BJDW day#1

ok we are in beijing again :)


next weeks are full of activities: first we’ll start a 2 week workshop to build together our exhibition. the idea is that people can enter inside a house and visualize what tools do they need to sustain urban agriculture on their home. we started to planning this 2 months ago so now we have almost all the materials and tools needed but also a small community of 8 people willing to join this build together workshop. and we’ll start tomorrow with a tour on the neighborhood get screws and reclaiming materials such has wood, containers and home appliances.
we made already a draft of what we need to build and draw.

Screen Shot 2014-10-21 at 16.29.49

we’ll document our process, has always, but posting will be erratic since in china we can not easily access to our blog.. wunther why..
if you are around join us, we’ll have fun, make things together and eat delicious food :) also guilherme and emilson came with me so caipirinhas and good music are guaranteed ;) by the way, we plan to put our mojitos farm on action. check the beijing design week program to see where we are and come and get a free mojito, caipirinha or a delicious chinese tea :p
so let’s get to work we need woods ;)



mei mei, our producer :) dealing with prices.. here things never have a price, you must always negotiate.


after we got the woods that were missing we when to visit the neighborhood were we are working and visit a special friend, lin lin. she and her team have a beautiful space just in the middle os dashilar. it’s called re-up and since is so close to our workspace we’ll also make some activities here:) great place tks lin lin ;)

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and now our place. this is how we found it:

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2014-09-12 at 13-31-44


day#9 workshop @ iaac

today we started our two days tour over barcelona city trash. first stop: Solidança 2014-05-22 at 13-42-24 on our workshops we always have this idea of building with what’s available and every city has their own trash dinamics and trash resources. and barcelona would not be different. Talking with Isabel Gimeno from Solidança we both aggre that after joining EU there was a big efford on regulate the trash and since then we have a strong environmental protection policy and a cultural conscience started to grip. I’m a caver since 14 and I’ve saw many weels and deep caves filled with all sort of trash: cars, medicines, sick cattle, cloth, batteries, electronics, house and industrial sewage, just to name the ones you can quikly identify.. me and caves al over the world have spend incontless hours cleaning this mess many times preventing or at least reduce the inevitable water contamination that occours with this human behaviors. lucky in recent years we don’t see has many trash on the caves and generaly dumped next to a river flow. we have became cleaner in europe but we still have many unresolved problems: stuff that is impossible to reuse or recycle, lack of design for disassembling or designed to be imposible to repair, over consumering etc 2014-05-22 at 13-34-10 Solidança, apart of managing 4 big collection centers, brings new value and meaning to coth, electronics and house appliances. Solidança also has a strong social commitment. giving workshops of waste managment, electronics and electrical appliances reparation, gender equalty, new tecnologies, social competences, etc. 2014-05-22 at 16-29-21 Solidança also reseaches new protocols and systems with this idea in mind: work to reduce poverty and protect the environment. 2014-05-22 at 14-40-27 we were warmly recived by Miquel Caballé and Isabel Gimeno who gave us a quick tour and a long chat :) 2014-05-22 at 14-01-38 2014-05-22 at 15-02-00 2014-05-22 at 15-06-28 we then went strait to what was waiting for us: 60 washing machines. 2014-05-22 at 14-44-45 2014-05-22 at 14-52-38 2014-05-22 at 14-58-52 2014-05-22 at 14-58-57 2014-05-22 at 15-47-04 2014-05-22 at 16-07-12 and this is the final result: 6 pressure switches, 2 water pumps, 6 electro-valves, 1 flowmeter!! and several other things to you know.. hack :) we ended the day with Merce Jara (tks for all ;) with a suprising tour to l’Hort Fort Pienc. 2014-05-22 at 18-46-10 2014-05-22 at 18-46-56 2014-05-22 at 18-47-00

interactivos? 2013 resume

you know.. good things always reach a end.. this were 2 amazing weeks were we came to make one thing and finished making 4 :)

mesa trabalho interactivos13

for the ones who never printed on a 3D printer and think it seems so easy, you have no idea.. and the press have talk and talk but rarely puts the hands on a printer. ars has the most honest press cover I’ve saw. so let’s start from the beginning. we came here to make a low power faucet that could be printed. after some initial research we found many models on thingiverse that could be adapted to our needs. we give up the designs that flows water inside cause it’s impossible to have precise measures on a 3D printed object and then impossible to water seal any mechanism so we went to another approach: let’s print a mechanism that can close and open a real faucet. with this approach we could implement the watering system on virtually any faucet. we also saw that printing gears was delicate and that means we need to print big gears to compensate the small errors. in the meantime with so many starts and stops on the 3D printer other projects popped from those 20 amazing brains that eat, work, drink, laugh and slipped together for 16 days. the first that came was the mini hydraulic ram. the idea came from elflin and it’s a recurring problem in our designer’s heads: how to pump water from the bathtub to the toilet on a old bathroom? we produce many hand draws but we didn’t finished a complete 3D model only the mini water valves. magrão documented the process here on the nuvem’s wiki

one day a new 3D printer came. we didn’t had place for her so we built a table :) this was our project #3


we also debate and advanced a bit more on the electronic board “mini vacations” with thiago. in a couple of weeks we’ll send them to the press. 3 packs: one to barcelona, one to san francisco and other to rio de janeiro. surian will get the boards in rio so if you what one ask him :) surian was also involved on the next project the #5: monitoring of the composter built by joaquim. surian documented everything here.

well “galera” (bruno, chintia, julia) I think it was the best and the most immerse interactivos? that I ever have been.. I’m sure that medialab_prado is proud of you and how you worked the open model of interactivos workshops ;) congratulations!!

I will not mention my collaborators mainly because everyone collaborate with all the projects. I made new friends, laugh all the time, spend a great time surrounded with exuberant nature and brilliant humans ;)

we will continue our development on the 3D printed e-faucet and the other projects. expect more news soon.

stay happy, people in RJ can teach you that ;)

interactivos update

do no were to start :) maybe for the morning face washing on the river that flows on nuvem..


then the breakfast

morning-breakfast morning meeting


and here a visual resume of the last days.

this is the faucet that we need to control:


we have started from designing valves that can be made in 3D print



then we design a mechanism that can be adapted to the faucet. this one is moved by a servo motor.


and then we printed :)


we will continue this development for the next 9 days. you can check the wiki of nuvem for a day by day report. more news soon ;)



Screen Shot 2013-08-12 at 11.53.38 AM

uau!! 2 lines that made us jump of joy :) so next september you will find us in brasil developing a electronic faucet/valve that can be made in a 3D printer. here you can see our proposal.

I’ll keep you posted on the developments here on the blog and on the wiki. please if you want to contribute feel free. the e-valve is a complex project so every help is welcome ;)

nas nuvens


creio que é o primeiro post que escrevo em português :) ontem apresentámos a nossa proposta para uma residência artística na nuvem.tk a ideia era formalizar a nossa colaboração com a UFRRJ no desenvolvimento do sistema de rega de baixo custo, conhecer a nuvem e poder contribuir para um projecto que busca uma harmonia entre humanos e biosfera e obviamente hihihi poder voltar a participar num interactivos! trabalhar com gente nova e que sabe mais de “outras coisas” :) a nossa proposta é por um lado ligar o sistema de rega a uma placa de refarm para que possamos recolher dados e enviar-los aos nossos servidores e por outro lado desenvolver componentes específicos (uma torneira) de codigo aberto.

olhando para o sistema UFRRJ há 3 componentes que são difíceis de encontrar globalmente ou que diferem radicalmente de cidade em cidade. outros não :) por exemplo o presostato é um componente global. em todas as cidades que fomos sempre encontrámos máquinas de lavar a roupa donde era possível retirar o presostato e de regular os mecanismos internos para que funcione com a pressão requerida 1KPa. no caso da electro-valvula/torneira/mecanismo-de-fechar-um-circuito-de-agua não conseguimos encontrar uma fonte regular deste componente nas cidades. primeiro porque genética de refarm: como fazemos oficinas não trabalhamos com altas voltagens e as valvulas que mais encontramos são as das maquinas de lavar roupa/louça. estas são todas a 110-220V ac. a voltagem comportável para trabalhar com todas as idades é entre 3-5V dc.

segundo porque não encontramos frequentemente electro-valvulas de baixa voltagem.. há umas numas impressoras profissionais, outras numas máquinas de café, outras na nautica, mas não é um componente comum a nivel global. esta é a nossa proposta concreta para a nuvem, desenvolver uma “e-torneira” para ser reproduzida localmente com uma impressora 3D.

o outro componente intrigante é o sensor de cerâmica. este componente tem muitos desafios pela frente antes de chegar a ser um objecto que possa ser reproduzido segundo as matérias primas disponíveis nas cidades.

só 5 propostas serão aceites, cruzem dedos :)

mini vacations board

yesterday martin hug just send us this


it’s our new mini vacations board V3. the mini is meant to control the UFRRJ watering system, collect/store data and has an optional wireless data socket to upload data or change configurations.

contents: ATMEGA328, EEPROM serial 256K, usb port, FTDI, wifly, 3V rele, Li-Ion battery.

we’ll are making 10 of them and we need 10 developers that are willing to take one and start debugging :) we will realease them free you just have to tell us why you want it and figure out a transportation solution from barcelona to you :p




kitchen farm

we need a small farm to be a demo on our workshop. andreas design this one and we built in one night hehehe we call it kitchen farm. it’s indoor and contains those plants that you like to have fresh when cook, like parsley or fresh tomatoes ;)

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amazing composter mixer

I love this moments when you find something brilliant, low budget and low tech :D

check this out! is a old spring from a truck and it’s used to aerate the composter. you give some turns, raise a bit so that air enters in the midle of the layers. remove by turning conter clock. you make this in 4 diferent spots and your composter will have a oxigen boost ;)

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next stop paris :)


here we go again :) the next 3 weeks I’ll be in paris with andreu, andreas, shu lea (greenrush), samuel and fransini working on the project la graine et le compost.

we will try to build together software and hardware tools that can we bring local seeds to urban farmers and promoting compost and social exchange. as usual, if you are in paris pay us a visit and we will find a way for you to contribute. leave here some screenshots of the software development until now.





revised nano vacations board

remember this blasting board? ok, finally got the board revised by david prelo :)

soon we will post some more pictures on how to make this board with cardboard and fabric!

yeah, I’ve been working with circuits on fabric mainly because since beijing I don’t have a solder iron. I also don’t want to spend money and energy so fabric seems the most sustainable solution :)

nano vacationsV04


They first thing is wanted to change this time is the power supply. The ATX power supply  hack is way too much for one sensor, too loud and too expensive. Too buy a 12 v leiser  batterie that is connected to a solar pannel that recharges the batterie, is too expensive ( ding ding ding ) . So i decided to use old electrodomestic transformers.

Transformers are quite commen. Those are those black boxes that come with everything you buy that needs electricity.The work of the transformer is that is converts the 220 AC into DC and the voltages and ampers whatever is need by the consumer product.  You found them in every flewmarket in all shapes, forms and voltages and amperes.  It could be a nasty task :)

I picked up three different types all of them 12 Volt and amperes from 400 mA to 60mA and payed 2 euros each.  I took a sony which a chinch ending , a langelsbold with a handy plug ??  and a matra with a network plug.

The first one i tested was the sony.  I cut of the plug and there where just 2 wires. The measuring was 18 V. 6 Voltes more then expected( cheap multimeter proberly too ) . I workd well with the 12V waterpump from the windshield cleaner and it worked well with the electrovalve 12 V. In use or standby it gets slightly warm , which means it is not of the newest generation and that it consumes a little standby energie.

The Langenselbold didnt worked? I really dont know why. I  did a short search on google where it comes from and i found nothing. I appearas that langensbold is a town in germany.

The Mantra adapter with the network plug was i big suprise. You can power 2 pumps with on transformer. The foure wires are coloured  black, yellow, green and red and the work in pairs. The output voltage was similar between the 2 possible solutions. Grenn + yellow with 14,5 Volt and black and red with 13,6 Volt. On the  transformer is written that it powers the 11 V with 60 mA. That is significly lower then the Sony , but it worked well with the LED, pumps and electrovalve. So conlusion , just look for the voltages and it should be fine. Reuse old transformers is cheap and good and re:farm . You can power your devices easily with the wanted voltages. The current is stable and safe. With the ATX power hack i alwayes had short circuits and it was annoying to work with.  When you just work in one range of voltage a AC/DC transformer can be the choise to go for to power your selfbuild things in a clean , cheap and save way up.



summercamp at shu lea & maliks house

So after beeing occupied with a lot of other things i can spent some time on the re:farm proyect. A friend and re:farm member left me her flat and to do the watering of here plants. We suggested to use that time usefull and do some humidity sensor testing. The re:farm nano board that includes the new sensor techology will be produced in november. Till that i will try to do it without to get more dates about reactive time and calibration of the system and think about electricity for teh parts.

What i found out at my place is that the reaction time of the sensor is slow and not constat. Slow is not the problem it is even more beautyfull and fits even better to plants . The are not know for beeing the hurry typ of species :)

small, pretty and blasting :)

são paulo report and some considerations.

we try this one here in são paulo. the nano vacations.

don’t let you misleading by the nano scale. ok, it’s small (the diagram is 1/1) inexpensive 2$+ecofootprint, and can be mostly scavenge in a city.

still on the scale perspective and scales we don’t see, most of our electronics work on micro, nano or pico scale but the above inexpensive ecofootprint can be bigger than the 2$.. can be a 2K$.. we just don’t know.. I didn’t make the maths on the energy embodied  nor the ecological impact of our tools.. how many tons of minerals are dig from mountains and were are this mountains?

we extend the live of some materials but we also use a small % of new materials.

we also got “bugs” on the electronics hehehe in january I got this

20 tip 120 on a electronics market in beijing by 10$. when you connect 12v to them they just blow.. so insted of a tip120 darlington transistor I got 20 units of a 12V non reusable bomb that gives a blasting sound. if  this is exactly what you were looking for, I can sell them to you:p

so we just setup the watering system without the nano blasting board.

located here and by the bytes changed with pixel, the last day of the workshop was on the garoa hacher space.

wau, what a place.. full with electronics, friendly people and geeky too :) being geek is one of the most intensify intellectual activities in our days apart of fun, open and creative. thank’s guys ;) you will be a great partner of the SP re:farm group.

back to the small, pretty board: the idea is just to have some control over a system that has a bottle that recovers rain and a windshell water pump that handles the watering. the moister sensor (has a tribute to this guys) was made with local materials.

we got this boxes on a country fair around the corner.

daniela brought her used filter,

we got the water pump 2 doors away by 10RS

we got the soil from an hippic place

the bottle was gently offered by a local store (it’s amazing how people give you things when you ask materials to make a urban farm :)

in 3 days we got local materials, build one re:farm, one vermi-composter, eat good food, good drinks and of course made new friends :) looking forward to come back heheh


new ultra low budget re:farm board (aka mini-vacations)

we have been working on this our A3 re:farm. everything fits on a A3 envelop ;)



we need to change our strategy over the electronics. the arduino platform is to expensive and truth to be said is like that guy that as a big car to drive on the island. we really don’t this that much electronics or processing capability of the ATMEGA.. so let’s shrink the design of the board and reduce the bill :)

A3 refarm electronics

pressure switch communication

So it definetly works!!!  My depest repect to you Mr. Medici. Your self automated watering sytem is the best low budget automated watering sytem and it beats all comercial products. 10 John Meda simplicity points for your design. I definitely fall in love with it :).

What i have seen is that it took nearly 49 houres for the plant to consume sufficent water and to overcome the hight distance between pressureswitch and ceramic sensor to do the switch.

To do the reverse operation it took nearly 50 min or to be less precise 1 hour. I handwatered the plant with about 400ml of water , directly , no dripping system. Thats the next point about this system. If it is indoor it must be precise , otherwise you water your carpet too. This will be relationated with the tubes-diameter, folds and switches inside the system, the kind of valve and pressureswitch, the waterpressure, the hight of the watertank etc.. But it is not a real problem you can addjust all this parameters with the height of the pressureswitch.

mange bien :)

Till i find out how the wiring is done for the pressure switches i decided to make a little test about the response time of the system. What i want to find out now is,  do that really works at my place with my parts and how much time my plant needs to drink the water from the switch and does it  switches. If this is done I will water the plant by hand and i will see if the process will be reversed and the switch will go back in his OFF state.

The plant is a present from a friend of us and I have no idea what typ it is, but I very happy with it and sometimes when I’m out I give here a place next to the window to enjoy the day. I watered that plant  in summer at here house and it is a very thirsty type. In a previous posting about the ceramic sensor i found out that the plant consumes about 15 ml in 24h. ( proberly, I  didn’t measured they water amount , because i dont have that equipment ).

I filled the switch and the sensor with water , and it is imposible ( with my tubes etc… ) that you dont have air in the system, but i  think that that will not be a problem. So i filled everything. The switch made click. It just takes a little amount of water, my tubes are very small, so i think the system is quite responsive.

I checked they continuity at my ports and they measuring gave me the values:

Filled = switch OFF = pin 21 + 23  =  000 /   pin 21 + 22 = 1

so during the next 24 h they continuity should change if they plant drinks the water from the switch.( yummy )

What I forther  did was to water the plant a little around the sensor. As you can see in the foto the water passed the earth and a little stayed in the groundplate. What I have seen then is that the earth absorbed that water during one hour into the system and that made the bubbles in the tube move down( 2 cm) . So it looks like that he system is really good responsive :). One point more , the switch is 40 cm under the flower pot, that is importend , because the system and the pressure relates to the difference in height from the sensor to the switch.

pressure switches / pressostate

The 2 differnt types i bought and i have no idea how they really work, but with the help of the internet I found out that one of them is  from a dishwasher and not from a washing machine. With a multimeter I made a continuity tests and it looks like that one is having 1 trip points and the other is having 2 trip points.

With the contiuty test you can test the pins how they respond and if the work.  You just have to measure two  pins and them blow into the switch, if the switch works you hear a click from the switch and the continuity will change from 1 to a 3 digit number and vice verce. Those pins will later be connected to the solenoid valve or water pump and send the signal to water our plants :)

Here is small video that explains pressure switches.
youtube pressure switch video

marché aux puces (fleamarket)

In search of the pressure-switches i decided one grey sunday to go the marché aux puces at  Porte de Clignancourt, which is  the bigest fleamarket and the oldest fleamarket  worldwide. It is a marvellous place where 3 times a week you can find from  very antic furniture and aireplanparts  till the latest underground french hip hop bootleg from the banlieu and other curriosities. And you can get there pressure switches. I bought 2 different types and a small motor for test reasons for a very nice price.  It was very nice day out in Paris :)

a new watering system

So piece by piece we are moving forward, I had a another meeting with AAA, this time with Doina the cofounder of AAA and Leonard from Guerilla Gardening – Paris who is doing currently an intership at there office. Doina explaned me that she is definetly interested to make an automatic watering system. Something that we  not proposed, because they are always at there Office. During the conversation we came, with the help of Leonard,  with a lot of different solutions up, but we didn’t convinced ourselfs to a final solution. Leonard showed me a watering system that is commonly used in Paris that i didn’t know before. It works with capillerty of ceramics and is basically the modern version of the ceramic mug in the earth. In Paris I have seen in the balconies plastic bottles standing out of the flowerbeds and I wasn’t really sure what this is all about.  There a several types of that ceramic watering system and you can find them easily by  goolgeling. During my study of that ceramic system I came across a paper by an brazilien agriculture scientist named Leonardo Oliveira Medici. He and his team developed a automatic selfwatering system that uses ceramic water purification capsules as humidity sensors. You can find the whole text here. Since measuring humidity with electric conductivity is not always satisfying I will try to install that system.

AAA allready developed various drip gravity watering systems, so for there future proyects it could be a good and easily to assembly solution and could be used in there backyard.

The foto shows a comercial ceramic watering system that i bought ( 5 Euros) and the consume of water by a single plant at roomtemperatur during 24h.

we got a lab

F.. long time that we’ve been struggling to have it and now we were invited to use it as much as we can :D

refarm the city project was invited to participate on the development of ecoLAB, an initiative of plantaformacero born at LABoral art center of gijon. it’s a one year collaborative project were we are going to develop some tools for urban farmers. but the best part is that we will not be alone :) great guests were invited: andy gracie, susanna tesconi, the guys from zoohaus, cova dos ratos, our friends maki, rubén and other collectives from spain.

here is our canvas

we will dedicate a page to these developments, go and check it :)

waste or food

by traveling from city to city I find different sources of the stuff I need, different ways to get to them and big differences on how its each city manage the inputs and outputs of resources. one of the outputs that we have been very concerned here on re:farm is the organic material that a city produce and it’s mostly wasted in big cities. more than wasted, is being mixed with paper, plastics or glass making the “eventualy” recycling process even more painfully. all the organic material produced by our kitchen, restaurants, markets and their super relatives are the raw material for your first step into farming.

you need to get good soil and cheap and this is very easy and simple: our organic waste is food for worms and their waste is food for our vegetables. with this in mind we are gonna setup this new mega composter at Andes and monitor the life of the worms and friends.

the winter is coming so we don’t expect a big grow in the worms population. as everything in nature this will take time. we will follow the live of this object and also see how the materials applied evolve. I’ve design a house for worms with places for them to rest, feed and live. a hexagonal frame?! why not? inspired by nature and a link to the global ecological disaster that is happen right now in the bees superfamily and with their unique position in our live cycle. hard days for our vegetables and belies will come without the bees ;( follow the evolution of this project on this dedicated page

The LEDs are on the wall

Greetings!  I’m happy to make my introduction here on the Re:Farm blog.  My name is Andrew O’Malley and I’m a Canadian artist/engineer.  My main artistic interests are animated lighting installations and fixtures, and electronic music production and DJ’ing.

[ Eyebeam bio ]

These interests have brought me to NYC for the summer of 2010, where I’ve connected with Hernani’s Re:Farm project through his residency at Eyebeam.

My first objective is to create the PCB (circuit board) for the Re:Farm On The Wall module, a data visualization module using an LED display to present data away from the computer screen.

Here’s Hernani’s original sketch for displaying the soil moisture level from 6 sensors:

This design uses 7 LEDs to display the soil moisture level for each of 6 sensors (42 in all).  The design concept has been formalized as seen below:

The module still has 7 LEDs for each sensor (or farm/garden), but with the addition of LEDs between the groups (for a total of 48) to create a complete circle which can be used with other templates, such as the one below, for visualizing other data such as temperature or humidity:

Ideally, the board will also incorporate a stepper motor to drive a needle (like a speedometer) for an additional data channel.

I’m going to first concentrate on the LED display.  Since the board will make use of an ATMEGA microcontroller (Arduino) chip and an XBee radio (to receive the data), real estate on the approx. 3″ x 3″ board is already a bit tight, so I am currently researching Charlieplexing, an LED driving scheme which allows N*(N-1) LEDs to be directly driven by N pins of the microcontroller.  8 data pins from the microcontroller  can thus be used to control the 48 LEDs since Charlieplexing with 8 pins allows control of up to 8*7=56 LEDs.

At The Next HOPE conference this past weekend, Jimmie P. Rogers was demo’ing and selling his LoL (Lots of LEDs) Shields for the Arduino.  He has a great post about his work with Charlieplexing which I’m currently consulting.  Talk about serendipity!

In a way, the overlap between the needs of Hernani’s project and my own interests in lighting and internet-enabled lighting fixtures is serendipitous as well.

More soon!

garden and electronics

As you know re:farm has its own electronic hardware.  A  selfdesigned electronic card that is a all in one solution for the electronic enthusiastic farmer. A full functional adruino on board, humidity sensor,  light sensor etc etc. // detailed information on the wiki ->re:farm on vacation board
I haven’t paid for it till now, so i dont know the price for it. Just to mention that. It comes naked with all the parts that you can than later sold onto it by yourself. Quite a funny task. I had hardly ever solded electronics chips, something that is quite small and fine to work with.  Generall i  had a littlepit of respect for that small electronic parts, at least for the digital parts. They break easily, or at least you think, but this is something that changes when you get used too working with them. It changes from esoteric to something quite physical, which i think is a good step ahead. The solding is quite simple. I followed the manual made by hernani. Now with the wiki it is way more easy i think. I just solded one part wrong. The electronic parts look quite the same and the diagram hernani made was usefull but strange but true – one photo says more than a diagram:).

Solding the card is quite an easy task and you can make it all in one day easily whitout any previous knowledge. The testing is a bit more complicated. I have a basic knowlede of adruino and electricity, but something simple how do i plug this thing in needs his own tutorial, but with the help of hernani we made the first testing with my waterpump and my re:farm on vacations board is ready to let it rain.
The foto shows hernani, with my card hooked up to the powersupply of an old computer and the waterpump from my car that found his final rest in a car cementary here in Barcelona.  Rest in peace Astrobotnia , at least some of your parts get reincarneted in an urban garden. That is quite a good afterlive.