Tuesday, 30 August 2016

Hydra - Your Plant Care Companion Part 1

This is my first Kickstarter project featuring an automated indoor plant care system :D Since there is a lot of content to blog about, this will be split into a few posts spanning the length of the Kickstarter campaign, which starts today! The topic of this first post will cover my motivations for starting this project and challenges encountered when building the alpha prototype.

For those of you interested viewing the project on Kickstarter, here is the link:

Also, if you guys find this interesting, I would be sincerely happy if y'all help spread the project via our Facebook page: www.facebook.com/plantcarecompanion

Now, I started this project as architecture school was getting really busy and my plants were getting neglected as a result. As I could not find a suitable system in the market to take care of my 20+ plants, I decided to come up with some watering automation of my own. The idea to put it on Kickstarter was on the back of my mind, but I needed to get the device to work first.

The aim of the game was to create a simple, compact watering system that could be installed anywhere. The water source would be a bucket on the ground and there would be a pump that sucks it up to distribute many potted plants, so I ordered a few peristaltic pumps to test the concept out.

For those of you who don't know, peristaltic pumps mimic the motion of peristalsis (the action that makes food move down our gullet and through our intestines) to move liquid through a flexible tube. Compared to the common centrifugal pumps, peristaltic pumps have no problem switching on and off frequently and are much more precise, which makes them more suitable for laboratory and medical applications.

However, I was soon to learn about gravity! It turns out that branching the outlet of the peristaltic pump into many different tubes to water many plants will not cut it as the all water will flow out of the tube outlet closest to the ground, no two ways about it!

One option would have been to make the outlets very small (basically pinhole) and use pressure in the tubes to even things out. However, we found that even with this, the bottom-most outlet was still favored and it would have been very hard to quantify the amount of water each plant received. In addition, one watering system in the market did exactly this and reviews did mention tubes popping out due to the pressure involved!

To find out how I solved this problem, stay tuned for the next blog post!



  1. Hey Brian, great Product!