2020 Capstone Team 10 — Automatic Watering System
The Final Product
On May 3rd, we submitted our final project. This included all prints we made for each component of the product, all the code used by the Arduinos, and of course, the product itself (left). Over the course of the year, we’ve made many improvements to the concept we first started with. After our first meeting with our client, we dove right into it, sketching through numerous prototypes, with each bit of analysis that we did, the complexities of the project unfolded. Our first vision had hopes for a partner app to control the system, a nutrient system, and even connecting it to a pipe system so that the consumer would never need to refill it. Those ideas might be flashy, but we quickly learned exactly what went into products like these. Having gone through the design pipeline on our own, we all are much more prepared for the competitive world of engineering and product design.
Our team was tasked with creating an automatic watering system for consumer use, capable of watering ten to fifteen plants without user input for greater than one month. This system needs to be capable of watering different types of plants, each according to their current watering needs.
The system is planned to feature a five-gallon reservoir, which should have the capacity to water six plants for over two months. It will be operated on an Arduino, which will use solenoid valves and submersible pumps to deliver water from the reservoir through the correct tubing to plants that need it, according to the moisture sensors in the pots.
My name is Austin Greeley and I am a fifth-year Mechanical Engineering Technology major at the University of Maine. I have a love for the outdoors but also a very technology savvy personality, which is why I have such an interest in our automated watering system!
In the last days of the semester, our team came together to work on our final report, the final drawing package, and a poster for the MET department to display. We polished our SolidWorks assembly, and our real one, preparing to hand everything over to our advisors one last time.
Over the month of April, our team worked diligently to produce our finished design. Once the housing was constructed, the individual systems that had been designed in the past months were installed and eventually combined.
We also prepared our final presentation to show our final product to other capstone teams and our client.
This month, our team is focusing on finalizing individual aspects of the design. The pumping logic was optimized, our 3-D printing process was improved and final prints were commissioned.
In addition to this, we prepared our materials for a design review, conducted by our mentor; Professor Howorth. This review covered all sections of our design, our mentor went through everything with us, and gave feedback on each section. This gave us the information we needed in order to turn our rough design into a professional, in depth product.
This month, we met many times, finalizing more minute aspects of our design, and eventually coming to a finished design. During this process, we found many details we had yet to consider.
This week marked the begining of the new semester, which we opened with an advisor meeting. During this, Professor Howorth instructed the team on the upcoming steps, the first of which is to finalize a contract with our client, so that the deliverables of the project are clearly defined.
December 7th, 2020:
Our group is now begining the final preparations for the submission of Interim Report 2, and planning how the next semester will look in terms of actual manufacture.
November 30, 2020:
This week was highlighted by a meeting with our advisor, where we discussed the new sections that would be included in Interim Report 2, and how to present them professionally.
November 23rd, 2020:
As the semester begins to come to a close, we are starting to lay the groundwork for our second report. This will cover our progress since the last, and also the design choices we will be making in the near future. It will also have several prototypes attached to it, displaying certain aspects of functionality that will be later adapted to the full system.
November 16th, 2020:
Work continues on the prototyping phase, writing software to accompany the newly acquired pump hardware.
November 9th, 2020:
This week we were able to continue prototyping, including programming the Arduino to work with the moisture sensors.
November 2nd, 2020:
After Interim Report 1, we are beginning to start our prototyping phase. We’ve purchased hardware and will be using it to demonstrate our design in Interim Report 2.
October 26th, 2020:
This week we focused on our first official report to our client, Interim Report 1, this covered the foundations of project, and the technology that other manufacturers are using in similar systems. A majority of this report is a review of the literature we will be in the first steps of our design process.
October 19th, 2020:
We spent several days this week sharing sketches within the group, working on laying down the architecture of the system, for both software and hardware.
October 12th, 2020:
This week we focused on finding optimal watering cycles for the average house plant. This required finding research to support different watering times and styles. We also made pros and cons lists for how we would be watering the plants.
October 5th, 2020:
A good portion of this week was spent doing Pros and Cons for various options in the design of the product. This allows our team to weigh options and make optimal choices. For the most part, this design is to make sure that the team all has the same idea as to what we are making.
September 28th, 2020:
This week was spent researching circuit components, as they would form the backbone of the system. With this gained knowledge, we were able to begin making decisions on what would best serve our goals for the system.
September 21st, 2020:
This week we met with our client, Erin Ellis, where we figured out the requirements of the project. Our goal was to find the priorities of the product, and which aspects we need to focus on.
September 16th, 2020:
Our team held the first meeting with our advisor, Professor Peter Howorth. During this we discussed how our engineering notebooks will be organized, and began moving from student work into professional work.
My name is Ethan J. Poland, I’m a fourth year in the Mechanical Technology program. I’ve focused on innovation, design and technical writing and excited to combine these disciplines into one project through capstone.