Category Archives: Paludarium

Adding software features to Artemis

New things! Everything is progressing nicely. Did additional testing on the 230VAC detection circuit and wrote software to read SHT31 digital humidity/temperature sensors. Also added a ClosedLoop function so analog inputs can be used to compare to store values and have an outputs act on the comparison.

230VAC detection

Finally I had the time to properly measure the mains voltage inputs. No shorts or anything… So I decided to go on and plug in the mains voltage into the Artemis.

The 230VAC detection circuit is connected to D48 (ICP5 on the Arduino), which mean I could potentially measure the exact frequency of the mains AC voltage. Still, I do not require to have that, so instead I built a simple timer that resets if the phase comes up, and counts down if the phase disappears. This way I always have a stable reading on the signal, even when the Artemis accidentally measures on an exact phase zero crossing.

        if (digitalRead(PIN_230V_DETECT) == LOW) // Active? Reset Timer.
        {
                TIM_50HzDetect = 10;
        }
        else
        {
                if (TIM_50HzDetect) // Not active -> count 2 zero and stay.
                {
                        TIM_50HzDetect--;
                }
        }
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Putting Artemis through it paces

The hardware is finally in! This post is a geeky tech post as a result 😉 I had some issues soldering an SMT component that was not in stock at the PCB manufacturer… So I needed to solder that manually. After that the rest of the THT components were soldered, and then it was test, update software, test, update software.

Just like the computer render – but this time it is for real! The first prototype is just about ready to go!

Manually soldering a TSSOP28

As I quickly discovered – no fun. The Chinese PCB manufacturer mounted all SMT components, except one: The PCA9685 PWM timer which was out of stock.

So I ordered the chips separately and manually soldered the thing. Using a soldering iron and soldering flux I managed to get the component soldered. Up close it is REALLY ugly, but eh, it works:

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Artemis hardware ordered!

After looking at the schematic, looking over it again and once more, then at the PCB once more… I decided there could not be too much wrong with the design as-is… So I pulled the trigger and ordered five PCBs including SMT parts!

After Artemis v1.00 was almost sent to production I did make some last minute changes. That resulted in v1.01 of the hardware. Yesterday was a big day: I finally uploaded my design to jlcpcb.com and progressed with the order!

Exciting! The PCB or Artemis v1.01 finally went into production.
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Final tweaking to Artemis, the smart paludarium controller

Getting ready to have the main PCB built in China, I discovered some things that made me rethink… And make some pretty radical changes to the PCB… Enter v1.01!

Change 1: PWM for LEDs in high-res

The most major change “came to light” when I played with a prototype to control my new LED panel. Right now it uses PWM directly from the Arduino, so that is 256 steps (8 bit resolution).

But especially at lower light intensities I can see the LEDs take their steps. As I also have 16 channels controlled by a PCA9685 chip which is 12 bit resolution (so 4096 steps), I decided to use the PCA9685 outputs to run lighting. This in turn meant I needed to rethink which outputs work on 12V and which ones work on 24V. In the end I solved the puzzle and came up with a clean design:

Artemis v1.01: Changes to the layout of 12V and 24V power feeds and connectors. Note the large 6 pin connectors on the left: They are 24V RGB-CCT outputs now run from the PCA9685 PWM chip.
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Paludarium 2.5: Small but nice

Yes I admit. I have been building a paludarium without writing about any of it..! So trying to make things right, here is my current setup.

My last post on the current paludarium was around building a new cabinet under “some new paludarium”. Well, that paludarium was actually completed quite a while ago, and here it is!

Paludarium 2019 (or version 2.5). 50x50x120cm, 30cm of water.

So this paluadarium has been running for over a year already, in fact almost two years at the time of this writing. It was inspired by my wife: “Designing something you want will take years. Why not build a simple version that you can enjoy NOW while designing something new?”. And I did just that.

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Paludarium 2020: Electronics!

I admit… I have failed to post any new blogs on my current Paludarium setup. I posted the construction of the wooden cabinet… And then it stopped. I did however finish the build, and maybe I’ll add a post on that one later. In this post I introduce a new paludarium design, and it is getting ready to be actually build! It is going to be bigger, better, faster, more! ehhh… more automated than EVER.

The problem with these larger projects is that there are SO many bits and pieces to put together. Today I am writing up part one as I am almost ready to push the button on ordering a complete PCB that will contain practically all electronics required for my new Paludarium 2020 build!

Requirements for the electronics

I wanted to be sure I’d create a PCB that has all stuff on board I might be needing, without overdoing things. Still, I ended up with a huge amount of speeds and feeds. Here they are in random order:

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Building paludarium 2.5

Yes, paludarium 2.5. Not 3.0 (yet). It was taking too long to construct version 3.0, so now I’ve started to build version 2.5, which is a high-tech version but not in the new acrylic houseing. It will be a classic glass construction like the ones I’ve built before.

Building the wooden table

The glass paludarium is already here, and it is 50cm x 50cm x 100cm (length x depth x height) in size, with 28cm of water. Before building the paludarium out I wanted to construct Read more »

Thinking up The Paludarium 3.0

As I have moved between houses, I decided to not move the paludarium with me. A hard decision, but also an important step forward; building something new will allow me to think different once again.

One primary reason not to move the current paludarium (v2.0 if you will) was the fact that the new place where the paludarium would sit should again have access to tapwater and sewer. Then add the complexity of the move itself. Another not totally unimportant reason was the fact that my new home really did not have a decent space to fit a paludarium of this shape. So I found a new home for the inhabitants and sold the glass box. Including the “canopy” (after I removed its “brains” though).

Next I figured out that it would actually be an awesome chance to Read more »

On our way to Costa Rica!

My first blogpost from high in the skies! Right now we are headed to Fort Lauderdale for a connected flight out to Costa Rica. Having internet up here is definitely something new for us, but it’s really great (and gives me some time to write this up)

We are sooo excited to be visiting Costa Rica… Many things to see, maybe I’ll get some cool ideas for any creatures living on the dry part of the paludarium

Costa Rica here we come!


It is almost time for our trip to Costa Rica. I can’t wait! There will be plenty of animals to photograph, and I am especially exited to visit the La Selva Biological station where the Paludarium gets its meteorological data from.



Travel plans

In a few days we’ll be touching down at the San José International airport. From there we’ll be renting a full-size SUV, which we are probably going to need.

From the airport we’ll head over to Heliconia Island, a nice place with many things to see. Most exciting of all, we will be visiting the La Selva Biological Station and finally see where the Paludarium’s values all come from!

Next we will be travelling around Costa Rica and visit the Monteverde Cloud Forest, the Los Quetzales national park and finally Corcovado National park which may be a bit exciting to reach given the fact that you need to cross some rivers by car that may have too much water when we arrive to cross decently.

Routes we'll be travelling while in Costa Rica

Routes we’ll be travelling while in Costa Rica




Things we’ll be looking out for

As I am very much into photography of all living things, I’m hoping to find poison dart frogs, lizards, snakes, scorpions, spiders and insects. On top of that we’ll be scouting for larger animals like mammals and birds.

If I have the time (and the internet connection) I’ll be posting some more blogs as we move through beautiful Costa Rica.

Pura Vida!