Green FabLab Barcelona-Learning from nature to change the world

_DSC0117Last weekend we were invited to visit Green Fab in the outskirts of Barcelona. A project promoted by Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalonia and part of the Fab City network. One dream place for green thinking and birthplace for many of the environment-friendly and adorable projects coming out from Makers community recently. The Lab is situated in the center of Collserola park-the largest metropolitan park in the world – 22 times larger than Central Park in New York. Incredible resources concentrated in one of the best backgrounds of Barcelona-The capital of Catalunya.

At the door we were greeted by our host Ferdinand and the guarding dog Thor(or Tor, not sure). In few minutes we were grouped in the kitchen, meeting the rest of the FabLab members. Once we were introduced to each other we met a girl working for Vice Magazine, she was also taking notes and photos on the interior tour. Few moments later we were in the first level of the Lab – main production and design hall. Room filled with working tables and pending projects, laser cutters, 3d printers and a lot of strange looking devices and big paper skeleton-like objects.

The first project our hosts presented, were Bee hives filled with sensors, communicating modules and strange texture pasterns from outside. Three completely different hives, spitted from the Open source engine of FabLab designs. We realized that this is different versions of one basic starting blueprints edited from different teams on the go. Last version was made with knowledge from Japan’s carpentry. No nails or other metal parts for assembling. All photos are made by members of, all text in the next lines is what Green FabLab shared about the projects:


Open Source Beehives : Citizen Science tracking Bee decline

by Jonathan Minchin and OSBH

Bee Hives monitoring project
Bee Hives monitoring project

The Open Source Beehives project is a network of citizen scientists tracking bee decline. We use sensor enhanced beehives and data science to study honeybee colonies throughout the world. All of our technology and methods, from the hive and sensor kit designs to the data, are documented and made openly available for anyone to use. The primary goal is to determine the cause(s) of bee decline, to identify potential solutions, and to encourage networks of concerned citizens to study and redress the issue through the use of digital technologies in fabrication and information. The project is founded on the belief that open source innovation is the most direct way to address our global problems, and therefore, the software, hardware, data, and methodologies used by it are the perpetual property of the public domain.

Open Source Beehives from Open Source Beehives on Vimeo.


Moss Voltaics

Bacteria living in the soil takes these plant nutrients and metabolizes them, releasing hydrogen protons and electrons – the introduction of a microbial fuel cell, anode and cathode means a redox process occurs, transferring the free electrons in the soil from anode to cathode. By connecting a circuit with a capacitor or step-down converter into the fuel cell, it is possible to use this source of flow to power appliances or any other electrical device.

Moss Voltaic Controller
The power from the moss is enough to run Arduino Uno with digital display

Each of the components that form the BPV have certain parameters that may be changed to control the processes and efficiency of the output – the type of plant that grows, whether its edible or decorative, the soil characteristics that enable microbial growth, the type of soil that makes the electron transfer, and the battery’s materials and composition all help to determine the efficiency for the way the electrons are gathered and transferred.

Moss Voltaic Panel
Ferdinand in front of the Moss Voltaic Panel


Based on the results of the experiment, the following relationships where found:

1. 100% saturated soil produces the best results since the water in the medium promotes electrolysis within the soil.
2. The closer the anode and cathode are placed the more efficient the electron transfer is.
3. The relationship between the soil volume and the cathode’s area does not grow as volume grows.
4. A triangle container is more efficient.
5. The coil cathode maximizes the surface for the bacteria to gather around, hence it is the most efficient electron collector.
6. All soil types yield similar results, hence have similar bacteria count.

Flone Drone : Technology for Conservation and Community

Community groups and interested individuals learn how to build and fly their own drones in a recent weekend workshop at the Valldaura Green Labs site in the forested foothills just above Barcelona. Together with Lot Amoros and Alexandre Oliver of  Flone-Drone we learnt to build a drone, soldering all the parts together, and conquered the coordination of piloting our tech.

Putting drone technology in the hands of local residents and community groups is essential. Around the world, communities, independent businesses and startups are finding new ways to use drones to aid conservation and environmental management projects, urban planning, precision agriculture, and landscape modelling. Valldaura GreenLab is committed to helping community members add drone tech to the list of skills that we can use collectively to protect and preserve our environments and communities.

Green FabLab drone




In North-Western Australia, drones are being used by ecology researchers from Monash University to map nesting seabirds on remote islands, without causing disturbance to the local species. In Nepal, the community group ConservationDrones are partnering with the WWF to use drones to conduct anti-poaching surveillance. International poaching affects endangered species, including rhinos and elephants in Nepal, but is also used to support an illegal trade in fishing, illegal cattle grazing and logging. Already the drones are having an impact, leading to more poaching arrests and saving rhinos and precious forest land.

In Colorado in the United States, the startupDroneMapper is looking at the use of drones to help farmers to “increase crop yield, help determine problem areas, and save time.” Using drones for precision agriculture can help farmers to better work with the natural ecosystem, such as understanding water flows across a property, and to better manage resources.

In Dallas, also in the U.S., a local citizen testing out his hobby drone contacted local community advocacy agencies after taking pictures showing a meat packing plant was illegally emptying pig blood into a local waterway via an underground pipe. “It is my hope that with these new skills and tools, communities will begin to see drones as a viable instrument of investigation,” said Jonathan Minchin, Coordinator of the Green Fab Lab Valldaura, and workshop organiser.

It is a sentiment that is shared by Associate Professor Lian Pin Koh, Founding Director of ConservationDrones: “Commercially available drones can easily cost more than tens of thousands of dollars, and are too expensive for conservation and community projects,” Lian explained. “Fortunately, there are an increasing numbers of open-source and grassroots level initiatives for developing drone systems that can perform just as well if not better than commercial systems. These do-it-yourself drones are typically very affordable. But more importantly, by learning how to build these drones themselves, the users would know how to maintain and repair them when necessary.”

Everything from Green FabLab can be found HERE

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