Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Week 6 (Outside Lab) - Testing Prototype

The team used this time to run tests of the prototype, both to look at the project's robustness, and to get a better idea of how the pump's flow rate interacts with the plastic tubing delivery system. Previously, the tubing attached to the plastic tee was 4' on each side of the tee and 1' from the tee to the pump, but at this meeting the team decided to reduce each side to 2' for ease of transportation and demonstration.

The PlantParent prototype worked very well initially when set to be on for 4 seconds and off for 2 seconds. The pump was able to fill the tubing in a very short time, and once the tubing was full, the output of water with each cycle was fairly consistent, though this was not measured directly. Another success was the continued ability of the system to accurately respond to changes in the Qt application: when tested at different interval settings, the pump acted accordingly.

The video below shows the prototype working. (Note: the setting for "hours" between watering has been translated to seconds in the Arduino code, for demonstration and testing purposes. This is simply the difference of an easily-changed multiplication factor.)

It was the team's plan to measure how long the pump needed to fill a certain volume in order to determine the flow rate at the end of the tubes, but this was not possible due to a last-minute unidentified software error that disallowed proper control of the system. The nature of this software error is still unknown.

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