FarmBot [Part 3] Improvements. Can my robot live forever?
Welcome back! I want to show you which ideas and improvements I came up with to extend Farmbot´s life and make it look nicer.
After assembling the robot and connecting it to a water and power source which I described in my first post (go check it out!), I tried to see where it could need some extra protection, some covers and some help to work and run smoothly.
The first improvement I came up with is already put into place. The power supply is hidden in a box to protect it from light and rain. I also connected the Farmbot to a breaker and a light which indicates if it is powered or not.
I spent some time thinking about the electronic parts and how well they are protected if I just stick to the Farmbot documentation and I realised that motor housing, a valve housing and covers for all cables along the Farmbot would be a smart thing to have. It not only protects the electronic parts, but the outer appearance benefits as well.
I tried to keep it very simple, so I went down to the “junkyard” (a place with all sorts of leftovers, cables, pipes etc. on the property) and found some already used black plastic sheets. These black plastic sheets turned out to be very useful and I started to create housings which do not need a lot of additional work to be put up at the Farmbot. I covered the x-axis motors from underneath, created a housing for the solenoid valve and I covered up the cable junction area where all cables transition from the y-axis to the z-axis. In addition, the end of the z-axis towards the universal tool mount got a full cover to not expose any connections or the water tube to sunlight.
While figuring out how to put up the LED-strip to the main gantry I also thought about how I could cover the x-axis motor cables running underneath the y-axis cable carrier. My solution is an aluminium channel screwed to the y-axis cable carrier supports. The supports had to be modified in the way of cutting off the hooks which normally hold the motor cables. On the one hand the aluminium channel has a few advantages like providing a clean surface for the LED strip and covering up the cables. On the other hand the channel adds weight to the gantry which is surly not beneficial. At least the weight is distributed over the full length of the gantry. Furthermore, the channel has enough space for future add-ons like a small weather station and its cables.
What about the tool bays? I mentioned them at the end of the first post. The bays are designed to hold different tools and seed bins in order for the Farmbot to change and use them itself. Normally, the tool bays would be screwed into your wooden raised bed and that’s it, but the raised bed I am working with is out of stone. Moreover, I would like to not lose any growing space and considering this I liked the idea of building a support and putting the tool bays on the stone edge. I got an aluminium L-profile, drilled holes for the bays to be mounted and 2 channels to screw it into the stone edge. The channels allow me minor corrections and any necessary levelling.
One thought crossed my mind often and other gardeners agreed with me. The Farmbot would work best in a greenhouse. So maybe I will construct a greenhouse over the raised bed. I didn´t decide it yet…
Check also another post about the calibration of the Farmbot, the garden design and how the Farmbot can do your work without controlling it yourself the whole time. The real garden work is about to start! I hope you got interested and I can share my next steps towards an automated garden with you! Stay tuned!