85G - DIY - Budget Build - But with the best equipment I can afford.

Dukereefnz

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Like the title says - I am doing this on a budget but not skimping on equipment. So I am looking at secondhand, new and DIY to achieve this.
Sorry to say this will not be a 5min build, I will have to buy stuff on separate credit cards, hidden from the wife and spread the spending so it looks like I am spending FA.
The key is to spend a little often rather than one large sump that makes eye balls rotate! We all know this is a false economy, but hey I do the bills LOL, but once you have a swimming pool there is no point moaning at the cost of water to fill it up. I am using the boil a frog approach, wife will not notice.. until her eftpost card fails LOL

So my approach was all cheap and secondhand... a tank of crap. Once the wife realised there was going to be a tank of crap looking at her, this was not what she wanted to see. BUT not big if your going new and sell some stuff to help. We agreed - or I insisted that a 24 cube would be economical. Next to the log burner was the allocated location LOL. Book cases now live where my old tank was on the opposite wall. Being in NZ, temp really is not an issue and there is little heat from the side of the burner. We have a fire and aircon to keep the house at 21C in winter.

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My previous tank was around 250G total water volume, and about 15 years ago. Bankruptcy was an issue with $800 a month power bills, my then young wife went grey over night looking at these bills... because my sump was under the house where the wind blow and temps got down to 32f or 0C in my world. I had this tank about 5 years and had to sell it in the end.

Children where young then and $$$ were and issue. Now the kids are older they cost even more $$$ (when will they leave home) so when I said reef tank wife had a small violent fit.... Equal only to when I tried currency trading on the Forex, no need to say how that ended LOL.

So I spoke with the tank builder, got a price for a 24inch cube, low iron / ultra clear glass and said - good to go.
Well he came back and said he had glass available to do 36 x 24x 24 for the same price, less waste... no need to say how that ended.

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Dukereefnz

Dukereefnz

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So now I have a tank - The stand will be the DIY 2x4 when I can buy wood... thanks to 19 crap.
Questions... how will I control this thing and what lights?

Good question, I purchased an Arduino and thought I will use this, just need to learn to program it. I am an engineer not a wiring solder freak, but know enough to make smoke. My last tank ran on a PLC so Im not stupid, I need be told or watch a vid I can copy. Otherwise I am stuffed.

So looking on trade me.. NZ version of ebay I found a DIY Robo-tank controller, using a Raspbery Pi4 being sold, half the purchase price at $300 I brought it. To be honest, this was the first purchase before the tank.... when you see a good deal you have to buy it.

Now I have never done any electronic soldering ever! Burn wires yep to get motorcycles going (another hobby 80's machines)... well I do not need to say how this ended. LOL

So here I go, and the instructions from Robo-tank and great, step by step.
A few things purchased, soldering iron, flux and a stand with a magnifying glass for my old beer soaked eyeballs.
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Stage one... dip switches and to be honest the first stage was the hardest.
Got to love that magnifying glass, amazing what you can see in your beer!

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Just follow the instructions.. how hard can it be!

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Board finished, they say 2hrs but being a noob- 6... and NO I did not solder all those bits, hell I can not even see them.
On this side are just the bits that stick up like capacitor, connectors etc. Takes a while to open a beer so that takes a while, and this soldering thing takes concentration and when you have none things take time.

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Sitting in the 3D printed case (thanks to a friend, but you can buy them for FA)
Pi4 ready to install.
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Done - now i need to install the program, how hard can that be!
 
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Dukereefnz

Dukereefnz

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Well - setting this up when you struggle to setup Bluetooth on a TV was a pain, only because I am have NO idea.
Again thanks to Robo-tank manuals and a quick google, yes i can do that. I got it working on wifi.

I learned enough to reboot.. ifconfig to find IP address and sorted it... maybe another 6hrs LOL.
Here is what the Pi screen looks like.. might as well be french lol.
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No idea what sudo means but the Pi likes it..when telling it what to do.
Hell this thing is more obedient than the wife, I say sudo to her and I get the bird!

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Robo-tank controller - finished... i have a temp probe plugged in.
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8 x socket powerbox, the robo thing can use two of these.

And does it work... like I said it took many beers and yes, for a first time build I could not be more happy.
This thing will do most of the things an Apex can do...
 
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Dukereefnz

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Did I say what a good deal I got on the Robo thing?
Came with multi water sensors, dosing pumps (china by the looks), PH probe and a optical water level board i still need to build.

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And finally at this stage about the robo thing.... the reef program, it is sooo cool.
Like I said I only have a temp sensor plugged in. But as a final word, for the cost this thing is soo cool.
If $$$ were growing on trees then yep, i would have an Apex, but I need to feed children and while i might try the wife wants clothes. And I can say - SUDO - wife no clothes command does not work.

Here are a couple of screen shots of the temp sensor... many more beer needed to get the rest working, such hard work lifting that bottle.

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Dukereefnz

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Next up is salt water... Like i said - DIY - Cheap is the goal here, one must look like everything cost nothing.
And these are perfect... cost nothing!
1 x for the trailer to collect 1000l of NSW, the other to store it under the house.
My last tank used NSW and it was fine... it helps living in NZ where we do not have nuclear rain burning our skin LOL.

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While NSW worked fine on my last tank.. what about topup water...
I keep reading about RODI, hell I did not even know what it meant!
But I can say having a log burner on low for days / weeks at a time, and being on tank water collected from our roof, the water tastes of soot. You can even smell it turning on the shower for a few seconds.

We have lived here 15yrs and it is only a short time over winter where this is an issue, said wife will not drink it,,LOL
Teenagers guzzle it.. seems not to worry them, I do laugh at the younger one as he is developing a monobrow and I tell him its the water.. Me.... well thats easy. Drink beer!

But for the first time, I am listening to the wife, ... I think it is time to sort that water, what do you say?
"Well yes please" was the obvious answer. So... on trade me I go and a fellow reefer is selling up.
$900 system sold for $360, with (I am told) near new cartridges... System does not look old.
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The PureValue 4EZ50 6 stage RODI system uses a sediment and carbon block pre-filters to reduce sediment, chlorine and chlorine by-products before the membrane filters out impurities larger than .001 microns. The GAC post filter treats for taste and odor. You can find and order all your filters at once in our replacement kits below. Last you have the PH membrane to drink a good quality water and if is for your fish tank you do not use the PH one and just get your water from the DI membrane after all the others 4 membranas as following below:

STAGES

STAGE 1 – Sediment Pre-Filter – Replace Every 12 Months

STAGE 2 – Carbon Block Pre-Filter – Replace Every 12 Months

STAGE 3 – RO Membrane TLC 50 GPD – Replace Every 24 Months

STAGE 4 – Inline Carbon GAC Post Filter – Replace Every 12 Months

Extra:

STAGE 5 - PH Membrane (for drinking water) - Replace Every 12 Months

STAGE 6 - DI Membrane - Replace Every 12 Months

PSI Valve (included)

RRP NZD 994.00.

Now this is purchased for our drinking water LOL, I just need to work out how to connect it up so my topup water is DI and the wife gets non soot drinking water. All up a great buy I think!
 
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Dukereefnz

Dukereefnz

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So that is it so far, a tank, a control system and a water ROID I don't know how to connect.
Did i mention the $50 MH150 light I got for the 24 cube? Guess not its hidden away as it no good now and the wife cant find it! On to trade me it goes.

Looking at the following, and will need some help on what to do, thing have change alot since my last tank.

Tank 36x24x24 - (900 x 600 x 600) in the real world!
324l - 86G + sump

The options..

Overflow
Exotic marine over flow - 32inch on the 36inch rear for a coast to coast style over flow.
Another option is an overflow on the end - next to the wall where it will not be seen, but i will need another option for that which i do not have, only just thought of it now!
I also like Animal Bean ... is it over kill for a 85G tank.

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Lights
DIY - 2 x T5 36 tubes and 4 x 5ow LED's - controlled with Robo-tank
AcroStar LED's x 4 - dimmable
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Giesemann T5 - 39w x 2 - dimmable
Hanging from the ceiling - I like this.. light canopy - stand will be white.

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Yes - most likely cheaper to buy a light system and better re sale but that is boring and does not fit my budget..lol
And this option will use good quality parts, and I can fix it!

An LED here, a ballast there, a T5 over there, all just turning up.... Oh and I check the mail box when possible.!

Skimmer - I am thinking - Deltec 600i - this purchase cant be hidden, big cost, big box.
But I had a Deltec on my last tank and loved it.

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Return pump - Jebao DSP 6500 - should be oK... tank size 85G x 8 turn over = 680Gph
Obviously need a 240v pump for the real world.

  • 2017 latest dip return pump from jerboa, improved from the duct model
  • High performance motor with innovation electronics, and energy saving up to 50% than old model
  • No copper components, safety on your tank internal use only
  • Super quiet operation and memory function for power supply off to recall memory
  • Power: 55-watt 110-120v 60hz, max flow: 1710gph, max head: 14.7ft.
 
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Dukereefnz

Dukereefnz

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Update... many beers drunk... lets be honest.
I make stuff and drink beer (and make beer) ..lol so my time has been spent getting this Robotank controller running.
I have never soldered electronic bits before and so far building, and getting this Robotank raspberry Pi controller running has been a changeling. Lots of learning but i am getting closer.

And to be honest again (fu#k I feel like i am confessing to my wife) , I thought this would be a stretch to far for me, more for the geeks... not mechanically minded people with diminished alcohol induced capacity and f#cked eyesight. One recommendation or two, three is use electronic flux and a magnifying glass on a stand, insulation tape to hold the BITS in place and a soldering iron the right size. All sorted for FA.

Temp sensors working
Optical sensors working
Equipment outputs working
ATO working
AWC is my next job..
PH probe not tested yet

Can control 16 AC outputs... nice

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Raspberry Pi4 plugged in.

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Optical sensor box, again DIY - I just soldered in the USB port and 3 x connectors.
This uses 2 x optical sensors and a float switch that is not Pi operated so it is a fail safe thing to shut everything if needed.

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Connected to this 3D printed mount, just add reef safe magnets to hold it at the right level.

As a complete novices this is working out at a fraction of the cost of an Apex...with most controls for the average reefer..
And can I add Rob @ Robotank answers every question, and so far any issue has been my fault except the power board which was built by someone else, I purchased this second hand as a DIY kit. I have assembled every thing except the power box... so that is a work in progress.

As I progress i will post how i control everything, this thing has:

  • Control AC power outlets 120v – 240v
  • Control DC powered equipment
  • Ports that can output PWM or Analog signal at 0-5v or 0-10v to control factory equipment
  • Setup multiple automatic top off systems
  • Setup multiple automatic water change systems
  • Monitor temperature and humidity
  • Monitor pH
  • Monitor various water sensors
So far yes i can turn everything on and off automatically, it emails me if ATO / Temp etc are out ... MACRO's / programs is my next learning stage.

The one thing I like is that I built it, worked out what to plug in, I have lost sleep and had to start again the next day. But it works so far with my testing and if in the future there is an issue i will know where to start.

I just love DIY stuff and this is just what i wanted, hell i have not even spent a cent with Robotank and the supports is great.

My tank stand is here....

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Here is my plan... wood pile in to this... or my version of.
I like the cupboards and controller mounted on the doors.
I will add a slide out board for put **** on.
I am going to go with a 40inch high stand.

Also going to build my own overflow box, based on the ......exotic marine option.
Next job is to draw it up in CAD and have the bits cut.
 

ying yang

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Well you more brave than me with the electronics as that just scares me thinking of it but guess once you start doing something it usually falls into place and works or fails dismally ha ha.
Saying that though i have temporary bodged up a few pcb on a few gas boilers to get boiler working for customer while new pcb got ordered and did solder some parts back on to my card key on a old renault car i had ( used to keep key in back pocket and sit on it like a ### so had to break plastic casing off and re- solder lol.
 
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