It is a new year at WISRD, and returning to the Hydroponics Lab are Max, Kezie, and Myself. Over the past month, I have worked on constructing a frame for the rig, with Megan and I conceptualizing a case to enclose the lab in order to create a controlled atmosphere, with doors to allow ease of access. Below are the steps taken to create one side of the case.

Building Materials:

  • 4 Two-by-four planks measuring 4 feet long
  • 2 One-by-four planks measuring 6 feet long
  • 24 40mm Nuts
  • 24 30mm Screws
  • 24 2.75 X 6 X 0.45 Bolts
  • 12 Long Screws
  • 8 Hinges
  • 2 Cabinet Handles

Building Instructions:

Two of the 2×4 planks were joined to two 1×4 planks with long screws, forming a rectangle. The other two were used as a crossbeam.

3 30mm screws were used to affix hinges with the knuckle facing towards the crossbeam, this was repeated four times at evenly spaced intervals along the 2×4. The hinges were affixed to the acrylic by drilling holes in the acrylic sheets, a wooden block was placed underneath to ensure a clean hole. Three 40mm nuts was fastened onto three 2.75X6X0.45 bolts to attach each hinge to the acrylic. This process was then repeated for the other 2×4.

Two additional holes were drilled in the acrylic near the crossbeam to affix the handles to the acrylic, allowing the frame to be opened like a door.



After just two days in the tubes, all the plants except for B3 had died. Barring some major oversight, it appears we have found the maximum salinity for butterhead lettuce. we will be adding nutrients and conducting further tests to be sure of this, but moving forward I plan to add salinity levels of 115 Mmol/L and 125 Mmol/L to each tube.


We distilled three more jugs of water and added the salinity of 200 Mmol/L to Tube 1 and 150 Mmol/L to Tube 2. After transplanting six plants into the tubes they were left for the weekend, resulting in all of the plant’s deaths.  I hypothesize that this is either due to not enough root growth, lack or surplus of light, or water not flowing properly. to counter this, I am transplanting the starters into the smaller pots, and replacing the dead plants. this will set back our lab process, but it should be possible to at least find information to perfect the lab next year.


Max and I worked to measure the root length and leaf height for each plants, then I worked with Megan to get the casts of the leaves using nail polish, and put them on slides.


Due to a lack of measurement, the plant cycle will yield less data than usual, so Megan suggested that we periodically add salt to tube A. I added 6.5 liters of distilled water with 26.6 grams of salt to get the tube back to 100Mmol/L.


Finished and edited the distiller whitepaper and added it to the Google Drive folder.


Several of the plant had roots that were not reaching the water, so I removed several of the clay pebbles from each plant. This resulted in the death of one the plants (C3) due to the extremely small size of the hole for it to be planted in, something we should resolve before the next row of plants is planted.


Worked with Nikita to finally get the water level sensors working properly, and tested their outputs with Colin to create the overflow alert system, allowing us to know when a problem occurs at the lab. Verified the salinity of the various jugs and introduced the liquids into the flowing tubes, with tube A being 100Mmol/L, B being 50Mmol/L, and C being 0Mmol/L.


Outside of class I did some more calculations for molarity and 3d modeled the hydroponics space for possible use in whitepapers.

The 3d Model of the Space


Worked with Bob and Nikita to determine the actual salinity of the jugs and get the salinity sensors operational. Also used the smart switches to make the light pattern match that of the San Joaquin Valley.


We used a formula for Molar Mass to determine the amount of sodium chloride per jug of water and then added that amount.


During this time period we as a group worked in preparation to start our first experiment, this included removing the plants from the rig and measuring them according to the Hydroponics protocol. We also ran the distiller several times and completely disassembled, cleaned thoroughly, and reassembled the entire rig.


Added Nutrients to Tube 1 and Tube 2, Emptied the distiller in preparation to fill Tube 3.


Got pump #2 operational and planted three saplings in the tube. Added nutrients to both tubes and worked with Max on identifying the previous groups progress for charting growth. We plan to use this system for the new plants and other future progress.


Worked with Nikita to identify the best way we could attach the cameras and sensors and changed the placements of several items. Also attached supports to the rig for the raspberry pi and tested the sensor With Joe.


Nikita informed me that the water level sensor would be best used if we could make a whole in the tubes for better data collection. Using a saw and sandpaper Joe and I cut a hole in tube #2 for the sensor and attached it to the rig.


Worked on supports to strengthen the bases of plants and talked to joe about the best way to incorporate water level sensors.


Replaced and replanted saplings to better measure growth. Cleaned the rig in preparation for conducting experiments.


Presented our poster and attended a lecture on habitable planets, spoke with members of the Saint Monica Marine Research Team about PlantCV.


Worked on improving our group’s poster for WISRD Poster night. Emptied the distiller and continued filling the water barrels.


Added blocks to the ramp in order to better secure the distiller and lock the wheels


Constructed the ramp and tested the distiller on it, decided to make improvements to it since it wasn’t working effectively


Water containers arrived, worked with Nikita and Joe to test the Flowmeter and updated Journal


Finished securing the distiller with furniture straps and started working on a ramp to better empty water.


Ordered water containers and worked on my Vitae


Concluded that there was no difference in purity for the number of distillations and the material used to store the water.


Found the change of water and started searching for ways to hold and contain distilled water.


Worked on cycling the distiller and finding the change, if any, between the purity of once-distilled and twice-distilled water.


Worked on and finished a customized dolly for the distiller so that it an be moved onto the ground and easily accessed.


Today the whole Hydroponics group come in and took a photo in front of the rig. This photo will be uploaded to our project page.


Organized the Hydroponics boxes into a singular box, also found the salinity sensors and attempted to figure out the Arduino which ran the camera system.


Successfully potted ten plants with four seeds in each and set up a LED array on top of the hydroponics materials stand to provide the plants with light.


Worked with Joe and Max during class and lunch to set up the lighting system to remotely control it and affix the plastic sheets to prevent evaporation. Started potting seeds to grow.


Brought the group up to speed on progress made and got all three pumps working


Came in after school and worked with Joe to better understand the rig and got the first pump working so that I could turn it on and off remotely.


Looked around in WISRD for previous work/documents on the Hydroponics lab and found the schematics for the rig as well as a list of materials and process used for the tests.


Had a meeting with the Hydroponics team about the goals for the project and the roles each team member would hold. After this we designated tasks and I create a group document for the project


I read over the Hydroponics project page as well as the journals of Dani, Ximena, and Sadie to gain a greater understanding of the progress and mission for the Hydroponics lab.


Worked with Joe to 3D print a part for an outside of school project and got Ultimaker Cura set up on my computer and linked it with the WISRD printers. Spoke with Toby and Max about their respective labs and what I would do if I joined them. Out of class I spoke with Luis and Reid about their project and it’s involvement with the wind tunnel.


Helped organize supplies for the wind tunnel project and sent an email out to those working on it inquiring about their plans with it.


Joe introduced us to the institute and showed us the social media accounts as well as our choices for projects to join.