Smart hydroponics and aquaponics with AquaShield – The hardware of AquaShield / Under the hood

Mar 16, 2020 by aquaadmin Category: Egyéb 0 comments

After months of development and testing, AquaShield is getting ready to be shipped to our first brave customers! Before getting into details we would like to thank YOU, our dearest backers for believing in our project and supporting us despite all the delays and struggles. YOU. ARE. AWESOME. But you already know that 🙂

So fasten your seatbelts, we are going to dig deep in the tech details. As AquaShield is hardware AND software combined we wanted to give you a quick showcase, how the final product turned out. We think we achieved a smart design and functionality and hope you will be as hyped about the final product as we are!

Here are the AquaShield’s main components and parts – read the details below

First thing first: AquaShield has a modular design, so you will only have to pay for the parts, you really need. There are 3 main modules: Control module, Sensor Module #1 and Sensor Module #2.

We have 4 sub-modules, that could be installed to the Sensor Module #1 and 1 sub-module that could be connected to Sensor Module #2.

The AquaShield Sensor Module #1 with the 4 possible sub-modules for PH, EC (electrical conductivity), ORP (oxidation reduction potential) and DO (dissolved oxygen)
AquaShield Sensor #2 with Humidity and Light Intensity sub-module

The Control module is the brain of the whole operation. The Control module is attached to a Rasperry Pi 4 that runs the AquaShield Connect, which is the “operating system” for your greenhouse.

The AquaShield Control Module with a Raspberry Pi 4 mini-computer
The Raspberry Pi 4 is attached to the Control Module (upside down)

AquaShield Connect is in charge for:

  • Providing local or remote monitoring and control through the AquaShield web app
  • Sending out notifications and alerts through email
  • Running all pre-set workflows and timing all triggers for controlling the active components (eg. pumps, valves, grow-lights, fans, filters etc.)
  • Providing a dashboard for displaying all necessary information
  • Storing all captured data (and also sending these data to the AquaShield cloud)

If you are not familiar, how a Raspberry Pi works, here is a quick summary: the Raspberry Pi is a small computer that runs it’s own software (in our case it is a Linux based operating system). The Raspberry Pi has several connection points for communication and we designed the AquaShield Control module to fit the Raspberry Pi perfectly. Also the Raspberry Pi does not have a traditional hard-drive, but rather it has an SD card. Your AquaShield will come with a previously installed AquaShield Connect (on the SD card) and the operating system is capable of self-upgrade, so you will only have to switch it on.

The submodules for Sensor Module #1 are PH, EC (electrical conductivity), ORP (oxidation, reduction potential) and DO (dissolved oxygen). You will have 4 slots for 4 submodules, but you don’t have to use all of them, if you need less sensor probes (eg. in hydroponics you won’t need dissolved oxygen or ORP, so you will have a PH and an EC submodule and 2 empty slots on the Sensor Module #1).

AquaShield Sensor Module #1 with the 4 sub-modules
AquaShield Sensor Module #1 with all 4 possible sub-modules attached


All modules are interchangeable (except the Control module) so you can create any combination to fit your needs the best. Eg. we have a project where two hydroponic setup and one aquaponic setup should be monitored, so we created a setup with 1 Control module with 2 Sensor Module #1 for the hydroponic and 1 Sensor Module #1 for the aquaponic setup. The modules for hydroponics only have PH and EC submodules added and only the one module for aquaponics has PH, EC, ORP and DO submodules.

The Sensor module #2 can receive 4 digital temperature probes (DS18B20 type)  and also could be connected with the humidity / light intensity submodule. The submodule is equipped with a light sensor (that captures the light intensity in lux) and a relative humidity sensors as well. We use 1wire technology for these submodules, so you can bind them together and create a map for light intensity if needed.

Light intensity and humidity sub-module for Sensor Module #2 (the huge circle in the middle and the little white rectangle to the right are both light sensors)

For operating the system, you will need a 12V power supply as well (that is not included in the package). Any type of 12V supply could do the trick (with at least 60W power), so there’s no need to order it from us if you already have one at home. We plan to provide these power supplies as well as soon as we start our new webshop.

You will also need some relays to operate your grow lights, pumps, valves, etc. but the type of these relays are depend on the goal you want to use for. But don’t worry, you can use any type of industrial relays, that could be operated with our 12V relays. It might sound confusing, but we will release a video out it soon, so you will know exactly what you will have to buy at your local electrical store.

We use MEAN WELL power supplies (DRA-60-12) – with 60W maximum power @12V (5A) and Finder (12V) relays but you can use any other type that is accessible at your location

Also there are no PH, EC, ORP or DO sensors in the package (only the modules where you could connect the sensors). We use Atlas Scientific products as these are reliable and reasonably priced products that fit our needs.

These are the probes we use:

https://www.atlas-scientific.com/product_pages/probes/c-ph-probe.html

https://www.atlas-scientific.com/product_pages/probes/c-orp-probe.html

https://www.atlas-scientific.com/product_pages/probes/ec_k1-0.html

https://www.atlas-scientific.com/product_pages/probes/do_probe.html

So here’s the real deal 🙂
AquaShield Control Module (with one water level switch – left above / Sensor Module #1 (with all 4 sub-modules – and Atlas Scientific probes connected to the module) / Sensor Module #2 (with one temperature probe – right below and light intensity-humidity sub-module – center above) / MEAN WELL 60W power supply / 2pcs of Finder 12V industrial relays

As you can see the attached pictures, we are already at the final assembly stage of the product. The hardware was thoroughly tested for all kind of different scenarios that we could come up with, but please keep in mind, that the software (the AquaShield Connect) is still in beta, so you could encounter some minor bugs. We will release updates continuously, but we could only update your AquaShield, if it is connected to the internet all the time.

In a few days we will release a new update that is focusing on the software: how it works, how you can monitor and control your setup the easiest way.

Also we will start sending out the first devices this week (hopefully the coronavirus won’t hold us back more), so stay tuned, and do not forget:

YOU

ARE

AWESOME!

Thank you for your patience and support!