One of the OpenAg Food Server™ 2.0's main points of control is its lighting. Collecting data on how our plants of interest respond to various photoperiods, photospectra, and light intensities is a primary thrust of the project. I desigend the light panel under a set of electrical, mechanical, and biological design constraints. It's form factor, power consumption, and light and heat emitting properties guided the final design.
The panel's mechanical form factor was designed around our modular rack-based system inside of the container. Each grow table is housed on a 2x4' mobile rack. The panel itself behaves as a "shelf" on the rack, with the ability to be slid into any position along its height. This allows for easy adjustability and fastening throughout an experiment's full life cycle, from seedling to 3'-tall cotton.
Not all photospectra are created equal. Most plant life thrives in a color spectrum not similar to that thrown off by a standard yellow fluorescent or incandescent bulb. I worked with GE to formulate our plants' ideal balance of color and subsequent LED components to integrate into the panel.
The final design delivers dimming and balancing between red, blue, and white color channels. This allows for our current experimentation with light stress on flavor quality, and triggering cotton and other plants' reproductive and flowering phases by way of scheduled photospectral changes.
As with all indoor horticultural lighting operations, heat is a primary concern. The driver board for each rack's light panel is able to be detached and routed outside of the container, alleviating the grow space's primary heat source. In the interim, the board conveniently sits on top of the rack, maximizing our vertical space.
I lead the panel's development from prototype to production. Initial designs were rapidly prototyped at the MIT Media Lab shop with two-dimensional cutting tools. After finalizing the panel's design, I outsourced production to current collaborators, HortLED, who assmebled 60 of the panels for integration into our container systems.