The Genesis Controller

by Matt Stone

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    1. Missing avatar

      Jack on January 28, 2015

      Hi Matt, I have been looking to develop an automation device for hydroponic growing. Your project solves the biggest problem. Please keep me posted. I am very interested. John

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About this project

Sustainable Microfarms is focused on creating a de-centralized urban culture through the development of new farming technology.

The Genesis Controller (pictured below) revolutionizes both residential and industrial purpose gardens by introducing a level of computer controlled automation.

What is the Genesis Controller? 

The Genesis Controller is a computer-automated device that makes Hydroponics easy and accessible to everyone.  Hydroponics is the process of growing plants in water without soil.  In ideal conditions, growing plants hydroponically can result in up to 10 times the yield per surface area of land using 70% less nutrients and 90% less water than traditional farming.  Until now, automated hydroponics systems have been complex, and only affordable to professional farmers.  Traditionally, growers have to add nutrients to their reservoir up to three times per day in order to maximize yield.  We created the Genesis Controller to automate this process using technology that everyone can afford.

What does the Genesis Controller do?

The Genesis Controller uses an on-board computer to monitor what your plants need using probes placed the reservoir that measure temperature, pH, and EC.  The Genesis Controller dispenses up to eight different liquid nutrients into the reservoir as needed.  The Genesis Controller not only saves growers time, but also prevents under/over dosing which is crucial to optimize the quality of the yield.

We transform hydroponics into a “plug and play” process.

Setting up the Genesis Controller is simple.  Connect the Genesis Controller to a power source, place the probes in the reservoir, and select what variety of plant you want to grow from the on-screen menu.  If the settings you require are not available in the menu, you can create your own custom settings.

Why is the Genesis Controller unique? 

The Genesis Controller is a breakthrough in hydroponics technology because it gives users the functionality of systems that are many times its price.  Sustainable Microfarms is bringing a level of technology to the public that was once only affordable to professional growers due to prohibitively high cost.  

We need your help!

Our team at Sustainable Microfarms has been developing the Genesis Controller for over two years and is finally ready to begin our first major production run.  With your support, we can make sustainable farming available to the whole world!  We have several pledge levels available, each one has it’s own unique level of awesomeness: 

About Sustainable Microfarms 

Sustainable Microfarms is a multi-disciplinary team of forward-thinking USC and UCLA graduate students with backgrounds in physics, electrical engineering, astronautical engineering, mechatronics, chemical engineering, and nanotechnology engineering.  Team members used their experience in design, product manufacturing, project management, and risk analysis to produce computer-controlled hydroponic technology that will allow anyone and everyone to embrace sustainable farming. 

Development Progress

We’ve hand made many units of our Genesis controller for development and testing but now we are ready to share this technology with everyone.

Over the past 2.5 years we have talked to everyone from the USDA and the US Department of Energy to YUM! Brands.  We were amazed at the support we garnered for our vision of bringing sustainable agriculture to everyone by making it easier and affordable.  Our computer-automated hydroponic technology even made us semi-finalists at a number of competitions including Caltech’s FLoW 2013, USC Messeh Engineering Entrepreneurship Competition 2012, and the Hong Kong PolyU Global Innovation Challenge 2012.  

The first unit was handmade and assembled in a lunch box with a DIY microcontroller and a breadboard for the analog signal generation circuits for our sensors.  Since then we have made several custom PCBs from board houses and sourced our chips from North American Digikey.  The final electronics are significantly smaller and more powerful than our initial production runs and are being manufactured by a Japanese company that works extensively with aquatic and garden products.

How does the Genesis Controller know how to dose nutrients?

 [insert how it works graphic (piecewise with explanations) ] 

The Genesis controller is programmed with the General Hydroponics Flora Series nutrients and has settings for each phase of growth.  After specifying what growth phase plants are in on the on-screen menu and what size reservoir being used the Genesis Controller will dose the required amount of nutrients and monitor the plant food/ solution to make sure that the level of nutrients in the water and the pH are optimal to ensure great yields! 

What kind of nutrients does the Genesis Controller require?

The Genesis Controller is pre-programmed for use with the General Hydroponics Flora Series of nutrients but can be configured for use with any nutrient line.  The LCD and push button interface quickly allows anyone to program in the nutrient line of their preference to achieve the highest quality yields, anywhere, always. 

[insert logo: Growth Technology, Humboldt Nutrients, Psycho Nutrients, Advanced Nutrients] 

TEAM BIO

Sanjay Kumar Rajpoot: has been actively involved in humanitarian work since he was 8 years old as is currently the only person ever to graduate from USC with combined degrees in Physics, Chemical Engineering, and Nanotechnology. Sanjay came up with the idea for the Genesis Controller while still in college.

Eric Ellestad: Our chief evangelist. Eric is a passionate advocate for sustainable farming and is responsible for helping forge relations with existing industry partners as well as opportunities to help out all over the world. Christopher Kang: Created the first mechanical designs for the genesis controller. Chris is a PhD in controls and systems at UCLA and makes everything from medical surgical robots to industrial process controls.

Emin Vartanians: Circuits and satellites specialist. Emin made the first production spec Genesis Controller and is responsible for all of the designs for controller boards that are going out to our users.

Christopher Kang:  Created the first mechanical designs for the Genesis Controller.  Chris is a PhD in controls and systems at UCLA and makes everything from medical surgical robots to industrial process controls. 

Harsh Desai: An experienced mechatronics engineer from India and master of controls and dynamics at USC. Harsh designed and tested integrated circuits and the mechanical systems required to fight robots in engineering school as well as boards to water plants.

Anisha Jain Mechanical: Currently an engineering student at USC. Anisha is a responsible for determining the industry requirements and usability requirements for our products with existing market solutions to ensure maximum compatibility.

Connor Poole: A controls and robotics student at USC. Connor handles our logistics and operations. 

Sandra Michaels: Makes sure everyone is in legal compliance and PR & marketing. Sandra is responsible for outreach and media.

Kevin Xu: A Berkeley Law School student and outreach/use case specialist. Kevin makes sure that our customers are easily able to use our products.

FOLLOW US!

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Risks and challenges

First, like with any new technology, change is scary. Traditional farmers are naturally risk-averse and unlikely to be early adopters of new technology. Additionally, the other stakeholders in global food supply chains fear increased competition and profit erosion. Secondly, these more efficient methods have knowledge barriers and represent the beginning of a farming revolution more than an evolution. Thirdly, they have traditionally been expensive and required large up-front capital investments.

Sustainable Microfarms develops and brings to market solutions that tackle each of these challenges.

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  1. Select this reward

    Pledge $2 or more About

    BACKER UPDATES: Be the first to receive updates from Sustainable Microfarms products, including future products you helped fund with your support.

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    THANK YOU! With this donation, you will receive the official Sustainable Microfarms sticker and be the first to receive updates from Sustainable Microfarms products, including future products you helped fund with your support.

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    THANK YOU! With this donation, you will receive an official Sustainable Microfarms sticker (for your new microfarm!) and hand-written letter expressing our gratitude, signed by each team member. You will also be the first to receive updates from Sustainable Microfarms products, including future products you helped fund with your support.

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    T-SHIRT: In appreciation of your generous support, you will receive the officially stylin' sticker and a Sustainable Microfarms t-shirt. You will also be the first to receive updates from Sustainable Microfarms products, including future products you helped fund with your support.

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    EARLY BIRD GETS THE WORM: and the sticker, and the t-shirt, plus: receive your very own GENESIS CONTROLLER for the amazing price of $900! The premiere product from Sustainable Microfarms will be yours before it's available to the general public, with this fantastic contribution. Thank you!

    (By contributing at this level you will help us secure the funds we need for our first production run!)

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    Pledge $1,000 or more About

    THE SUPER EARLY BIRD GETS THE SUPER WORM: Receive your very own GENESIS CONTROLLER! The premiere product from Sustainable Microfarms will be yours before it's available to the general public. Thank you!

    (By contributing at this level you will help us secure the funds we need for our first production run!)

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    Pledge $1,500 or more About

    GROW-PRO: You will receive TWO Genesis Controllers, a Sustainable Farms T-Shirt, and our official SMF sticker! You will also be the first to receive updates from Sustainable Microfarms products, including future products you helped fund with your support.

    (By contributing at this level you will help us secure the funds we need for our first production run!)

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    VIP DINNER W/ THE SMF FOUNDERS: Enjoy a night out on the town, dinner included, in Los Angeles with the founders of the Sustainable Microfarms team! You will also, of course, be treated to your very own VIP Genesis Controller.

    (By contributing at this level you will help us secure the funds we need for our first production run!)

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