Farmbot Update and the end of my Internship

Today was my last day at work and it was very sad to leave. The team is smaller than when I started so I have had more freedom to develop my project but there are also fewer people to play table football with at lunch!

As promised, I will talk a bit about the projects I have been working on in this post. These 6 weeks have flown by, probably because work has been fun (almost) every day. I have been developing the Farmbot project. A Farmbot is a robot which you can either make yourself or buy as a kit online which will plant, look after and monitor a bed such as a vegetable patch. My goal was to make a website on which you could manage and control multiple Farmbots in one place. The alternative is to use the official website which would require the user to remember lots of login details and this is also time consuming. I also had no knowledge of web design, ever!

I was told to start learning Django which is a framework in Python. It was very difficult and took me weeks to understand. Parallel to this, the company already has a Farmbot working in the south of the island on which I conducted testing on this the early stages of my project where my goal was to simply send and receive simple instructions and data to the robot. As the project developed, I was able to style the website (with some help), make the website intuitive and extend the control to multiple hypothetical Farmbots. I also started to add another page on which the user could make and edit sequences of commands which the Farmbot could execute one after the other.

In my fourth week, I had a lot of fun – I was allowed to leave my desk and start planning and making a new Farmbot from a kit. The kit was amazing, it fitted together so well it felt like an Engineer’s adult Lego set (picture below). This took a few days to build before I downloaded the software onto it and could see it come to life! The most rewarding moment for me was to see my robot respond to commands sent from the website I created. The next week, the website was published onto the internet so my friends could test it and watch the webcam with me working in the background online.


The website can be found by following this link ( and an account is free to make, however most features can not be seen unless you own your own Farmbot. The website is in late development so forgive any remaining bugs! I attach some screenshots of the full website below.

It makes me very sad to leave because I have had a really great time working with the team. Even when my computer couldn’t run a few python scripts written in Linux making me hit my head on the table for 3 days was memorable, because the people around me were offering their help and advice. I’ll miss the tapas, the Tropical de Limon and the beaches too. Below is a picture of the team on my last day, they made it difficult to leave

My flight will leave tomorrow morning and I am quite excited to return to a country which is mostly cloudy but I’m also sad saying my farewells to the team and my friends. I hope I can catch up with the people I have met here one day and I urge them to come visit sunny Cambridge.

Thanks for everything – I hope I can catch up soon,


‘Grand’ Canaria – Through a tourist’s eye

Hi, my name is Robbie and I’m from Cambridge in the UK. I am on an internship with the company for 6 weeks this summer working on several smart farming projects which I will go into more detail in my next post. I am studying engineering, and this is a great excuse to visit Gran Canaria!

I’m now halfway and I realise now I think I’ve landed the best internship ever! The work environment is very fun and there are lots of amazing minds to solve problems in new ways. It is nice to see the fast progress of projects as pioneering prototypes are developed.

I am living two streets away from Las Canterras beach in a traveller’s co-living space in Las Palmas. This means I get to meet a lot of similar people who are also struggling with the language, and have jobs doing similar things! This makes it very easy to relax when I return from work. Every Wednesday and Friday I will play beach volleyball or football at Arracavenas where everyone loves to meet new people.



So far, I have cycled to Tejeda with a co-worker (which I don’t recommend for a day trip, however the return journey was very fun – we had an average speed of 40kph) the trip took 10 hour in total, and papas arrugas fuelled us up the mountain. Below is a picture of Eric and I as we are nearly at the top of the mountain looking very tired!


As you can see, it was so rewarding- the views seemed to make every drop of energy worth it as we were able to see our houses in the distance, somewhere below the clouds. We stopped at the top for a very traditional Pan y Alioli tapas (bread with garlic butter) and a well-deserved beer.

We have also hiked along the north coast to Galdar, been surfing and experienced the old area of the city several times in the evenings.

I have been surfing on the beach but I haven’t been able to stand up on it yet – I blame the board, I think it’s too small for someone my height! I will keep trying though.

Other highlights include nights out in Veguetta. On Thursday nights, almost every young person in Las Palmas will travel to the old area of the city where a lot of bars will be open until 1am to serve mojitos and tapas (the mojitos are stronger and cheaper than what I am used to – beware). Some nights out in Veguetta have been very entertaining, however I think I should visit one time during the day to really appreciate it!

If the second three weeks of this placement are half as exciting and educational as the first, I will have learnt so much more that I’d have expected, whilst also feeling half like a holiday – I hope I can return in the future!


I’ll be back to write another post in three weeks to talk in more detail about the projects I’ve been working on here.


Beach Office!

Throughout this week, our Team made progress in all the modules related to the VDMA Demonstrator.

Our German guys, Johannes and Paul, set up the hardware for the Image Recognition Module putting into place the methacrylate glass, the powerbanks and our new amazing camera.

IMG-20161118-WA0001   IMG-20161118-WA0010











In addition, they fixed  the camera position to detect the specific area where the powerbanks are placed. They also started testing the robot to determine the extreme values for the X and Y coordinates to decide which would be the working area.  The reason for this is to establish how many powerbanks we are able to place on the robot working area.


The highlight for our German Team Members was to print some hardware material in front of the beach to fix the methacrylate glass.


Due to this new setup, our Image Recognition Module works even better as now everything is in a fixed position. Moreover, our Team is working on the calibration of the image recognition to increase the quality of the picture and avoid light contrasts.




After an exhausting day until 11pm of work our German members decided to fly back to Germany, but only in their dreams!



We are connected!

During this week,  the Mi5 Student Team Gran Canaria worked on several modules concerning the VDMA Demonstrator.


Firstly, we bought a methacrylate crystal for the image recognition of the powerbanks.  The benefit of the crystal glass is, that we can place the powerbanks on top of it and the camera beneath it. Moreover, with the crystal glass the image recognition is more independent from the background because the robot is now less clear for the camera. This allows us to detect easily the powerbanks and the colours which are required: red, orange, blue and black.


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Additionally,  concerning the image recognition module we established an OPC UA Server connection with MATLAB and we were able to read and write variables on the PLC.


In relation to the simulation module, we defined more than 200 inputs and 200 outputs between our Siemens NX MCD Model and values from the PLC Server.

We also ran a Performance Test to ensure that there will not be any breakdown in the system during the fair.


Mi5 in Shanghai: International Sourcing Fair

Last September we had the amazing opportunity to showcase Mi5 in China, the farthest it has travelled until now. We were invited by IAIT (Institute for Automation and Industrial Technology) to join their stand in the International Sourcing Fair in Shanghai together with several other companies working in the field of Industry 4.0.

IAIT is an institute that aims to connect the German industry with china by bringing state of the art production and educational methods from Germany to China.


Our role in the fair was to present Mi5 as an educational best practice in providing hands-on experience to students as well as integrating them in the industry early on. To do so we decided to bring the cocktail module with us and virtually simulate the other modules to provide the complete hybrid demonstration.



Already in Shanghai we were greeted by the representatives of IAIT in China (Thomas and Marco) as well as the organizing team of IAIT’s section in the fair. The days prior to the fair we spent some time with team in their offices arranging everything we needed for the fair. It was really interesting to see the different working dynamics present in Chinese workspaces and in particular experience in our own flesh how the German approach can come together with the Chinese.

During the fair our main role was to convey the concept of Industry 4.0 and Education 2.0 to visitors, which ranged from Chinese industrial company representatives to university students. The demonstrator, the Kinect and the Mindstorms did the trick to attract the curious visitors who were fascinated when they discovered it had all been programmed and built by students.

Apart from the working culture we also got to experience Shanghai and the tremendous cultural variety that it has to offer, the gastronomy, architecture, art, teahouses and some of the best leisure activities in town 🙂

Shanghai_Bund     Shanghai_Balls

This opportunity not only allowed us to make a big number of connections that can allow ITQ and Mi5 to expand to China, but it also broadened our vision and the Chinese visitors vision by showing each other different approaches to manufacturing and educating students. China has proven to be a huge emerging market not only for Industry 4.0 but also for Education 2.0.

New offices, Yaay!

During this week, Dr. Stetter visited us to check on the project. We explained and showed him all of our achievements so far, as well as all the inconveniences we have faced. Additionally, we spoke about the next steps in the project for the following weeks.

He told us about the importance of this project as a way to prove ourselves as a good, working and productive team to encourage other companies to bring new projects to Gran Canaria.

Our teammate, Carlos Uziel, has been working on a marketing campaign for the last two weeks. He has been involved in tasks such as designing posters or writing brochures’ content. The objective of this campaign is to promote the project on the different faculties of the university.

As an important milestone, we have finally accquired our new office at the Parque Tecnológico.

The Mi5 Student Team Gran Canaria had to disassemble the B&R delta robot to install it in the new office. As a result, we spent the whole morning in the process, transporting all the parts by car, in addition to the rest of the hardware that was lying around in the laboratory.



We welcome a new member to our team, Johannes Vater, who will focus his internship on automation driving.




Farewell Jonas, Welcome Lars

Since July 2016, the Mi5 Student Team Gran Canaria has been working on the B&R delta robot.


As a result, several tasks have been completed during these months:

  • setting up a Simulation of the VDMA Demonstrator.
  • implementing an Image Processing Module for detecting coloured pieces, using MATLAB/Simulink
  • setting up a connection between our 3D B&R delta robot model and the real machine


Our next challenges are:

  • welcoming motivated students who would like to join our Mi5 Student Team Gran Canaria
  • getting known by contacting more professors from other faculties
  • making further progress in the development of the VDMA demonstrator
  • ensuring the availability of our new office/lab soon


And now, we would like to welcome Lars Bornecke to Gran Canaria, who will help us in accomplishing our next steps.

We also welcome Paul Eichinger, who has joined our Gran Canaria Team.



Despite his short stay, the Mi5 Student Team Gran Canaria had the opportunity to work and learn with Jonas Fischer.




Not only has he given us organizational patterns, but he has also taught us how to work as a team and has always provided us with all the resources we needed for our tasks. Additionally, he has always been there to help all of us.

Thank you for all these enjoyable and productive months.

We will miss you!

Hope to see you soon back in Gran Canaria!



The Mi5 Green Island Makeathon 2016

Wow - what a week!
From 27. to 30. September the first “Mi5 Green Island Makeathon” in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria took place. More than 50 Students from Spain, Germany, Austria and Italy participated in our 4 day event with the moto: “How can digital technology and connected devices help to build a smart and green island?”

Check out our aftermovie here.


SPEGC and the Cabildo de Gran Canaria provided us with an awesome event location @Infecar Gran Canaria

What is a makeathon?

A makeathon is an event, where young programmers and engineers stick together for a few days to be creative and develop new ideas and prototypes together. Especially the connection between the digital and the real world causes new interesting challenges because you build and construct physical prototypes and combine them with digital and web technology. It is about passion for technology and having fun within a young and creative community.


The hardware:

The students could use a lot of hardware to implement their ideas: Lots of Raspberry PI Computers, Arduinos, Sensors, Shields and Motors were provided, as well as an Electrical Car, an electric “TukTuk”, a Drone, 3D-Printer and many more “geek toys”.
We got provided by sweets from local schocolate manufacturer "Tirma Ambrosias"

Our Drone + we got provided by sweets from local schocolate manufacturer “Tirma Ambrosias”

4 Days of making:

We started our event at the Escuela De Ingeniería Informática, where Prof. Daniel Hernandez welcomed the students and some further introduction presentations were given. After that, we moved to the buildings of Infecar, where the SPEGC provided us with a nice location. After having lunch together, the students were given time to exchange ideas and form groups before their first team pitches.

Prof. Daniel Hernandez welcoming us at the EII ULPGC for our start and final presentations

The next two days, we programmed, brainstormed and built prototypes. The ideas went from a Smart Farming Robot, a Public Parking Assistance System, a Bike Sharing Plattform or the Integration of our Electrical Cars to a Database Solution. Parts were printed, Circuits were soldered and Servers were set up. Some students kept working 13 hours or more each day.
Professors from the ULPGC Civil & Industrial Engineering, Informatics and Telecommunication Faculties came to visit our event, as well as two Professors from Aalen, who joined their students for the Makeathon.
Professors from different universities and faculties exchanging

Professors from different universities and faculties exchanging


Our brand new Twizzy got checked out by all the students

On the last day, the students had to present their results, which lead to some morning stress – but at the end the results were worth the effort. Everyone had fun and was satisfied about some great days of working together.​




IMG_8020 supported us by giving us an electrik “TukTuk” for the Event – not only for Transport but also to dick into the vehicle’s data.

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Thanks again to all our Sponsors and Supporters for making this event possible!


The Coffee-Maker: A new module for the Mi5 Demonstrator

A new module for the Mi5’s “food factory” is being build. A team of students coming from Barcelona are working on the new Coffee-Maker Module that is thought to deliver coffee and sugar, if desired, to the user.


The most characteristic features of this new module are a pick-and-place robot of 5 axis made out of 3D-printed plastic components, an image recognition software that provides positional data of the desired coffee capsule to the robot and all the flavor of a freshly brewed Nespresso.

This Mi5-Project has been developed in collaboration with SIEMENS and will be used as a benchmark for this company as the whole simulation of the project has been developed in NX, what permitted to import all data to the PLM Software of SIEMENS: Team Center.


The Spanish Team: Antonio Salazar, Jaume Delclòs, Guillem Icart, Alex Pagés, Adrià Bigordà, Ferran Perutxet-Olesti