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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hey everyone!

Been a few years since I have had a planted tank and decided it was time to get back into it. In the mean time I have been progressing as an electrical engineer and working long hours. Needing an outlet and hobby I wanted to try my hand at planted tanks again! So I thought I would blend the two together a little bit. My wife and I are currently out on a field assignment and moving back home here in the next few months. Figured I would get my tank and everything once I got back home as to not disturb the bacteria/fish/plants. In the mean time I decided to go forward with designing and building a little aquarium monitoring system!

My plan is to turn this into a short weekly journal about my overall progress, issues I have run into, solutions I have found, and questions for everyone.

So Ill start off where I began the process, keep in mind I am an electrical engineer and not a mechanical/process. I created a crude P&ID (Process and Instrumentation Diagram) to begin with as an overall layout for the project. You can see that attached as a PDF. I appreciate any comments or thoughts on the overall layout. Ill give a short description of each system as it stands now.

I had an Arduino Uno laying around from a Christmas gift to my wife that she opted not to use, so I am now putting that to use as a control system. I am planning on bringing in a pH, ORP, Dissolved Oxygen, Temperature and Conductivity probes purchased from Atlas Scientific into the Arduino through a Tentacle Shield (see attached photos of my work in progress with the pH sensor, Tentacle Shield and a small LCD screen). Ideally I will also have an Atlas Scientific flow meter for the outlet of the filter to maybe warn of filter cleaning time, etc. This will be the monitoring part of the tank, I am hoping to use accrued data after a few months of operation to implement a control scheme with hiccups I may have to manually fix during the time and data from the probes. Ill get more into the electronics part of the project next week. Mostly just excited not to have to do the drop color pH tests anymore :)

Second is the CO2 injection system, which we are all familiar with. I am planning on buying a nice GLA system once moving back. Ideally at some point Ill be able to incorporate the solenoid into my control system and make my own pH controller or tank system controller.

Third, dosing pumps. I plan on having at a minimum two dosing pumps shown in the P&ID. These will be Macros and Micros using the PPS Pro Method at the moment. Simply chose this since it seemed most suited to a dosing pump application, but still considering EI as well. Let me know what you prefer :) I think before this gets implemented I will add a small top off dosing pump as well, but not sure on how I will supply the treated water consistently for this at the moment. Hoping to have an RO system at this point.

Fourth, but not least, the tank system basics. Currently slated to be an Aquamaxx 12 gallon (hoping for bigger), a Hydor professional canister filter, Hydor inline heater, and Finnex Planted+ 24/7.

That is all I have for this week, let me know what you think. Next week will be related to control cabinet design, terminal block layout, specifications, etc based on the P&ID.

Have a good week!
 

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Carpe Diem
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Welcome back!

As an engineer, I am used to Functional Requirements Document (FRD) being a starting point, i.e "what will it do?".
I have a very long list of information I would love to know about my tank(s). For me, data collection and analysis would come first, with automation in Phase 2.

If your project is for fun and intertainment then enjoy the process. If you are thinking about a new venture, then there is a lot of demand and money for comercial applications dealing with in-field water and fluid measurements.

Coming back to the hobby, there are a number of commercial "tank monitoring" products:
- https://www.neptunesystems.com/products/apex-controllers/
- https://www.seneye.com
that come to mind.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks for the welcome back!

The Neptune Apex is definitely very similar to what I am wanting to build no doubt. And yeah it is fun to design and build your own, teaches you alot about the system!

Couldn't agree more on the monitoring first part...best to see how the system operates before you try to control it.

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Hey everyone!



Been a few years since I have had a planted tank and decided it was time to get back into it. In the mean time I have been progressing as an electrical engineer and working long hours. Needing an outlet and hobby I wanted to try my hand at planted tanks again! So I thought I would blend the two together a little bit. My wife and I are currently out on a field assignment and moving back home here in the next few months. Figured I would get my tank and everything once I got back home as to not disturb the bacteria/fish/plants. In the mean time I decided to go forward with designing and building a little aquarium monitoring system!



My plan is to turn this into a short weekly journal about my overall progress, issues I have run into, solutions I have found, and questions for everyone.



So Ill start off where I began the process, keep in mind I am an electrical engineer and not a mechanical/process. I created a crude P&ID (Process and Instrumentation Diagram) to begin with as an overall layout for the project. You can see that attached as a PDF. I appreciate any comments or thoughts on the overall layout. Ill give a short description of each system as it stands now.



I had an Arduino Uno laying around from a Christmas gift to my wife that she opted not to use, so I am now putting that to use as a control system. I am planning on bringing in a pH, ORP, Dissolved Oxygen, Temperature and Conductivity probes purchased from Atlas Scientific into the Arduino through a Tentacle Shield (see attached photos of my work in progress with the pH sensor, Tentacle Shield and a small LCD screen). Ideally I will also have an Atlas Scientific flow meter for the outlet of the filter to maybe warn of filter cleaning time, etc. This will be the monitoring part of the tank, I am hoping to use accrued data after a few months of operation to implement a control scheme with hiccups I may have to manually fix during the time and data from the probes. Ill get more into the electronics part of the project next week. Mostly just excited not to have to do the drop color pH tests anymore :)



Second is the CO2 injection system, which we are all familiar with. I am planning on buying a nice GLA system once moving back. Ideally at some point Ill be able to incorporate the solenoid into my control system and make my own pH controller or tank system controller.



Third, dosing pumps. I plan on having at a minimum two dosing pumps shown in the P&ID. These will be Macros and Micros using the PPS Pro Method at the moment. Simply chose this since it seemed most suited to a dosing pump application, but still considering EI as well. Let me know what you prefer :) I think before this gets implemented I will add a small top off dosing pump as well, but not sure on how I will supply the treated water consistently for this at the moment. Hoping to have an RO system at this point.



Fourth, but not least, the tank system basics. Currently slated to be an Aquamaxx 12 gallon (hoping for bigger), a Hydor professional canister filter, Hydor inline heater, and Finnex Planted+ 24/7.



That is all I have for this week, let me know what you think. Next week will be related to control cabinet design, terminal block layout, specifications, etc based on the P&ID.



Have a good week!


You ate definately on the right track. I am towards the tail end of my project There are a couple of things I would do differently. I would have made more use of the arduino for data acquisition. Also I am just now adding esp8266 ($6 WiFi arduino). To eliminate lots of wire and help with isolation. But one thing you HAVE to look at is adding a Raspberry Pi (RPI) and node red for the process logic and web interface. I would be more than happy to give you what I have code wise. I have NO intentions of selling this but would like to keep everything open source so other could benefit too. I have ph, ec, Temp , water level, dosing, ato (auto top off), 5gallon waterchanges nightly, dimming led lights, heater control, WiFi controlled power strips. And some more I’m forgetting. All is controlled by RPI and accessible over web on phone and at home on pc. I come from a software background so I would greatly appreciate an EE looking over my stuff and calling out the stupid stuff that’s going to burn down the house!



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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thanks for the suggestion, I was thinking about a RPI but wasn't sure how to implement it at the moment. But with your suggestion I think I will move forward with integrating that into the system early on :)

How do you interface the Arduino and the RPI? You are just using the Arduino to gather the data and then pass it to the RPI to utilize in controlling the process?

Your web portal sounds awesome, will definitely keep that in mind!

Also feel free and pass along any EE related questions, I come from an industrial background so I tend to go a little conservative :)

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Subscribed. Want to do something similar but much simpler to monitor temp, pH, and sump water level, as well as control the lights once I get my 40B up and running.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
EE here also, power, water treatment, and building industry. Out of curiosity, is there a reason no one uses a PLC based system with Wonderware as an interface? I'm assuming it's due to cost, but it appears it sure would be a sweet system.
You know that's a good point. I did a little research at the beginning and between my inexperience with the industrial PLCs for programming and how convenient and relatively inexpensive the Arduino (and RPI) was just made more sense to use those. Also the atlas scientific probes are just so easily setup to go with an Arduino with their tentacle shield it was a no brainier for me.

I'm sure if you had more hands on experience with the PLCs it would be awesome and would work just fine :) I'd love to see a setup with a PLC as well! I've only ever used the Allen Bradley ones, and only from a wiring perspective not programming.

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another one enters the rabbit hole... ;)
Ferduino Aquarium Controller
https://www.robo-tank.ca/
And about 1 dozen more give or take a few dozen aborted attempts..
http://arduino-aquarium.blogspot.com/p/software.html
https://www.reef2reef.com/threads/h...arium-monitoring-control-system.264093/page-5
diverjoe???

FROM a PURELY amateur and naive standpoint Aduino isn't really the best platform for what you want...


Arduino is more easy for starters , as you will be coming across the difference between data pins , dc Jack pin , USB dumper cable difference between analog and data pins etc etc , as they are in Arduino where Arduino has limited pins , but if you go with rasbi then there are many and many options available like eternet cable , usb , HDMI , etc etc . As a starter best is Arduino and you can go on with rasbi where it will be easy to understand rasbi .

Is there a simple rule of thumb to help me decide?

Yes, there is! Think about what you want your project to do. If you can describe it with less than two ‘and’s, get an Arduino. If you need more than two ‘and’s, get a Raspberry Pi.
https://makezine.com/2015/12/04/admittedly-simplistic-guide-raspberry-pi-vs-arduino/

There are others...

http://www.reefcentral.com/forums/showthread.php?t=2336071
note just figured out what RSP means.. Doh on my part..
 

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Subscribed. Want to do something similar but much simpler to monitor temp, pH, and sump water level, as well as control the lights once I get my 40B up and running.


This is easily pick and choose on what you want to add


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another one enters the rabbit hole... ;)
Ferduino Aquarium Controller
https://www.robo-tank.ca/
And about 1 dozen more give or take a few dozen aborted attempts..
http://arduino-aquarium.blogspot.com/p/software.html
https://www.reef2reef.com/threads/h...arium-monitoring-control-system.264093/page-5
diverjoe???

FROM a PURELY amateur and naive standpoint Aduino isn't really the best platform for what you want...







https://makezine.com/2015/12/04/admittedly-simplistic-guide-raspberry-pi-vs-arduino/

There are others...
note just figured out what RSP means.. Doh on my part..


I have looked at all of those and decided on a different architecture. I am 25 yrs into application development and have coded in just about everything. It had to be ease of integration and modification. I HATE hand coding my own UIs and I started seeing Node Red (NR) pop up in several other non-fish related control systems. OpenHab is a great example.

The ui is simply drop a text bit or slider etc in the palette and drag a wire from a datasource and it surfaces everything to both a web interface as well as a smartphone layout..... literally instantly. You actually “code” on he pi by connecting boxes. I have never found anything else more intuitive or simple short of Microsoft Dynamics 365.

My app is complete and running and has been for quite a few months now. It still has some bugs and needs some more safety features but they are only limited my someone saying it needs xyz.

I am a software architect by trade - the hands on kind. So all I have done is with a eye towards repeatability, expandability, ease of implementation , and robust technology.

It has been a slow build because of my steep learning curve of all of the pieces and part of the controllers as well as the technology/science behind aquaculture. I had been out of keeping a tank for over 10 yrs and when I started back I wanted to use all I had learned in life to make fishkeeping less mundane work. Only addressing the exceptions and the fun things like feeding blackworms.

I derived the idea from how the folks over at Reef Angel has been working. The code is open source. I have NO intentions of selling hardware but have been working to find ways to replicate things in a DIY fashion. Like water level. I have a prototype that is $10 in parts and is WiFi. As soon as I figure out a couple of issues it will be ready to release to others. Maybe some of you will help.

Long post but if no one likes anything I have done I am ok with that. I did it for me with a mind to share.


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I heartily commend you for your efforts..;)
 

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I heartily commend you for your efforts..;)


I am actually digging through a post you are currently active on for lighting. I recently discovered I needed more par to the substrate and am working through a lot of the watts, amps and voltage for an off the shelf led I bought. Expect some brain picking soon lol


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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
I have looked at all of those and decided on a different architecture. I am 25 yrs into application development and have coded in just about everything. It had to be ease of integration and modification. I HATE hand coding my own UIs and I started seeing Node Red (NR) pop up in several other non-fish related control systems. OpenHab is a great example.

The ui is simply drop a text bit or slider etc in the palette and drag a wire from a datasource and it surfaces everything to both a web interface as well as a smartphone layout..... literally instantly. You actually “code” on he pi by connecting boxes. I have never found anything else more intuitive or simple short of Microsoft Dynamics 365.

My app is complete and running and has been for quite a few months now. It still has some bugs and needs some more safety features but they are only limited my someone saying it needs xyz.

I am a software architect by trade - the hands on kind. So all I have done is with a eye towards repeatability, expandability, ease of implementation , and robust technology.

It has been a slow build because of my steep learning curve of all of the pieces and part of the controllers as well as the technology/science behind aquaculture. I had been out of keeping a tank for over 10 yrs and when I started back I wanted to use all I had learned in life to make fishkeeping less mundane work. Only addressing the exceptions and the fun things like feeding blackworms.

I derived the idea from how the folks over at Reef Angel has been working. The code is open source. I have NO intentions of selling hardware but have been working to find ways to replicate things in a DIY fashion. Like water level. I have a prototype that is $10 in parts and is WiFi. As soon as I figure out a couple of issues it will be ready to release to others. Maybe some of you will help.

Long post but if no one likes anything I have done I am ok with that. I did it for me with a mind to share.


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It's pretty awesome, really love those web interfaces that's epic. Really perfect for automating aquarium monitoring, and tracking it for future use to compare trends. You made an app as well or just a web interface that sends an email when it alarms on something? How do you handle tank alarms is more my question :)

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I looked at Atlas Scientific web site and those probes are pricey. I have not done much research yet, but is there something more budget oriented?

Looking at Arduino vs RSP vs PLC, wouldn't micro ATX or mini ITX be another viable platfom? Then you could run OS and IDE of choice. I am mulling whether I want to go down that rabbit hole for fun and giggles orshoud I just stick to water changes.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
I looked at Atlas Scientific web site and those probes are pricey. I have not done much research yet, but is there something more budget oriented?

Looking at Arduino vs RSP vs PLC, wouldn't micro ATX or mini ITX be another viable platfom? Then you could run OS and IDE of choice. I am mulling whether I want to go down that rabbit hole for fun and giggles orshoud I just stick to water changes.
Yeah there are definitely multiple ways to do it. I think the raspberry pi and Arduino already have alot of support in this area which gives them a leg up.

There are certainly plenty of budget sensor options on Amazon etc. However you'll need to consider wiring it up to your board of choice with a breadboard and bnc connector. And also don't forget about voltage isolation to get rid of noise and improve measurement accuracy. Something the tentacle shields do quite well and in a small package. My point being there are plenty of options, but not all created equal or as turn key :)

Maybe diverjoe knows of a simpler/less expensive solution for a few measurement points?

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I looked at Atlas Scientific web site and those probes are pricey. I have not done much research yet, but is there something more budget oriented?



Looking at Arduino vs RSP vs PLC, wouldn't micro ATX or mini ITX be another viable platfom? Then you could run OS and IDE of choice. I am mulling whether I want to go down that rabbit hole for fun and giggles orshoud I just stick to water changes.


There are some workarounds on the atlas thing that could be pursued as I can see that some of the things I was trying could have worked with what I know now. But however at the end of the day ph and ORP are probably two of the hardest.



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Yeah there are definitely multiple ways to do it. I think the raspberry pi and Arduino already have alot of support in this area which gives them a leg up.

There are certainly plenty of budget sensor options on Amazon etc. However you'll need to consider wiring it up to your board of choice with a breadboard and bnc connector. And also don't forget about voltage isolation to get rid of noise and improve measurement accuracy. Something the tentacle shields do quite well and in a small package. My point being there are plenty of options, but not all created equal or as turn key :)

Maybe diverjoe knows of a simpler/less expensive solution for a few measurement points?

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Pretty sure that EC can be done with a future 8 power cord and a cheap noise circuit. I know how to smooth the values in code now

Temp is a $2 sensor.

I am close to having. $5 solution for water level


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I started with cubic spline some 35 years ago. I am more scared of UI then the back end.
 

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I started with cubic spline some 35 years ago. I am more scared of UI then the back end.


UI is pretty easy for me. Water chemistry and electronics is killing me lol


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