FarmBot: open source backyard robot for a fully automated garden

In the front yard of Rory Aronson’s San Luis Obispo home (that he shares with 9 roommates), a robot is tending his garden- seeding, watering, weeding and testing the soil- while he controls it from his his phone. FarmBot is what he calls “humanity’s open-source automated precision farming machine”.

As a student at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo he was inspired by a guest lecture in his organic agriculture class, “when a traditional farmer came in talking about some of the tractor technology he’s using on his farm and I looked at that and said, ‘Wait a minute, I can do that better’, explains Aronson. “The first thing that I thought of when I thought of the idea was, ‘Oh this probably exists let me go look it up’ and I scoured the Internet. I was amazed actually, that there was not a CNC-type farming equipment already existing so I said, well, I guess it’s up to me.”

During the summer after graduation Aronson wrote a white paper to outline his ideas and within days he had the attention of “software developers, open-source enthusiasts, ag specialists, mechanical engineers, and more”. After several years of iterations and a crowdfunding campaign that has raised over a million dollars, the FarmBot team (Rory and programmers based worldwide) will release the FarmBot Genesis in early 2017.

Using an Arduino and Raspberry Pi, FarmBots are “giant 3D printers, but instead of extruding plastic, its tools are seed injectors, watering nozzles, sensors, and more.” If you want to print your own, the specs are all free and open source, but if you’d rather buy an all-inclusive kit, it will cost you $2900, a number Aronson says will come down with time. He sees it as a long-term investment. “Because it’s so based in software, all of the functions, it will get better over time so even if you bought a kit today the hardware won’t change, but the software will allow it to do more and more things over time”.

“My long-term vision for FarmBot is that it’s a home appliance,” explains Aronson. “Just like everyone has a refrigerator and a washing machine and a drier maybe you have a Farmbot too and in the backyard doing it’s thing and it’s like a utility that you use. You turn on the water on your faucet and water comes out, you go out into your backyard and there’s food that’s been grown for you.”

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5 Open Source Home Automation Tools

The Internet of Things isn’t necessarily a buzzword, it’s a quickly growing fact.

With an ever-rising number of devices offered to help you automate, protect, and monitor your residence, it has never before been easier nor more tempting to have a go at home automation. Whether you’re seeking to manipulate your HVAC(Heating Ventilating Air Conditioning) system remotely, add in a home entertainment, guard your home from fraud, fire, or other risks, decrease your energy usage, or simply just control a few lights, there are lots of devices offered at your disposal.

While connected devices usually contain exclusive components, a good starting point in bringing open source into your home automation system is to assure the device which ties your devices together-and presents you with an interface to them (the “hub”)-is open source. The good news is, you will discover numerous solutions in existence, with choices to run on everything from your always-on computer to a Raspberry Pi.

Read about a few of our favorites.


Calaos is designed as a full-stack home automation platform, including a server application, touchscreen display screen interface, web application, native mobile phone applications for android and ios, and a preconfigured Linux operating platform to run underneath. English speaking readers should be advised that, while some English documentation can be obtained, a few of the instructional material and also support discussion forums are generally in French.

Calaos is licensed under version 3 of the GPL and you can view its source on GitHub.


Domoticz is a home automation system with a rather wide library of supported devices, which range from weather stations to smoke detectors to remote controls, with a great number of added 3rd party integrations documented on the project’s webpage. It is designed with an HTML5 frontend, making it reachable from both desktop computer web browsers and most up-to-date mobile phones, and is light in weight, running on scores of low power devices such as the Raspberry Pi.

Domoticz is written mostly in C/C++ under the GPLv3, and its source code can certainly be browsed on GitHub.

Home Assistant

Home Assistant is an open source home automation platform, and is designed to be conveniently deployed on practically any machine that can run Python 3, from a Raspberry Pi to a NAS system, and also comes with a Docker container to make implementing on other systems a piece of cake. It incorporates with a range of open source and also business oriented offerings, making it possible to link, to illustrate, IFTTT, weather information, or your Amazon Echo device, to manages from locks to lights to even a command line notifier.

Home Assistant is released under an MIT license, and its source is offred from GitHub.


OpenHAB (stand for Open Home Automation Bus) is on the list of most widely known home automation tools amongst open source hobbyists, with a significant user community and quite a lot of supported devices and integrations. Written in Java, openHAB is light and portable across a large number of major platforms and even runs very well on the Raspberry Pi. Supporting hundreds of devices, openHAB is designed to be device-agnostic while making it easier for developers to incorporate their own devices or plugins to the system. OpenHAB also ships android and ios applications for device control, together with a design tools enabling you to build your own UI for your home system.

You can find openHAB’s source on GitHub licensed under the Eclipse Public License.


OpenMotics is a home automation system with both hardware and software under open source licenses, designed at providing a comprehensive system for handling devices rather than stitching together a wide range of devices from various providers. Not like several of the other systems designed mostly for simple retrofitting, OpenMotics specializes in a conventional hardwired solution. To get more detailed, see our full article from OpenMotics backend developer Frederick Ryckbosch.

The source for OpenMotics is licensed under the GPLv2 and is obtainable for download on GitHub.

These aren’t the only options, surely. A wide range of home automation fans opt for a different solution, or even commit to roll their particular. A few other potential choices to think of comprise LinuxMCE, PiDome, MisterHouse or smarthomatic. Other people go for unique smart home devices without adding them into a single all-encompassing system.

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