Hey guys,I have a new idea I wanted to throw out there to the community. Lately I’ve been thinking about land use alot and how much I’d love to convert my entire huge & wasteful front lawn into a giant productive garden. What I’ve realized is that what I really want in a farm bot product is one that can encompass any size grid.
At first I thought this might be difficult but now that I’ve thought about it a bit more, it could be really easy to build. I was thinking you could have two parallel rails. One would be concerned with delivering electricity to a cross member via metal conductors running along it’s length. Inspired by a train electricity system such as a Third Rail.  On the other side, a water rail with computerized valves spaced one meter apart. Then the cross member (like in the farm.bot express) could be the thing loaded with all the tech and “dock” with the right valve to spray water as required. In this design I was thinking wheels on a closed track might be a better choice than using belts.
Building this would take some design iterations to get it right. OTOH, I could build a shitty version of this pretty fast but I’m busy with other projects. So I thought I’d see if anyone else was interested in taking a shot at it. If anyone likes the idea and can hack it together, I’m offering to donate $100 to the person who can demonstrate it first. Maybe if there is anyone else out there who likes the idea you could post how much you’d donate in this thread too and let’s see if we can’t get this shit done.
Hi, instead of a complicated system with valves and stuff for the watering part, I suggest to use the aluminum profile on which the wheels will ride as a water tank.you just have a pipe which moves together with your gantry, this pipe going into the rail which is full of water. Basically you just need to add a water pump somewhere on the gantry and you’re good to go, you’ll have water at any point without having to care about a very long tube, valves docking and other complicated things.
I made a quick 3D picture so it’s easier to visualize:
The blue part is the aluminum profile, which acts as a water tank wth both extremities being closed. The grey tube moves together with the gantry and sucks water from the tank using a water pump.
Excellent idea! Thanks for posting it.
This is really timely too. I’ve been working on my design a bit lately. And I’ve been seriously considering doing some fabrication. If I do, I am going to try to incorporate your tank idea.
One question - can you think of a way to modularize it, or does it need to be cut to order?
My most recent design is a 1M piece of aluminum with male and female connectors on each end, so you can keep snapping them together to extend the length of the bot rig. My first thought is to have a way to raise/lower the grey intake/hose to drink from different containers. Another might be to use something like rain gutters + gutter sealant for joins. IDK enough to know if that would be robust when storing instead of diverting. Some interesting things to think about!
This is a cool idea, but I fear it’d be price restrictive.
Also I’m certain 41m of that profile in the Australian sun would warp, twist, and heave/sag.
I’m attempting to build a FBINF (I’ve dubbed it the infinity…) where I need 41m rails (to cover 11 beds), and I fear 82m+ of that aluminium profile would be quite $$$$
I’ve considered having a small (say 20L) tank mounted on my moving framework, and as the farmbot moves along the rails it would have supporting infrastructure to fill the small header tank several times over it’s journey.
I also want my garden bed on a wicking hugelkulture bed though in order to reduce my water needs.
See where we end up
And I’ll be watching this thread and idea grow with intrigue and interest
Not sure if aluminum is the best idea health wise. In hydroponics we use food grade plastic to minimise the risk of getting metal ions released into the water and then absorbed into the vegetables. It’s standard practice in hydroponics.
Just using the thread to document my thinking on the food grade plastics idea. Using washed HDPE waste from the local landfill is probably a decent option here for a water tank. With good directions it should be pretty easy for non makers to fabricate a water tank on site using some wood they bought from the local hardware shop as a shaping mould. That new water tank could sit on top of a little shelf in the Any Sized Farmbot.
Another option might be to have a slightly stronger aluminum tank profile and you put the HDPE inside of it and then use a standard sized thing like a couple of stacked 2x4s for the tamper to shape the reservoir. Then you wouldn’t have to worry about the gaps inherent in a modular design.
Another idea. People could use hempcrete instead of plastic for the reservoir. I have no experience with it but my research suggests it can be watertight & is not leaky the way concrete is.
Well I mentinned aluminum for no real reason except I was looking at an aluminum profile at the time I was writing my post, but it can be made out of any material you want. Could be stainless steel, zinc, bricks, concrete, plastic or even wood covered in a plastic sheet.
I’d say plastic is probably the easiest way since it’s very easy to extrude, cheap, durable, and it can be butt joined with simple heating tools. That’s also the easiest way because you can just use a regular water pipe and cut a slot on it’s whole lenght.
It’s just the idea of having a water tank going all the way that matters, how to actually build it will depend on what materials you have at your disposal and many other considerations only you can figure out
Don’t spend too much time wondering, just build stuff, test and see how it’s going on, you’ll always have pros and cons about every solution anyways
I also use float valves in my setup which are cheap easy and work well to conserve water. Place from water tank to plastic gully https://www.amazon.com/dp/B081V6DMP2/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_apa_i_JchqEbQQ1MQ7D
Bump. Check out the new videos. Farmbot Express MAX & Genesis MAX look fantastic.
The method I started to explore/research was to use a “Skycam” cable system :https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Skycam
@sidburgess if you don’t need water / the weed drill, perhaps you should consider a drone solution. There are platforms out there that have great control features + will fly their missions and then do automated landings & takeoffs from their charging bays.
The water tank profile is an excellent idea.
Made out of food grade HDPE it would be relatively cheap and easy to extrude in whatever lengths required.
For power, why not mount some solar panels and Lion batteries on the gantry itself. 2 x 120w panels (6kg each) and ~300Wh of batteries (3kg) would be enough for all day operation and a couple of hours at night.
For a very large farmbot the shading is not an issue (just park it where there are no plantings)
You might need to upgrade the rail motors to NEMA23 for the extra mass, but closed loop NEMA23 Steppers are only about $80 each including a driver. https://www.omc-stepperonline.com/closed-loop-stepper-kit/ye-series-1-axis-closed-loop-stepper-cnc-kit-2-0-nm-283-28oz-in-nema-23-motor-and-driver.html?mfp=161-motor-nema-size[nema%2023]