resourcefulness and a celebration of DIY culture. Simply put, it’s a place where people of all ages and backgrounds gather together to show what they are making and share what they are learning.

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So be sure to drop by the Atmel booth (#205) at Maker Faire Bay Area on May 17th and 18th to meet our star-studded lineup of Makers and presenters, including Mel Li, Trevor Zylstra, Quin Etnyre, Pamungkas Prawisuda Sumasta, Super Awesome Sylvia, Matt Johnson, Bob Martin and Dan Ujvari.

Can’t make it to the Faire? You can follow @Atmel live on Twitter for event updates, or join the conversation by tweeting #AtmelMakes.