LASR Project: Ben Ford ’15 “An Arduino-Controlled SproutBox”

Linda D'Arco
Senior Ben Ford is no stranger to tinkering with robots. In fact, Ben played a major role in the founding and success of the WMS VEX Robotics Team last year— a team that beat the reigning world champions in their very first season together.

In addition to leading the Robotics Team this year, Ben has designed a LASR project that suits his interests in computer programming and making a difference in the world. Ben’s project, the “Sprout Box” is an Arduino-controlled automated bean sprout growing machine, complete with a variety of sensors, fans, pumps, etc.

Ben’s mentor, Director of Technology Ben Moss says, “The goal, besides building something that could potentially help fight malnutrition around the world, is to create this device complete with all the DIY instructions that anyone who wanted to build it themselves would need. This includes the programming source code, schematics for the circuits and a full materials list.” 

“The computer that you see Ben working on here was actually built from scratch using components as part of a LASR Project from last year with Zheng Li ’15. We built that computer. It is a super powerhouse machine.”

I ran into Ben’s father at a recent cross country meet and we talked briefly about Ben’s Sprout Box. His father told me he was very excited to see where the project would lead, as it was reminiscent of something he had done his senior year in college!

So where is Ben Ford with his project now? He wrote recently, “Today was used to begin to learn how we would power the Arduino. The current plan is to use two 6V batteries in series, then use those two in parallel to power the system, in effect creating a 12V battery bank. The idea is that the batteries will be charged by a solar panel which will be one circuit. To prevent back-flow, a diode will be added to the circuit to ensure that current only flows in one direction and does not go back the other way.”

Learn more and follow Ben’s progress on his blog, here.
Thanks for telling us about your work, Ben!

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