Hydroponics in a Vending Machine aka (The Purple Plantiator)

We have had a vending machine at the hackerspace for years now. It has been left disused and taking up space. So we decided to use the vending machine as a place to grow plants.

So for the past few weeks, we have been building a hydroponics setup in our disused vending machine.

Our disused vending machine

Our new plant growing vending machine (not yet finished)

For those who do not know hydroponics is where you grow plants in water. No soil is used and all the nutrients for the plants is leached out of the water.

Our setup is very close to this one

Our setup has two “grow rings” each hold 8 plants for a total of 16 plants. It has a reservoir of water underneath the base of the vending machine. The water is taken from the reservoir and pumped into the top grow ring, where it flows around the ring to the exit tube. The water then trickles down into the second grow ring near the bottom of the machine, the water flows around the tube to the exit back into the reservoir. This continuous flow keeps the nutrients circulating so the plants can absorb more nutrients and not stagnate. It also increased the amount of dissolved oxygenated water that the roots of the plants need to survive.

We also have a fan setup to cycle the air around the plants when the lights are on. This is very important as the lights can put out a bit of heat and we don’t want to cook the plants. We also need a fan to remove the oxygen from the closed machine as it will build up and slow the plant’s growth.

In our setup, we are supplying artificial light to the plants using L.E.D.s since no natural light gets into our vending machine. We will talk more about the lighting rig in a later post.

So the system we build is not yet finished but we have tested the basic plumbing. We still have to install the pump and sensors. We indented to have sensor detecting overflow of water if we get a blockage as well as sensors detecting humidity and temperature. We will be logging all this data to an MQTT server so we can pull real-time statistics from the system.


One grow layer. You can also see the silver insulation inside the machine.




Exciting times ahead for this one disused vending machine!

Hackaday World Create Day – this Saturday 22nd April

Join us this Saturday from 11am as we work towards projects that will make a difference

We’ll be doing things like

  • preparing projects and materials for Mini Make Day at the Docklands Library (May 7th)
  • kicking around ideas for a Melbourne Mini Maker Faire
  • working on our hackaday prize entries
  • showing visitors around the space and its tools
Come down and work on your own project, or help or watch us develop ours.   If you haven’t been able to get down to CCHS during weeknights, here’s a great daytime weekend chance!.
Part of, and thanks to Hackaday for this initiative.

Dick Smith kit tribute – filming at CCHS Sat Oct 1st

If you were inspired by the Dick Smith funway kits, pop down to CCHS tomorrow.

Karl von Moller will be filming, more info from Karl here

We’ll have the bbqs running and the footy on one of the 3 big screens


Melbourne Mini Maker Faire at KIOSC Wantirna

KIOSC Wantirna just hosted its first Mini Maker Faire, here are some photos from the Day


A big thankyou to Rod, Wendy, Kiosc and teams who made it possible.   Lets do it regularly.

Thanks also to those that helped out with the CCHS stand and soldering workshop – Greg+team, John, Shane, Jen, Bernd, Andy,  and anyone else I’ve missed.

3D scanners and Software Freedom day