cloud iot platforms overview for growers

Cloud IoT (Internet of Things) Platforms Overview for Growers

Adrian Biffen, Senior Partner

We are big fans of the Node-RED visual display system; we think it is one of the easiest systems to use for designing sophisticated automation systems. It can be run on any just about any OS platform, if you want an 'in-house' local system: Linux, Windows, & Mac. It was originally developed by IBM, and it is now a FOSS offering (Free Open Source Software).

On the Linux side, we are also big fans of the Raspberry Pi®, a credit-card sized computer that enables people to explore computer programming for a very low cost. The Node-RED visual design system for automation design & planning comes pre-installed with the default Buster operating system for the Pi.

A. The Node-RED Design Screen

This is a screen capture of the visual design screen you will see when you point your browser to the Node-RED system (this is an Alexa FLOW for lighting):

Node-RED is a visual design program for IoT

The above image has been condensed to fit this screen, but you will have a much bigger work area when you run Node-RED on a full size screen.

There are four main elements visible in this picture:

  • NODE component selector PALETTE panel on the left (just drag NODE onto design screen to initiate)
  • system DESIGN panel in the center (these are called FLOWS, there can be multiple FLOWS)
  • interconnecting WIRES connect NODES in DESIGN panel to create the FLOW
  • information OUTPUT panel on right (showing feedback from NODE FLOW testing)

The 4 items above are the essence of the Node-RED DESIGN system. A double click on a NODE in the DESIGN panel opens a dialog box to set PARAMETERS for that NODE.

B. The Node-RED Output Dashboard Screen

Here is the result of a design screen! This dashboard has many different widgets for displaying your data; in this case we are seeing semi-circular graphs, but there are many different types:

soil moisture sensor data shown on Node-RED dashboard

Node-RED runs as a web server on your local network, so it can be viewed by any web enabled browser on tablets, phones, laptops, etc. Because it runs as a web server it can also be exposed to the internet on your Raspberry Pi (with secure password login).

List of IoT Cloud Platforms - See Your Data Online

Many users find that a local machine works well, but what if you don't want a local machine, such as a Raspberry Pi?

As an alternatie to Node-RED, we have put together a list of some of the better online services. Our Collector unit can feed data directly to these online services (* marks those services we have worked with):

More Info

You can purchase the soil moisture sensors, along with the Collector units in our sister DIY online store DIY online automation store.

We sincerely hope you enjoy our advanced technology products; if you have any questions, please contact us at any time!

Adrian Biffen
Senior Partner
GrowerNode™ Greenhouse Automation

G.R.O.W.S.™ System Article Series


The Collector:

Part 1: Wireless Soil Sensor Collector Overview

Part 2: Menu: Wireless Sensor Detection Process

Part 3: Menu: Wireless Soil Sensor Testing Process

Part 4: Menu: Wireless Soil Sensor Sleep Modes

Part 5: Menu: Edit Collector Settings

Part 6: Menu: Restore Collector Defaults

Part 7: Menu: Activate Factory Re-set

Part 8: Menu: Reboot This Collector (with WiFi)

Part 9: Connect to your WiFi Network Router

The Sensors:

Part 1: Wireless Soil Sensor Overview

Part 2: Wireless Soil Sensor Activation

The Cloud:

Part 1: See Your Data from Anywhere (You are here)