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FarmBot [Part 2] Calibration. First steps by your garden robot!

Did I get you hooked on the “robot is growing food for you” topic? Then I am glad you are back and evenly excited about sharing my final Farmbot set up steps! The Farmbot is nearly ready to be powered and unleashed into garden. 

First of all, the newest firmware has to be flashed onto the micro sd card and then it has to be inserted into the raspberry pi to bring it all to life. After a booting sequence you can connect to the wifi access point created by the Farmbot to put in your details of the WebApp. The documentation is very useful and detailed on how you can set up the connection between your robot and the WebApp. I will skip any further details to keep you fed with the more interesting input!

The Farmbot is connected and the WebApp offers you a full guide on calibrating your little helper. Seems like my wiring was correct, juhuuu!


Farmbot app 2


Before creating your garden and playing around with all the possibilities, the most important functions must be tested. Is your Farmbot moving smoothly on all axes? Sadly not! My y and z-axis seem to work fine and precise, but my x-axis movement is a disaster… After quiet a few hours spent on adjusting the belt tension, spacing of the wheel plates and breaking my head I nearly gave up.

The documentation as well as the community in the forum point out how important it is to have your rails as parallel as possible. For a good reason!!! A wooden raised bed will most likely cause problems, because wood works a lot when it gets wet and/or hot/cold. My Farmbot is on a solid stone base which eliminates these kinds of problems. Nevertheless, I had to realign my tracks as well as level them which can be quiet a challenge over a 6m distance. A laser is very helpful! In addition, I checked the tracks for any bumps and edges where the Farmbot seemed to have problems overcoming parts of the tracks. After some work with sandpaper the Farmbot had nearly no problems moving the whole length.

The belt is hold by the axis hard stops on each end of the rails. On the x-axis the Farmbot had difficulties to really hit the hard stops, because of the belt. I decided to create my own hard stops a few centimetres earlier to prevent precision loss when the Farmbot moves to the “Home” position and it works well! 


Alella Green Tech Farmbot


In order for the Farmbot to use the tools, you have to put in the location of the toolbays. The easiest way of doing it is to use the manual movement buttons to move it to the locations. Under the “Tools” section in the WebApp you can copy the current location for the different tools. Calibrating your tools only takes a few minutes.
Moreover, checking the functionality of the peripherals is recommended. My vacuum pump and lights seem to work properly. The water valve did not work. With the help of a multimeter I could determine the cause, and luckily the vale itself is not broken. On of the cables was damaged, but that is an easy fix. 

All done! Except of the camera calibration, which I cannot do at the moment, because I am waiting for the replacement camera.

I started to create my first own sequences. My first tries were small test squences for different tools. Something simple like: mount tool, go to location, dispense water, dismount tool, go home. These are the first little steps to getting your Farmbot taking care of your veggies! From now on I am designing my first garden and I have the “What should I grow?” question to answer.

Read more: 

FarmBot [Part 1] Assembling a gardening robot to do your work!
FarmBot [Part 3] Improvements. Can my robot live forever?