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The top 10 gadget stories of the year
By Megan Treacy,
Treehugger, 31 December 2015.

As with every year, 2015 was full of interesting innovations and smart technologies that help us live a more sustainable life. This year, readers seemed to be drawn to stories about gadgets that could make their homes more self-sustaining - hydroponics gardens and off-grid appliances - and as usual, DIY gadgets were popular.

Take a look at the top 10 gadget stories of 2015 to see the year in review and catch up on some stories you might have missed!

10. The Raspberry Pi 2 is here and 2X faster


The favourite microcomputer for tinkerers and makers finally got an upgrade and it did not disappoint. The new model has a 900MHz quad-core processor making it roughly six times faster than the original Model B, 1GB RAM, which is twice the memory, and is completely compatible with the Raspberry Pi 1 for all of those complicated projects you've been dreaming up.

9. The Grove is a smart indoor garden that lets you grow lettuce year round

Credit: © Grove Labs

This is just one of the hydroponics systems stories that caught your attention. The Grove is a bookshelf-sized growing station that has three levels: the top is the growing level, the middle a seeding station and the bottom is a fish tank. Together the sections create a full ecosystem that doesn't need much human intervention.

8. New gadget enables on-demand solar energy, without installing panels

Credit: © SunPort

Instead of generating solar energy on-site with a solar array, a new solar delivery model, called SunPort, uses a small gadget that plugs into a standard wall socket and allows users to choose solar power on demand.

7. 14 healthy living apps to help you kick off a green new year


A helpful list of apps to help you stay healthy in 2015 was one of the year's most popular. Now's a good time to read it again!

6. Electricity-free dishwasher cleans dishes in just one minute

Credit: YouTube/Chen Levin/Video screen capture

This small counter-top dish cleaner was popular and controversial. Some of you though it was a gimmick, while others felt it was a step in the right direction - getting us to think of new, electricity-free ways to get our dishes clean that also save water.

5. This free app helps you identify the plants and animals around you


Derek wrote about this great nature app, "The next time you say ‘I wonder what that plant is?’ you might not have to go too far to find out, because a new app from the makers of ZipcodeZoo will give you the tools to help identify thousands of plants and animals, using your location and the appearance of the species in question."

4. SnapPower Guidelights turn outlet covers into LED night lights (Review)

Credit: © SnapPower

Night lights tend to be popular posts and it makes sense. We all want a low-power and simple way to get around our house at night without having to turn on bright overhead lights. Derek reviewed the SnapPower LED guidelights and said it "is a pretty sweet solution for an energy efficient safety/guide light which doesn't require any re-wiring to install or batteries to operate, and which leaves the outlets themselves clear for other plugs."

3. "Self-filling" biking bottle pulls water out of thin air


The Fontus self-filling water bottle is solar-powered bike accessory that uses a Peltier Element to generate water. It's essentially a cooler with two chambers that facilitates condensation, and takes in air as the bike moves, which is then slowed and cooled down by barriers that allows it to condense and form water, which is channelled and collected in the bottle. Pretty cool!

2. Foot-powered washing machine lets you clean your clothes off grid

Credit: YouTube / Yirego/Video screen capture

This tiny foot-powered washing machine had us all dreaming of a life where clothes washing could go off-grid with minimal energy on our part. The Yirego Drumi is 22 inches tall and spins a small load of clothing, water and detergent in the interior ball drum when the pedal is pumped. It can accommodate six to seven pieces, or 5 pounds, of clothing at a time, which keeps it from being a good substitute for a family of four, but it would be suitable for a couple living in a tiny home, camping trips, college students or anyone looking to run their machine less.

1. Raspberry Pi & Arduino are the brains of this automated DIY vertical hydroponic garden

Credit: © BLT Robotics

The most popular gadget story of the year was this DIY smart garden system that married two of our favorite things: hydroponics and Raspberry Pi. The Robotic Urban Farm System (RUFS), from Paul Langdon of BLT Robotics, calls for parts readily available from most hardware stores for building the growing system itself, and then integrates several Arduino micro-controllers and a Raspberry Pi for automation and monitoring of the system.

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[Source: Treehugger. Edited.]

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