PERLITE!

3/3/2019

This week overall was largely uneventful. In hall government we are preparing for our next event, which will be a craft/painting night in late March. In Energy Conversion, we are still waiting to get our tests back. On Tuesday, my apartmentmate and I harvested his second batch of radish microgreens. We attempted to use a knife rather than scissors to harvest this tray, which was quicker but will require more practice to be as efficient as its scissor counterparts.

Besides harvesting microgreens, we finally had an opportunity to work on our aquaponics! We had been having some problems with the oregano and parsley taking root in the large rocks. So, we decided to take the new perlite and plastic bin and use it to re-implement the existing system with spinach and lettuce. We drilled two small holes in the bottom of the bin for draining, then covered it in a layer of rocks so that the perlite wouldn't drain out the holes. We then filled the bin about 50% full with perlite. Since perlite floats, we need to leave plenty of empty space above the perlite for when the water fills the bin. This will allow the perlite to float up several inches without overflowing onto the floor.

Image of Floating Perlite

With this figured out, we took out the old bin (with rocks and young kale) and installed the new perlite-filled bin. We added a thin piece of cloth over the end of the filling tube so that it would be less aggressive when filling the bin (and wouldn't disturb the growing medium as much). Once we had everything in place, we planted four clusters of spinach and four clusters of lettuce. According to the seed packets, they should emerge within the next 10 days or so. We excitedly await their arrival.

Image of Perlite Redone

We've also been doing more preparation for the second unit by figuring out the software side of things. My apartmentmate Jake and I have the preliminary CLI-based system working (written in python), which will interface with the various components of the system over a USB connection to an Arduino microcontroller. So far, he has the basic command prompt working. Him and I are working on a concept for how the system will be configured using text-based configuration files resembling cron jobs or systemd timers. It should give the system a large amount of configurability and expandability. The code so far can be found on my git instance.

If you want to see more details on the project and watch it progress, be sure to look at the main project page (under "projects" tab): Aquaponics

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