Our Plant Tweets Us When It Needs Water: How We Did It


Here’s how the story begins:
On December 9th, 2014 Ben Balana and Cooper Carrasco assembled an Ethernet enabled humidity sensor for plants.
The sensor is configured to Tweet when the humidity level is too low and the plant needs to be watered.
Sounds complicated, doesn’t it? With the help of SparkFun and Botanicalls, it’s easier than you might think.
SparkFun makes it easy by selling complete Botanicalls kits online.
This includes all the pieces needed to assemble the Botanicall’s device.
Comprehensive instructions are available on Botanicalls’ website.
You will need a soldering iron and some solder, pliers, wire cutters, and some tape.
Here’s where we began:




Before this project, I didn’t even know what soldering was.
I didn’t know that solder came on a spool or that it was a substance.
I thought it was a tiny torch that was used to melt metals together.
After a crash course on soldering by ANDesign’s Principal Designer Andrew Namminga I was instantly hooked.
Solder is like hot glue made of metal!
The best part is you can edit your mistakes.
By edit I mean you can remelt it, surprisingly easily, to rearrange or remove a sloppy solder.
It’s awesome!








We took turns soldering. After getting into the rhythm, we found that it was a zen-like experience.
We also took photos to document our process, and a time lapse video of the entire project.
Here’s the video:



Botanicalls was founded to develop “a new channel of communication between plants and humans, in an effort to promote successful inter-species understanding.”
In short, they wanted to give plants a voice.  The first version did that quite literally. When thirsty, the plants would call you on your phone and “speak” to you.
Below is a distress call sent out by an early scotch moss plant complete with accent.


They’ve updated from phone calls to social media.
Now, an Ethernet cable is used and configured to Tweet to a Twitter feed set up by the creators @botanicallstest
Our test was done on Dec 10th!
Here’s the Live Feed:


An Ethernet enabled humidity sensor is cool, but it’s only the tip of the iceberg.
SparkFun is demystifying electronics by making the most basic parts available to anyone.
 They have a wide array of Arduino boards and microcontrollers.
With a little bit of tinkering and coding, you can make electronics with endless possibilities.
 Their website and forum provide all the resources necessary to fabricate customized devices.
With the available products on SparkFun, your potential projects are only limited by your imagination.
I’m very excited to have found this website, and I will certainly use them for future projects.
The assembly was a surprisingly rewarding process, especially after seeing our plant’s first tweet!
It’s hard to believe that  this can be done by simply soldering these components to a PCB.



What can you do with SparkFun?

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