Futurising our Farm


For my 40th birthday party back in September, we put on the invite if you want to give a gift (which you don’t need to at all) then please chip in some cash towards my (Brenton’s) plans to ‘Futurise’ our farm.

Now what on earth does that actually mean?

Well it goes way back to when i was a boy….

Back then growing up on the family farm (14kms away from our farm as the crow flies) my dad was both a farmer, a telecom/telstra technician, amateur radio ham, and electronics repair person.

So i got into electronics. I made ‘bugs’ (electronic eavesdropping devices), things that flashed, and then along the way got quite interested in control and automation including trying to create my own robots and such like thingys.

Well that passion for using technology to control and automate the world around me hasn’t ever left me, even though it might have gone ‘dormant’ for a little while.

Interestingly in the last few years while still in Canberra, a mate of mine, Rick, mentioned in passing something called a Raspberry Pi and an Arduino. I thought he had lost a couple marbles initially, but as i listened, and then did some research I came to the “slightly shocking but in a good way” conclusion that while I had been focusing on growing and learning as a leader with Fusion, finding and marrying the most beautiful women in the world, and making babies, I had missed a good decade or two of development in terms of open source electronics devices and the Internet of Things (IoT).

So with the move to SA I sensed it was a good moment to dust off the skills, the soldering technique (along with all the other ones like welding, plumbing, building etc etc etc!) and the electronics theory and reawaken those dreams and passions i had as a boy to control and make life easier using technology – and it’s gotten a whole lot more interesting and fun while i was focusing on learning many other lessons!

So in essence what i’m hoping to do is use technology to do things like:

  • control our lights
  • monitor and control our security system
  • sense things like temperature, humidity, smoke, gas, doors being open etc
  • monitor our off grid power system
  • automate our irrigation system
  • automate our chook yard (so┬áno more forgetting to put the chooks in)
  • monitor our soil moisture
  • open and close our gates
  • and do all this remotely from my smartphone!

To what end you may well ask?

Well firstly f20161109_093831or the fun of it. But secondly and as importantly, to demonstrate to others a little of what is possible, and if it gets to the point, setup a business down the track helping others do the same. And thirdly, to save one of our most valuable things – time – so we can invest it in other areas.

But that’s getting ahead of ourselves.

On the left is a photo of an old box I pulled apart, using some of the existing electronics like the power supply and plugs, and then installing a MySensors relay actuator node with a temperature and humidity sensor.20161203_152848

This pmysensors-logo-croppedroject took me about a month from start to finish working at nights and when i could during the day, to complete it. It’s now installed up in our Loft where the kids sleep, controlling their LED strip lights, and telling me the temperature and humidity of the Loft!

I’ve started working on my next project which is automating our newly installed chook house (an old cubby from our Pastor’s place i picked up for free) with two automatic doors, internal lights, temp and humidity sensor, camera and fox deterrents.


So until the next episode in this new category “Futurising our Farm”.