Project image
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$10,223
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37
backers
0seconds to go
Funding Canceled
Funding for this project was canceled by the project creator on Aug 31 2015
Paul F. SabadinBy Paul F. Sabadin
First created
Paul F. SabadinBy Paul F. Sabadin
First created
$10,223
pledged of $27,200pledged of $27,200 goal
37
backers
0seconds to go
Funding Canceled
Funding for this project was canceled by the project creator on Aug 31 2015

About

The Blue Marble System delightfully automates the delivery of the perfect drink to each plant in your planter, every blade of grass on your lawn, every apple in your orchard, and every vegetable in your garden. It uses state-of-the art, earth-friendly and inexpensive electronic technologies. Just set the system up and enjoy your perfect garden.

And Blue Marble will operate in your garden without ever having to change a battery!

Welcome to the Battery-Free Future

Have you ever woken to the alarming chirps of smoke detectors going off in the middle of the night? You run around, shocked but still half asleep, looking for a fire or some other problem. And then you realize: “There’s no fire here! Just a bad battery in one of my smoke detectors!" Ugh! Or have you thrown away a solar garden light after a few months? Darned Batteries!

Even rechargeable batteries go bad after a couple of years ... but that kind of thing won't happen with a Blue Marble system taking care of your garden. Blue Marble drip valves, lawn valves, and sensors are battery-free! They use proven new technology for energy storage! With typical use, Blue Marble power supplies can last for many years! "C'mon Marty! Let's go back to the future and look at your beautiful garden!"

Blue Marble: Optimize, Beautify, and Save ... Automatically
Blue Marble: Optimize, Beautify, and Save ... Automatically

Blue Marble:

  • Beautifies your garden!
  • Saves Money, Water, and the earth!
  • Watches for you for sun, rain, weather, and season!
  • Makes your plants healthier!
  • Lets you manage your garden remotely from where you are, not from the garage or shed
  • Puts no chemical batteries in your garden!
  • Works together with the system you already have!
  • Is modular - start with just the controller or outfit your entire garden
  • Is easy to install
Blue Marble: Wecome back to earth. Welcome back to your garden!
Blue Marble: Wecome back to earth. Welcome back to your garden!

How the Blue Marble System Works

The Heart of the system is the Blue Marble Controller. It is a powerful, Internet-connected, computer that, alone, automates your garden with weather based irrigation. The free app keeps you in-the-know from anywhere you have Internet access!
The Heart of the system is the Blue Marble Controller. It is a powerful, Internet-connected, computer that, alone, automates your garden with weather based irrigation. The free app keeps you in-the-know from anywhere you have Internet access!

The Blue Marble System is made up of five primary parts:

  • The Controller for connecting your garden to Internet Weather,  the Blue Marble App, and to Blue Marble devices in your garden.

  • The App which is your window into your automated garden from anywhere you have Internet access.

  • Wireless Remote Drip/Zone Irrigation Valves which live out in the garden but work with the controller and app to deliver the perfect drink to each of your plants.

  • Wireless Remote Lawn Sprinkler Valves and Shrub Heads which also talk to the controller to deliver the perfect amount of water to each sprinkler head.

  • Garden Sensors which live in the garden and wirelessly send moisture, temperature, and light readings back to the controller where they are used to schedule optimal watering
The cumbersome old way of doing things
The cumbersome old way of doing things

The Great Blue Marble Giveaway!

How does this work and why are you giving away Blue Marble System Components?

All backers of this Kickstarter campaign who back controller rewards, are backing it for a price that is below suggested retail. In addition, the first 100 pledges for the controller (the "First 100" group) qualify to receive free gifts of one each of the other Blue Marble system components shown in the chart above, as they are completed with funds gained by reaching successively higher stretch goals (see the chart above). The Blue Marble System components gifted to the "First 100" will be shipped in delayed sequence after the controller is delivered (see chart, above). Receivers of these gifts must pay for shipping and handling.

In short, with this Kickstarter, pledges for the controller are helping us to create our product, and the "First 100" may be rewarded with additional gifts of the other Blue Marble products as they come off the factory line! So C'mon. Jump in and change the world!

Backers who don't make it into the "First 100" group still get the amazingly useful, app-connected, and Internet Weather Automated Blue Marble irrigation controller at a price that is deeply discounted from retail. We will also honor all pledges with a 15% discount of their first retail Blue Marble purchase. This could not be more win-win!

The Blue Marble Controller

 The Controller:

  • Saves money, saves water, and saves the environment
  • Goes to work automating your garden with Internet connected weather after easy installation in new or existing systems
  • Comes with the free, Blue Marble App
  • Is a drop-in replacement for old-tech irrigation controllers
  • Accounts for garden zone sun exposure, soil porosity, slope steepness, plant water needs, and, of course, weather.
  • Controls up to 12 standard wired solenoid valves
  • Has sensor or timer based backup irrigation in case the Internet is blocked or unavailable
  • Allows for user tuning of the automated irrigation plan

You need nothing more than the controller and the free Blue Marble app to put your garden on an automated path to beauty!

And, when you are ready for precision automation, just plug in the optional Marble-Link radio and you are ready to wirelessly talk with Blue Marble wireless drip valves, lawn valves, and garden sensors.

Specs:

  • Drives up to 12 standard solenoid valves
  • Typical WiFi-to-router Range
  • 115V 60 Hz AC to 24 volt AC, plug-in, wall transformer)
  • (or 220V 50 Hz AC to 24 V AC, European plug-in wall transformer, per survery)
  • WiFi Standards: IEEE 802.11n; backward compatible with 802.11b/g Wi-Fi Certified. Security 64/128 bit WEP Encryption and WPA-PSK, WPA2-PSK security; WPS compatible IEEE 802.1X
  • ONE YEAR WARRANTY FOR PARTS AND LABOR
  • Warrantied for indoor use, only
Blue Marble: Time to enjoy!
Blue Marble: Time to enjoy!

The Blue Marble App

The free Blue Marble app is a delightful window onto your automated garden. It is easy-to-use and runs on Apple, Android, or from your remote Internet browser!
The free Blue Marble app is a delightful window onto your automated garden. It is easy-to-use and runs on Apple, Android, or from your remote Internet browser!

 The Blue Marble App:

  • Is free with the purchase of Blue Marble garden products!
  • Is your window into automated, user-friendly, precision irrigation
  • Runs on Apple, Android, or your remote Internet connected browser
  • Enables you to adjust Blue Marble automated irrigation to your preference
  • Allows you to monitor your garden’s health by graphically displaying installed Blue Marble sensors moisture, temperature, and light levels
  • Can optionally manage multiple irrigation sites or properties

With the Blue Marble App you can be always be in your garden even if you can't be at your garden!

The Blue Marble Irrigation Drip/Zone Valve

Blue Marble remote app-controlled drip/zone valves work with the controller to deliver the perfect drink to every plant in your garden- battery free!
Blue Marble remote app-controlled drip/zone valves work with the controller to deliver the perfect drink to every plant in your garden- battery free!

Blue Marble Drip/Zone Valves

(Blue Marble Drip/Zone Valves may be delivered as free gifts through this Kickstarter to a select few and will otherwise soon be available.)

  • Save Water, Save the environment, save money!
  • Are wireless, battery-free valves for perfecting and balancing irrigation in your garden
  • Can control a single or set of sprinklers, a small drip area, or a larger drip zone
  • Solar recharges even on cloudy days and in the shade
  • Allows for user adjustment (%) of controller automated irrigation
  • Communicates and works with the Blue Marble controller and an upstream standard irrigation valve
  • Can be linked to Blue Marble Garden sensors for even better irrigation control
  • Send alerts to your app in case of foliage overgrowth or other important conditions
  • Designed to last years without replacement!

Sub-divide your irrigation zones with one or more Blue Marble valves and dole out just sips of water to your more hardy plants while giving a deeper drink to the few that need more.

The future is drip irrigation and Blue Marble valves work for you to help automate your future.

Specs:

  • ¾ inch standard threads (similar flow as standard valves)
  • 30 gpm. flow capacity
  • Typical Radio Range: 300 m (about 900 ft)
  • Will operate for 48 hours in pitch black
Blue Marble: Easy on you. Good for everybody.
Blue Marble: Easy on you. Good for everybody.

The Blue Marble Lawn Valve

Blue Marble remote controlled lawn valves work with the controller and your sprinkler heads to put an end to lawn over-watering and water waste. Attach just one or outfit all your sprinklers for a precisely beautified lawn.
Blue Marble remote controlled lawn valves work with the controller and your sprinkler heads to put an end to lawn over-watering and water waste. Attach just one or outfit all your sprinklers for a precisely beautified lawn.

Blue Marble Lawn Valves:

  • Save water,  save money, save the earth!
  • Are individually controlled, wireless, battery-free lawn sprinkler valves that simply screw onto existing sprinkler outlets
  • Install just one to clear up that mud puddle or outfit an entire zone of sprinklers
  • Battery-free rechargeable devices that can last years!
  • Communicate and work with the Blue Marble controller and your upstream standard irrigation valves
  • Allow for user adjustment (%) of controller automated irrigation
  • Can be linked to Blue Marble Garden sensors for even better irrigation control

Blue Marble lawn valves communicate with the controller to beautify your lawn and smartly control water use.

Specs:

  • Standard ½ inch female sprinkler threads
  • Accepts standard ½ inch female sprinkler bodies
  • Typical Radio Range: 10 to 100 m (30 to 900 feet)

The Blue Marble Garden Sensor

Blue Marble sensors measure soil moisture, temperature, and light to adjust the amount of water sent to Blue Marble valves. You can give your sensors namess like "Shady Spot" or "Sunny Spot".
Blue Marble sensors measure soil moisture, temperature, and light to adjust the amount of water sent to Blue Marble valves. You can give your sensors namess like "Shady Spot" or "Sunny Spot".

Blue Marble Garden Sensors:

  • Are wireless, solar, and battery-free garden sensors that meter out the perfect drink for plants under their care.
  • Link with on-site Blue Marble drip and lawn valves for more precise irrigation control
  • Install just one or install several for more precise control of irrigation zones such as shady, sunny, or low-lying areas.
  • Measure soil moisture, garden temperature, and light level

Blue Marble Garden Sensors live in your garden keeping vigil over water use and ensuring healthy plant growth.

Specs:

  • Typical Radio Range: 10 to 100 m (30 to 900 feet)

Bringing Blue Marble to Life (for the techies)

“They're only sprinklers!” Yeah. Right! I worked for so many years in hi-tech that I was certain the design and manufacture of the Blue Marble system would be a piece of cake!

Just a few of the many Blue Marble prototypes, experiments, and circuits built along the way.
Just a few of the many Blue Marble prototypes, experiments, and circuits built along the way.

Not so fast. In hi-tech irrigation, you’ve got almost all the challenges of engineering and physics to deal with:

  • Hydraulics, pressures, flows, seals, and forces
  • Electro-magnetics in the valve actuators
  • Electronics (Careful! Water and electronics don’t like to live with each other)
  • 3D solids design and 3D printing (a tiny mistake can cost 3 weeks!)
  • Radio frequency communication and propagation
  • Weather and climate analysis and prediction
  • Client software and User Interface Design (the App)
  • Server side software (the Blue Marble controller and Internet Cloud communications)
  • Embedded Software - each device has a programmed computer (microcontroller) in it
  • Power management (these are cutting edge, ultra low power circuit designs. Remember – no batteries!)

And much more …

Engineering as Beauty. Invention as Journey,Technology as Art

I don't know how others interpret it, but to me, all of this engineering is, truly, challenging, and beautiful art. And sincerely, first, and foremost, I have been motivated in this project to leave something that, like art, betters people's lives, elevates them, and betters the world in which we live.

Art? Yes, art. Like an artist’s imagination is limited by the real constraints of their medium (paint, bronze, marble, or tone), so too is a creation of engineering constrained by current technologies, physics, and economics. Work on the Blue Marble System has truly been a challenge in the art of creation. The journey has been breathtaking and has only just begun.

Please Help Bring Blue Marble to Life!

I have so enjoyed this creative journey and hope that you, too, find that the art of a Blue Marble system brings joy and beauty to you and your garden and is able to improve your life in some small way.

Nearing the Kickstarter launch, I wanted to put together some of the things I did and some of the people who helped and supported me and those I left little time for. When I was done with the image, I looked, and all I saw were the people.
Nearing the Kickstarter launch, I wanted to put together some of the things I did and some of the people who helped and supported me and those I left little time for. When I was done with the image, I looked, and all I saw were the people.

There is one, singular, person I wish to thank more than all. She toiled while I "played". Everyone knows who I am talking about. Thank you, darling, for believing in me and allowing me to try.

Still, quite a number of people gave of their time and talent to make it possible for me to offer Blue Marble and, without going through a long list of names, I here, sincerely thank you all. I must thank two other people, particularly who have been deeply involved in helping me to bring this project to you:

Edward Zamora: I asked Edward for help with the electronics when found that I simply could not put enough time in on them to make them happen. Edward is a Cal Poly computer engineering wizard. He sharpened his technical skills and quickly went to work completing hardware designs and writing firmware, substantially contributing to bringing Blue Marble into the world. Thank you, Edward!

Ken Bruckman: Ken came to help when I started looking at way to actually build Blue Marble into a real and deliverable commercial system. He applied his decades of manufacturing experience to navigating us through the sourcing of the initial production of our product line. He continues to apply the same skills to helping move the other Blue Marble components through product manufacturing and into the real world. Keep the factory wheels rolling, Ken!

Fail or succeed, this is what I have wanted to do my entire life. From the first science experiments my mom did with me in answer to my questions of curiosity, to my late nights hitting the tech books, this is what I was meant to do. It is so unlike working for big, bottom-line corporations that I have always worked for. No, this is more consistent, in every way, with who I would like to be: a steward of this earth, generous to its people, creative with my gifts, and to be allowed to earn my way. In short, this is my dream and my calling! I will do my best to make it real for you, as well as for me.

Please order your Blue Marble System today! Enjoy your garden, save water, and help to usher in a new era of precision irrigation, and live my dream with me.

And thank you for letting us offer it to you on Kickstarter!

Risks and challenges

Risk Management:
Being trained as a systems engineer at Boeing I worked with and was mentored by some of the best engineers in world, some of whom had worked on the original GPS satellites and the Space Shuttle. I learned there that any system is as strong only as its weakest link and any project would fail first by its highest risk component. In the development of the Blue Marble System, we prioritized our prototyping and testing to first address and hammer down what we saw as the highest technical risks while addressing the more mature technologies by the straight forward application of standard engineering design and labor.

One of the highest risk decisions was to make the Blue Marble system battery-free. I wanted this, very badly, as I believed that a system with several, tens, or even hundreds of unreliable chemical batteries scattered about a garden or farm, is the definition of a reliability and maintenance nightmare. I believe that, over time, any system with batteries will end up an unused and discarded relic of what might otherwise have been a great idea. I believe that a zero-battery system is the only thing that can be maintained and continue to add value for many years into the future.

Much engineering effort was expended to make the system operate without batteries. We focused like a laser beam on high efficiency circuit design and firmware to squeeze the most energy out of every photo-electron captured from the sun. And, we reached our goal, being able to offer you a garden without batteries!

The same goes for the choice of glass, instead of plastics, for covering the solar cells of Blue Marble field devices. Like what has happened in only a few months to many solar garden lights, plastic covers can yellow, blocking light from the solar cell, and quickly rendering the devices useless. We intend to use glass so that this does not happen to Blue Marble devices.

We have avoided problems by simplifying Blue Marble field devices (valves and sensors) to doing just one task and doing it well, and only when told to do so by the Blue Marble Controller. Instead, we have put more Intelligence into the controller, which can be updated, or even remote-help managed, from over the internet. Thus, any problems that might come up will be far easier to fix.

Blue Marble Field Device FCC Certification
Blue Marble uses radios to communicate. To use the controller with WiFi, alone, we are "scott free" and no further FCC certification is required. However, to enable battery-free operation, Blue Marble sensors and valves in the field use a second type of radio: our Marble-Link Radio.To that end, Blue Marble, Inc. must have our Marble-Link radios FCC certified (at great cost) before we ship our field devices. They have been built with FCC "conformance" in mind, but we still have to actually pay for and pass FCC communications/interference tests. We are confident that they will pass such tests, but this is still unknown until it actually happens.

Prototype to Production Software
We have built the highest risk portions of the Blue Marble controller, app, and cloud software. However, there are still a modules that must be produced and a better pretty face (UI) be put on them. Most of this is being done by leveraging well-known online web service providers with stellar reputations. Still, the software components must be assembled together and the user interface finalized. This will be done in parallel with hardware production. Still some risk, particularly in terms of schedule, can be encountered with any software or hardware project and that must be understood.

Product packaging updates
There are planned packaging (physical housing of devices) updates to ensure reliable and leak-proof valves and sensors. Blue Marble devices will look similar, but not identical to their prototypes. Because plastic expands and contracts with temperature far more than does glass, we have found, for instance, that some moisture leakage into the electronics compartment can occur. Cost-effective manufacturing of parts with sophisticated electronics housed in the same device with water under pressure, is also a challenge. The net effect is that these kinds of components are tending to be 10% to 20% larger than our prototype designs. A small re-design of the seal between glass and plastic will be also performed before drip, lawn valve, and sensor production is engaged.

The controller, however, is a highly valuable device which has no such challenges so that it can be delivered significantly earlier than the field devices and can be immediately installed to bring the joy of app-controlled and weather-automated irrigation to your garden. Note that the controller, though ultimately designed to be weather proof, is NOT certified to be so (one reason is extreme, solar-baked temperatures could kill the running unvented electronics in seconds).

As the the valves and field devices come on line, they can easily be added to the existing Blue Marble system. Delivering field devices later allows us to focus more specifically on executing delivery of the controller, which is the heart of the Blue Marble System.

Electronic Chip Supply Hurdles
The home automation and Internet of Things (IoT) industries are changing very rapidly. Already during development, a large integrated circuit manufacturer replaced one of our necessary parts with a new one and then changed the new part yet again. We had to redesign once, and now have to take some time do some minor circuit and firmware redesign again and make the power supply compatible with the electronic parts changes. We do not see much of an issue here except for time for circuit and firmware mods and a slight increase in cost for adding a, now necessary, DC-to-DC converter (which is already reflected in the reward price). We do not expect issues, but we must now spend some extra design, build, and test time to ensure that the new circuit variation works as expected. This is already reflected in the longer delivery time of the field devices.

Blue Marble is advanced and cutting edge distributed fluid control technology and the supply of advanced electronic parts is expected not to, but could, delay assembly and shipping.

Manufacturing
We have worked with our experienced contract manufacturer to nail down cost and schedule for injection mold fabrication, printed circuit board production, valve actuator and seal production, and device final assembly. We are confident in being able to execute the production and delivery of your products on schedule and budget. We have reserved a modest margin in our Kickstarter goal to handle any surprises that may happen along the way through production and order fulfillment.

Fulfillment
We are working with a fulfillment specialist who, upon first reaching our Kickstarter goal, is standing by and ready to start the management, packaging, and shipping of your orders as they are completed.

With the years of experience of the Blue Marble engineering, manufacturing, and fulfillment team, we are excited to be able to deliver this most useful and amazing new product for your enjoyment.

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Support

  1. Select this reward

    Pledge $25 or more About $25

    HONOR BLUE - Your name will be listed on the Blue Marble, Inc. Founder's Wall as a founding contributor and displayed in Blue Marble, Inc. Headquarters.

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    Pledge $159 or more About $159

    BLUE LIGHTNING- EARLY BIRD

    One Blue Marble Internet connected controller at an amazing $90 off of suggested retail price.
    (early backers qualify for inclusion in "First 100" free gift campaign - act fast!)

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    Pledge $179 or more About $179

    AMAZING BLUE

    One amazing Blue Marble Internet connected controller at our introductory price of $70 off of retail.

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    DOUBLE BLUE

    Two amazing Blue Marble Internet connected controllers, each at $75 off of retail price.

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    Pledge $845 or more About $845

    BLUE BUNDLE

    Five amazing Blue Marble Internet connected controllers, each at $80 off of retail price.

    (early backers can qualify for up to five positions in the "First 100" free gifts campaign - act fast!)

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    Pledge $1,640 or more About $1,640

    INTO BLUE

    Ten amazing Blue Marble Internet connected controllers, each at $85 off of retail price.

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Funding period

- (60 days)