Farm Technology Projects

Discussion in 'Computers & IT' started by aidan, Dec 30, 2018.

  1. aidan

    aidan Member

    Im interested in all things technology hence Im starting this thread

    Has anyone ever made anything useful for the farm from DIY electronics and electrical gadgets

    Im on the lookout for a few projects and looking for inspiration

    Mods can move this thread if it should be somewhere else
  2. rollestonpark

    rollestonpark Member

    Burton on trent
    Done loads on the farm heating system. Mostly raspberry pis, with my own python code with temperature sensors, relays, rs485, mbus, optical probes, Ethernet relays and so forth.

    So 1 does the house Central heating, 4 zones, thus 4 temp sensors each with 2 port valve and pump and 4 channel relay board on raspberry pi with my own web interface. This allows me to set the heating temperature and start times for each zone, with different settings for weekends and a nice web interface to adjust it at anytime from anywhere etc etc. It also checks the return temperature from the heating plant is high, so that if the plant all goes offline, the pumps on the house shutdown, so it doesn't pump cold water around the rads etc.

    Another Pi Reads the CHP electric meter at midnight every night and populates an online google spreadsheet with the data, with a new sheet for each month, so I can see the performance of machine and use the data for ofgem roc submission etc.
    I have another Pi reading the 3 heat meters, read everyday at midnight with spreadsheet as above.

    Another Pi reads the return temperature on the main biomass heating circuit and when it drops (due to heavy load) turns off fan heaters in one of the sheds. When the temperature goes up turns them back on again. Has a web interface to alter the settings etc. This allows certain circuits to have heat priority over other circuits, but still keeps the boiler busy.

    Got others Pis wired in to the boiler and CHP to show on a web page when they go offline, can send me emails/push notifications if I want and so forth.
    Plus loads of other stuff going on etc.

    Without these Raspberry Pis, running my Boiler and CHP would be quite difficult.
    And getting someone in to do a custom job to control my specific setup would probably cost many thousands of pounds.

    Sheep, Storeman and Fruitbat like this.
  3. rollestonpark

    rollestonpark Member

    Burton on trent
    I've had no training in computers or coding.
    Whilst my coding might not be perfect, it works.
    But a bit of googling and some good books, and you can soon come up with something.

    Anyone who can handle a computer reasonably well should have a go if they need to control something.

    Just as an example with a Raspberry Pi with a resistor and an LED stuck on it and the few lines of code below:
    import RPi.GPIO as GPIO
    import time
    print("LED on")
    print("LED off")
    Just these lines will turn on the LED for 1 sec and off again.

    Now, do what farmers do best, think BIG:

    If I can turn on an LED bulb, then I can power up a coil in a relay using the EXACT same code and almost exactly the same circuit.
    The relay could then control a contactor, now we're talking, so now I can turn on my 3 phase motor.

    So wire in a temperature sensor to the Pi and we can turn on/off the 3 phase motor according to a temperature reading from somewhere.
    Or use the time of day, or day of the week or a combination etc etc.

    The Pi can also sense when a switch is pressed. Using just a few lines of code (bit like the above).
    Based on this info you could code for the 3 phase motor to turn on or off etc.
    So in my case if the CHP/boiler goes offline a relay is triggered (our switch), then fans can be switched off, because there will be no heat.
    You could add a delay in there etc if you wanted and so forth.
    So the Pi can sense all kinds of things and react accordingly.

    So to take this another stage further, you can write the code above into a web page, maybe just another half dozen lines or so.
    The webpage is on the Pi, so we use our phone to go to the newly made page and press a button and our LED light comes on.
    But we're using a relay wired to whatever, maybe a boiler or a fan heater or anything you like. The webpage controls that instead.

    So a Pi might cost about £50 to get running, but after that, you just code it to do what you want.
    Just start small, a few lines and test it, add a little bit of extra functionally slowly and test etc.
    You eventually get there.
    aidan, Clive, grimmy and 3 others like this.
  4. axelr

    axelr New Member

    Check out - for someone with little experience (hardware/software/python/etc), these are much easier to get going than Pi and marginally more expensive. It just works 'out of the box' with windows control software - and then you can write integration of "if this than that" style yourself. Or use various IOT graphical things like cumulocity

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