Hydroponic System – Digital Farm Documentation

Date: March 16, 2017

Partner: Callum Amor

Instructor: Dan

For this project, we were partnered up and assigned to create a gravity drip, ebb and flow, or NFT hydroponic system that could house at least four plants, use a water pump and drains when full.

Cal and I started with a large styrofoam container we found in the cardboard room. The original idea was to create a fully portable hydroponic system with a lid. But shortly thereafter scrapped the lid idea and just went with a one component project. The styrofoam box we chose conveniently had pockets that could hold plants on the sides and a large reservoir in the middle. The pump would sit in the reservoir and pump water to the first side container, the water would then flow down lower and lower further into the other containers. A tube would then transfer the water to the other side, where the water would flow into the final container. While the water is flowing, it is drained slowly by holes in the side.

Measuring the box


Testing the water flow

Creating holes for water drainage


We quickly ran into problems when we tried to fill the main reservoir with water. We discovered that the styrofoam could not properly hold water. If we waited a short time the bottom of the box would start to leak. We thought of many fixes, one of them was to cover the entire bottom with wood glue. We finally settled with hot glueing a plastic wrap/bag to the bottom to keep it sealed. We also taped the bottom of the box excessively to keep it from leaking any further.


Lining the box with plastic wrap/bag


Hot glueing the plastic on


After we properly sealed the reservoir, we started to cut down the edges of each of the containers. It had to drain downwards like a downwards sloping river. We had to test it many times in order to get the right height for each container, but we eventually got it.

Testing with pump to find correct wall heights


After finding the correct wall heights, we hot glued the tubing to the side wall. The problems with the styrofoam did not stop at the leaking. The styrofoam also melted when we tried to use hot glue. It did not melt a lot though so it was manageable.

Tube management 


Tube insert into the other container


The code for the project was very simple. It was just turning the pump on for 15 minutes (900000 milliseconds) and then back off for 15 minutes. It is shown below.

In the end the project worked just alright. It would not be the greatest hydroponics system, but it is still semi portable and could be improved in a lot of ways. One of the biggest downfalls to this project is the material we started with. The styrofoam was in no way designed to handle water. Using the styrofoam caused us to bump into many different problems.

int pumpPin = 3;

void setup() {

pinMode(pumpPin, OUTPUT);


void loop() {

digitalWrite(pumpPin, HIGH); 
digitalWrite(pumpPin, LOW);


Leave a Reply