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!