The Early Days

For years, I and my colleagues were living our lives; working full-time jobs, some of us going to school to finish up post-graduate degrees, and others hustling to pay bills or save up to buy a 1989 Mercedes shit heap. We were all quite different from one another. The work we did ranged from university professor and street artist to furniture mover and real estate agent. The one thing we all had in common was our love for growing our favorite crops using indoor hydroponic techniques. Whether we grew chili peppers, tomatoes or weed, it is through our efforts that we all met and began sharing ideas, techniques, giving and receiving advice and helping each other out during harvest time or when we had to move the grow equipment from one flat to another.

Over time, and through a lot of complaining about the labor intensive nature of indoor-growing and the difficulties we faced balancing full-time jobs, family and social life and our desire to produce our own agro products, we eventually stumbled across and began tinkering with single-board computers like the Raspberry Pi and Arduino. We quickly realized the potential behind these tiny computers, and began brainstorming ideas and ways we could use this to help us automate our grow spaces… quickly we found similar projects already in existence online, only most of them were tailored for terrariums, aquariums, or were designed to be weather stations and the like. This was the spark we needed.

In our free time, we bought a Raspberry Pi, order a DHT22 Temperature/Humidity sensor and a camera for the pi, along with some wires and tools. We hastily and sloppily put the pieces together, and whipped out the laptop and began muddling our way through some Python code, following online tutorials and throwing up a quick Bootstrapped website where w could begin outputting the data we wanted to collect.

To our disbelief, we got it to work. We were able to now see the humidity and temperature, as well as photos of the grow space on our website. Looking back, we were just happy that we got some simple monitoring capabilities, which gave us piece of mind while away from the grow space. No more wondering if the power went out, or if the room was getting too hot. At this point we were satisfied with our meager efforts.


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