As hackers, technologist, and engineers, we tend to be very good at building systems to automate our lives, or perhaps entertain us before being converted to “shelfware.” Plants—specifically flowers—require a different mindset in that they must be planted, tended until “working,” then maintained with water, sunlight, and nutrients week after week after week.
Nikodem Bartnik is no exception to this rule, and his mentions his “flowers are not in good condition because [he] always forgot to water them.” To help with this problem, he came up with Flotcher. This device measures changes in electrical flow between two pads on his PCB plugged into the earth surrounding a plant, and sounds a buzzer when it’s too dry. Discreet components like resistors and transistors as used here, which are not only cheaper, but helped Bartnik learn something new for this project.
He’s selling these units as PCBs only, so you’ll need to purchase your own transistors, beeper, etc. separately. You might also note that the transistors and resistors used are surface-mount. While this will likely require tweezers to get things attached, Bartnik notes that this isn’t as hard as you might think, so it could be a good intro into this world of tiny space-saving components!
For another watering solution, you might also check out the Chirp! alarm profiled here.