REVIEW: Ichy's API Master Test Kit Rack (NOW AVAILABLE!) - The Planted Tank Forum
 
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post #1 of 7 (permalink) Old 05-21-2015, 07:40 PM Thread Starter
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Arrow REVIEW: Ichy's API Master Test Kit Rack (NOW AVAILABLE!)

Concept:
This product was developed by Ichy. He is a fellow hobbyist who saw a need to have a way to easily store and utilize API’s Master Test Kit. The product has undergone many revisions by Ichy to create the product I am reviewing today.


Disclaimer:
I am not an employee of Ichy’s. I have agreed to assist a fellow hobbyist with the hopes of making this hobby more enjoyable for others. To follow is my unbiased review of the product to be supplied.

Pictures:

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(please note, the real version has a sticker on the front and does not have hanging holes.)

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Construction:
Ichy’s API Master Test Kit Rack is constructed of 1/8” white acrylic and joined with appropriate color matching adhesive. The product measures 10-1/4“ long x 3“ wide x 4“ tall. The test tube holders supplied with the rack are machined from solid pieces of acrylic and measure 2“ long x 3/4“ wide x 2-1/2“ tall.

My rating: 8/10
Comment: The whole rack is very sturdy and well-built but, the weight of all the solution bottles will make the lower support flex if lifted with the rack totally full.


Looks:
This product is quite attractive. The design lends to itself an elegance that would make your water testing supplies something to be displayed rather than hidden. My only criticism is a personal bias. The test kit rack comes with a sticker of a knife fish on the front; this is Ichy’s mascot Kevin and he is quite cute! I do not place labels on anything so unfortunately Kevin’s charm is lost on me.

My rating: 10/10
Comments: This product is hands down an amazing improvement from API’s plastic box supplied with their product. Everything fits perfectly in its spot and looks good while doing it. You won’t want to hide this beautiful rack in your stand.


Ease of Use:
This is where test kit rack really shines. The design allows you a station to setup all your basic tests in one handy place where you can easily store everything for the next use. The white acrylic construction also contributes to the ease of reading your results and this is a huge plus. My only negative on this is the unit’s ability to hold more than the basic tests. This is only a minor inconvenience because not every hobbyist tests to this extent.

My rating: 10/10
Comments: Easy to use; could be bigger for my taste.

Cost:
These units come at two price points. (Prices include shipping)
$23 without tube holders
$29 with tube holders

My rating: 10/10
Comments: This is a very high quality product for such a low cost. If anything I feel the price is too low. Tube holders are not necessary but, a nice luxury. Shipping alone would cost $5-$7 and that’s included!


Final Thoughts:
Attractive product filling a useful need at a reasonable cost; what’s not to like?

If you have additional questions feel free to post here or send a pm to Ichy or myself.
Purchases will be handled through a pm to Ichy; I am only reviewing his product.

Best,
Nate


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Last edited by natebuchholz; 05-22-2015 at 03:03 PM. Reason: fat thumbs
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post #2 of 7 (permalink) Old 05-24-2015, 11:09 PM
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Just an FYI!!
If your interested in one of these, the hanging holes in the back are no longer an option, it stresses the acrylic too much and it will crack over time.
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post #3 of 7 (permalink) Old 05-25-2015, 04:58 AM
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Isn't there a thread for this already? You'd know what would win my money? Some sort of easy way to clean out the vials, like a pillar or 2 that can be placed with a tissue or something and would fit snuggly inside getting every drop. Other than that i see no real use unless you lost the black plastic one. I've lost that and would still rather have them lined up on a counter somewhere.


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post #4 of 7 (permalink) Old 05-27-2015, 05:03 AM
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Thumbs up

Looks like most pieces are laser cut, and the two boxes are 3d printed? This is a great start, but I must question some design decisions, such as the choice of white acrylic and PLE (ABS?) plastic, which may be prone to discoloration from coming into contact with our colourful reagents. At the very least, it will certainly yellow with time. Also, finger-joints are super easy to cut and glue together, are reliable, and will yield a clean, flush fit. With some improvement, this could be a great display rack indeed.


With that in mind, I'd like to share my solution to this problem:
Just-a-Box™



as seen, Just-a-Box™ incudes an attached lid, preventing collection of dust and other fine particles. It also features a handy carrying handle, for obvious convenience.



Inside Just-a-Box™, you'll find all my testing supplies, complete with the 9 reagent bottles - 7 from the core kit, plus GH and KH.
(I only count 8 slots on your rack - is that by design?)

There is also ample room to store test tubes and various other tools, such as the pipettes and watertight containers for grabbing a sample from several tanks and testing them all in one sitting. The colour swatch card is also handy, as well as the manuals for reference in those rare times I get to test my tanks in a Drunken Stupor™

The closed container has my 4dKH reference solution. The standard-issue Chinese drop checker solution is also in there for good measure, seeing how it's really just a PH reagent.



The reagents are arranged in an order that I find most efficient for testing. It goes like this, starting at bottom left: Nitrite, Ammonia 1, 2, Nitrate 2, 1, (over to bottom right) pH, High Range pH, KH, GH. (ask me if curious why I find this order most efficient. I go borderline OCD with this stuff).

Best of all, Just-a-Box™ comes with built-in support for a (small) expansion in my reagent arsenal, and is fully compatible with other brands of test kits (so that I can ditch API once these reagents run out - again, ask me why).

One can conjure Just-a-Box™ of one's own by going through the junk in one's (or a friend's) garage. It will likely not come with a sticker as ironically irrelevant as mine. Though if you recognize it, +20 to your Ops-fu.

P.S. Yes indeed, the separators are hand-cut from a single sheet of finest-grade corrugated cardboard.

¯\_(ツ)_/¯
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post #5 of 7 (permalink) Old 05-27-2015, 05:30 AM
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seriously though, Ichy, good start, but please consider a few design tweaks:

- as mentioned before, the white plastic is a no-go when dealing with colourful chemicals. You're best off with a matte black one, such as the one from Inventables. May be on a more expensive side, but a quality material. Also, consider using 6mm instead of 3mm acrylic for the back bracket, to prevent flex.

- A lid is a must. otherwise all the nooks and crannies will get pretty dusty pretty soon - including the tubes between uses if you prefer to store them uncapped. yes, we're supposed to rinse them before use. no, we don't always do, let's face it.

- Cap storage is also a must in the latter case.

- if you're going to cut out shapes for the bottles, make enough to hold everything that comes with the master kit as well as the KH/GH. You're assuming whoever is using this will only test using a single pH reagent and store the other one somewhere else (I know you omitted the Nitrite from your pictures, but I don't imagine anyone would do so in practice). Better yet, make a freeform container where a user could store whatever they like up to the container's size.

- There's no logical space to hold the swatch card. It would make sense to have the card somewhere where you put the tube next to it, to match the colour. Even place tubes in between the swatches, that's what I do laying them flat on the table. For bonus points, you could add a tiny LED strip to light the swatch card, because lighting can be a pain, especially with the Nitrate.

- the test tubes are blocking the reagents. you have to reach behind the (presumably) filled tube to take out the reagent, and then put it back.

- @agro's suggestion is right on the $$. I also find the rinsing and drying part to be a source of frustration. Solving this problem would sell this thing on its own. For now, I may steal @agro's idea for myself

- for extra awesomely amazing bonus points, a good testing station should have a centrifuge.
just kidding, of course.
but I am thinking of building a mechanical hand-cranked "shaker clamp" to "vigorously shake" (as per manual) the NO3 bottle #2, and then the NO3 test tube. Repetitive forward motions of my right hand in the air for a minute or so - they do sometimes elicit puzzled stares from the uninformed

- I use my phone as the timer, and just put it in the lid of my case. It would be cool to have a place to hold it on your rack (or whatever other timer someone might want to use)
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post #6 of 7 (permalink) Old 05-27-2015, 02:11 PM
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I specifically picked white because it makes reading the tubes sooo much easier.
yes, all the parts are laser cut.

Centrifuge will be added on the next version.
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post #7 of 7 (permalink) Old 05-27-2015, 11:26 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ichy View Post
I specifically picked white because it makes reading the tubes sooo much easier..
yes, that is a good point, but in your design the tubes are not sitting against the white background. They have to be right in front of an even white surface in order to not cast a shadow. and better yet, they should be next to the colour swatches, because matching can be a real pain.
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