Sensei Cell


Sensei Cell is a prototype for an automated greenhouse.

View of the inside

This is a “Sensei Thing” project build around FabLab Palermo for the Intel Talent contest initiative within MakerFaire 2015. Check out the instructables .

An isolated chamber built from a cylindrical display has been transformed in a greenhouse with two separated environments.

A wood panel has been used as a support for the electronic system.

Engraved wood panel

The wood has been cut and engraved with a laser cutter, providing the holes for cabling, forming the instruction schema and appearing as a “logical board” that contains and illustrates the system.

An LCD screen, and two set of icons drilled on wood and lightened by leds, builds the “physical” User Interface.

The system

The system is composed by four specialized Arduino modules and a central intelligence hosted by an Intel Edison board.
Communication happens on the USB bus through a common USB hub connecting the Arduino peripherals to the Edison board.

Arduino modules

Electronics on the panel

  • LCDInterface
    An Arduino Uno with an LCD KeyPad Shield, allow to check main values directly.
    This reports key pressed to the system and is able to receive text to be printed on the display.
  • SensorsModule (x2)
    For each compartment, an Arduino Nano with a Sensors Shield takes care of the sensors and icons leds.
    Sensors values are reported to the system that can also drive icons leds according to central processing.
  • RelayModule
    An Arduino Uno drives a 8xRelays module to switch loads on and off. These will operate the water pump, the humidifier, fans and lights.

Intel Edison

The Intel Edison board hosts the central intelligence driving the system and the User Interface.
This is provided by Sensei Open Source Things Server.

Sensei Server


Logical overview

This is an Open Source project by Sensei Team aiming to provide a customizable, easy to use server infrastructure to build IoT projects from simple to complex ones in a modular way.

It’s build with Open Source and cross platform technologies as: BashMySQLPHPHTML5JS.

Sensei Server takes care of:

    • communicating with Arduino modules, reading values and sending commands
    • archiving data and aggregating averages per second, minute, hour
    • providing interactive charts for each measure of the system

full view chart

  • managing scheduled tasks
  • continuously monitoring sensors values and dynamical react according on thresholds
  • hosting an Access Point to expose the web based user interface
  • monitoring the system itself trying to recover from failures
  • and much more..


  • Schermata del 2015-09-24 14:47:38

    chart dashboard

    Power on the system

  • wait for the boot to finish (a melody will notify the event)
  • connect to #SENSEI WiFi network
  • Insert password: SenseiMonitorWIFI
  • browse
  • enjoy!


  • build your greenhouse chamber
    or start from something existing (for example, we started from a cylindrical commercial display, that could easily be reproduced).
  • prepare your back panel
    if you have access to a laser cutter (as a service maybe) you can use our project to be directly engraved. Otherwise you can start from a blank panel and use the project schematics as a reference for drilling and assembling.
  • assemble Arduino modules
    follow the instructions to wire the modules, download the corresponding firmware and flash it through Arduino IDE. You can test each module individually with Arduino Serial Monitor, sending a GET command for instance (baud: 9600, eol: NL).
  • prepare the Intel Edison
    follow this guide for Ubilinux but flash the Sensei Server image instead.
  • power supply system
    this will mostly depend on the loads your will use. You will probably need 5v, 12v and maybe 24v power lines. You can start from an ATX power supply (providing 3.3V, 5V and 12V) or from a 12V PSU normally sold as led drivers and then use DC-DC step-down/step-up to get what you need.
  • mount the boards and wire the panel
    follow the panel schematic as a guide to connections and position of elements.
  • test everything
    remember to properly test everything, particularly power lines, with your multi-meter to ensure current is flowing as expected in the system before powering on.
  • power on


Other Pictures

IMG-20150902-WA0019  IMG-20150902-WA0015  IMG_20150902_002211  IMG_20150901_234455 IMG_20150901_234449  IMG_20150901_215805  IMG_20150901_060808  IMG_20150831_140420 IMG_20150831_140336        IMG_20150831_140324