Alkalinity monitor/controller -experiences

Discussion in 'General Equipment, Hardware, Filtration' started by FarmerTy, Mar 26, 2018.

  1. FarmerTy

    FarmerTy Valuable Member R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award Partner Member 2019

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    So, I've been looking at all the coral stock I've amassed over the years and starting to realize I'm one alk crash away from a loss of a pretty heavy investment up to this point.

    For those that own one of the new alk monitors/controllers, what's been your experience with it?
    -Would you recommend it?
    -Cost of operation reasonable?
    -Compatible with your Apex controller or other controller?
    -Have the results been pretty reliable?
    -How about customer support?

    Thanks for taking the time to respond. I'm not sure if I'm going to jump on any just yet as I am curious about the Neptune Apex Ca/Alk/Mg monitor coming out soon but it'd be nice to see what people's experiences have been so far with the ones currently available.
     
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  2. mitch91175

    mitch91175 Valuable Member R2R Supporter Build Thread Contributor

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    Hey FarmerTy! Glad you asked this question. Please keep in mind that I have only had my unit in place for about a week. I chose to go with the Alkatronic unit. Here are my honest thoughts at this point about the unit.

    PROS
    1. Integration with Apex
    2. Cloud-based so I can get alerts and have access from anywhere. Also operates as a standalone unit (no need for Apex, etc)
    3. Vendor Presence. If you just look at how long there thread is, that tells you plenty.
    4. Cost of long-term operation should be manageable (buy concentrated reagent and mix your own).
    5. Design. Not oddly shaped which makes it more difficult to place when you do not have a ton of space.
    6. Accuracy. I will explain why this was lower on my list.
    7. Silent operation

    CONS
    1. Cost (you do get cloud access that others do not have though). Some other units cost less
    2. Configuring device through cloud (not really necessary once setup, but would be nice to have)
    3. Setup (was a little finicky getting setup (some user as well as device)
    4. Bluetooth and Wifi cannot be used at the same time (Not a deal breaker, but would be nice to have them both work at the same time)
    5. Support time zone difference (not an issue for me since I work from home so I am near my device when they are online. May be for others)
    6. Need to have a low alk threshold. If you do not have tank water in the test vial, it reads 4.54 and will start dosing alk. This only happens if you do like I did and calibrate and forget to put the tube back in place, but still could be a nice feature to protect against stupid :oops:.



    NOTE: Below were initial assessment, but vendor resolve with flying colors.
    My back and forth with the vendor is well documented in their thread, so a I won't go into too much detail about that. The current model does have noise which the vendor already has fixed in new production models and will be sending the fix to original owners. Glad that they are making that happen. What I will say is that alone has me sold on there product. They stepped up and responded appropriately.

    Now to the device itself. It really is awesome thus far. Measurements are rock solid and if something changes more than 0.14 the unit test again to confirm. Prime example, I did a water change and it increases my ALK 0.4. The unit just so happened to be doing a test not too long after and read that it was more than 0.14 higher than the last sample so it tested twice. I haven't used every feature yet from the unit, but there are others that have in the thread and it works as expected. You can send the info to you Apex (any model) with good accuracy. From what I have read it is 0.01-0.02 off from the actual reading of the Alkatronic and what is shown in Apex. Now I personally couldn't have know that the unit would be this accurate until I had it in my hands. That's why I put it as #6 above.

    I am in strictly monitoring mode right now and doing my dosing as needed. Usually not too much since I am running kalk. After a few more weeks of strictly monitoring and once I have it hooked up to my Apex, I will begin dosing. It absolutely helps knowing at any given time where is my ALK.

    Update: 7/11/18: Don't know what I'd do without the unit at this point. I just add 63 SPS frags and 55 various zoa, duncan, etc to my 240 and the Alkatronic has made it look easy to accomplish. Getting great growth and I haven't even used my T5s yet, only running actinic all blue at 100%.


    Another reason that I chose to go with the Alkatronic is because of the upcoming Dosetronic that will work in conjunction with the Alkatronic (or as a standalone for whatever you want to dose). I know that GHL has their ALK monitor and dosing pump, but I personally just didn't want to buy into the GHL system. From everything I read is that they GUI for their devices really need polishing (I know that the hardware is the most important, but if you cannot put the effort into making the user experience less frustrating, I'd rather be doing something else than stumbling around trying to figure something out). More details will be coming out about the Dosetronic and I was told should be available in Autumn 2018.

    I have not had experiences with other monitors so I have nothing really to compare the Alkatronic against besides what you read online (I am sure you have already done a lot of research and that is why you ask this question in the first place).

    Overall, I will say that it is a really solid unit that will continue to evolve and get better as we continue to provide feedback/enhancement request to them. They do seem to listen and the big part about them is that they are AGILE. I like that more than anything honestly. They have reacted to items that have been identified to them within a reasonable amount of time (not years).

    Update 7/11/18: The unit is excellent and I am not just saying that because I spent the money on it (you know how some people try to justify there expense ;)). If you are on the fence about buying one, get off now. I haven't worried about calcium or magnesium either. I just does with kalk to the alk I want and that's it. Will only check magnesium once a week if that. Looking into a CaRX because the Alkatronic is just that good.
     
    Last edited: Jul 11, 2018
  3. mitch91175

    mitch91175 Valuable Member R2R Supporter Build Thread Contributor

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    Just as a side note to the cons list above. The only one that would have been a deal-breaker to me was the noise level. I am glad that it is being resolved and I now since have moved on from it and will update once I receive the fix.
     
  4. FarmerTy

    FarmerTy Valuable Member R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award Partner Member 2019

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    Wow! Your review and wrap up of your thoughts was way more than I expected from anyone. I am beyond appreciative of your time posting that as well as I'm sure a lot of others on this forum are!

    I look forward to your continued experience with it and hearing what you think!
     
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  5. FarmerTy

    FarmerTy Valuable Member R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award Partner Member 2019

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    Its also great to know the reagent is concentrated and you dilute it for your own purposes.
     
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  6. mitch91175

    mitch91175 Valuable Member R2R Supporter Build Thread Contributor

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    Yeah I can tell that it will last a long, long time. I think I could likely test every 2 hours and it would last me 6-8 months.
     
  7. FarmerTy

    FarmerTy Valuable Member R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award Partner Member 2019

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    That's really great to hear. I want to experimentally run it throughout a 72 hr period and track daily usage patterns. I think it would be interesting to see the rise and drop of alk throughout the day.
     
  8. mitch91175

    mitch91175 Valuable Member R2R Supporter Build Thread Contributor

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    Exactly why I purchase it. I want to be able to see my trends with my ALK. Yeah, when I tested manually I was logging into Apex, but nothing like actually being able to have it done for me. All I have to do is the routing maintenance of the device itself (calibrating pH probe and pumps).
     
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  9. mitch91175

    mitch91175 Valuable Member R2R Supporter Build Thread Contributor

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    I haven't decided if I want to move it to my frag tank that I just setup or keep it on my display. They aren't plumbed together (which I like actually - a little redundancy on coral is what I am going for). I do not think I can wait too long on the Trident and they are pretty quiet about a release date so I get another Alkatronic. I just want the Trident because I am a gadget nut, plus I can do a comparison review of the 2 down the road.

    I am definitely not sold on the Trident/DOS combination. It's it strange that their unit will measure CAL/ALK/MAG but their doser only has 2 heads?
     
  10. FarmerTy

    FarmerTy Valuable Member R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award Partner Member 2019

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    About how long does that take to calibrate the pH probe and pumps? Is that the only maintenance required? How about wearable parts. I'd imagine you would periodically have to replace the silicone tubing too?
     
  11. FarmerTy

    FarmerTy Valuable Member R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award Partner Member 2019

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    I wish I had the same but I tied my frag tank and my display together. While I lose the redundancy, being able to only worry about one whole system fits my lifestyle a bit more. I do wish at times they were independent for redundency purposes as well as QT purposes.

    Yeah, I'm not holding my breathe for the Trident. Buying the new Apex and Trident is a tough pill to swallow, whereas I can buy this one independently. While it only controls alk, I'm okay with that as that is the main concern for me with a tank full of SPS.
     
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  12. mitch91175

    mitch91175 Valuable Member R2R Supporter Build Thread Contributor

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    Not long at all really. Same as calibrating a pH probe in the Apex and the pump you just let them dump into the beakers that it comes with and enter the amount of liquid for each pump and save.

    I would say about 10 minutes total.
     
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  13. FarmerTy

    FarmerTy Valuable Member R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award Partner Member 2019

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    Thanks Mitch! I appreciate you sharing your firsthand experience!
     
  14. mitch91175

    mitch91175 Valuable Member R2R Supporter Build Thread Contributor

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    When together less equipment needs but can loose everything, and when separate most equipment and can honestly still loose everything. Go figure.
     
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  15. mitch91175

    mitch91175 Valuable Member R2R Supporter Build Thread Contributor

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    No problem. When I like and dislike something I will be as unbiased as I can. To me that just makes everything better.
     
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  16. mitch91175

    mitch91175 Valuable Member R2R Supporter Build Thread Contributor

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    I started spending a lot on SPS, etc and wanted to monitor ALK since I know that is the foundation so to speak from everything that I have read. Testing manually multiple times a day was getting old fast.
     
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  17. mitch91175

    mitch91175 Valuable Member R2R Supporter Build Thread Contributor

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  18. mitch91175

    mitch91175 Valuable Member R2R Supporter Build Thread Contributor

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    Well maybe a lot for 1 day since today I have measure already 7 times. :p My default interval is every 4 hours, but if you notice that the interval adjust when the measurement fails outside of the threshold you have setup in the config.
     
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  19. FarmerTy

    FarmerTy Valuable Member R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award Partner Member 2019

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    Nice! That's what I'm looking for!

    My alk stays pretty stable with my CaRX but it would be nice to have more insurance than just me testing weekly or biweekly. I mean, when you have a frag that 2" of it is more than the cost of an alk controller, its just dumb not to have one at that point.
     
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  20. Randy Holmes-Farley

    Randy Holmes-Farley Reef Chemist Staff Member Team R2R R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award Article Contributor Expert Contributor

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    What alk dose timing was used during the period where it was pretty flat?
     
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