As part of our ENEL300, Engineering Professional Skills, course, our group created a device called PlantPod. The initial goal of this device was to help busy working professionals remember to water their plants by playing a customizable tone when PlantPod detects soil moisture is too low. However, we found similar devices that were slightly cheaper than our design and provided a bit more functionality.
In light of this, our group decided to pivot and market PlantPod as a DIY kit targeting young middle-schoolers. We found this to be a better market as many young electronics enthusiasts get their start with small kits like PlantPod. Moreover, most starter kits have limited use after they are built, while PlantPod is still usable long after.
We also discovered that Grade 5 students learn about Electronics and Wetlands in their Science class and decided to focus our marketing to this age group.
PlantPod was built using an Arduino Nano with a capacitive soil sensor, speaker, and other small components. This design was meant to be shifted to a PIC microcontroller, however, this could not be completed due to COVID-19 and the transition to online classes. Some ideas for future iterations include:
- Shifting the device controller to an ATTiny or ATMega for cost savings
- Developing a custom capacitive soil sensor
- Incorporating a custom PCB (also opens up older-aged markets for a “solder yourself” kit)
- Use a rechargeable lithium-ion battery rather than a 9V cell