Personal computing discussed

Moderators: Captain Ned, emkubed

 
drfish
Gold subscriber
Gerbil Elder
Topic Author
Posts: 5483
Joined: Wed Jan 22, 2003 7:53 pm
Location: Zeeland, MI

Hydroponics Experiment

Thu Mar 24, 2016 7:00 am

Welcome to another edition of "crap wot drfish did" - hopefully someone finds this interesting but once again I find myself sharing this largely for my own benefit and to help me collect my thoughts. Oh, no one tell Jeff about this thread, I probably should have spend this time working on a review. ;)

The primary goal of this project is to learn about proper hydroponics and build my own small scale "farm" for growing Chrysanthemums. Yes, Chrysanthemums. It also might have something to do with living out my Stardew Valley fantasies in RL - but probably not... Other potential crops include cat grass, lettuce, mint, kale, micro-greens, spinach and maybe even strawberries down the road if I don't get bored with it.

Anyway, it was obviously pretty quickly that what I needed to do was build an "ebb and flow" system but I also had a specific form factor in mind, something even smaller than small-scale recommendations of a 30 gallon reservoir (plants can't be trickier than fish, right?). I didn't imagine I would get it right the first time (spoiler, I didn't) but I had some ideas to test so I could make better decisions later and after a couple weeks of thinking/waiting and a couple nights of assembling/testing this is what I came up with for version 1.0.

Image
Image
Image
Image
Image

The lights are these LED strips and there are three on each layer (the greenhouse is also in front of a window for real sunlight in the afternoon). The trays are your run-of-the-mill ~$1 a piece seed trays, the tubing is pennies a foot LDPE water line and it's attached to 1/4" and 3/8" push lock bulkheads that I sealed up with silicone where they go through the tray. Beyond that I have a 5-gallon reservoir and a $15 aquarium pump (connected to the 1/4" line with this manifold) - not a lot to it honestly.

As you might have guessed there are some problems, I'll just cover the big two though. First is that the trays on the top basically don't fill, the pump just can't get the job done with pesky rules of physics and gravity doing their jobs so well. Because I'm committed to this tiered approach I think I'm going to have to break with convention and pump all my water into the top two trays and let them overflow down to the ones underneath instead of feeding each tray with a dedicated line. The second big problem is that while my 3/8" overflow drains worked out pretty well, the 1/4" fill lines did not allow the trays to empty after the pump was turned off - so basically the whole ebb and flow is at best only working 50% of the way is should. I need to retool my whole plumbing process - but I think I can do it without needing to purchase much more - or at least I'm going to try. Once I get that worked out better I'll move on to the next steps...
TR BBQ XVI is happening 8/10/19.
 
SuperSpy
Gold subscriber
Minister of Gerbil Affairs
Posts: 2402
Joined: Thu Sep 12, 2002 9:34 pm
Location: TR Forums

Re: Hydroponics Experiment

Thu Mar 24, 2016 7:37 am

I just finished my own setup, but with tubes of PVC instead of trays (kinda like this. I'll post pictures later, but currently I'm still waiting on seedlings to sprout before I start planting stuff.
Desktop: i7-4790K @4.8 GHz | 32 GB | EVGA Gefore 1060 | Windows 10 x64
Laptop: MacBook Pro 2017 2.9GHz | 16 GB | Radeon Pro 560
 
Flatland_Spider
Graphmaster Gerbil
Posts: 1324
Joined: Mon Sep 13, 2004 8:33 pm

Re: Hydroponics Experiment

Thu Mar 24, 2016 7:45 am

That's pretty cool. I did check to see if you lived in Colorado after I saw the title. ;)

As a interesting bit of trivia, there is a farm in my area that grows their stuff exclusively via hydroponics, Scissortail Farms. It's a big enough operation that they supply various restaurants and some grocery stores around here.
 
drfish
Gold subscriber
Gerbil Elder
Topic Author
Posts: 5483
Joined: Wed Jan 22, 2003 7:53 pm
Location: Zeeland, MI

Re: Hydroponics Experiment

Thu Mar 24, 2016 10:20 am

Well this is good timing; here's something like the pro/commercial version of what I was going for.
TR BBQ XVI is happening 8/10/19.
 
vargis14
Gerbil Jedi
Posts: 1900
Joined: Fri Aug 20, 2010 6:03 pm
Location: philly suburbs

Re: Hydroponics Experiment

Fri Mar 25, 2016 4:02 pm

Pa is lagging behind holding up some fun times playing with your green thumb.
2600k@4848mhz @1.4v CM Nepton40XL 16gb Ram 2x EVGA GTX770 4gb Classified cards in SLI@1280mhz Stock boost on a GAP67-UD4-B3, SBlaster Z powered by TX-850 PSU pushing a 34" LG 21/9 3440-1440 IPS panel. Pieced together 2.1 sound system
 
drfish
Gold subscriber
Gerbil Elder
Topic Author
Posts: 5483
Joined: Wed Jan 22, 2003 7:53 pm
Location: Zeeland, MI

Re: Hydroponics Experiment

Mon Apr 11, 2016 4:52 am

The experiment continues. I scaled it down to just one tray for now. These pictures are from a couple days ago but everything has tripled in size since then. I'm not sure if that's because the plants are happy in my setup or just because the seeds had enough energy packed in to do that no matter what.

I'm growing cat/wheat grass in the large fabric pot (coco coir as the substrate) and butter-crunch lettuce in the 3" and 2" pots - the 3" pots are using clay spheres and the 2" ones have rockwool plugs. I picked General Hydroponics MaxiGro as my nutrient to add to the water. The ebb & flow is on a timer and runs twice a day for about 15mins - it floods the small pots just over the top before it hits the overflow and recirculates.

Image
Image
Image
Image
TR BBQ XVI is happening 8/10/19.
 
FireGryphon
Gold subscriber
Darth Gerbil
Posts: 7723
Joined: Sat Apr 24, 2004 7:53 pm
Location: the abyss into which you gaze

Re: Hydroponics Experiment

Mon Apr 11, 2016 5:27 am

Cool experiment, but a question: wouldn't letting the top tray overflow into the bottom tray mean that all the nutrients seep out of the top and into the bottom?
Sheep Rustlers in the sky! <S> Slapt | <S> FUI | Air Warrior II/III
 
drfish
Gold subscriber
Gerbil Elder
Topic Author
Posts: 5483
Joined: Wed Jan 22, 2003 7:53 pm
Location: Zeeland, MI

Re: Hydroponics Experiment

Mon Apr 11, 2016 6:53 am

Yep, but that's how it is supposed to work, the ebb & flow design is intended to submerge the roots and growing substrate temporarily and then let them somewhat dry out in-between floods. The tube that it fills from becomes that drain after the pump turns off so the water level goes all the way back down instead of being held at the overflow line (which would drown the plants). The reservoir at the bottom has an aquarium air stone bubbling in it to aerate the water and keep everything mixed for the next flood. It seems to be working so far - one thing I would still like to get is a probe for checking on the PPM of dissolved solids in the water, that will help me make sure I have the right balance of nutrients.

If by "tray" you meant the white grid on the bottom - that isn't a separate tray, it's just a light diffuser I cut down to fit in the bottom to keep the pots from sitting in the shallow pool of water that remains after it drains.
TR BBQ XVI is happening 8/10/19.
 
Aranarth
Graphmaster Gerbil
Posts: 1243
Joined: Tue Jan 17, 2006 6:56 am
Location: Big Rapids, Mich. (Est Time Zone)
Contact:

Re: Hydroponics Experiment

Mon Apr 11, 2016 7:12 am

Where's all the images??
Main machine: Core I7 -2600K @ 4.0Ghz / 16 gig ram / Radeon RX 580 8gb / 500gb toshiba ssd / 5tb hd
Old machine: Core 2 quad Q6600 @ 3ghz / 8 gig ram / Radeon 7870 / 240 gb PNY ssd / 1tb HD
 
drfish
Gold subscriber
Gerbil Elder
Topic Author
Posts: 5483
Joined: Wed Jan 22, 2003 7:53 pm
Location: Zeeland, MI

Re: Hydroponics Experiment

Mon Apr 11, 2016 7:30 am

I see them... Tested on multiple internet connections and multiple browsers... Are you getting broken links?
TR BBQ XVI is happening 8/10/19.
 
SuperSpy
Gold subscriber
Minister of Gerbil Affairs
Posts: 2402
Joined: Thu Sep 12, 2002 9:34 pm
Location: TR Forums

Re: Hydroponics Experiment

Mon Apr 11, 2016 8:17 am

The images look fine to me.

How are you liking the blue and red LEDs are they bright enough? I'm having a heck of a time figuring out brightness with those things, and most manufacturers don't seem to want to publish lumen ratings on them.
Desktop: i7-4790K @4.8 GHz | 32 GB | EVGA Gefore 1060 | Windows 10 x64
Laptop: MacBook Pro 2017 2.9GHz | 16 GB | Radeon Pro 560
 
just brew it!
Gold subscriber
Administrator
Posts: 52988
Joined: Tue Aug 20, 2002 10:51 pm
Location: Somewhere, having a beer

Re: Hydroponics Experiment

Mon Apr 11, 2016 9:05 am

Aranarth wrote:
Where's all the images??

They look fine to me, both at home and on the guest WiFi at work. Something must be blocking images from speedymail.org for you... maybe your ISP is having a routing or DNS issue? Or you're running through a filtering web proxy of some sort?
Nostalgia isn't what it used to be.
 
drfish
Gold subscriber
Gerbil Elder
Topic Author
Posts: 5483
Joined: Wed Jan 22, 2003 7:53 pm
Location: Zeeland, MI

Re: Hydroponics Experiment

Mon Apr 11, 2016 10:13 am

SuperSpy wrote:
How are you liking the blue and red LEDs are they bright enough? I'm having a heck of a time figuring out brightness with those things, and most manufacturers don't seem to want to publish lumen ratings on them.


Honestly I'm not sure - the whole setup is getting some natural light so I don't know what the balance is. As things are I have seven 5w strips in place. The specs say the wavelengths are [blue] 445nm and [red] 660nm but you're correct that I don't have specs on lumens - I also have the lights higher above the plants than I original intended so that is a factor as well. The title of the thread says it all, I learned the basics from some reading and watching online but after that I just decided to go for it and see what works and what doesn't first hand. :o
TR BBQ XVI is happening 8/10/19.
 
Aranarth
Graphmaster Gerbil
Posts: 1243
Joined: Tue Jan 17, 2006 6:56 am
Location: Big Rapids, Mich. (Est Time Zone)
Contact:

Re: Hydroponics Experiment

Mon Apr 11, 2016 10:51 am

SuperSpy wrote:
The images look fine to me.

How are you liking the blue and red LEDs are they bright enough? I'm having a heck of a time figuring out brightness with those things, and most manufacturers don't seem to want to publish lumen ratings on them.


I figured it out: The image is blocked "webmail category".
oh well I'll have to look at it at home...
Main machine: Core I7 -2600K @ 4.0Ghz / 16 gig ram / Radeon RX 580 8gb / 500gb toshiba ssd / 5tb hd
Old machine: Core 2 quad Q6600 @ 3ghz / 8 gig ram / Radeon 7870 / 240 gb PNY ssd / 1tb HD
 
SuperSpy
Gold subscriber
Minister of Gerbil Affairs
Posts: 2402
Joined: Thu Sep 12, 2002 9:34 pm
Location: TR Forums

Re: Hydroponics Experiment

Mon Apr 11, 2016 11:58 am

drfish wrote:
Honestly I'm not sure - the whole setup is getting some natural light so I don't know what the balance is. As things are I have seven 5w strips in place. The specs say the wavelengths are [blue] 445nm and [red] 660nm but you're correct that I don't have specs on lumens - I also have the lights higher above the plants than I original intended so that is a factor as well. The title of the thread says it all, I learned the basics from some reading and watching online but after that I just decided to go for it and see what works and what doesn't first hand. :o

I initially picked up a pair of these red-blue-red LED fixtures, and while they seem OK, it's so hard to judge brightness on non-white light especially these because the eye is so much more sensitive to green. I ended up getting a more traditional set of T5 white fluorescent plant lights to go along side the LED ones. I know there's enough light, and it doesn't wreck my vision as badly when I'm working in that room. :wink:
Desktop: i7-4790K @4.8 GHz | 32 GB | EVGA Gefore 1060 | Windows 10 x64
Laptop: MacBook Pro 2017 2.9GHz | 16 GB | Radeon Pro 560
 
SuperSpy
Gold subscriber
Minister of Gerbil Affairs
Posts: 2402
Joined: Thu Sep 12, 2002 9:34 pm
Location: TR Forums

Re: Hydroponics Experiment

Tue May 03, 2016 12:57 pm

Image Image

My setup, after about 5-6 weeks. Bottom container is a 37 gallon storage tote, which is a little under-built for the task of holding ~200lbs of water, but seems to be holding. About 60 cheepo goldfish in the water tank generating nitrogen for the plants, which are currently various tomatoes, peppers, and strawberries. I'm not sure if the strawberries are going to work with this setup, but as you can see the tomatoes love it.

My plan for this is to be able to grow all year in this unheated walkway between the house and garage. To that end, I have 400 watts of aquarium heat in it, which seems to be able to keep the water above 70f when the ambient (outside) is around 40. Not sure how it will handle sub-zero temperatures, however.

The blue and red LED sets don't seem nearly as productive as the traditional T5 grow lamps. This picture is after I had re-arranged the plants, but originally I had all the tomatoes in the back row, and you could definitely tell the ones under the white light were growing significantly better.

If I were to start over from scratch, I would probably go for a more traditional setup with water pans instead of tubes, as you get a lot more growing density, but this was more of an experimental test of if it would work. Depending on how it survives the winter, I might re-do it with rectangular pans instead of tubes, but I will have to build a different frame to support the added weight.
Desktop: i7-4790K @4.8 GHz | 32 GB | EVGA Gefore 1060 | Windows 10 x64
Laptop: MacBook Pro 2017 2.9GHz | 16 GB | Radeon Pro 560
 
ludi
Gold subscriber
Lord High Gerbil
Posts: 8397
Joined: Fri Jun 21, 2002 10:47 pm
Location: Sunny Colorado front range

Re: Hydroponics Experiment

Wed May 04, 2016 11:44 am

SuperSpy wrote:
The blue and red LED sets don't seem nearly as productive as the traditional T5 grow lamps.

Did you compare the rated luminous output, by any chance?
Abacus Model 2.5 | Quad-Row FX with 256 Cherry Red Slider Beads | Applewood Frame | Water Cooling by Brita Filtration
 
drfish
Gold subscriber
Gerbil Elder
Topic Author
Posts: 5483
Joined: Wed Jan 22, 2003 7:53 pm
Location: Zeeland, MI

Re: Hydroponics Experiment

Wed May 04, 2016 11:53 am

I'll get some pics of my setup's progress tonight. I think I'm going to have to ditch my plans for hydroponic lettuce for TR BBQ burgers and find another crop - it ain't pretty. :(

Your setup looks awesome, SuperSpy! I'm jealous.
TR BBQ XVI is happening 8/10/19.
 
SuperSpy
Gold subscriber
Minister of Gerbil Affairs
Posts: 2402
Joined: Thu Sep 12, 2002 9:34 pm
Location: TR Forums

Re: Hydroponics Experiment

Thu May 05, 2016 11:07 am

ludi wrote:
SuperSpy wrote:
The blue and red LED sets don't seem nearly as productive as the traditional T5 grow lamps.

Did you compare the rated luminous output, by any chance?

That's one of my gripes with the grow lights I can find, none of them advertise lumen ratings.

Also, I'm not sure if lumens are even the unit that should be used. AFAIK, lumens are calibrated to the human eye's sensitivity curve (aka green is worth nearly 2x what red and blue are worth) which is completely opposite of what plants crave require for lighting.
Desktop: i7-4790K @4.8 GHz | 32 GB | EVGA Gefore 1060 | Windows 10 x64
Laptop: MacBook Pro 2017 2.9GHz | 16 GB | Radeon Pro 560
 
ludi
Gold subscriber
Lord High Gerbil
Posts: 8397
Joined: Fri Jun 21, 2002 10:47 pm
Location: Sunny Colorado front range

Re: Hydroponics Experiment

Thu May 05, 2016 11:15 am

SuperSpy wrote:
ludi wrote:
SuperSpy wrote:
The blue and red LED sets don't seem nearly as productive as the traditional T5 grow lamps.

Did you compare the rated luminous output, by any chance?

That's one of my gripes with the grow lights I can find, none of them advertise lumen ratings.

Also, I'm not sure if lumens are even the unit that should be used. AFAIK, lumens are calibrated to the human eye's sensitivity curve (aka green is worth nearly 2x what red and blue are worth) which is completely opposite of what plants crave require for lighting.

I was going to guess that the light generated by a high-output fluorescent growlight will vastly exceed those miniature strip LEDs.
Abacus Model 2.5 | Quad-Row FX with 256 Cherry Red Slider Beads | Applewood Frame | Water Cooling by Brita Filtration
 
SuperSpy
Gold subscriber
Minister of Gerbil Affairs
Posts: 2402
Joined: Thu Sep 12, 2002 9:34 pm
Location: TR Forums

Re: Hydroponics Experiment

Thu May 05, 2016 11:32 am

ludi wrote:
I was going to guess that the light generated by a high-output fluorescent growlight will vastly exceed those miniature strip LEDs.

Probably. The difference in growth rate is so stark I'm thinking of replacing the two LED ones with fluorescents.
Desktop: i7-4790K @4.8 GHz | 32 GB | EVGA Gefore 1060 | Windows 10 x64
Laptop: MacBook Pro 2017 2.9GHz | 16 GB | Radeon Pro 560
 
druidcent
Minister of Gerbil Affairs
Posts: 2491
Joined: Wed Aug 07, 2002 7:55 pm
Location: Earth, Sol, Milky Way
Contact:

Re: Hydroponics Experiment

Mon May 09, 2016 1:59 pm

Do you think that the extra trays would work with a larger/stronger pump?
 
drfish
Gold subscriber
Gerbil Elder
Topic Author
Posts: 5483
Joined: Wed Jan 22, 2003 7:53 pm
Location: Zeeland, MI

Re: Hydroponics Experiment

Mon May 09, 2016 2:53 pm

I think the pump was fine for the original setup, but the tiny bulkheads I tried to use and the laws of physics caused problems.
TR BBQ XVI is happening 8/10/19.
 
vargis14
Gerbil Jedi
Posts: 1900
Joined: Fri Aug 20, 2010 6:03 pm
Location: philly suburbs

Re: Hydroponics Experiment

Tue May 10, 2016 7:42 am

I have a online friend in Alaska and you are allowed like something like 13 plants of marahuchi but only 6 can be flowering. Just wish they would tax and legalize it. Would get rid of all the cartel crap Mexican weed off the street and quality herb to everyone.
The best stuff is grown indoors.
2600k@4848mhz @1.4v CM Nepton40XL 16gb Ram 2x EVGA GTX770 4gb Classified cards in SLI@1280mhz Stock boost on a GAP67-UD4-B3, SBlaster Z powered by TX-850 PSU pushing a 34" LG 21/9 3440-1440 IPS panel. Pieced together 2.1 sound system
 
curtisb
Gerbil XP
Posts: 436
Joined: Tue Mar 30, 2010 11:27 pm
Location: Oklahoma

Re: Hydroponics Experiment

Thu May 12, 2016 9:40 pm

So I work at a really small community college. We just got a grant to do research on creating self-contained units that can be shipped to arid regions. The units will not only have plants, but also fish and drinking water. There's some solar power involved, too. I don't have all of the materials on it, but if you're interested I'm sure I could get some.
ASUS MAXIMUS VIII HERO | Intel Core i7-6700 | Asus STRIX GTX 970 4GB | 4 x Corsair LPX 8GB | 2 x Crucial MX200 500GB | 2 x Hitachi Deskstar 4TB | Phanteks Eclipse | Seasonic X-850 | Dell UP2516D

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Google [Bot] and 2 guests
GZIP: On