2019 Team28

Project Overview  |  Proof of Concept  |  Final Design  |  Fabrication  |  Testing and Results  |  Meet the Team  |  Acknowledgements

Project Overview

Hydroponic systems will prohibit the user from efficiency standards in many ways; the consumer has little knowledge of the biochemistry used in plants, little knowledge of the maintenance of the system, and can’t afford the current systems. These factors lead to inefficient plant growth which goes against why hydroponics has come to be. These inefficiencies lead to loss of material including plants, water, nutrients, and entire systems. There is a space for a system that alleviated these burdens from the consumer by monitoring all important growth properties and self-adjusting for the benefit of the plant. This will cause less waste in all of the above fields. The project will be easy to use, as the customers will just have to fill the consumed material every while in order to get the cycle going. However, everything else will be automated in case of the water renewing, PH level control, water temperature, and nutrient providing during the cycle.


Proof of Concept

The proposed product belongs to the growing field of automated hydroponics systems that can actively further plant growth with little user maintenance. A majority of the competition in the hydroponics business is from large producers that aren’t developing smaller, in-home, systems.  There are some companies that have developed in-home systems, but they are currently very expensive, and are not customizable to consumer needs. The team has conducted ample research and is working to collaborate with the University of Nevada’s hydroponics research efforts. Much of the business conducted in this emerging field is direct distribution to individual consumers. This provides the opportunity for a new company that can distribute custom and standard systems in large, affordable, quantities.

Sierra Nevada Auto-Ponics created a proof of concept for the proposed autonomous hydroponic system. This includes a schematic for the pH, nutrient, height, and temperature sensor system The sensor system provided help to proof the design aspect of automation within the team’s hydroponic system. The main goal of our system is to enable every user to be able to have their own successful hydroponic system. These sensors will monitor the key parts of plant success. If we are able to successfully monitor these readings, we will be able to adjust the levels in order for the plant to flourish.

Below, in Fig. 1, is the solid works assembly for our current PoC enclosure.

Additionally, we have also included the wiring diagram below in Fig. 2 for the PoC testing of the appropriate sensors.

Figure 2. System Control for Autonomous Hydroponics System


Final design

Purpose: The purpose of Sierra Nevada Autoponics is to create an affordable autonomous hydroponic system. This design will take care of all of the hassle of watering, feeding, adjusting PH levels, and giving proper lighting to your plants. This will make a more acquirable and easy hydroponic experience for the home enthusiast.

To accomplish this goal there are a few sub-systems. A sensing system that will check on the plants environment, an adjusting system that will change Ph level, Nutrients, Humidity, and Temperature, a water cycling and cleaning system, and of course a plant housing. All of these systems together will take the manual input out of growing a plant. The user will only have to put the plant in and then allow the machine do its thing. Every so often, depending on the plant, the user may need to change water or adjust the height of the light. Other then that, the User will be able to be hands off for the entire life of the plant, maxing out at 3 months.

Accomplishing these goals while sticking to a budget of 1000 dollars created some interesting issues. Affordable options were chosen and redesigns took place to ensure that the system was not being overpriced or over engineered. From our initial design we changed almost everything in order to accomplish this goal. We changed from 2 tanks to 3 and added a tiered light system that makes it so the light does not create constant lift to keep in place.




Testing and Results



Meet the Team

Omar Abdelzaher

My name is Omar Abdelzaher, and I am a Mechanical Engineering student from Doha, Qatar. During my career, I got a chance to take an internship over the summer at Qatar Airways which was helpful and challenging for me in many different ways as I visited most of the planning department. I also worked in an engineering workshop for two consecutive summers, as an assistant engineer building geodesic domes structures and supervising labor which was challenging for me as I had to review all the designs and assist the worker as they are working which helped my engineering machines skills. My goal is to get in an internship next semester to gain more experience. After graduation I want to get involved in the airlines business as a fleet engineer, I also would like to bring something new for the airplane’s systems.






Patrick Black

I am Patrick Black, Mechanical Engineering student from Las Vegas, Nevada. While at UNR I’ve attained Supervisor position of the Audio-Visual Department at the Joe Crowley Student Union and am the 2019 Regent of my Fraternity, Theta Tau. These are the achievements I’m most proud of attaining while continuing with my course work. My main interests are electronics and 3D Printing and combining them in creative and challenging ways. I’m hoping to attain a position where I am able to prototype and design interesting products in the entertainment industry.







Andrew Folkins

My name is Andrew Folkins and I’m a Mechanical Engineering student from Las Vegas, NV. My favorite project at UNR was an Entrepreneurship class I took in which we had to take a technology being worked on at the university and figure out a way to make a business out of it. With this project I learned how to see what is really good or bad in an idea and how to take that and make something to put on the market. It really helps in any field or job how to think like an entrepreneur. I want to go into the Aerospace Industry. In particular I want to work on bringing new ideas and purposes into the satellite market. I also would like to work on solutions to the current space debris problem.





Drake Hudson

My name is Drake Hudson, and I am a mechanical engineering student from Sacramento California. I started my passion with soildworks in my youth but developed more over the last summer with my internship in Henderson Nv as a design engineer; I look forward to further my experience with soildworks in my coursework. My main interests are in the hydroponic industry and automotive businesses. I look forward to obtaining a position that would challenge my design work in soildworks and that would help bring new advancements to a growing market.







Austin Kost

My name is Austin Kost, and I am a mechanical engineering student from Las Vegas, Nevada. During my studies at the University of Nevada, Reno, I have had numerous opportunities to engage in active research both here in Reno and abroad. I have spent the two previous summers in Germany working with automated systems in research labs, which has greatly influenced my career interests. My hope is to obtain a masters in robotics or manufacturing to further my career aspirations in automated manufacturing.