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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Wiring is always a good discussion and it can be hard for the first time DIY folks. So this may help some who are a bit nervous. All you other folks who do this may have to just grab a cup and set back for a bit?
This might get boring!

This is the controller I buy off the auction site for $10-15 depending on how I want to use it. This is for heating control only but they can be found for heating or cooling. Three sets of screw connections will likely be for heating only and more screws may be heating and cooling. Shop carefully to see that you get what you want?
The first picture is the unit I've been using in a greenhouse. It reads in Fahrenheit but it is available for Celsius as well. It can control up to 10 amps of 110 AC which is the same as about 1200 watts of heater. Two 300 watt heaters can be wired together if you add plugs for them. That's where the cheap extention cord with multiple outlets can be handy.

For supplies and tools, you will need some really basic items and that also depends on how you want to operate. The unit I use requires a small Phillips screwdriver to remove the cover and a really small straight blade to do the screws for the wires. A pair of wire cutters is nice but that can also be done with a knife or scissors. I buy the cheapest extention cord I find. Cheap often means small wire and that is handy to fit the small space under the cover. The probe and directions come with the unit. The directions and the drawing match up which doesn't happen on lots of drawings. Just makes it easy to spot.
Decide what length of power wire you want from the wall outlet to the unit as well as how long you want from the unit to the plug of your heater. Cut the cord to the chosen size and use whatever you need to strip a bit of insulation off the wires. About 1/8" of bare wire is good. Wire cutters, strippers and all sorts of things like a kitchen knife or fingernail clippers can do this. While cutting the wire, also cut a section of wire about 1 to 1 1/2 inch long and strip both ends of it.
Do it?? Loosen the wire terminals by turning counterclockwise on each of the screws. This opens the hole to insert the wires. Looking at the drawing, at the bottom left is where the power in plug is wired and that can go straight to screws 3 and 4. Either of the two wires in either hole! BUT before tightening screw 3, add the short wire you prepped and run the other end to screw 1. You want to wind up with two wires in 3 and this is where small diameter wires are better. A bit fussy?
What you have now is power to run the unit going in at 3 and 4 and power that is to be switched going to 1. From 1 it is already wired inside to the switch and comes out of 2. The load is your heater and you have choices to make here. You can add a plug with one wire going to 2 and the other to 4 with the other power wire already there. I like this way as I can change out the heater by just unplugging it. But if you want, you can cut the end plug off the heater and wire it solid from 2 to 4. This way you wind up with two wires in both 3 and 4.
The probe then wires to NTC at 5 and 6. Either wire to either terminal.
Check again before plugging things in. Make sure wires are connected solidly and none are touching each where they should not. Squeeze the wires in and replace the cover. DONE!
(Except for setting the temperature and all that stuff. And for my unit, that was the hard part.) Terrible directions! Read the sentence at the top of the drawing for an example?
We can discuss settings in another post if it gives you trouble.

Sorry about the sloppy appearance of the unit. It lives in the greenhouse where it gets a fair amount of abuse like splashing and dirt. But it seems to live for another day . I have used these for several years without the unit failing as long as I water proof the probe fully by sealing it in airline tubing before adding to the tank. For sealing airline, I heat the end and crimp it shut with pliers.
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 · (Edited)
Sorry folks> I must have created some confusion when I mentioned the need to water proof the probe on these small units. The probes are called water proof but I've had a couple which have gone bad after a few months fully in the water. I call this water resistant but obviously some are waterproof. I can order these probes for around a dollar and they are not hard to change out but then why bother when it is easy to avoid the question?
When I mentioned sealing the probe, I have given the wrong impression to some. I simply slip the probe down into a plastic tube of some sort. A soda straw, airline tubing or small plastic pipe will all work. One of the really long straws like for the gallon bucket size drinks?
All it takes to seal them is closing the bottom end so water doesn't come in and then hanging the top above water. I like strapping it to the back of the filter intake so that it is out of sight, but there are many ways to do that. There are also other ways to seal the bottom but for me, this is easy and the way I do it.
I heat the end of the tube enough so that it begins to semi-melt. Just before it catches fire is nice. Then while it is still melting, I grab the end with pliers or tap it with a hammer. This mashes the end shut and when cool it is water tight. A propane bar-b -q lighter is good for me but most any heat will work.

I used a red straw for this picture as it was what came in todays drink but I use clear for the tank.

DEMO model only?
 

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I use similar device. I like them. Do you know if those are the same type of probe that finnex uses in the hc-0810? This is the first I have heard of these probes failing. Do they just quite reading temp?
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Not sure of the Finnex question as I have not used /seen them.
When my probes get fully wet, the first indication is a slow increase in the temperature reading. Not slow as in from 76 to 77 but from 76 to 85 and then the next day 100. Not hard to spot that it was failing since the fish were still normal!
The first time I thought it was just junk equipment but I had several of the controllers and swapped out the probes on the two and found the trouble followed the probe. So I ordered some probes to have on hand and waited. The second which failed, failed more suddenly and I took it apart. It was a bit of trick to Dremel it open without totally ruining the little probe but after a bit, I did find it had water inside with the electronics. Since then I have used them sealed and had no more failures

In testing and reviewing work done by contractors, I sometimes destroy the test equipment, too. So this fits my need for a remote reading thermometer that is cheap enough not to cry when it gets banged up. It gives me a way to drain off some of the good stuff for hobby use at times!!
 

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For the curious of mind:
The free bay stuff uses a thermistor w/ 10K resistance at 25C..

for those even more daring.. The thermistor can be bought w/ a better grade of resolution... ;)

YMMV

Interchangeable Thermistors | U.S. Sensor Corp.

The included ones do have 1% accuracy..supposedly
 

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The two I have in use are in large project boxes from radio shack. I wired the controller up to a standard home electrical outlet. One side of the outlet is heat the other is for cooling. If I had it to do over again I would use a smaller project box and omit the outlet and just wire in two different cords of different colors with one color for fans/cooling side and a different color for heat side. A lot of versatility in one of those little boxes for not much monetary investment. I have one on my 75g that is running two heaters at 200 watts each. Works well. Here is a pic of mine that I use to run a 250 watt heater on my 55g:

 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
The ones I buy are rated for 10Amp so that means up to 1200 watts. That covers me on all my tanks.
They also come with an adjustment to calibrate the temperature so when I need longer probe length I just tie in enough paired wire to reach. I would assume there would be a limit on the amount of wire but that has not been a problem so far. For tank use the standard amount is okay but for greenhouse use, I want to run the probe out and leave the unit inside so it takes lots longer wires.
 

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Do you have any running the cooling side? I am going to start looking at fan options after the new year.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
No cooling currently . I did at some point but not for tank use. Works the same way except that if you want to actually leave the settings and wiring in place, it takes a bit different controller. The cheaper one I use normally come with only the 6 screws. One to control both heating and then cooling requires screws to leave both wired full time.
Mine will control both cooling or heating but they take unwiring one to wire the other and then changing the programming from heat to cool. For the $5 or so more, I would go big and get the less hassle type! They also have settings to program in a delay for compressor start if you run it through a relay to something like a frig or AC.

The last one I wired controls a small Taco recirculation pump on my hot water line. Since water is getting so precious and I never liked to wait for hot water anyway, I wired in the controller to turn the recirculation pump on and keep hot water at the shower when I'm going in. The way my house is laid out, the water comes from the heater all the way to the other end of the house so having a controller and pump is nice for getting it there when I want to use it without a bunch of water running down the drain while I wait.

Sometimes it is not the money spent or saved but the attitude that comes along with saving. Having grandchildren who may not have the luxury to waste things like we do, is reworking some of my thinking.
 

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The controllers I bought have the compressor delay and the cooling side screws already there. Excellent write up for someone who wants an excellent controller on a budget.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
The controllers I bought have the compressor delay and the cooling side screws already there. Excellent write up for someone who wants an excellent controller on a budget.
How did you find the instructions? Were they somewhat clear or did you kind of have to wander around until it came clear? Of the several different spots I ordered the controllers from, they all seem to be written by the same group.
Ouch! Just a real strain to figure some of it.
I now have written up my own little cheat sheet for the items I need to set. Locking and unlocking the settings is one that just seems backward to my line of thought. Easy enough but not one that I remember easily.
:crying:
 

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I actually found a how to online for mine. I was really disappointed in my finnex controllers and decided to see what I could find online for diy. The only thing I would do different, and I am going to build another soon for a 20T I am working on, is a smaller project box without the outlet and instead just use a couple of wired plugs coming out the bottom.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
I first thought of a box but I wanted to keep the footprint as small as possible so just went with leaving it with the pigtails sticking out. I do have some advantage with nobody but me working around them so a plastic tie is good enough to hold the cords together. I add a patch of stick-on Velcro to hold the controller on the stand or wherever it sets.
For this one, size was critical! Just have to do what works at times.
 

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I have just started looking at setting one of these up myself. In doing some planning I think I want to add a second pair of outlets that would be always on so I can just plug my light timer and air pump all in this one box. I do not plan on hooking up the "cooler" side of the controller so that particular outlet will be rendered useless and the timer will end up blocking it anyway.

I plan on doing it just like thedood did but having a double gang outlet/cover. My question is, will the one extension cord be okay for all this? It would be my 50watt heater, a small air pump, and a single 8.5watt LED bulb connected to a timer. This is the power cord I was looking at:
http://www.lowes.com/pd_70305-66906-UT010608_1z0uxzyZ1z0vj97Z1z10w1fZ2zc58__?productId=3191771&pl=1

This is a wiring diagram I found for this project. Could I just add the second outlet and just run the ground, hot and neutral to this outlet as well, so that it "always on"? Thanks for the help!



Source of image:
How to Make a DIY Aquarium Temperature Controller
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 · (Edited)
On the second outlet, yes it can be just wired hot and neutral off of any points that fit.
But this drawing is missing a critical point.
I think of the heat and cool contacts as if they were on a switch. They are simply open/ close contacts switched by the unit. So power put in on the left side of a set of contacts will come out the right side when the unit switches them on? The load (heater or cooling?) has to be wired to these contact points and then back to the other side of the power. But there also has to be a path for power to go into these contacts first.
Second major point is that the power for the unit has to have both hot and neutral going there.
Breaking the tie between the upper and lower receptacles is good.

I've drawn this without the added outlet. Red and green to the unit to power the electrical. Also the green to one side of the relay output points for heat and cool. This gets power to the point so that when they close ( grey?) the power comes out on the orange to the heat or blue to the fan (loads?) and back to the other side of the AC.
Adding the full time power outlet requires tapping both red and green lines at any point that fits your layout.
I did not try to show where will work best for the wiring you are doing as that gets into how you are building and wire type and size.

The input holes on the unit are designed for a rack mount system where solid smaller diameter wire would be used. This is too small for the stranded 16 gauge wire we might want to use to carry a full design load of 10Amp if I try to double the wires at a port.

There are several ways to work around that if that gets to be a problem.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Can I change my answers? Now that I look at the drawing a little more and question some things, I may have spoken too soon, depending on what the drawing means. I may not have looked and understood what the drawing shows.
If the drawing shows the tab removed on only one side of the rect. and left on the other side, there is a path for both sides of the circuit to reach the power in lugs on the unit.
If the tab is left where it says "silver" there is a path. Power can be simple as it just wants a circle to run through with the load in that circle. The unit is the load here. So the circle can be blue, through the tab we leave, going to the black up to the unit to power it and return on the red to the AC.
Where to tie things together is still how you want to tie them together but the drawing is better than I first thought I saw.

The need for the green ground wire is somewhat depending on how you look at it. Codes and what we can now buy will all have a ground to outlets but this is not going to be a code item at best. So the question can be whether the ground will ever be used. If we use the heaters I see, they come with no grounded plugs. If no grounded plugs are used the ground will just be there but go nowhere. So the option becomes one of leave it open by not using a plug or leave it open by not using the green third wire.
If using any grounded equipment it is useful but if not, I might leave it off to simplify things a little.
 
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