The TechTOWER design is comprised of 5 sections
1: WATER COLLECTION
I used a 55 gallon drum in our prototype to collect rainwater from a gutter. The size is not important…what matters is how you use it.
Gravity may do most of the work in moving the water. If the container is not raised, it will be necessary to use a pump.
In my design, the container was raised 30″ off the ground in a structure designed to resemble a municipal water tower. The quirky design is not required, but is entertaining.
Approximate expenses for my prototype water collection section of the TechTOWER system were $190 and included a 55 GALLON BARREL and MATERIALS FOR WATER TOWER STAND.
The electronic section of the TechTOWER system is comprised of seven separate components.
We start with a Solar Panel connected to a regulator, which ensures that the connected battery does not overcharge.
This component changes the output of the batteryso as not to overpower the controller.
A Particle Photon is the controller of the entire system and the brain of the operation. It is managed through a mobile interface, and can be synced up to an AI assistant. It is comprised of two different general purpose input/output types:
Digital: These give and receive yes/no and on/off signals.
Analog: These give and receive signals of degree (e.g. a dimming light or a variable speed motor).
In a reversal of the process a relay makes sure the valve gets enough energy, despite being connected to a low voltage controller.
Depending on the various inputs to the controller, the solenoid valve will be told to open or close. When open, it will release the water collected from the rain into the raised bed.
Approximate expenses for the electronics section of the TechTOWER system were $191 and included a SOLAR PANEL, SOLAR CHARGE REGULATOR, 12 VOLT BATTERY AND 12 TO 5 VOLT CONVERTER, PARTICLE PHOTON, 5 VOLT RELAY, 12 VOLT SOLENOID VALVE, and an ALEXA ECHO.
3: THE RAISED BED / DRIP LINE
The raised bed is, of course, where the plants are planted and where they receive water from the TechTOWER through a drip line irrigation system. A drip line irrigation system is essentially a segment of tubing with holes running along it, allowing water to be distributed to all the plants in the bed evenly.
Approximate expenses for the raised bed/drip line section of the TechTOWER system were $112 and included MATERIALS for the RAISED BED and DRIP LINE.
4: THE MOBILE INTERFACE
We used an app called BLYNK to allow remote access to the controller of the TechTOWER via a mobile device. The app uses a simple, drag-and-drop interface that requires no coding experience. Using the application builder within BLYNK, an individual can set the necessary commands to run the system.
The BLYNK APP is Free.
5: The AI INTERFACE
Particle, the company that produces the controller of our system, offers a resource they call Particle Library, which they describe as “a collection of reusable firmware code that can be easily added to one or many Particle projects.” The firmware code entitled Library “EchoPhotonBridge” will program the Photon to turn on and off through voice command.
The LIBRARYECHOPHOTONBRIDGE is Free.