Our new Cedar Alton Greenhouse – 2007

We have finally settled into our new house, and we have a brand new Alton greenhouse which we have used for the first time this season.

This being so I thought it was about time I told you a little about what we have done with the greenhouse, The greenhouse itself is 18 feet by 10 feet in size and contains a partition two thirds of the way in. This is so that we can attempt to keep the small section at the end heating during winter to hopefully carry on growing some plants.

While the rest of the greenhouse is used to over winter our other plants. I have currently removed the partition door to allow easy access to all areas of the greenhouse during summer.

The greenhouse took 3 of us approximately 1 and a half days to build, It all went suprisingly smoothly. Partly due to the well constructed Alton panels.

As you can see on the picture the greenhouse has 3 automatic opening vents, These were  an extra cost to have but save lots of time as you just set the temperature on the back and they automatically push the vents open and close when necessary without any intervention, They work by having a piston type mechanism with fluid which expands when the temperature increases therefore pushing the vent open. They even close automatically when the wind gets too much. (Not quite sure how they do this).

The greenhouse also contains 6 side vents which can be manually opened, Some thought has been put into the design of these as they can be opened from the outside which is great as I don’t need to interfere with the plants to open and shut these.

I have even got a system inside the house configured which tells me via speakers whether I need to open any of these vents in the morning. For more details about this check out my automation page.

To add to the natural ventilation I have installed two fans, One in each of the partitions. These are run most of the day as long as the temperature is not too low.

They also run sometimes during the night to make sure the air still moves during the night to avoid any mold or deseases which can occur on the plants due to stale air. These are controlled via a PC I have setup for automated things around my greenhouse and within our house.

You can also see in the photo the greenhouse lights I have installed.

I have also made up electrical outlets in each corner of the greenhouse, These are all weather proof ones which are ideal for the greenhouse environment. At each corner I have a timed connection available and constant power. This allows me to connect any pumps I require to run continuosly or timed for different types of Hydroponic configurations I might want to try.

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My automation in the greenhouse for this season – 2007

As we have recently moved into a new house I thought I should take a little time and investigate what would be involved in implementing a system which I could use for monitoring and automating parts of our new greenhouse as well as around our home.

If you have had a look at my previous automation page you can see that I have already played with some one wire electronic equipment and a little bit of X10, I wanted to make a larger system now though which I could keep on expanding as I wanted.

Looking at the available options for automating lights and music etc. around the home I found them to be quite expensive and not flexible enough for what I wanted to do, So I was going to have to design all the parts I wanted from scratch.

As my previous experiments with one wire items had worked well and these items are very low cost and reliable I decided I would still use dallas one wire equipment for monitoring things like the levels in my greenhouse tanks and temperatures etc.

One wire items work by interfacing to a PC or other computer via one cable, In my case I used Cat5 ethernet cable because it is low cost and contains spare cores for future use.

The first think I needed to do though was purchase a new interface to allow my PC to talk to the one wire items over a long distance. So I purchased a Link12 interface from iButtonLink, You can see this item in the photo.

This has now been working very reliably for over a year and goes along way around the house and garden. The interface plugs into the PC via a serial port. I decided to do away with a lot of the X10 equipment I had been using due to a lack of speed for turning lights on and off and also I have found it to be unreliable. Sometimes a code was missed until sent again etc. One of the problems with basic X10 is that there is no confirmation signals sent back to the transmitting units, So when this is interfaced with a PC the pc doesn’t really know if when it asks a light to turn on that it actually has. New versions of X10 have been developed to accomodate this but in the UK these are not readily available.

I do like the Radio versions of X10 though rather than the X10 which uses mains supplies for it signals.

The photo to the left is the X10 Eagle Eye Module
(Senses Motion)





X10 Stickaswitch

(Used as an instant light switch or remote control)

I already owned several Eagle eye motion detection modules and stick on light switches so I decided to purchase an enhanced X10 receiver which could interface to my PC and receive signals from light switches and motion detectors around the garden etc.

The receiver I purchased was called W800RF and was made by wgldesigns, This was ideal because it comes with antenna which was seperate from the unit and allowed me to install the antenna in the loft to get the best all round reception of X10 Radio signals.

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