V2 Food Computer Kit Build


A group of #nerdfarmers is getting the ball rolling on Fenome Food Computer kits that we received, and we would like you to learn with us. We (@jimbell, @ceav2b, @Webb.Peter, @ferguman and others) are having weekly builds at the TechShop here in St. Louis, and invite anyone in the OpenAg community to come join us. We will be documenting the process as we go and encourage you to take a look at our google drive: https://drive.google.com/open?id=0B2NlK1wy3dgjM0t6R0tnZ1pDXzg

For the first week we decided to take the kit apart, and take pictures of all of the individual parts. As we continue to build each week we will document the process in this google drive with pictures. Check out the first week now!

If you have any questions, or would like more information and pictures of specific components please let us know and we can oblige. We feel extremely fortunate to be beta testers of the kits and want to give a big thank you to the entire team at Fenome for this opportunity and the great work they’re doing.

Bill of Materials question for current PFC v2.0 makers
Complete design of the personal food computer (and possible alternatives of some components)
Farmbot++ combining Farmbot and PFC
Reading sensor data
Can not compile code form github.com : Missing links
$300 Food Computer - MVP

I might have lose some entries to the forum lately, but,
What is a Fenome kit?
A quick search on the forum indicates this is the first mention.
A quick web search indicates that MIT Open Ag has applied for trademark on Fenome, and the pictures show some components not generally available (GE Leds and refrigeration system, for instance).
Any further information would be much appreciated.


@Caleb Could you explain this one? I’ve seen a few short references here and there to a spinoff in Utah, so I’m guessing that startup and Fenome are the same thing. Are they going to sell PFC2 kits? Is there other stuff in the works?


@juanmak @wsnook

Just to quickly clear things up,

Fenome ( http://fenome.com/ ) is the startup mentioned in Caleb’s medium post: https://medium.com/@calebgrowsfood/2017-the-openag-ecosystem-expands-research-non-profit-ventures-b5762beed64b

From what I am aware of, they will sell PFC v2.0 kits.


@spaghet is correct. Fenome is the first of what will hopefully be multiple companies who operate in the OpenAg ecosystem. Just like Red Hat utilizes Linux, Fenome is utilizing OpenAg (and keeping the software/hardware/data open source).

@juanmak They are putting together kits that will eventually be sold to anyone who wishes to buy them. In order for PFCs to make it into schools, they have to be easier to assemble. That’s exactly what Fenome is doing. For example: if you take a look at the pictures, they’ve gone ahead and pre-cut the CNC parts, and all of the wiring is in harnesses to make the assembly simpler.

@wsnook If you go to www.fenome.com and click on “Community” you will notice that it is a link to US. As this company grows and becomes more successful it will attract more people to this community and keep us all operating on the same platform with an open exchange of data.

Hope that answers some questions!


@spaghet Thanks for the Medium link. I remember seeing that, but my potentially inaccurate memory was that it only mentioned an as-yet unnamed startup. Maybe Caleb went back and edited to say Fenome? Perhaps I’m confusing that with some other post. Anyhow, Caleb says that Daniel Blake is Fenome’s CEO. Do you or @Webb.Peter know if Daniel is on here?

Daniel, if you’re around, it would be great to hear the story of where things are currently at with Fenome and where you’re headed. So far, we don’t have much first hand information to go on.


hey guys - the startup (fenome) in its infancy has had a couple gaffes (oops) and obv communications is one of them. You are correct that once we sorted out a name we changed the blog post to reflect up to date information in an effort of transparency. Fenome, like any startup, has applied for the TM of their company name to protect the use of their name, this is standard even in open source. ( In fact Food+Future Colab (which includes PolyBot) is no more, Target shut it down last week so I should update that.

Fenome is gearing up to produce open source kits. Its harder than imagined (esp advanced components like chillers and lights not currently commercially available). The prototypes you’ve seen are exactly that, 1st run prototypes (off the open source plans on our wiki), and as you can guess are crazy expensive and not fully functional, yet. Fenome team is trying to run them, bug fix (as @gordonb mentioned in the open source git repo), upgrade and sort out a reasonable manufacturing process so people can get the kits if they want them. The lights are GE prototypes aquired from hort americas (who is not yet commercially selling them because they are proto’s) the chiller is from kipp kits (also not currently commercially available due to same issues). In the absence of GE protos there are many many many options available commercially that will work, look for 200 micromol per meter squared (leafy greens) or 400 for flowering and color in the photosynthetically active range, if thats too much just get a fluorescent t5 set from a local hydro store, it wont be optimized but it will work and would be cool to learn about through the community. in the case of the chiller, if your bot is indoors, you can passively cool for now or create your own evaporative cooler which would be a tremendous add to the community.

Fenome was based in Utah but after some development we all think its better to be based in Cambridge and is in the process of moving (hence the lack of communications strategy). The website was also proto and included kits for sale (which frankly they arent ready to offer yet) and an info gathering tool for companies that might be interested in running experiments in them (we think thats a pretty cool idea for everyone in the community). It was not supposed to be live so thanks for pointing that out, I just requested we take it back offline until dev is complete. The leadership of fenome, as with all startups, is also changing but I am currently on the board (like I said I would be in our post) and trying to steer things in the right direction. Ultimately it was started to satisfy a community need of a solid open source kit of parts for personal food computers. @gordonb @jake from the team at MIT have jumped on board to also help and now have a reduced amount of time at the lab (conveyed in the blog I think?)

Thanks @Webb.Peter @spaghet @gordonb for jumping in to help explain things. Sorry to @wsnook @juanmak @ceav2b for the lack of comms, doing our best over here.

Any ideas about what I should do to keep the community up to date? I think blogs are too involved for little updates but would be willing to go that route if it helps.


Custom LED Light Panel FCV2.0
Building a food computer on developing communities
Can you help our new build?

Thanks for the great update @Caleb! That explains a lot :slight_smile:

Your forum posts with OpenAg news are working great for sharing updates. Maybe the first or second week of each month you could make a new post like “OpenAg Newsletter June 2017” and then tweet a link to it–that way it would be very visible and easy to find. For Fenome, it would make sense to have a company blog once things are more settled and the website is done, but, for now, it sounds like that would be premature.

Custom LED Light Panel FCV2.0

I’m excited to see the route Fenome takes. Great name BTW
I am working on a prototype suitable for production. I hope that my company can one day be under the OpenAg™ umbrella.

@Caleb It sounds like Tweets should be sufficient for small updates


Hello everyone, thank you for the great discussion, clarification and information in this thread!

At Open Agriculture Supply we are Nerd Farmers, Product Designers, Engineers and Foodies who are also making and selling Food Computer V2.0 Kits and parts.

Open Agriculture Supply, is dedicated to supplying parts and support including Food Computer V2.0 kits to the Open Agriculture Community. We are currently shipping Food Computer V2.0 kits which are complete except the LEDs, and Chiller. We also have options for kits here if you like you can omit the panels and source or cut them yourself.

We are working hard with several exciting partners to provide more options for low cost LEDs, Chillers and other needed components in addition to designing refined components and assemblies to further improve the movement.

In addition to full kits we are able to offer the populated PCBAs, blank PCBs, sensors, switches and other long lead or difficult to source components for Open Agriculture Food Computers! If there is a part you are looking for chances are we have ordered it in bulk and can provide it to you. We will continue to update our website with more and more parts, products and supplies for Food Computers so check back often! If there is anything you are having trouble sourcing please ask - we are happy to see if we can help you get what you need.

Happy farming!

ian - open agriculture supply


@iancollmceachern Cool! I like your timelapse videos–the build quality looks solid. Could you speak more about the history of your company and who’s involved? On your website, the “About” and “Contact Us” pages don’t mention the names of any people–just “we” and an email address. It doesn’t say where you’re located, and the social media links in the footer are all for Wix (the website company). It seems a bit mysterious.


@wsnook Thank you very much for the kind words and helpful feedback. I have updated our website and responded below to clarify many of your comments and questions. As a small company we do everything ourselves. We are so grateful to have folks like you take the time to review our website and make us aware of needed improvements like this. Our goal is to make sure that we can offer the best products and service to our customers and this includes the website down the the smallest detail. So again - thank you!

Open Agriculture Supply was founded in 2016 by Ian Coll McEachern and Brandi Lovett after being compelled by Caleb Harper’s TED talk.

Open Agriculture Supply is committed to the Open Agriculture movement. We are working to flatten the steep learning curve, technical expertise, and supplier connections needed to source many of these complex components so budding agricultural hobbyists, farmers and students can start growing their own produce with our Food Computer kits today.

Just as Open Source hardware and software triggered the growth of the 3d printer industry, we believe MIT’s Open Agriculture Initiative will do the same for small, nimble and clever companies like ours to leverage this new platform to deliver exciting new products, services, resources and kits to hobbyists, parents, educators, farmers and technical professionals in this budding movement.

Ian brings his passion and experience in product design, engineering and deep experience designing products that keep life living. Brandi brings her desire for fresh and healthy food, environmental sustainability and her passion for plants and animals. Together, we are highly motivated to help create a better future for our planet and loved ones.

Open Agriculture Supply is self-funded and we will expand organically as the need for our products and services grow alongside the Open Agriculture Movement.

Open Agriculture Supply is graciously supported by The Glue Factory Roseville, an iconoclastic local business incubator, as well as other local resources including the Hackerlab and Outlet Coworking.

More information on Ian Coll McEachern and his product design consulting work can be found on his website here.

If you (or anyone) have any more question, comments or suggestions please feel to contact us at:
2110 K Street
Sacramento, CA 95816

MVP - Future of Process

Hey, #nerdfarmers.

We’re getting close to finishing our V2 Food Computer kit from Fenome!

Here are some pictures of the lighting sub-assembly and our progress so far:
Lighting Sub Assembly

@webbhm (my dad) visiting for the weekend and booting up the software for the first time.

Tech Shop Build Night (@jimbell Urban Space Farms co-founder, @drewthomas89 Tech Shop instructor/CNC programmer, Phil Speth from Green House Venture)


@Webb.Peter can you clarify how you ordered the parts for your build?


@pocock There was no official order made, we got asked to do user acceptance testing (UAT) and are providing feedback about the status of the kits as well as helping revise documentation. I wish I had a better answer for you, if you see Caleb’s post above he explains more about the status of the kits.

I will be posting pictures of the finished build tomorrow!


Thank you for the pictures, I have tried to best find the LEDS, but with no luck is there anyway you can help me, get a hold of a seller?
Kind regards Jesper Markling, Faro Island


@JMarkling Caleb answered this above: “The lights are GE prototypes acquired from hort americas (who is not yet commercially selling them because they are proto’s)”

I still don’t have the chiller working, there is no documentation explaining the operation of it (adding fluid, etc).

I am getting a “unable to connect to master” error when doing a rostopic list command. If anyone has advice on that perhaps I’m missing something very obvious.

I also know that the instructions indicated needing to set my EC/PH sensors to I2C mode, it isn’t specified whether this is a software or hardware function. I saw @spaghet had a post awhile back talking about this, and to answer his question no I don’t think the kits come pre-configured in I2C mode.

Picture as promised, I will post more of the “guts” if people want, but here’s the finished product. We will also continue to update the original Google Drive folder above (courtesy of @jimbell).


If the LEDs on the pH and EC boards are normally green with some cyan flashes, they’re in serial mode. If they’re normally blue with green, purple, or red flashes, they’re in I2C mode.

The Atlas Scientific datasheets for the EZO pH and EZO Conductivity boards explain the process of switching modes. There’s one way to do it with serial commands and another way by hooking it up on a breadboard, shorting some pins, and cycling the power.

Arduino_handler: serial_connection.readline() broken

I never use this chiller before but we use something similar for a few years in our product. do not use heat exchanger. I do not see the advantage using the heat exchanger in this application. The compressor is from Aspen Compressor, http://aspencompressor.com/products/, we control the speed with a 0-5V from a DAC output.


Wow! This is extremely impressive. I’m curious, how much did you pay/where did you order this compressor from? I know you mention Aspen but I didn’t see any way to purchase them easily.

Are you controlling it with a microprocessor? Or what controller are you using?

Also, I think part of the goal of the PFC V2 is to have it be airtight. In theory, if you were to raise the humidity to 90%, you’d also then want a way to cool that down without lowering your humidity. Correct me if I’m wrong here (definitely not an engineer) but the way they have the chiller set up now with a heat exchanger/radiator enables that. The only way to change out the air in a PFC V2 is to do an “air flush” using the two squirrel fans that have solenoid valves on them.