8"x24" CaRx DiY Style

Sisterlimonpot

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A few years ago a buddy and I was given the opportunity to purchase the remnants of a companies skimmer line. For what ever reason they moved away from making skimmers, and all that stuff was simply taking up prime real estate in their shop. Giving into the moment and thinking that we couldn't let this opportunity slip away, we said "yes" to taking it off their hands.



It was an assortment of many things, basically a bunch of couplers in various sizes, bunch of precut lids, top and bottom plates in all sizes, 6", 8", 10" 12" 16" skimmer neck transitions, and boxes and boxes of needle wheels and silencers. All the stuff fit into my 12x6 enclosed trailer and sat in there for almost a year before moving it into the shop. most of the stuff is for 6" and 8" skimmers. If I had the appropriate diameter tube I could turn out a bunch of 6" and 8" skimmers, but it's way too time consuming not worth it for me.



The real question was why purchase all that stuff? Well... I'm a tinkerer and always loved to design one of a kind creations for my reef tank. Just take a look at my build thread, at least 80% of it came from my desire to tinker. Plus, I've always wanted to take a crack at making my own calcium reactor. I always thought they were a bit over priced for what they are.



My buddy Tom @TMB, who I spoke about earlier used the same reasoning to purchase this stuff. A few weeks ago Tom got on this kick to design the perfect CO2 regulator for his calcium reactor

and I guess once he was done with that, he turned his attention to finally making use of all that stock to make a CaRx. I would get text messages and phone calls from him at random times wanting to bounce ideas off of me, which got me thinking that I may want to finally get started on one as well... although I wasn't fully committed just yet.



It wasn't until we decided it would be better to bring all his stuff over and we can utilize my laser cutter for a few things that I was excited to move forward. As we were building, the wheels started turning in my head about my own reactor.



Here's his reactor, I didn't snap too many photos but here are a few that I did get. It's a bit deceiving but it stands 24" tall as well.



















Mind you the diffuser plate isn't resting in the proper spot but that's one of the things the laser made short work of, otherwise his plan was to drill each hole with a hand drill. As you can see it has the transition that you would see on a skimmer.



The next day I decided to go into the shop and start the design phase for mine. Although it wasn't long before I started making parts and moving forward. A few pieces cut on the laser and I was already mocking things up and in true DIY fashion, I was designing as I was going along.







As you can see I chose not to use the skimmer neck and made the upper chamber out of 6" acrylic tube with a slightly larger locking nut. Then I decided that the diffuser plate should be removable for ease of cleaning but could do that because of the 6" chamber up top, which meant that the diffuser had to be 2 pieces.














The outer ring will be bonded to the tube while the inner plate has a small knob on it to lift it out when necessary.











Here's where the fun begins. Normally, the inlet and outlet of the recirculation pump are held in via a uniseal. Well I'm of the school of thought that pressurizing the reactor helps with CO2 saturation allowing more of the gas to stay suspended in the water which theoretically requires less gas to achieve the same results. Not that CO2 is expensive but a higher tank pH seems to be a good side effect. My current reactor is fed by a manifold and on the backside is a versa that meters the effluent. And because my current reactor uses uniseals, it does not like being under pressure, there is salt creep all over the seals meaning they leak a little bit. The fix is to beef up that area and get rid of the weak link. Ideally, it would be great if someone made bulk heads to fit an 8" cylinder, but my search efforts yielded zero results. My reaction to that is, why not make one then??? CHALLENGE EXCEPTED!



I turned to solidworks to design one that I was hoping to 3D print:






Here's the printed version:









I was afraid to use this for 2 reasons, I wasn't sure if I could get a good bond between the PETG printed part and the acrylic, and I didn't know how PETG held up long term in a low pH environment like acrylic and PCV.



I ditched that idea and decided to go the labor some route and make it out of acrylic, a day and a half later this is what I came up with.






And this is basically where I'm at. Everything is still mocked up, very little has been bonded, and there's a long way to go. I haven't figured out what recirculation pump to use, and if I want to add a 2nd chamber internally for magnesium media. Your thoughts and suggestions are definitely welcomed.



What's a good recirc pump?



Should I add a 2nd internal chamber?
 
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Gablami

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That’s pretty cool. I wish I had a “shop.”

I’ve always had AC pumps as my recirc pump and it has been the loudest piece of equipment in my cabinet. I’ve toyed with the idea of switching it out for a DC pump. interested to see what you end up going with.
 

ca1ore

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No laser cutter chez moi, but I made my own three chamber CaRx last year (2018 maybe) and have been very pleased. Used 8” acrylic also for the main chamber, though in my case not from stuff laying around. 8” cast acrylic tube is expensive.

That proved so much fun that I extended my skimmer.
 

Softhammer

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Killer! And as said above Eheim is the only way to go. The pump on my reactor is easily 25 years old, zero problems minus me over torquing the inlet and cracking it. Best part, parts are readily available and the design hasn’t changed in decades. They run on all ceramic shafts and just don’t fail.
 
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Sisterlimonpot

Sisterlimonpot

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Because of their reliability I would choose an Eheim pump.
Why not just mix the mag component in with the regular media?
Well, it may be over thinking it, but in order to have control over the magnesium ratio, i figured it would be better to stratify the 2 medias so that I can fine tune it... but then I start to think that I probably wouldn't shut down the reactor after 6 months to add or remove more magnesium. I'd just correct the ration when it was time to refill the entire thing.

I guess it really is a moot point, but I'm at that stage where I can add it if necessary.
 
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Sisterlimonpot

Sisterlimonpot

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Killer! And as said above Eheim is the only way to go. The pump on my reactor is easily 25 years old, zero problems minus me over torquing the inlet and cracking it. Best part, parts are readily available and the design hasn’t changed in decades. They run on all ceramic shafts and just don’t fail.
Wow, 2 votes for eheim. I'm convinced that a DC pump would be a lot quieter and allow for some controllabilty. I'll have to look, but maybe you can reply before I do.. does eheim have DC pumps?
 

Softhammer

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I don’t think so Regarding the DC aspect. My pump is totally silent, actually all 3 of them. And no bulky heat producing power supplies that fail when water splashes on them. Not to mention another plus for eheim regarding reliability is typically ca Reactor pumps arent immediately obvious if they were to fail. They are typically a set and forget item that we don’t look at one the regular.
 
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Sisterlimonpot

Sisterlimonpot

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I went back and forth with what pump to use, ultimately I went with a DC pump and for the price you can't beat jebao. I got the dcp-3000.

I had a pretty good idea how I was going to install it. Once it showed up I grabbed my caliper to designed and print a new cleat that will fit the radius of the 8" tube.

2 minutes to design, 2 hours to print...


bonded it to the reactor with 2 part weldon.







made sure it all lined perfectly and now I wait for the rest of the plumbing parts to show up so that I can finish this thing off...
 
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Sisterlimonpot

Sisterlimonpot

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I don't know why, but I always love engineering one off pieces to solve an issue that I inevitably encounter. I think it makes my reactor extremely unique, and fills the void of waiting for other supplies to arrive.

Here's an issue that I was excited to solve, I have been thinking about how to approach it for the last week and got to a point that I can sit down and design.

I made a video that will explain better than I could in text.


And for better contrast here's the 3D model

 
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Sisterlimonpot

Sisterlimonpot

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No laser cutter chez moi, but I made my own three chamber CaRx last year (2018 maybe) and have been very pleased. Used 8” acrylic also for the main chamber, though in my case not from stuff laying around. 8” cast acrylic tube is expensive.

That proved so much fun that I extended my skimmer.
I remember reading your thread, perhaps another look at it might give me some ideas...
 
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Sisterlimonpot

Sisterlimonpot

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How did you actually make your acrylic bulkheads? Why didn’t you 3D print them in ABS? They look great by the way.
They were a painstaking process. I cut them out of acrylic and layers them together with weldon 3 making a rough rectangle with the curved surfaces. once cured I sanded the inner and outer dimeter smooth by putting sand paper on the 8" tube and used that as a form.

Once smooth, I cut the circles out with the laser and solvent welded everything together.

My printer can print ABS but I would have to set it up outside because the fumes would've been a problem. "6 of one half dozen of the other". both a viable solution. After bonding the PETG print to the tube, I'm now pretty confident that the PETG print I made would've worked too.
 

laverda

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They were a painstaking process. I cut them out of acrylic and layers them together with weldon 3 making a rough rectangle with the curved surfaces. once cured I sanded the inner and outer dimeter smooth by putting sand paper on the 8" tube and used that as a form.

Once smooth, I cut the circles out with the laser and solvent welded everything together.

My printer can print ABS but I would have to set it up outside because the fumes would've been a problem. "6 of one half dozen of the other". both a viable solution. After bonding the PETG print to the tube, I'm now pretty confident that the PETG print I made would've worked too.
I was thinking of cutting an acrylic tube in cubes, bonding a couple together and then sanding a flats on them.
 
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