"Harsh" environmental conditions


#1

Hello FarmBot

I live in Switzerland. Will FarmBot work and survive in weather conditions we have here? There is more rain and snow than other places.
For example: the motor covers do not really look water proof?

Fascinating project. Thanks for open sourcing it!


Can FarmBot resist the harsh weather conditions?
#2

Hi, they suggested putting farmbot in a greenhouse https://farmbot-genesis.readme.io/docs/put-farmbot-in-a-greenhouse

That’s exactly the same question i had cuz i am in Finland and our weather conditions are even worse


#3

Hello Mxmavo

Thanks for the reply.

I was hoping that Farmbot is built robust enough to survive in snow/rain and that a Greenhouse is only needed to improve growing conditions.
From the pictures I’m most concerned about the stepper motor housings and some electrical wirings in rain.

Because the water might freeze and damage the hose or watering nozzle the FarmBot would probably need to be disconnected during winter anyway. To build a freezing proofed greenhouse and water lines is difficult (having the water lines at least 1m into the ground or so?)


#4

Yes, I totally understand your concerns plus I could tell you about my experience from the paper production industry cuz Farmbot reminds me of quality control scanners installed at the end of the paper production line (scanning for any defects of paper). The conditions in a paper machine hall are tough. it is wet and hot. that’s why all moving/mechanical parts are get broke. that’s normal, if those parts are build to last for ever it means they are build for the space industry or sumthing ))) so i guess it is not yet the case for Farmbot.

To prevent mechanical damages and other issues yes I think that doing cleaning + inspections on a regular basis are the must in case of Farmbot.


#5

I’d also like an answer on this from a FarmBot representative. I doubt my location’s weather conditions are colder than Switzerland or Finland, but it’s definitely wet and cold for most of 8 months each year.

I’m particularly worried about the water line freezing, because FarmBot seems to be built for wet weather conditions. But cold can definitely wreck havoc on the mechanical parts.

I just want to know what I should do to prepare for the FarmBot delivery other than building the plant bed. Do I need to bury my water lines deeper? Do I have to use a greenhouse (as suggested above)?


#6

Hi all,

Sorry for the delayed response here (been so buys with the campaign!)

The 3D printed motor housings are water resistant and keep the motors dry through rain and snow/ice. Though we’re now planning on injection molding them (because we raised enough money to make that viable), which will only make them even more waterproof.

Regarding the tubing and frozen conditions - that probably won’t be a problem because 1) the lines are so small and 2) the tubing is ultra-flexible, so it can expand as the water freezes without breaking like a hard pipe would. The part I am most concerned about it the solenoid valve. If water freezes in there, that could be an issue, and to be completely honest we won’t know until we have FarmBots in such harsh conditions. From there we can recommend preventative measures or change the hardware accordingly if needed. If something does go wrong though with any component, we’ll be happy to replace that at no charge. The rest of the hardware should be just fine in cold conditions, but again we can’t know for sure that there won’t be any issues until we get feedback.


#7

Perhaps you can provide some of us “test rats” with extra spare parts for us to test in various weather conditions and report back.


#8

There are some new thoughts that might meet your needs in the newbie guide on limitations area. especially if you are willing to do a low level green house. Like a meter or two tall.


#9

http://www1.lsbu.ac.uk/water/density_anomalies.html

mdingena really we don’t need lab rats for ice issues.

roryaronson testing for ice failure is simple. Ice is it largest at 0 C after that it starts shrinking max pressure from ice is about -25C. Only extra factor is altitude. Fairly much plump it fill it with water and drop it in a deep freeze set cold after been there for a week to be well and truly frozen pull it out thaw if it works you know the item is fairly safe. Yes can be repeated a few times.

PEX plastic pipe is being used in more and more cool places instead of copper because it expands when ice freeze in it as well.

roryaronson some plastic tubing gets brittle when gets cold others don’t. Valves and the like have seemed to tolerate icing quite well as long as the pressure can be released somewhere else like plastic pipe expanding.

This is stuff that is fairly simple to test really. Testing for material break down in different conditions that is another problem. One advantage of freezer testing for this issue if you do break it and you have put outside to melt at least you are dealing with min and restricted volume of water. People living in harsh conditions if the testing has not been done by someone on the project I would recommend freezer testing the water line setup to know if it a issue or not. Cost of one valve is a lot simpler than finding the valve has badly broken with water on.


#10

Ground level or only slightly raised green houses for cheap


#11

If there is problems with freezing, perhaps a heating coil and temperature sensor could be an option on the outer casing of the solenoid valve?


#12

Will the products be able to survive in the Middle East weather conditions. Temp soaring to about 45 to 50 C. Has this been tested for the same.


#13

Not to pile on here, but since I live right by the Gulf of Mexico in Florida, I’m interested in learning about what precautions I should take for salt air and insane humidity.


#14

We haven’t done enough testing in extremely harsh environments yet to definitively say what will work and what will not in those conditions. The best I can tell you is that our FarmBot in Chicago has been under the snow and then thawed out fine in the Spring, and our bots in California have survived through 105 F (40C) without a problem.

Like all things outdoors, extreme temperatures and salty/corrosive environments will take a toll on the hardware. The real question is if something is going to break after 3 months (unacceptable) or degrade over 5 or 10+ years and just require occasional maintenance (acceptable). My guess (based on experience with my own farmbots) is that all of the hardware should withstand extreme temperatures. The only things I would be concerned about is the electronics in extreme heat or extreme humidity, both of which may require placing the electronics indoors or burying them in a waterproof box or something.


#15

It seems to me as though setting a farmbot up to periodically flush itself with (fresh) water might have value as a maintenance saving step. Any opinions for or against?


#16

Just seeing this post, and I am super n00b to Farmbot.
Regarding the electronics to temperature, I work in automotive electronics. I am thinking that its potentially possible to move to higher grade electronics that can withstand harsher conditions i.e. MSP430 micro-controller that is rated -40C to 105C (automotive grade). That’s probably an overkill, but many electronics are rated over 85C, just my two cents.


#17

None of the farmbots electronics are rated for anything but “office” temperatures and non-condensing humidity conditions. None of the connectors throughout the system nor the pins in the tool head are gold plated so they will deteriorate, even under controlled conditions.

There’s no “IP” rating on any of the weather seals, where they exist. The electronic water valve is not weather sealed nor is it even in a sheltered container. The electronics enclosure is open on the bottom so insects can build nests inside it.

I’ve asked for farmbot to provide what their environmental spec’s are, but they have not clarified as of yet.


#18

The current electronics are a big area for improvement for us. Anyone familiar with 3D printing will note that we’re using essentially the same electronics stack: stock Pi, Arduino Mega, RAMPS, Pololu stepper drivers. None of these electronics are meant for extreme conditions such as those found in automobiles, though when we eventually develop our own FarmBot-specific electronics we will be looking at putting in more robust components.

The power supply and vacuum pump are stored in a rain-proof box, but they are not IP rated. In Genesis v1.3 we are planning on moving the vacuum pump to a location on the z-axis and putting it under a plastic housing, removing the rain-proof box entirely, and sourcing an IP67 power supply.

Something else we would like to do (though it might be in future versions beyond v1.3) is have an electronics enclosure that is fully sealed, where everything inside is wired up to through-panel connectors. Then the external motors/peripherals/power would plug into the box with sealed connectors.

We’re also planning to develop a PCB for the UTM that allows it to be plugged in, with one sealed connector, and it will have gold-plated pogo pins as the electronic contacts for the tools.


Rubber grommets
#19

I’m glad to hear there’s a roadmap to improve these things. For my environment (inside a greenhouse) I should be fine. I just want everyone to understand the current limitations so that they don’t get to frustrated trying to use these in an environment they are not yet suitable for.

I’ve built lots of gear that is IP rated, extended temp, etc. It all adds cost, but it also adds stability and reliability.


#20

Is it safe to assume that while we are within “version 1.x” of Genesis, everyone can benefit from these improvements? As in, if you move the vacuum pump, I can do it too even though I purchased Genesis when it was below 1.3?