Paralysis by Analysis! Newbie building regulator. Please advise - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 43 (permalink) Old 04-20-2020, 02:37 AM Thread Starter
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Question Paralysis by Analysis! Newbie building regulator. Please advise

Well, sorry folks, but I am feeling pretty frustrated, need to rant! After having spent 3-4 days now, spending a few hours every day, learning, researching, shopping etc. I am feeling totally paralyzed by analysis. Still I feel I am only halfway through. Also it seems like I will not be really saving any money doing this DIY, as compared to buying a pre-built kit.


First, a big THANK YOU to the people here who have posted some excellent threads on this topic, you know who you are It’s just, there are soooooo many options out there. Everything has plus and minus points, many things recommended are not easy to find. Then making sure everything fits together is another issue. I wish there was an easy way. It sure is a pretty steep learning curve.

Maybe I could use a little help. Here is so far what I have bought (nothing is in my hands, yet)...
  1. Matheson 3104C dual stage regulator with 200 psi LP gauge, used $30
  2. CGA-320 nut and nipple, new $10
  3. Ideal V52-2-12 needle valve, new $42
(All prices include shipping)

I still need a bunch of things to make the whole kit work. That is where I am feeling burnt out! I can see I still need:
  1. Solenoid
  2. Manifold
  3. Reducer nipple
  4. Angle nipple
  5. Bubble counter
  6. Check valve
  7. Tubing
Reactor comes next, but probably outside the scope of this conversation






Here is what I still have open questions about:

Cost effective solenoid + manifold?
After spending hours today looking for the combination which will work, keeping in mind, power consumption, connections, availability etc...I have come to the conclusion that this kit is easy enough to buy:
https://www.diyco2regulator.com/co2-...5-manifold-12v
CO2 Regulator Solenoid with 15490-5 manifold (12V) from diyco2regulator.com for $43+shipping.

I have been searching on the fleabay but by the time you pay shipping for both the solenoid and the manifold and the electrical connectors, this starts to seem attractive. What do you say?



Connections:
Can I put the needle valve before the solenoid? Why? Because I think the
  1. The needle valve seems heavy for the 1/8" NPT
  2. 1/4” connectors could be kept together before stepping down to ⅛”.
Here is what I was thinking about:

  1. CGA-320’s ” NPT male to regulator’s ” NPT female.
  2. Then regulator’s ” NPT female to regulator’s ” NPT male-male nipple,
  3. Then to needle valve’s ” NPT female.
  4. Then needle valve’s ” NPT female output (right angle output) to ” male to ⅛” female NPT hex reducer.
  5. Then ⅛” NPT reducer male to ⅛” NPT female in manifold.
  6. Then ⅛” NPT female in manifold to ⅛” NPT male to male hex nipple
  7. Then to bubble counter, provided it has ⅛” NPT female

What kind of thread do bubble counters have?
Like for example eBay item number: 272871651225

Thanks a lot for responding!




Update: Final list of parts is here:

https://www.plantedtank.net/forums/9...t11332337.html

-Raj

Last edited by rajdude; 05-11-2020 at 03:58 PM. Reason: added info
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post #2 of 43 (permalink) Old 04-20-2020, 03:50 AM Thread Starter
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Post Brain dump

Here's the information I gathered, while I was doing research. Hopefully, it will help someone save some time...

Setup and testing
https://www.plantedtank.net/forums/9...ml#post1390286


CO2 Cylinder:
Sources
https://beveragelements.com/product-...co2-cylinders/
Roberts Gas, locally

Do not look for a fancy cylinder, like aluminum etc. Because there is a good chance that the local gas supply guys will simply swap your cylinder instead of filling yours up. Can search craigslist, but make sure it has a non expired hydro test stamp on it.
Go for a 10 lbs one, usually 50 bucks plus 15 shipping.


Regulator:
Search ebay for gas regulator, do not search for dual stage. Look for Matheson or Concoa. Sort by lowest price.
Then cross reference what is available vs their catalog part numbers

Concoa:
https://www.concoa.com/specgas_catalog.html
400 series dual stage, like 412, 414 etc. Stainless steel does not matter. Simple brass is ok

Matheson:
This could be cheaper because most of the ones on eBay are actually obsolete. That is fine for our purpose. Look for dual stage
https://store.mathesongas.com/cross-...ld-regulators/

Note: Look at the low pressure gauge carefully. Don’t buy the one which has a gauge which reads –30-0-30. That model can supply an output pressure of half the full scale reading which is only 15 PSI

I ordered a 3014C for $30, shipped
https://store.mathesongas.com/conten...102C_3104C.pdf
Has 1/4" NPT female ports


CGA-320 nut + nipple:
If you get lucky, your regulator may have a 320 connector which is needed for C)2 gas cylinders, but most probably it does not. You need to get one. Check the inlet port threads first. My Matheson has 1/4" female NPT threads
I ordered one for $9.45 on eBay


Metering valve:
Lots of different metering valves are available. Easily found one is the Fabco NV55. That is what come in many kits. People say Ideal is better.
Look for Ideal V 52-1-XX model < better but more expensive
11 is straight
12 is 90 degrees
V 52-1 cannot be found on the internet. I called Ideal straight, they sell it for 100 + 7.50 shipping. That is a little too high for my wallet. So I went with the V52-2 on eBay. BTW, the guy said do not buy the 52-2 version that is too big. He also said go with the non vernier version, as the vernier is not really needed and is 20 bucks cheaper.

There a couple of guys saying that the v 52-2-x model is also OK, here
https://www.plantedtank.net/forums/9...ml#post5809170
Bettatail lists a ton of valves in the first post here (thank you!)

Ideal V52-2-12 <<<<<I bought this one
$42.39 shipped, from eBay
Forged Brass Needle Valves | Ideal Valve Inc.

Update after using valve
I now feel that the advice given by the Ideal guy was correct. The Ideal V 52-1-XX model is the right one to get. The Ideal V 52-2-XX model works but I have to tweak it extremely carefully. Just a slight turn and lot of bubble rate change.

Other options
B-2MA2 Swagelok
Fabco NV-55-18 << Around $46 on ebay

Solenoid:
I hear that it is best to find one which uses less power. They usually heat up and die...also waste power.
https://www.plantedtank.net/forums/9...l#post11295225
Numatics LS solenoid LS03M6F00V, part number : 264462700396
Very little options on eBay for this part, and it can get a little expensive - like 35 dollars on eBay plus it needs a manifold also…which is around 20 bucks extra, shipped.

Another option:
Clippard EC-2-12 < inline mount
Clippard EC-2M-12 < manifold mount, this is the one they sell here:
https://www.diyco2regulator.com/co2-...5-manifold-12v
Simply get this set for $43

Specs of this solenoid:
https://clippard.com/part/EC-2M-12
Comes in many part numbers
https://clippard.com/downloads/PDF_D...Page%20183.pdf


Again, hard to find, nothing on eBay
Needs a manifold - clippard 15490-5

Fittings
You will need various fittings, nipples, reducers etc to connect all these things together. A simple place to find all you need is:
https://www.diyco2regulator.com/fittings
Quick things to keep in mind:
NPT is the same thing as MPT.
MPT is usually for male pipe thread
FPT is usually female pipe thread



Bubble counter:
You can get a $10 bubble counter which will fit straight to the output of the metering valve. Has 1/8" NPT female (need confirmation). So you just need a 1/8" male-male nipple. This usually comes with a check valve inbuilt. Not sure how good that valve is, though.
Brass ones are also available for $17, probably is a good idea since the metal to metal contact should be similar metals.

Tubing
Some people just use airline tubing. CO2 resistant tubing should be better
I found 16 feet for $10 shipped on eBay.




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-Raj

Last edited by rajdude; 05-11-2020 at 04:02 PM. Reason: added info
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post #3 of 43 (permalink) Old 04-20-2020, 03:53 AM
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Clippard is a great solenoid. It's what I am using.

No idea about needle valve before the solenoid. Never seen one built like that.

Don't know about the bubble counter either. I'm using one that's not connected to my reg.


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post #4 of 43 (permalink) Old 04-20-2020, 04:25 AM Thread Starter
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Red face

Thank you for chiming in!
It seems to me that the bubble counter I am looking at may have a 1/8" female NPT. Found a review/question on Amazon whose answer was that.
Check valve in this until is questionable, based on reviews on Amazon.



Quote:
Originally Posted by Nubster View Post
Clippard is a great solenoid. It's what I am using.

No idea about needle valve before the solenoid. Never seen one built like that.

Don't know about the bubble counter either. I'm using one that's not connected to my reg.

-Raj
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post #5 of 43 (permalink) Old 04-20-2020, 04:49 AM
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You have:
Matheson 3104C dual stage regulator
CGA-320 nut and nipple
Ideal V52-2-12 needle valve

you need:
1/4 male npt to 1/8 male npt hex reducer fitting
ASCO/numatics miniature solenoid (273787607548) or a clippard mouse solenoid
clippard solenoid single station manifold(15490-5, radwell/PLC evil bay listing sold out, go to PLC official website to order it, or clippard official website but there is wait time)
(or some other solenoid, PMed)
1/8 male npt to 1/8 male npt elbow fitting
1/8 male npt to 1/8 male npt hex nipple
bubble counter with threaded base(by default it is 1/8 female npt)



answer to some of your questions:
solenoid is a on/off control valve, metering valve is a flow rate control valve;
1.on/off control valve normally place before a flow rate control valve for pneumatic applications, you can search for the reasons.
2. The solenoid after the metering valve is ok too, if functionally doesn't cause problem and the look of such arrangement is more pleasing to one's eyes.


last, don't be frustrated, It took me and others years to explore and search what can be used and how it is done, so only days to grab the ideas and know how to do it, is not practical, but you can follow a specific build thread example and instruction for an exact or similar setup, and fellow hobbyists are here to help,

I have a matheson 3104C, will show you the picture, but now you can see this 9296 below, it is a burkert solenoid though.


found a couple more pictures;



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post #6 of 43 (permalink) Old 04-20-2020, 03:12 PM Thread Starter
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Red face Thanks

Thank you Bettatail for chiming in here and giving me specific advise. I appreciate it Got your PM also, thanks.


Well, after I ranted yesterday, I took a break, went for a long bike ride with my wife, nice day BTW! Then later in the night I wrote up the "brain dump". After the brain dump, I realized that actually, I have figured out almost everything. Just need to order some parts and assemble. And with your helpful post.....(it is VERY helpful, thanks) I think I can finish this project today.


Your photos are very helpful. Puts everything in perspective. I realized that the Ideal valve is not that big as I was thinking it is. So I now think these fittings may not be that fragile after all.



The solenoid, I think I will get the 12 volt Clippard kit from diyco2regulator.com. The one on eBay is 24 volts and I already have a couple of 12 volt wall warts lying around. I may order the fittings also from the same place. Bubble counter, I think I will save a few bucks and go with the cheaper aluminum version (instead of brass), since you showed me the blue one, anodized aluminum one.


What is your experience with the check valve in those bubble counters you got? Do they work properly or so you supplement them with another one inline?

-Raj
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post #7 of 43 (permalink) Old 04-20-2020, 05:36 PM Thread Starter
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Post final parts list

(Updated)
Here are the parts I eventually ended up with...

Grand total = 176.95

From eBay
Matheson 3104C dual stage regulator with 200 psi LP gauge, used $30
CGA-320 nut and nipple, new $10
Ideal V52-2-12 needle valve, new $42
Clippard MJCV-1AA Minimatic Jumbo Check Valve 1/8 NPT Male To 1/8", used for $11.99 shipped

From diyco2regulator.com
CO2 Regulator Solenoid with 15490-5 manifold (12V) $42.95
1/4" x 1/8"MPT Brass Reducing Hex Nipple for $2.50
1/8" MPT All Male Elbow - Brass for $3.75
Inlet Nipple Filter for $2.50
Shipping 5.99

From Amazon
Rhinox Aluminum Alloy CO2 Bubble Counter for $9.70
JARDLI Aquarium CO2 Proof Tubing 16 Feet (Clear) for $9.90
tax $1.17
Free shipping

From Home Depot
Brass street elbow 1/8" $4.50


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-Raj

Last edited by rajdude; 05-11-2020 at 03:57 PM. Reason: added info
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post #8 of 43 (permalink) Old 04-20-2020, 05:49 PM
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Looks good. My reg. is a Matheson 3120 series, it's beastly. Very heavy and I'm guessing stainless. I wanted to go all stainless parts but some stuff wasn't available in stainless when I ordered and the price difference was pretty significant. Plus the reg. is under my tank in the stand and not going to be seen so the mix match of metals really doesn't bother me so much. If it was out to be seen I might have taken the time to source all stainless. It works just as good with some brass so that's all that matters...lol

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post #9 of 43 (permalink) Old 04-20-2020, 06:21 PM Thread Starter
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Yeah, I hear you....from what I understand after reading up, stainless is needed for corrosive gases...........but for CO2 just about anything will do, so brass is ok for me


About weight, yeah....the one I bought is supposed to weight 9 lbs!. Add the other parts and the tank may tip over! I really do not know ... I am probably unnecessarily worried about the 320 nipple and nut also, LoL I will strap the whole thing to the wall.


I am planning to put everything in another room, mudroom adjacent to the room where the fish tank is.



Quote:
Originally Posted by Nubster View Post
Looks good. My reg. is a Matheson 3120 series, it's beastly. Very heavy and I'm guessing stainless. I wanted to go all stainless parts but some stuff wasn't available in stainless when I ordered and the price difference was pretty significant. Plus the reg. is under my tank in the stand and not going to be seen so the mix match of metals really doesn't bother me so much. If it was out to be seen I might have taken the time to source all stainless. It works just as good with some brass so that's all that matters...lol


-Raj
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post #10 of 43 (permalink) Old 04-20-2020, 07:07 PM Thread Starter
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The final piece of this puzzle is the cylinder...

I called around here (northern Virginia, DC's suburbs)....

Cheapest I can buy a 10lbs tank is online for $70, shipped. Add approximately 40 bucks to fill it with beverage grade gas makes it $110. Which is the same price the local Arcet store {Arc 3 now} is selling a filled tank. Hmmmm...
Later on I found out that I misunderstood. $110 for an empty tank add 43 bucks to fill it.

Is this price ok?

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Last edited by rajdude; 04-23-2020 at 05:30 PM. Reason: wrong info
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post #11 of 43 (permalink) Old 04-20-2020, 07:43 PM
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@Nubster, @rajdude, both of you have a bench vise at home? if not, get a 2-1/2 In. Table Swivel Vise from harbor freight for $20, it is barely strong enough to tackle task like this, but it works. and you will discover how convenient to have a small tool like this at home.

the matheson 3120 regulator is chrome plated, the equivalent stainless steel model is 3810.

use medium density white teflon tape for pipe fittings, or get a small tube of loctite blue 242. It takes practice to wrap and apply teflon tape on the threads, then make a strong and secure fitting to fitting connection, if not confident with the tape, the blue loctite thread locker is the answer.

Bump:
Quote:
Originally Posted by rajdude View Post
The final piece of this puzzle is the cylinder...

I called around here (northern Virginia, DC's suburbs)....

Cheapest I can buy a 10lbs tank is online for $70, shipped. Add approximately 40 bucks to fill it with beverage grade gas makes it $110. Which is the same price the local Arcet store {Arc 3 now} is selling a filled tank. Hmmmm...

Is this price ok?

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price looks right.


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post #12 of 43 (permalink) Old 04-20-2020, 08:24 PM Thread Starter
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Question Beverage grade gas?

so quick question...
Do we need beverage grade gas?


I guess the answer is yes......its only a few dollars more expensive. Some gas suppliers (Roberts) do not even have a distinction...but most others I called do.
They say the cylinder certification process is also different so cylinders are a little more expensive.

-Raj
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post #13 of 43 (permalink) Old 04-20-2020, 08:57 PM
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I know it's too late but I was down this path as well and realizing all the issues.
I ended up just going with this already build regulator package

https://www.co2art.co.uk/collections...rated-solenoid

It shipped from across the pond but I wouldn't need to go out and built everything myself and the quality is semi ok. get's the job done

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post #14 of 43 (permalink) Old 04-20-2020, 09:30 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for chiming in....and no it is not too late. I knew and read all about those pre-built regulator packages. The one you linked is available here for 150 USD

As a dyed-in-the-wool DIY guy, it just made more sense to me, to build my own. To me, it was all about getting the best possible parts. Does the kit not work well? I bet it does work just fine. In the starting, I thought that the whole thing will not cost me that much.......my budget was 150...but of course, as you can see my grand total above, I am actually higher than this kit at $150! HA

Quote:
Originally Posted by monkeyruler90 View Post
I know it's too late but I was down this path as well and realizing all the issues.
I ended up just going with this already build regulator package

https://www.co2art.co.uk/collections...rated-solenoid

It shipped from across the pond but I wouldn't need to go out and built everything myself and the quality is semi ok. get's the job done

-Raj
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post #15 of 43 (permalink) Old 04-20-2020, 09:49 PM Thread Starter
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Talking thank you

Thanks for the tips!
Yes I do have a bench vise. Its pretty decent, an old 4.5 " Wilton. But currently not mounted onto a bench :-( What part of the regulator can be held safely in the vise?

And yes, I do have the white (and yellow also) teflon tapes. Also have the pipe dope. Locktite too. Thanks for the tips, I appreciate it!


I am about to start a project (and a thread here) about automating most of this aquarium hobby. I want to totally automate and monitor things electronically, like water changes, water top off, fertilizer dosing, pH, warnings etc. Thinking about Arduino based controls. I know everything exists in this hobby already, I mean I can go out and buy it right now,,,,,,but won't it be nice to DIY?


But gotta finish this project up first.......off to research a co2 reactor now.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bettatail View Post
@Nubster, @rajdude, both of you have a bench vise at home? if not, get a 2-1/2 In. Table Swivel Vise from harbor freight for $20, it is barely strong enough to tackle task like this, but it works. and you will discover how convenient to have a small tool like this at home.

the matheson 3120 regulator is chrome plated, the equivalent stainless steel model is 3810.

use medium density white teflon tape for pipe fittings, or get a small tube of loctite blue 242. It takes practice to wrap and apply teflon tape on the threads, then make a strong and secure fitting to fitting connection, if not confident with the tape, the blue loctite thread locker is the answer.

Bump:
price looks right.

-Raj

Last edited by rajdude; 04-21-2020 at 04:23 PM. Reason: TMI
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