The lantern is complete and runs with data!
This was no small task getting the final parts of the lantern functioning properly. The last steps were to collect the data from the garden, query it, and then program the lights to respond to the data. Ben wrote a wonderful database so that now we can collect data from the garden, store it, and query it! Once that was complete we needed to hook up the lights. However, in order to run the database querying we could only light 216 lights, but the tree has 229 nights! Therefore, we had to learn how to use a Arduino mini to run the lights as a "backpack" from the Arduino uno. This was quite complicated, but with help from ajfisher (at about 1am!) we were able to get the mini programmed and the uno directing traffic to the mini. Here is what that looked like!
Finally, the lights were ready to go and could connect to the data. However, the task of deciding how to map the data to the lights and then program that was no small task. I decided to draw on what high school and middle school students would learn about plants. So after reading standards, textbooks, and thinking back to my own studies, I decided to focus on the processes occurring in plants, such as photosynthesis and transpiration. Here is what the final tree looked like from the front and back!
The lights you see moving in this data show real time data! I took the moisture, temperature, and humidity values and determined how "fast" and how much transpiration, visualized with teal light, would move up the tree (can be seen below). So if no water is present and the plants dry out then no movement happens with those lights, and the overall blue on the base fades to red.
As for the photosynthesis it occurs on the "leaves" (of course!) which I imagine are like the little nubs on the branches. So you can see when the light level sensor detects enough light then photosynthesis can occur. Temperature and moisture also play a role in this to affect speed. So if you watch one of the nubs in the next video you can see it turn from white to yellow and then fade to red before being "transported" into the tree's branch. This is like the sugars being made and processed from glucose to sucrose and then be transported around the tree to other parts that are not able to do photosynthesis.
And finally the overall health of the plan can be determined by looking at the face of the "garden spirit". As moisture drops and stays dropped the blue drains out of the face leaving it more red. However, if the plant is also unable to do photosynthesis for a while (no lights is being detected in the garden and/or temperature is too low) then the red also fades out of the face. Therefore, if the plant has little water and little light then the face lights go very dim, showing an unhealthy situation; however if the plant is healthy we should see a nice purple glow! Here are some final pictures of the lantern with data!
What a wonderful project this has been! Thank you to everyone who has helped with this project!!! Sad to see it be almost finished up, but excited to get into classrooms and working with students to design their own garden lanterns!