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Loop 03-29-2011 12:32 AM

Simple DIY Drop Checker (V2 is Alive! 3/31)
So I had some ideas for drop checker designs that I wanted to make out of acrylic, but I don't have any right now. But it's raining out, and I'm bored so I made this one instead. Probably the easiest design I could think of, but with the small opening it's not going to be the fastest responding version out there.

1. Little glass container - $1.00
2. Clear tubing - $0.33 p/ft
3. Suction cup - Free from old heater

The glass container should be able to be purchased at a hobby store or general store. The one that I used actually came as a Scented Reed Diffuser that was purchased at Dollar Tree. Here is what it looked like incase anyone wants to look for the same one, just make sure that you wash it really, really good. Who knows what's in that stuff.

Clear Tubing from Home Depot or Lowes. Take your newly purchased glass container with you and find some tubing that fits very tightly in the opening of the glass.

Suction Cup from LFS I guess. Like I said, mine was leftover from a heater I'm not using anymore.

Materials Collected

Put your Tubing in the glass container and cut off the extra. It should be hard to force it in there for a tight seal. Don't cut it flush with the bottom or you won't be able to get it back out when it's time to change your solution out.

Add Your Suction Cup

Fill it with your solution and stick it in the tank. (Sorry for the color, I don't have any solution right now so I just put Flourish in there so it had a colored liquid in it for illustration purposes)

There you go. A drop checker that costs $ 1.33 (additional for a suction cup), that anyone can assemble without any tools (technically you will need scissors to cut tubing). I'm sure it won't be the fastest to respond to changes because of the small opening, but it should work ok if you really need one. Plus I don't think it looks too bad at all in the tank personally. I hope to be making some that will respond quicker when I can get some acrylic.

Disclaimer: I am not responsible for the death or injury of you or any living thing within any radius of you or your drop checker.

NatCh 03-29-2011 02:39 AM

Very interesting. Now my own noggin cogs are crankin'. Thank you!

Loop 03-29-2011 04:01 AM

No problem. Just trying to throw out an idea I had incase anyone was interested. I wanted to find something that was cheap, easy, and reasonably atractive. I think I'm going to look for a container with more than a 1/2" opening so it would have more surface area for a quicker reading, but it might be hard to find that on such a small container. I thought about just using something with a funnel shape on the end, but I think it would be getting too bulky at that point. It's already about 3" tall so I didn't want to make it any bigger.

scapegoat 03-29-2011 02:52 PM

i saw those items at the dollar store when i went searching for a DIY drop checker... i looked at it and looked at it... and wondered how i was going to use it.

now i know... i over thought it, this is so simple

Loop 03-29-2011 05:10 PM


Originally Posted by scapegoat (Post 1340744)
i saw those items at the dollar store when i went searching for a DIY drop checker... i looked at it and looked at it... and wondered how i was going to use it.

now i know... i over thought it, this is so simple

I knew being simple-minded was going to payoff some day :confused1:

Loop 03-30-2011 03:12 AM

OK, so boredom hit me again this evening, and I was staring at my drop checker thinking what can I do to make this work better. So I would like to present to you

Simple Drop Checker V2

I didn't like having such a small surface area to the water with a 3/8"ID tube because I was sure that the response time was going to be pretty slow to changes in CO2. I was still daydreaming about the things I want to try when I get some acrylic tubing, and I remembered the methods used here for making the DIY acrylic lily pipes and wondered if it would work on vinyl tubing as well. Well it does.

I took some of my leftover tubing that I had, and gave it a try. I took a piece about 6" long, and capped off one end of it. I heated the tubing in about a 3" long section with a heat gun on low. Keeping it moving so I didn't burn, blister, or discolor the tubing. Heated it until it felt a little soft and sticky, and blew into the open end of the tube. At first I had to blow a little hard to get it to start stretching, but once it did it stretched faster. On the first try, it started slow and then got big and popped a hole in the tubing. The second try I just let it stretch a little, heated and blew again slowly about 3-4 times until it got to a decent size, and I didn't think it would safely go much larger. Then I cut the tubing in the middle of the blown area, and cut the other end of the tube to the length that I needed. Then just install in the glass container again like before.

This is a little more work, but it's not too bad and it solves two problems. Now you can't push the tube in too far to get it back out later for changing your solution. Also the surface area is much larger for faster readings. The original tubes inside diameter was only 3/8". Now the diameter is 13/16". If my math is right that means that the total surface area has increased to about 369% over the original design:icon_eek: (<-someone smart check that math). Hopefully it is a little faster now. I'll test as soon as I get some more solution to see how long it takes to change.

Here is a size comparison of the standard tubing vs blown tubing

Whatcha think?

Loop 03-30-2011 09:32 PM


No Comments?
"Terrible idea"
"Good job"
"Loop's a moron"
"Might work better if _____"

I'm willing to accept any of those :)

Betta Maniac 03-30-2011 09:40 PM

Very cool!

farmhand 03-30-2011 09:41 PM


Originally Posted by Loop (Post 1342402)
"Loop's a moron"

We don't know yet???

tuffgong 03-30-2011 09:42 PM

Nice work! DIY drives this hobby for me!

redfishsc 03-30-2011 09:48 PM

Again, this is shamefully simple and awesome! Nice work!

This theoretically could be reproduced using acrylic instead of tubing (you'd need a dab of silicone to permanently seal it) if you have the right shape to heat-form it,.

I've seen people make bowls out of acrylic scraps by putting a ceramic bowl in the oven, with the acrylic sheet laying on top of it, and as the oven gently heats the acrylic, gravity causes it to droop and conform to the bowl. Removing it and letting it cool leaves you with something that's fairly smooth and nearly flawless in shape.

A metal funnel would probably work well for this but it would have to be a tiny one, and I don't know where you'd find such an animal.

Loop 03-30-2011 11:08 PM


Originally Posted by redfishsc (Post 1342420)
This theoretically could be reproduced using acrylic instead of tubing (you'd need a dab of silicone to permanently seal it)

But if you glue it in, you can't pull it back out to change the solution out.

redfishsc 03-30-2011 11:25 PM

Flip the bottle right-side up, pour the fluid in through the tube or acrylic.

Tile the bottle sideways carefully, until it's upside down. Some may dribble out, but you don't need a large amount of the indicator solution.

The amount of solution you end up with will be a function of how much fluid it will hold sitting sideways (ie, halfway to the "upside down" position). With the way you have it designed, it looks to me like this would still be plenty of indicator fluid.

Loop 03-31-2011 01:38 AM

I know you can fill it that way, because that's what I have been doing with this one. I can't see how you could get the fluid back out though. From what I've read you should change it every now and then, and I couldn't think of a way to do that if the tube was permanently in there. Is there some simple thing I'm overlooking here or just a confusion on what one of us was saying?:icon_conf

redfishsc 03-31-2011 02:55 AM

Yeah, I can see getting it back out being a pain in the butt lol. I misread your statement, sorry ;)

You could flush it out with water at the sink, and siphon the remaining stuff out using airline tubing. I have a small pile of oral syringes around the house that I once used to feed coral in my reef, so slurping out 30-50cc of fluid is a piece of cake ;).

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