Poor Mans Auto-Dosing - Page 3 - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #31 of 69 (permalink) Old 12-30-2005, 05:31 AM Thread Starter
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Well the cost on the pump is really going to depend on how far you need to push the ferts. In my case I needed to push the ferts about 4' so I used a more powerful pump that I had sitting around. I think though that it was around $30 at my LFS. It was a tetra tec AP200 http://www.mops.ca/cgi-bin/SoftCart.....asp?E+scstore The tetra tec deep water ones may work well too. I like it because it has two outputs (one for macros one for micros) and they are both independently controlled with knobs on each side. Compare that to closer to $100 for a traditional dosing pump and you see savings. Most people may even have pumps laying around in which case it may only cost you a few bucks for the timer and some air hose.
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post #32 of 69 (permalink) Old 12-30-2005, 02:55 PM
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I just had a fun thought. It started with deer feeders - they are basically irrigation timers that trigger relay timer (the relay stays open for x seconds after the initial power is applied. It resets after power is turned off - just saw that these can be pretty cheep on ebay)

Then I continued the thought - with relays I could even make that timer run my lights. I am not sure if I will have time to pursue this thought - but think it may be the beginging of a poor man's aquarium controler. Especially since I have a irrigation timer sitting in the garage unused at the moment...

58 gallon oceanic, 250w 10k pendent, pressurized co2, eheim pimp #179 - 2217 and diffuser
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post #33 of 69 (permalink) Old 12-30-2005, 05:06 PM
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Originally Posted by jgc
Then I continued the thought - with relays I could even make that timer run my lights. I am not sure if I will have time to pursue this thought - but think it may be the beginging of a poor man's aquarium controler.
Please do continue...
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post #34 of 69 (permalink) Old 12-30-2005, 09:49 PM Thread Starter
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Cool
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post #35 of 69 (permalink) Old 12-30-2005, 11:03 PM
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magic, what controller did you use

btw, this is a very interesting thread

When in doubt, take it out!
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post #36 of 69 (permalink) Old 12-30-2005, 11:30 PM Thread Starter
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Controller?

Just a simple Digital timer from the local hardware store. Runs in one minute intervals.
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post #37 of 69 (permalink) Old 02-07-2006, 04:59 PM
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I just made 2 of these that have been running for about a week without a hitch. They are on 2 tanks side-by-side and run off of one double outlet air pump.

I use a digital timer to run the air pump for one minute. Each outlet goes to a 1 gal. Apple Juice/Gatorade jug. There is nothing restricting the flow except a check valve between the pump and the jug. I mix everything in the jug, except Phosphorous because it will cause precipitaion. Everything includes(Currently all SeaChem): N, K, Fe, Excel and Flourish. I have had no problems yet that I am aware of and there is no Growth, etc inside either container which are currently exposed to light.

Right now, the tanks contain Anubius, Crypts, Compacta Swords, E. tennellus, and things are booming.

What I have found is that because of Height/Head the system needs to be setup in the actual location that it is going to be used--Desktop gauging doesn't work well at all. It will pump a lot more fluid with a much weaker pump on a desktop than it will after its setup and has to battle Height/Head. Once You have built the system--set it up with the jug full of water and do the 1 minute increments to determine how many doses the system is good for in that particular setup/location.

Maybe someone can explain it to me, but in theory and in use--I don't see the need to go over the 1 minute increment on the timer. With an adequate pump, it will pump sufficient fluids in one minute. 2 minutes will just reduce the number of dosings the setup is good for by 1/2, thereby doubling the work required to maintain the system. Both of my setups will last 3 weeks (21 doses) before they become unreliable. So, I set mine up for that and I will only need to deal with ferts--once every 3 weeks. I am currently using the old-style $10 Whisper pump from wally world and it works great.

Finally, my 55 gal. is on a standard stand. I have found that moving the jug up directly behind the tank greatly reduces the Height/Head that the air pump has to work against allowing the use of a much less -powerful, -expensive air pump. The pump itself can be placed on the floor, but raising the jug helps tremendously. The 1 gal. Apple Juice/Gatorade jugs come with a sturdy carrying handle--I have mine hanging behind the tank on a small chain.

This system works Great and is just what I needed. The prospect of daily dosing long-term was just not very attractive to me at all. I love automation--always have.....

Many Thanx!
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post #38 of 69 (permalink) Old 02-07-2006, 08:09 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Naja002
I just made 2 of these that have been running for about a week without a hitch. They are on 2 tanks side-by-side and run off of one double outlet air pump.
This is very exciting! I'm glad someone else has done this and has achieved similar results.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Naja002
I use a digital timer to run the air pump for one minute. Each outlet goes to a 1 gal. Apple Juice/Gatorade jug. There is nothing restricting the flow except a check valve between the pump and the jug. I mix everything in the jug, except Phosphorous because it will cause precipitation. Everything includes(Currently all SeaChem): N, K, Fe, Excel and Flourish. I have had no problems yet that I am aware of and there is no Growth, etc inside either container which are currently exposed to light.
That's great. It sounds like you are one step ahead of me. I am only dosing micros at the moment. Have to get off my duff and add the macro container... You may want to cover the containers though so that they are not exposed to light. The light can break down the ferts.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Naja002
What I have found is that because of Height/Head the system needs to be setup in the actual location that it is going to be used--Desktop gauging doesn't work well at all. It will pump a lot more fluid with a much weaker pump on a desktop than it will after its setup and has to battle Height/Head. Once You have built the system--set it up with the jug full of water and do the 1 minute increments to determine how many doses the system is good for in that particular setup/location.
Yes that is exactly right. If you need more days of dosing add more water. If you need less add less water. In some cases you can also mess with the digital timer, but I think more accurate results are had messing with the fill level in the containers.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Naja002
Maybe someone can explain it to me, but in theory and in use--I don't see the need to go over the 1 minute increment on the timer. With an adequate pump, it will pump sufficient fluids in one minute. 2 minutes will just reduce the number of dosings the setup is good for by 1/2, thereby doubling the work required to maintain the system. Both of my setups will last 3 weeks (21 doses) before they become unreliable. So, I set mine up for that and I will only need to deal with ferts--once every 3 weeks. I am currently using the old-style $10 Whisper pump from wally world and it works great.
That's great. I'm only doing one weeks worth, but I suppose you are onto something. The only reason I know one may want to run it longer is if they are also using this as a water level top off as well as a dosing pump although this requires larger containers obviously.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Naja002
Finally, my 55 gal. is on a standard stand. I have found that moving the jug up directly behind the tank greatly reduces the Height/Head that the air pump has to work against allowing the use of a much less -powerful, -expensive air pump. The pump itself can be placed on the floor, but raising the jug helps tremendously. The 1 gal. Apple Juice/Gatorade jugs come with a sturdy carrying handle--I have mine hanging behind the tank on a small chain.


Great Idea!
This system works Great and is just what I needed. The prospect of daily dosing long-term was just not very attractive to me at all. I love automation--always have.....

Many Thanx!
I'm glad it worked for you!
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post #39 of 69 (permalink) Old 02-07-2006, 08:58 PM
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Good to see that you're still getting great results with these auto pumps that you set up, Jeff.

I went with the peristaltic pumps that Bill and Greg recommended (good $60 per pump spent). Makes it much more enjoyable to not worry about daily dosing nowadays.

Eric

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post #40 of 69 (permalink) Old 03-01-2006, 03:55 AM Thread Starter
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Funny didn't get an e-mail update when you responded Eric, but nonetheless that's great you got your dosing pumps. It sure is nice not to have to always be thinking of dosing during the week. I like doing all the maintainance one day each week so have the doser is great for that schedule. Now I just have to set one up for my ten gallon.

I did finally setup the macro portion of the doser. So that's been up and running for a few weeks now. Still working great without any problems.
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post #41 of 69 (permalink) Old 03-31-2006, 05:49 PM
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Hello,

Jumping in the post, I am currently under testing of the same system !

That a great and simple idea !!!!
But those simple ideas are very often the more difficult to have !
Many thanks to you !!!
Automated dosing and auto top-off at the same time, I could not resist to test !

I am testing with a 1 gallon bottle, air pump and valve for air adjustment to the bottle. I am running the air pump per 1 minute steps and checking amount of water pushed in a scaled container.
I have set my test sytem with the same height/head as it will be when installed on the tank.

I have a question : when in use, the amount of liquid pushed to the tank is less and less each time, due to level going down in the bottle and time needed to build up the pressure....
For instance, if I set the air rate so that in the first minute air will push 270ml to the tank, after 10 times 1 minute (as if it was the tenth day), it will push only 150ml, and on the "20th day", it will push only 80ml (bottle is then almost empty....)

Did you face that problem ?
If yes how did you solve that to obtain a constant quantity of liquid injected ???

Thanks in advance for any thought on this....
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post #42 of 69 (permalink) Old 03-31-2006, 11:11 PM Thread Starter
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I never really noticed that, but I'd imagine that this is true. IME the time to build up pressure was minimal so much that I really didn't even factor it in. For my needs as long as the contents of the bottle were distributed to the tank by the end of the week I was happy. I use EI method of dosing and I don't buy into the whole mentallity that everything has to be so precise. This doser is probably not going to dose a constant rate. Does it matter? Not to my plants.
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post #43 of 69 (permalink) Old 07-01-2006, 04:57 PM
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I would imagine that if it's consistancy your looking for you might want to try a couple of things. The variation in head height will change as fluid is dispensed which changes the pressure in the line and thus the flow rate. With any type of setup I think more head height in the tubing would help as well as a reservoir that is shallow with a large diameter. Picture this, if the starting height it has to pump the fluid is say 2 inches, and after a couple doses the fluid level in the reservoir drops 2 more inches. Now you have 4 inches of head versus 2 inches which doubles the back pressure and probably reduces the flow rate by 50%.

Now picture your starting height is say 24 inches that the pump has to raise the fluid. Again after a couple doses your fluid level drops a couple inches and now the head height is 26 inches. This time you only have an 8.3% change in the back pressure on the pump and the flow rate only reduces by 8.3% instead of the 50% in the first example and the only thing you changed was the height.

Now this is the catch to increasing the height, and that is the pump has to be strong enough to overcome the back pressure created by the head height.

Using a wide shallow container as the reservoir would also help by reducing the change in fluid level height per dose.

I think this is the reason my attempt at making one of these failed. I used a tall narrow bottle, had a very weak pump and had very little starting head height (just 4 inches). The result was very inconsistant dosing. I may take another crack at it though.
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post #44 of 69 (permalink) Old 07-02-2006, 02:32 AM Thread Starter
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Yeah that makes sense. I have a large tank so the distance from the doser to the top of the tank is about 5 feet so I guess a 5" change in fluid level is pretty insignificant, but perhaps more of an issue on setups where its closer? As far as pumps you do need a powerful one make enough pressure- most average "deep water" type pumps are fine.
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post #45 of 69 (permalink) Old 07-02-2006, 05:45 AM
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I believe what Sietch experiences has nothing to do with increasing head pressure. The little humming pumps shouldn't be bothered by a few inches of head.

I think it is one out of two possibilities.

My bet is that somehow the gallon container is getting pressurized. This needs to be prevented. Air compresses, and the emptier the bottle gets, the more it will compress and as result you get less and less solution into the tank.

Make sure that the airline that transports the solution from the bottle to the aquarium is not restricted in any way. It should be open on the end, no nozzles or such which block the flow.

Another possibility would be an airleak at the cap. That would make a big difference for the ability to push the liquid out of a full or empty bottle.

Just my experiences...
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