Designed to display the amount of sunlight received in an area. A tool for gardening enthusiasts to take the guess work out of knowing " Is my plant receiving enough sunlight?" or to know which plants might be suitable for a particular area of their home! Built using 3d printing and open source Arduino software.
3 weeks, Fall 2017 course work for Discover and Invention Studio
My role
• Research on information architecture and gardening practices
• Design user interfaces for hardware
• Hardware prototyping with Arduino
• 3d printing and assembly
3rd place in the Instructables 2016 Circuits Contest
My Role
• Research on information architecture and gardening practices
• Design user interfaces for hardware
• Hardware prototyping with Arduino
• 3d printing and assembly
Researching methods of measuring sunlight for plants
In order to better understand the method we gathered information as team to about what plants firstly need in terms of sunlight and common ways that might be measured. We did an in-depth analysis by performing an audit of the different methods finally settling on the terminology used frequently on seed packet and gardeners as the standard. Describing "Full Sun" the highest level corresponding to 6+ hours of direct sunlight and so on.
Understanding technical requirements to build a DIY device
We examined measurement tools mainly related to water consumption in plants due to lack of sunlight measurements tools on DIY websites. We created an significant knowledge based surrounding all the different components of this device borrowing learnings from gardening to open source software and information design principles. 
Translating complex information into simple UI
We mapped out the need for 6 LEDs to reflect each hour of sunlight captured ( 6 hours of direct sunlight corresponding to Full Sun) the categories being:
•  Full Shade (defined as 1-2 hours of direct sunlight) 
•  Partial Sun (3-4 hour of direct sunlight) 
•  Full Sun (5 - 6+ hours)
Anything above 6 hours is still considered "Full Sun" and has no special terminology, so lights were not added beyond this.
Converting design to 3d prototypes. We decided the case should be green to blend in with the garden environment better. 
Making hardware choices keeping in mind open source framework
All group members were beginners with hardware prototyping, and in order to leave our options open to any conceptual revisions. We started with a Flora board due to its abundance of available pins, along with a common large battery.
Eureka! we could use a solar panel to power the device instead of a battery...
Opting for a solar panel rather than battery, was an novice solution from a conceptual standpoint. However, with a deadline looming and shipping times to consider, we went with a safer choice due to not knowing for certain how much power a solar panel can provide especially in the event of a rainy day.
Printing a 3d version of the casing and off we go to testing!
We did a single test print of the case (in green). The test case came out rough, but was useful for planning the arrangement of components during assembly of the internal pieces. The test also proved the case was a bit too tight and was causing the soldering of wires to enough to break.
Revising calibration for sun sensitivity and optimizing reading measurements 
We had to make a couple of round of code revisions of the UV sensor by taking it outside and keeping track of its console outputs. After calibrating it to take a UV reading every 15 minutes and determine if the sunlight levels are high enough to count that as an hour of direct light, we revised the designs of the final case.
Learning outcomes
Take out time for testing, and then some more
There were a number of issues that we as a team felt we would have liked to be able to address - had we been given more time. In order to make this project more appropriate for the garden environment we would have like to be able to test the effect of all day sunlight on the lithium battery, which we fear might over heat. 
User Experience goes beyond screens
The experience of making this project was very helpful in learning to prototype UI for hardware. It was a massive shift in mind and skill set. Learning to work with DIY electronics and thinking of the interface considerations as well was a steep learning curve but I eventually felt proud in being able to create a project that I could imagine myself use.

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