I’m Anna Katros, I’m Abby Rogers, and I’m Cassidy Carlson. We are all in the studio Hack the Cafeteria and our project this semester is Aquaponics: a system created to grow fresh food for the ASA Cafeteria.
We began this process with gardening in mind. Our main goal was to provide healthy food for the cafeteria, but we weren't going to stop there. We then thought of ways to innovate gardening. We started with the idea of a motorized, wheel garden that spins based on whether or not the sun was out. Then, as we brainstormed, we thought of hydroponics. Hydroponics is an above ground system that grows plants in water with added nutrients but all without soil. As time went on, we were presented with the idea to start researching aquaponics. Since there are many variations and there were many routes we could take with this particular idea, aquaponics seemed like a great choice for our project. Along with innovation, we were concerned with the aesthetic of our design and possibly an element of sculpture art. We finally decided on designing a unique aquaponics system.
The problem addressed in our project is our school's cafeteria and the unhealthy ingredients they use in our food.
Aquaponics is the solution to this problem by growing fresh herbs, fruits, and veggies, along with raising fish for the cafeteria to use.
This is an overall diagram of our project. As you can see, the grow towers are on top, while the tank is on the bottom. Elements of our system are all dependent on one another in a symbiotic way. The fish waste is pumped with water through the central tubing and it trickles down through the grow towers, fertilizing the plants. Additionally, the plants oxygenate the water, keeping the fish alive. Lastly, the fish habitat, which is located at the bottom, inside the tank, is wrapped with LEDs. It also has holes in it in order to eliminate fish exasperation.
For our system, we kept electronics to a minimum. We felt this project was our opportunity to get to know the basics of electronic hardware. Our system is equipped with LEDs, an arduino and motor shield, and a submersible, plug-in aquarium pump. The LEDs were programmed using Arduino and are wrapped around our fish habitat, illuminating the tank with rainbow lights. The aquarium pump is not quite as visible, given that it is hidden inside the fish habitat. Lastly, the arduino and motor shield are connected to both the LED strip and a battery pack. The LED strip, as it also needs a power boost, is connected to a battery pack as well.
Final Image 1:
Here is one unique feature of our design. In this photo is one of our custom molded grow towers. We formed it into a grow tower by cutting two or three lines, evenly spaced through the pvc pipe, heating the area with a heat gun, and then pushing in a wooden dowel inside the slit then twisting it, forming the grow pod.
Final image 2:
This image is helpful for seeing how our project looked before the final step. You can see what our project looked like before we removed all of the protective covering and added the plants and fish.