Meet "PFC_EDU," the new PFC v3.0


#1

Greetings from MIT, fellow nerdfarmers…today, a new PFC joins the Food Computer™ family…meet, the PFC_EDU!

The PFC_EDU’s modular design has been in development and testing over the last year, and we’ve learned a lot from our community, especially our educators. We’ve scaled down the PFC_EDU from previous versions of the PFC in cost, size and complexity, and this lil’ growing robot offers a spectrum of sensing and control so that folks can make their growing experience as manual or as automated as they would like.

Watch our intro video for quick details, and everything you need to know about the new brain, chassis, software, and educator-friendly UI of our smallest bot is on the PFC v3.0 Wiki page. This includes some new materials and support for educators who want to bring Food Computers to their library, classroom, or museum.

At MIT, we’re doing research in the impact and functionality of PFC_EDU’s in classrooms and libraries this fall, continuing to refine the UI and design, and will keep everyone posted as we explore the future of open source farming.

In the meantime, take a look, ask questions, let us know how the PFC_EDU might help you, and keep growing!

high fives!
The MIT OpenAg team


#2

#3

That’s good news. According to this WSJ article, https://www.wsj.com/articles/perfecting-crops-with-ai-powered-indoor-farms-1539787501, you’re going to start selling kits in January. Do you have any more details on how that’s going to work? [update: see Caleb’s comment below]


#4

Also, lots of good pictures on Caleb’s Instagram:


#5

Hey @wsnook ! Reporters can be a bit presumptuous. We want to provide open source kits but are still working that out #hardwaredistribution is a tough cookie to crack BUT we have released now literally everything to build your own, have you looked at it?


#6

Yeah, I’ve been following your hardware and electronics on github for months now. The design looks great, and I’m intrigued by the adjustable spectrum lighting possibilities. But, arranging to manufacture that type of PCB assembly on my own is definitely out of my league.


#7

This is awesome.

It will make such a difference to peoples lives, how we learn about food and how we can develop the project in the future. Can’t wait to start building and testing this out.


#8

hey will, we hear you. you’re not the only one!

that’s why we’ve compiled all the files you need in one Github repo, and included links to vendors to whom you can send the design files to get a PCB made (or a chassis cut) in the Getting PFC_EDU Parts Manufactured on the Wiki. We’ve also added another page full of community suggestions for vendors.

as always, thanks for your input!
-h


#9

today ive been starting to build this =)

i got some question though.

is there any files for building the CNS ( Central Nervous System) that point which item in the BOM should be put in which part on the PCB.

for example XPEFAR-L1-R250-0061 need to put in which part of the PCB.

been trying to figure it out, but no luck so far
thx


#10

@Geosgaen0 have you been able to source the pcb?


#11

Looks very interesting. I’m not surprised we are all moving toward the “cube” idea :wink:

Digging through the documentation now. First Question: why did you switch to the beagle bone black when it seemed like most people were using the raspberry pi?


#12

I haven’t looked at the PCB files yet, but ordering custom PCBs is fairly easy these days. I’m sure we can help you out. I recommend the OSH Park guys because it had a slick click and point interface for those who don’t know a lot about PCBs (https://oshpark.com), SeeedStudio also has an easy service from china that accepts gerber format.

And gerbv is a great open source cross platform gerber file viewer. (http://gerbv.geda-project.org)


#13

@BioLumo, both of the topics you mentioned are being discussed in this thread: "Brain" openag-device-software Q&A for PFC 3.0


#14

cool. first question was answered. Second question:

I notice the ability to add optional advanced sensors with coaxial BNC connectors, but with lots of schools already having vernier type sensors in their science classes already (despite their weird brittish telecom connectors), using those type sensors could help reduce costs for schools in an education environment. Is there a reason you went with Atlas Scientific optional sensors versus Vernier? Just curious. I’ve seen vernier in a lot of schools. Never seen Atlas. Not saying that Vernier is necessarily the best way to go, but even lego mindstorms can integrate them.

In fact, this is the EC probe i already have. Don’t really want to go out and buy another one. Having said that, i’m sure i could probably figure out some way to make an adapter board with or without an arduino to use my vernier sensor. I’ll need to look at the files a lot more to know.

https://www.vernier.com/products/sensors/conductivity-probes/con-bta/

vernier does have some BNC probes, but i don’t see one for the EC probe. (https://www.vernier.com/products/accessories/bnc-electrodes/ph-bnc/)


#15

@BioLumo, the decision to use the Atlas Scientific sensors was two-fold. First reason being we have had a history with the sensors and they have worked reliably in the other embodiments of food computers. The second being it fit in well with our current paradigm of a single communication protocol in this case I2C. One of the biggest problems I had with the previous PFC was the use of various communication protocols and buses. Choosing one protocol helped streamline the code and hardware. One of our primary goals with this design was to start with a well build stable and reliable system to start, and then begin to optimize for cost. With this being said, we are looking at alternative sensors for pH, EC and water temperature, and I will certainly add the Vernier probes to the list. Another upcoming addition will be all of the conditioning hardware will be directly added to the boards to further reduce the cost of the various water sensors. Good question!


#16

I might be able to source the pcb within reasonable price
But the minimum order will be 20 or so


#17

@Geosgaen0, I’m on the issue I will update the Eagle Schematic file to include the associated LED colors to the channels, and will go through the BOM again to ensure everything matches up to the posted BOM.


#18

hey @BioLumo, thanks so much for these sources…we’d love it if you could add any folks you think could help to the Community List of Manufacturers on the wiki page!


#19

At Open Agriculture Supply (www.openagriculturesupply.com) we’re working hard to make the PCBA fully (or nearly fully) assembled available as well as a full PFC_EDU kit. We hope to have it ready for sale in the next few weeks. Check back soon!


#20

Thanks to the entire OpenAg Team for this!!! I have been digging into the files and have a few questions:

  • What is the Component for T3 and T4 on the board? I can’t find this info in the eagle or BOM files
  • The Solidworks Assembly is “blown up” when I open it. The parts are just everywhere in space. Has anyone been able to open the Top Level Solidworks Native assembly with success?
  • As Geosgaen0 Pointed out, it would be awesome to have a BOM that ties to component names on the PCB.
    Thanks again!