In my previous post I have shared how after a few intense weeks of work we have finally finished with renovating this old neglected structure to eventually build a micro hydroponic urban farm, that will be fully automated and be as self sustainable as possible.
If you missed out on the previous posts in this series make sure to check them out:
There are quite a few challenges in that, especially with regards to water and electricity.
Being a very dry country, relying on the rain for self sustainability with water, will be a fruitless attempt, and although we just had some crazy hail storm the other day, most of the year is dry as a desert.
We do have very high humidity though, so that's why I plan at certain point to try to build a dew collector such as this, in order to supply my reservoirs with as much additional water as needed by the plants daily and hopefully allow us to eventually disconnect from the municipal water supply.
But for now, in order to progress with our plans, we decided to start with the municipal water and upgrade from that, the bright side is that we get an agricultural rate on our water and that keeps the price fairy low.
Same goes for electricity...the plan as mentioned in the previous parts of this post series, is to connect the whole building to a solar panels array and a few batteries, in order to provide all the equipment the necessary power in order to fertilize and water all the hydroponic systems that we going to install in the place.
But as a solar system is running on DC power, and most of the equipment we currently have (water, air pumps, controllers, lights, etc..) is running on AC, we going to need to add some energy thirsty inverters.
All that makes it quite an expensive endeavor and even a small 2000-3000 watt system will cost way more than my current budget.
So the plan is to gradually convert all the equipment to DC power and therefore save a ton of used energy in the process…but meanwhile, to get the things going we decided to provide a temporary backup and connect it to the grid as well.
This will give us time to properly prepare for the solar system, yet start with our growing plans.
So after ordering a few 12v pumps from aliexpress we have proceeded to lay out the cables.
We used a 4 cores insulated electrical cables to pull the electricity from the main distribution board.
As the whole place is quite neglected, we had to pull the cable trough some obstacles...
but after a few hours of climbing, pulling and tying stuff, we finally got it where we wanted it, in our own relay box, right inside the little service room we build that will eventually store our water reservoirs.
We use a 40 AMP relay for the main line, and additional four 16 AMP relays for all the outlets, lights, air conditioning and so own…
For now this will allow us to start plugging our equipment right away, and hopefully with time will serve as a backup power only.
The light were hanged right after that, we used the cables we made sure to prepare under the fabric, and our 40 watt LED lights were ready to light up the room.
As mentioned previously this place will partly be used for teaching people how to grow with hydroponics, so there will be quite a few people visiting this place on a daily basis.
So in order to provide those visitors with a comfortable place to sit, we decided to dedicate one of the corners for exactly that reason.
We decided to use the corner close to the service room , as that black wall really made it look very comfy.
So we bought couple of second hand couches that seemed like a great fit and...a comfy corner...here we go :)
To light up that corner, we decided to use the LED strips I previously purchased for a great price.
We zigzagged them on the metal profiles , to provide an even distribution of light (at least we tried), so we can later cover it with Spandex fabric like we did in the other part of the ceiling.
I will not tire you up with detail about how we plugged each and every outlet in the place, but after a few hours of more cables, more cutting and tying, we finally had outlets in all 4 corners of the place, we had switches to turn on and off all the lights and we had a main electrical relay to handle all the weight.
Now we going for the toilet
We all gotta go eventually and it might be easier for me (a lush bush is all i need ⛺😉 ) but my pregnant better half (not pregnant any longer 👶 ) and the other visitors in the place were really needed a better solution.
So yet again I will not bother you with the process of working out a new toilet in a place, I will just show you the final result.
We still need to give it a nice coat of paint (or 2, or 5) and new floor, and perhaps some additinoal little touches , but the basics are ready to flush stuff to the unknown.
The last part that will allow us to start connecting some hydroponic systems is a proper air conditioning.
In a few weeks I am planning to purchase an air cooler based on water, that will consume about 240 watt of energy but can help me get the temperature and even the humidity in the place to the desired measure.
something similar to this
But as we are located in Israel, where as I write this post the temperature is reaching 34 degrees celsius (94 fahrenheit) , a greenhouse like structure can reach quite high temperatures during the day, so as my budget for this project is limited I decided to use an old air conditioning unit I had, so we can have at least some kind of bearable condition inside, while we wait for the new cooling unit.
In order to position the engines of the air conditioner we had to build a custom frame and positioned them right outside the building.
While hanging the air conditioner we also have prepared the pipes for the toilet drainage and plugged it into the nearby sewers.
The final step for today was to connect us to the water line.
We used 16mm ABS pipes that can be used for high pressure (we are connected to the main line so the pressure coming out of our taps is very strong) water flow, and ran it all around the place.
That will allow us to have water in any position we require for our systems, maintenance, or any other use we’ll have.
So a few dozen meters of pipe, a few iron connectors, taps and our main water line was back in use.
Though after testing it for electrical conductivity, we have discovered that our water wasnt as ‘clean’ as we hoped for (our initial EC reading were quite high + you could see that the water had a certain hue and taste)...but we will deal with that later.
We were ready to proceed to the next stage.
We have finally got ourselves electricity, running water, lights and even air conditioning.
Everything was starting to take shape and we were excited to proceed.
As i mentioned previously, one of the plans for this place is to have the hydroponics systems functioning automatically, that will include measuring the temperature, the EC and the PH of the water and dosing our main reservoirs with the required substances (PH acids and fertilizer) according to the desired setting.
But for that we still need to figure out how to clean up our water and properly design our water distribution...and that will take a bit of time, but as we already had water and each of the systems can function on a separate reservoir as well, we decided that our next step will be to plug and plant a few of the systems we have and deal with the automatic watering system later.
But this will be in our metaphorical tomorrow, as our metaphorical today is coming to an end.
So thanks for sticking around, I know this post might not be as exciting...but the grid had to be done, without electricity and water we would not be able to proceed to the fun stuff, so it had to be done and I promise you that some interesting stuff are coming up, so stay tuned.
In the next post i will be sharing the plan we have for our water filtering and distribution, how we going to connect our main reservoir and how we going to make it all function automatically.
But the best part is that we will be finally planting some veggies :)
Here are a few teaser photos from our future endeavours .
Thanks for sticking around, see you in the next post.
For more stories and photographs, make sure to check out my profile and if you like some of the stuff then perhaps consider UPVOTING, FOLLOWING and RESTEEMING.
“ The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.”
~ Marcel Proust
If you missed out on the previous posts in this series make sure to check them out: