I'm starting my first high tech tank, a Fluval Spec 16 gallon, and I've decided to go the DIY route for my CO2 system. I need help with all the post-body parts I need, as well as assembly. I would like this system to be as compact as possible due to space restrictions, but without sacrificing quality. For now I will have it set to take cartridges, but once I have more space I've heard of adapters I can get for the Leland regulators so they can take paintball canisters, so I can upgrade later.
The main parts I've come up with so far are as follows:
Leland NR-24 (Part No. 50047-001)
This one goes up to 50 psi, should I go for the one that goes up to 80 psi?
Is there a better quality (more precise) needle valve around the same size? Should I go a little bulkier and go with a Swagelok instead? Or is the SMC one accurate enough?
Mini Solenoid from ASCO
Are there better quality Solenoids of the same size? Are there smaller ones than these?
10-32 ports check valve (from DIY CO2 regulators)
If someone can help me with the hardware I need to put it together that would be awesome.
Any advice would be appreciated.
Cartridges: I think you should go with the adapter from the start. A paintball tank will have a lot more capacity and will be much more economical than cartridges. Cartridges are a continuous expense that will stack up fast. You will constantly be replacing cartridges. They are individually cheaper, but if you are replacing them every day or two... Well, you get the idea. And trust me, running out of CO2 and not noticing will cause very bad things to happen. Usually a stall in plant growth and an algae outbreak because balances are off.
Regulator: 50 psi should be fine. I prefer a 2-stage regulator, but there is probably not one available that has the small form factor of the Leland.
Needle Valve: The SMC may not be precise enough for a 16 gallon. A Dakota 6AMV1120
, Swagelok S series, Hoke 1335 series, or Ideal 52-1-12 (among others) would be best (all ~1 degree needle valves). They can be expensive though. There are a lot of 3 degree valves out there (Fabco, Hoke 1315 series, Ideal 52-2-12, and many other choices) that still offer good precision for a cheaper price. Be very aware of the connection types. 1/8" NPT is ideal. 1/4 tube fittings are usually the second choice (but require adapting), 1/8 or 1/16 tube connections are very delicate, and VCR fittings should be avoided because adaptors are quite expensive and hard to find.
Solenoid: I prefer the Clippard Mouse solenoids for low power usage and they run completely cool. Still a pretty small form factor especially if you go with the ones that are not manifold mount (would probably have 10-32 connections though). I like the manifold mount type due to the 1/8 NPT connections.
Check Valves: The ones on Diyco2regulator is pretty good. I believe it is a clippard check valve. I would also recommend adding an additional disc type check valve in line as a disposable primary check valve.
Hardware: SS parts are pretty expensive and more difficult to find. You can find some of them from China sellers for a good price, but you would have to wait to get them. If you are looking for a SS look then chrome plated brass could be a good option for some parts. If you do decide to go SS, be aware that there is a difference in the appearance of 304 and 316 SS. 304 is usually cast and has a matte finish. 316 is more expensive, but has more of a shiny polished finish.
For bang for the buck, you can't beat the diyco2regulators post body kit #1
. It offers the best value out there for most peoples builds.
I hope this is helpful.