Tag Archives: Vinduino

Rewind: 8 Maker projects changing the world

The Hackaday Prize Grand Prize and Best Product winners are both powered by Atmel!

As proof that one small idea can make a big difference in this world, the trio of Patrick Joyce, Steve Evans and David Hopkinson were named this year’s Hackaday Prize Grand Prize winners. The nine-month design contest, which challenged Makers to build something that matters, drew more than 900 entries from folks spanning across the globe with differing backgrounds and skills. After narrowing down the submission pool to 10 finalists, the competition culminated with an award ceremony on November 14th at Hackaday’s Super Conference in San Francisco.


The winning innovation, dubbed Eyedrivomatic, is an eye-controlled wheelchair system that allows those suffering from ALS and those who no longer have use of hands to regain their mobility. Whereas most wheelchair units are rented and therefore unable to be permanently modified, this inexpensive and easily adaptable piece of hardware boasts the ability to improve life for those who require more options for controlling their mode of transportation. According to its creators, since it was a group effort, they have decided to take the $196,883 prize rather than a trip into space.

Other winners included:

Additionally, Reinier van der Lee was the recipient of the Hackaday Prize’s Best Product award and walked away with $100,000. His project, Vinduino, is a low-cost, simple-to-build and rugged tool for optimizing agricultural irrigation, helping to save wine growers at least 25% in water consumption. The sensor-driven platform monitors soil moisture at different depths to determine when to irrigate, and more importantly, how much H2O is necessary.


Congrats to all of the winners — especially the five of the six mentioned above that are powered by Atmel! What’s more, we had the pleasure of going 1:1 with these finalists prior to Hackaday’s SuperCon. You can click on each of the respective projects below.

Eyedrivomatic’s Patrick Joyce


OpenBionics’ Minas Liarokapis


Solar Utility Vehicle’s Chris Low


Gas Sensor for Emergency Workers’ Eric William


Vinduino’s Reinier van der Lee


LUKA EV’s Maurice Ward


FarmBot’s Rory Aronson


uRADMonitor’s Radu Motisan


Vinduino is a wine grower’s water saving project

Vineyard + Arduino = Vinduino

Given the current water crisis affecting the Golden State, farmers are constantly seeking alternative ways to reduce agricultural consumption. Take Reinier van der Lee, for example, who has developed a solution that can cut H2O use by up to 25%. And for that reason alone, it makes for an excellent Hackaday Prize entry.


The project, which is aptly named Vinduino, began as a necessity to better manage irrigation on his Southern California vineyard. However, it’s not just the U.S. west coast that is impacted by drought. There are 36 countries, spanning from Africa to India, that are facing similar situations due to lack of rainfall. With this in mind, van der Lee hopes that his DIY system can reach a widespread audience by making it open source, affordable, and easy to build.

As a whole, the system is comprised of calibrated gypsum soil moisture sensors, a handheld sensor reader and a solar-powered remote platform. Based on an Arduino Pro Mini (ATmega328), the Vinduino is equipped with three inputs for soil moisture sensors, an RTC module, a load switch, irrigation valve control, and wireless communication via either a ESP8266 Wi-Fi or a long-range RF module. Most recently, the Maker installed extra gypsum sensors and implemented a 4G hotspot for Internet access on his vineyard by connecting to the ESP8266.


“Using a single soil moisture sensor, you can determine when to start irrigation, but overwatering is hard to avoid,” van der Lee writes. “By the time the irrigation water reaches the sensor, the layer above is saturated and likely there is more water than the plant can consume. The surplus water will now seep below the root zone, out of reach of the plant, taking unused nutrients with it as well.”

Instead, this problem was solved by using three sensors. The lowest most sensor is placed below the roots, so it should never go off. If it does, this means that the plant is not taking in all the water, and subsequently, the output can be reduced. The two sensors above it monitor the H2O as it transitions through the soil, and adjust the water amount and interval frequency accordingly.


With multiple sensors located at various depths, users can actually control irrigation to not exceed the active root zone, thereby saving water. Rather than have to irrigate for an extended amount time and with long periods of rest in between, Vinduino allows for much shorter, more frequent irrigation cycles. The result? The plants will be able to absorb the water before it even has a chance to reach the level below the active root zone. It is important to keep in mind, though, that different crops call for different depths. For instance, recommended sensor depths for grape vines are 24, 48 and 60 inches.

Resistive sensors, like gypsum sensors, need to be excited with short pulses of alternating current to avoid electrolysis effects. The Vinduino interface alternates currents through the sensor, while a pair of analog inputs are utilized to measure voltages over the bridge. This compensates for differences in battery supply voltage, as well as sensor bias voltage.


Since the sensors are connected together through a soil resistance path, multi-sensor measurements can only be achieved if the sensors are disconnected when not in use. For this, Vinduino employs regular 2N7000 FETs. The handheld reader is capable of only measuring one sensor at a time, thus can use a simpler interface circuit without FET switches.

For vineyards, irrigation reduction is sometimes practiced in the days leading up to harvest in order to get highly-concentrated wine grapes. The idea is that the best wines come from vines that have suffered water stress. In case you’re interested in van der Lee’s status, his vines are doing well under the new irrigation regime.

Intrigued? Check out the Maker’s entire project on Hackaday.io here.