About this project
OsmoBot is the story of three hydroponic farmers:
James, the lazy farmer, who wanted to check on his system without leaving the warmth of his bed. Zach, the nervous farmer, who wanted to get texts that would let him know if anything went wrong in his system. And Paul, the info-geek farmer, who wanted to analyze everything that has changed in his system over the last year.
So, the trio invented OsmoBot and now:
James, the still-lazy farmer, can check on his system from wherever he’s lying down. Zach, the less nervous farmer, sleeps better knowing he’ll get a text if his pH goes too high. And Paul, the even geekier farmer, is using the correlations he found in his data to tweak his grow and make his next harvest even bigger.
How OsmoBot Hydro Works:
- When the box arrives, you’ll see the OsmoBot Hydro monitor, plus five sensors that measure the eight parameters you need to know in your hydroponic or aquaponic system.
- Get started by placing the sensors where you want to take readings, then plug in the power and connect OsmoBot Hydro through Wi-Fi or ethernet.
- That’s it! Your OsmoBot is watching your system. It will collect readings every 15 minutes and save them online.
You can access these readings, and the data from all your units, on your dashboard.
From there you can:
- Do a quick system check to make sure everything is OK.
- See how your pH has changed over the past week.
- Set up text/email alerts for when something goes wrong.
Why Monitor Your System Online?
For decades, hydroponics and later aquaponics were more art than science. Growers improved their operation through observation and gut-informed decisions. Now, with the emergence of affordable online monitors and sensors, increasing numbers of farmers and hobbyists are tracking their data online.
Dissolved Oxygen + Ammonia Sensor!
Traditionally, two of the most important sensors for raising fish, DO and ammonia, are also two of the most expensive.
We’ve fixed that. The Aqua sensor continuously tracks your DO and ammonia, plugs directly into Hydro, and does so at an affordable price.
How do we do it?
While most monitors use expensive electronic probes, we measure oxygen and ammonia optically. Aqua shines a precise light onto a photochemical sensor patch and measures the returning light’s color and duration. A few algorithms later, it can get an accurate dissolved oxygen or ammonia reading at a fraction of the price.
These photochemical sensor patches are attached to a clear slide that allows light to shine through, but keeps water out. These slides needs to be replaced every 3 months. Your Aqua sensor will come with two slides, allowing for 6 months of coverage. We expect our final retail price for replacement slides to be between $30 - $40.
What Makes OsmoBot Different?
There are a number of existing online monitoring systems for hydroponics (but not many for aquaponics!) out there. So what makes OsmoBot stand above the rest?
- Price: The next cheapest online monitor is 3x more expensive than OsmoBot.
- Data: Correlate system inputs with outputs and improve your yield.
- Sensors: We designed most of them ourselves and pass on those savings to you.
Since June 2016, we have shipped over 60 test units for use in backyards, commercial greenhouses, and universities. Here’s what our testers are saying:
Kickstarter Bonus: FREE historical data and text/email alerts! After this campaign ends, we will be charging $10 a month per unit for them. Any OsmoBot you order now will get all of these data features for free. That’s a three year value of $360.
Multiple OsmoBots: Want more than one OsmoBot, but not 5 Hydro’s? Direct message us and we can send you a quote.
The Origin Story (Long Version):
Zach was a worm farmer in Berkeley when he met Paul at a workshop and sold him a bag of crap. Literally.
Their conversation strayed from red wigglers to Paul’s hobby, bio-spheres. For several years Paul had been building these closed-looped ecosystems for growing food, and they had mysteriously collapsed on several occasions. Being an electrical engineer he wanted to understand why, so he built a few sensors, then connected them to the web for record keeping. This set light bulbs off in Zach’s head, since he had been working at a farm with an aquaponics system, and knew exactly how hard it was to keep track of what was going on.
And James... well, he was dragged in to remove the need for hot glue and duct tape. He stayed so that he could check on his kale... from the warmth of his bed.
A couple years and a few patents later they showed up on Kickstarter to share their passion and solutions with you.
OsmoBot Hydro is built around the 6th PCB board we have made for OsmoBot. With each iteration, we have improved its functionality, reliability, and price.
Three of those prototypes were based around the Aqua sensor:
For much of OsmoBot’s history, we worked to fit Hydro and Aqua on the same PCB board. In early 2016 we decided to change directions and make the aqua sensors a separate unit that could plug into Hydro. This allowed us to get Hydro out there in the hands of hydroponic farmers, without waiting for the final touches on our Aqua sensors.
What final touches, you ask? The main thing now is to put a sleek but durable case around the Aqua sensor. Back us today and get it at a BIG discount. We’ll ship you your Hydro first, and then once the Aqua sensor is ready a few months later, we’ll ship that to you.
We are proud to work with manufacturing partners all based here in the USA!
Features in Development:
Our beta testers told us they want three things. We listened. Every unit bought on this campaign will be compatible with these upcoming features, which we will release over the course of 2017:
If we hit the following funding milestones, we'll make the OsmoBot that you get even better.
Risks and challenges
1. OsmoBot Hydro is through the beta phase. The biggest changes we're making for the final units is that we've added a few new sensor ports and made a couple of them i2c compatible to enable automation. We have all of the components (PCBs, electrical, mechanical) ready, we just need to tell our manufacturers to hit go. Most of the risks are behind us.
2. The Aqua sensors (dissolved oxygen and ammonia) are further behind in development, and thus have more risks associated with them. As you can see above, we have a design for the final enclosure, but have not yet built and manufactured it. We proved out and built the electrical and optical technology in previous prototypes, so the main challenge now lies in creating that enclosure. We will be making the first series of injection-molding pieces in-house and will put the design through rigorous testing, first in our greenhouse and then aquaponics and aquaculture systems in the field.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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