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post #1 of (permalink) Old 05-21-2008, 12:49 AM Thread Starter
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Wasserpest's Avatar
Join Date: Jun 2003
Location: Monterey, CA
Posts: 15,526
The Wasser-Controller

I have been pondering this for quite a while... In our age of cheap electronics, there should be affordable timers with multiple, independently controllable outlets. Yet, for some reason there is no such thing. The closest you can get for "affordable" is the Coralife double strip which is prone to bursting into flames. If you spend some serious money, you can get the Aquacontroller. After you pull out your wallet for the base unit, equipment still needs to be connected which costs even more.

So, seeing a niche here, I present you the Wasser-Controller, which is affordable, flexible, and partially hand-made. The original idea was discussed here, but there has been some fluff accumulating in that thread so I figured it might be better to start over.

What I am switching/pumping right now:

Main lights
Sunset/sunrise lights
Moon lights

What we need:

Irrigation controller ($35 for 6 station DIG 8006)
Relays (~$3 each)
Outlets ($0.70 each)
Some wires and a soldering iron to connect all of that

Total cost was around $50.

Initially I tried to take an existing power strip apart and make it work for my purposes, but that didn't work so well.

So instead, I attached the controller and outlets to a wooden board, leaving some space for the relays.

After soldering it all together I found out that two of the relays were faulty. Luckily I had bought 2 more, so with a few choice words I un-soldered and replaced them. I was going to enclose it all with more wood panels, but then I saw a box (from an electric shaver that I just bought with all the money I saved) and for some reason the whole setup just so fit in there. Fixed the front with some screws and saved myself a lot of woodworking.

Okay, let's call it a prototype. It is now hidden in a corner behind some other equipment, so no need for beautification.

Since the whole setup is a bit confusing, I tried to create a schematic that shows how things flow and switch:

Now that it has been working for a few day I must admit that I live with a feeling of great accomplishment. Had a long power outage the other night, and thanks to the 9V backup battery in the controller I didn't have to change two mechanical and reset two electronic timers. Not a single problem so far.

Things to consider...

1) Putting it all together in a package like I did makes things compact, but access to the controller is somewhat difficult. So if you are still figuring out your schedules, and/or have a desire to constantly fiddle, it might be better to put the timer in a better accessible spot.

2) Driven by an irrigation controller, it is very easily adapable for all sorts of solenoids to automate water changes. One day my tank will have an overflow for "used water" and I will just run the water change nightly or whenever without having to remember.

3) Unless you are familiar with electricity and know how to hold a soldering iron, do no attempt anything like that because you will surely hurt yourself and your loved ones. This isn't meant to be an instruction, rather I am just sharing an idea.
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