Home made Smart Curtain - Control with remote, app and Alexa.


chiro3110

Member
Disciple
This lockdown and Covid situation has been harsh for many, and I would count myself in it! Due to the nature of my job (oil and gas drilling) there is no scope of working from home. That being said, I'm normally used to work like 12 hours a day in some of the remotest drilling rigs, so staying at home for such a long time is very dull so I decided to work on some mini projects namely in home improvement. One of the things I always fancied was a remote control curtain system, and this probably was the best opportunity to experiment on it. So, i took up this project to make 3 curtains in my room super smart, i.e. controllable via remote, mobile app and Alexa. For sure it is a DIY project.
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First things, had to make the motorized curtain track. It was done with the help of DC Geared motor (12V) with GT2 Timing pulley and belts.
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Next, comes the controlling. I used an Arduino Mega with NodeMCU which acted as the primary controls. Arduino was the main brain where as the NodeMCU helped it to be smart!
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Last the smart integrations was done via a smart IR blaster and Blynk IoT cloud platform.
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This is a video I compiled to walk through the process. It is a bit long, but there are timestamps on the description to skip to a section. Seek to 25:35 for seeing the curtains in motion.


Cheers!
Love to know what you think about it. Yes, the total cost of the project came to around 12k for 3 curtains, which if you compare to buying a commercial solution is very cheap.
 

skoka123

Well-Known Member
Adept
Very nice. I see that you also have some skill for watering plants. Do you have any instructions for that?
 

chiro3110

Member
Disciple
@skoka123 Yes, that was my previous lockdown project. It consisted of sprinklers for watering lawn and drip irrigation for watering plant. The parts were mostly bought from Amazon and a gardening site called PepperAgro . Both the systems were coupled to smart switches from Smarteefi (from Amazon) to schedule watering. If you are thinking of implementing something, let me know, I can help you pick out the things. In case you are planning with sprinklers, it would require plumber, the drip system can be DIY though. I can run through the steps to set you up once you have the things.
 

skoka123

Well-Known Member
Adept
@skoka123 Yes, that was my previous lockdown project. It consisted of sprinklers for watering lawn and drip irrigation for watering plant. The parts were mostly bought from Amazon and a gardening site called PepperAgro . Both the systems were coupled to smart switches from Smarteefi (from Amazon) to schedule watering. If you are thinking of implementing something, let me know, I can help you pick out the things. In case you are planning with sprinklers, it would require plumber, the drip system can be DIY though. I can run through the steps to set you up once you have the things.

I had setup with a solenoid timer (http://pinolex.in/index.php?route=product/product&product_id=89) and the full drip irrigation with emitters and mini sprinklers. I had to remove them all couple of months ago as I had to redesign my garden moving back to Hydroponics from Soil based. I was wondering if you had setup anything that can be controlled over the web via a mobile. I guess Smarteefi will do the web based control and remove solenoid based timer. I will still require a solenoid based gate valve to choose source water (nutrient solution or plain water). What would be good is a moisture sensor to know if the plants are running out of water.

I have seen a system in Israel where they are growing Grapes in a 3 L container. The plants gets watered dozens of times in a day based on the media (Cocopeat) Moisture. Every time it waters only 40ml.
 

chiro3110

Member
Disciple
I had setup with a solenoid timer (http://pinolex.in/index.php?route=product/product&product_id=89) and the full drip irrigation with emitters and mini sprinklers. I had to remove them all couple of months ago as I had to redesign my garden moving back to Hydroponics from Soil based. I was wondering if you had setup anything that can be controlled over the web via a mobile. I guess Smarteefi will do the web based control and remove solenoid based timer. I will still require a solenoid based gate valve to choose source water (nutrient solution or plain water). What would be good is a moisture sensor to know if the plants are running out of water.
I have seen a system in Israel where they are growing Grapes in a 3 L container. The plants gets watered dozens of times in a day based on the media (Cocopeat) Moisture. Every time it waters only 40ml.

Hi skoka123, that is a fine concept. I'm not aware of hydroponic, just read up something now and your comment, so please correct me if my reply gets a bit sidetracked.
Your system should be like this?
- 2 solenoid valves. 1 controlling fresh water, 1 controlling nutrient water. Both should be controlled from web / scheduled .
- Moisture sensor, who will read data and transfer to mobile app realtime. How many sensors would be needed?
- Check volume of water flowing

I haven't made such a solution, but you can think the following as a concept.

You can start with a NodeMCU, it has limited input out put pins. From it, the relays will be controlled - which would open close the solenoid valves. The C++ code on NodeMCU could be altered to actually open the water/nutrient lines based on moisture. Then the whole system can be accessed via Blynk cloud on mobile app. Manual trigger can be easily done, only the custom scheduling may need a bit research. This above system should be very cheap, I would say like 2k ballpark. Though yes you will need to be aware of coding a bit.
 

skoka123

Well-Known Member
Adept
Hi skoka123, that is a fine concept. I'm not aware of hydroponic, just read up something now and your comment, so please correct me if my reply gets a bit sidetracked.
Your system should be like this?
- 2 solenoid valves. 1 controlling fresh water, 1 controlling nutrient water. Both should be controlled from web / scheduled .
- Moisture sensor, who will read data and transfer to mobile app realtime. How many sensors would be needed?
- Check volume of water flowing

That is correct. 2 solenoid valves to control the water source. Ideally the design will have the whole terrace divided into zones based on the stage of plant growth. Each zone will have one or two sensors (more the merrier to get a better average moisture level reading). The sensor output will be read by a control unit (NodeMCU???) that will operate the gate valves. Volume of water flow is probably a major issue (at least for now) as the moisture sensor will kick in as when more water is required. It is probably a matter of tuning the gate valve open duration.

I haven't made such a solution, but you can think the following as a concept.

You can start with a NodeMCU, it has limited input out put pins. From it, the relays will be controlled - which would open close the solenoid valves. The C++ code on NodeMCU could be altered to actually open the water/nutrient lines based on moisture. Then the whole system can be accessed via Blynk cloud on mobile app. Manual trigger can be easily done, only the custom scheduling may need a bit research. This above system should be very cheap, I would say like 2k ballpark. Though yes you will need to be aware of coding a bit.

2K will be damn cheap. I have been so far detached with coding now (almost 15 years) making code changes could be a challenge. May be I can hire someone or get someone at my work to help me. Can you please let me know what all I need to get started?
 

chiro3110

Member
Disciple
Can you please let me know what all I need to get started?
hi, @skoka123, I think this Amazon wishlist should be a good place to start up. The NodeMCU can be swapped with Arduino the 'internet/wifi' component can be left out.
The moisture sensor has a screw pot to select the sensitivity and with that it is configured Hi or Low which will be put to the Arduino/NodeMCU. If Low, the relay opens up the solenoid valve to water and vice versa.
The nutrient scheduling need to be addressed though. The other challenge would be to make the zones. I would say each zone has one Arduino, 2 moisture sensors, and solenoid sets.
Then all the zone's Arduino's communicate with a central system wired or wireless (guessing powered by a NodeMCU which will help communicate with internet/mobile app.
How many zones are there in total? Also a concern would be the nutrient water and normal water are gravity fed, or you use a pump? With pump, it would be additional wiring/codes.
The zones definitely will pull up the costs.

May be I can hire someone or get someone at my work to help me.
Yea, this can be good idea, as I can feel the complexity rising.
 

skoka123

Well-Known Member
Adept
Thanks Chiro. I believe the cost will bump up to 10K easily as I would need at least a 16 mm solenoid valve. Thanks for the wishlist. I will start small and then add more zones. For now if I can get just the one source of water to work based on moisture that will be great. Are there any good how to guides for these kinds of setup?

May be I should start small like this one:
and increase it in complexity as I gain experience.
 
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rdst_1

Well-Known Member
Veteran
I have seen a system in Israel where they are growing Grapes in a 3 L container. The plants gets watered dozens of times in a day based on the media (Cocopeat) Moisture. Every time it waters only 40ml.

I know someone who practiced hydroponics quite succesfully on their terrace and even running full polyhouses for clients and their setup was much simpler. They were just using emitters with specific watering rates. Was your earlier system similar to that? Why do you want to complicate the system using moisture sensors? It seems like a great idea and something even which I wanted to implement at first, but talking to them it made more sense keeping the system simpler. I don't have real world experience like you though so I might be wrong.
 

skoka123

Well-Known Member
Adept
I know someone who practiced hydroponics quite succesfully on their terrace and even running full polyhouses for clients and their setup was much simpler. They were just using emitters with specific watering rates. Was your earlier system similar to that? Why do you want to complicate the system using moisture sensors? It seems like a great idea and something even which I wanted to implement at first, but talking to them it made more sense keeping the system simpler. I don't have real world experience like you though so I might be wrong.

Yes, that is exactly what I had in the past. I used to have a combination of emitters and micro sprinklers divided into two zones. I had a timer that used to turn on the solenoid valve to let water at specific times of the day. The problem is when you have around 250+ plants/pots not all plants need the same amount of water (or frequency of watering). The amount of water wastage used to be high as you do not want any plant to die in the summer heat for lack of water. The other challenge used to be when it rains I need to go to the terrace and adjust the water timings. (I was not aware of Smarteefi at that time.) I was mostly using soil as the medium.

Now that I have completely revamped my setup and moved back to Hydroponics, I am experimenting with various media (Rockwool, Cocopeat, Vermiculite, Perlite and Hydrotron) which are in decreasing order of water holding capacity. Also, the sizes of the containers are different. Currently I am watering them by hand twice a day thanks to lock down. Once I start going to work, it will become difficult to keep the plants hydrated unless I risk over/under watering. Earlier I used to use plain water but now I use Nutrient Solutions that it is not cheap. I need to be prudent in usage of water. The water usage of a Bottle Gourd grown in a 20L volume grow bag is roughly around 5 litres / day for a fully grown plant in this season while the water requirement for Brinjal is around 1L/day. This is where I think automation will help me in identifying which plants need more water and how to schedule the watering and zoning.
 

chiro3110

Member
Disciple
Thanks Chiro. I believe the cost will bump up to 10K easily as I would need at least a 16 mm solenoid valve. Thanks for the wishlist. I will start small and then add more zones. For now if I can get just the one source of water to work based on moisture that will be great. Are there any good how to guides for these kinds of setup?

Hi, skoka123
If you are only planning moisture sensor based solenoid valve open close, I'd advice you switch the NodeMCU with an Arduino (Nano is sufficient). Once you have them, (+ the power supplies, 12v - for solenoid and 5v - arduino) then I can help you with the basic code to get the thing up and running. But it won't be internet based, but moisture low start water, moisture high stop water...
 

skoka123

Well-Known Member
Adept
Hi, skoka123
If you are only planning moisture sensor based solenoid valve open close, I'd advice you switch the NodeMCU with an Arduino (Nano is sufficient). Once you have them, (+ the power supplies, 12v - for solenoid and 5v - arduino) then I can help you with the basic code to get the thing up and running. But it won't be internet based, but moisture low start water, moisture high stop water...

I don't want to bite more than what I can chew. Based on the advice on this thread I am thinking that I should focus on essentials for now and then plan on expansion of features. What is important for me is to know the moisture. If I use NodeMCU I can get a web based interface or mobile app to know what the status of the moisture is. I will use simple water pumps to run water in the drip lines. The pumps will be connected to Smarteefi / Helea wifi switches. Based on the moisture status I can manually turn on (via mobile) the pumps. I will worry about integrating the pump turning on and off based on moisture later when I know more about my garden's water needs.

Is possible to connect multiple moisture sensors to one NodeMCU? Also, are there any wifi Moisture sensors available and compatible with NodeMCU?
 

chiro3110

Member
Disciple
Is possible to connect multiple moisture sensors to one NodeMCU? Also, are there any wifi Moisture sensors available and compatible with NodeMCU?

Hi, @skoka123 , The moisture sensors it seems they have 2 options. Analog and Digital. The digital says Hi-Lo value only for a predetermined moisture level (adjusted via a pot screw). The analog however, will give you a current reading on the moisture. In case the first option you can connect multiple to NodeMCU but on analog mode, it will only accept 1 sensor.
 

skoka123

Well-Known Member
Adept
@chiro3110 Can you please look at robu.in. Is this a genuine site? I was looking for a nodemcu but there are way too many options.

My requirement for now is to get a notification on my mobile based on the status of soil moisture. robu.in has capacitive moisture sensor. Does any of this require soldering?
 

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