AUX Motor/Supplemental Lighting

I bought a Farmbot and have been playing with it but due to weather constraints (namely, being in Minnesota) I can’t have it outside. As part of my initial purchase, I bought supplemental lighting (yes, it’s bright enough!) with the idea that I could grow stuff inside with the Farmbot. Without knowing a whole lot about the setup, I bought a stepper motor and mechanism to lift the light system up and down by winding cable around a rod. My idea was to program it so before the gantry or anything moved, the first step would be to lift up the lights, do what it needed to do, and lower it back to normal height. Now that I’ve dug into it some I realize the difficulty of using a stepper motor and just doing what I want to do.

My first question is if anybody else has done something like this; growing with the Farmbot inside and programming a light system to move up and down. I’ve seen some posts that show Farmbots inside but none talking about a system like this.

My second question is if using the AUX motor port is an option. Again, I’ve seen some posts mentioning this but nothing definitive as to if it can be used/how to use it.

If neither of these is an option, I plan to just get a 24V DC motor to turn the rod and lower the lights up and down. I’d appreciate any insight you have to share!

Welcome to the forum @asteiner :wave:

While the Farmduinos do have an AUX motor port, we unfortunately do not have software support for it throughout the stack.

We originally added the AUX motor port with the thought that it could be used as a backup in case one of the main drivers failed, or be available for future stepper motor driven peripherals. Over the years though, not many folks have asked for using the AUX port for custom peripherals, and we have opted to simply send replacement electronics anytime there is an issue with a motor driver instead of building out a lot of software for a rare circumstance.

I’d say your best options are to:

  • Connect the stepper motor you have to a separate arduino and motor driver. Then write a small program for that Arduino that moves your stepper motor the needed distance whenever it gets a signal from your FarmBot’s Farmduino. You could wire the two boards together using spare Digital I/O pins: a pin to go Up and a pin to go Down at the most basic, but you could add feedback via another pin or two as well.
  • Use a 24V DC motor as you’ve mentioned, perhaps with the addition of endstops wired into spare Digital I/O pins. You’ll likely want to use Lua and the watch_pin() helper to monitor the endstops to turn the motor off when the lights reach their min/max positions. You could also use a mechanical clutch and simply run the motor long enough to reach min/max in which case you could just use basic sequence commands.
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