Considering Reef Pi to Replace Apex

Sarlindescent

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This may be a bit long, but I figured I would include everything I am thinking. There is a list of requirements in the middle and questions at the end.

I am currently using a rapidly dying apex classic. The screen stopped working almost a year ago. The network seems to not want to reconnect. My programmed outlets are only working intermittently. The temp probe keeps spiking outside of reality. Hence I need to replace this. I was considering adding a Milwaukee ph controller for the CaRX, adding a temp controller, and just using the KASA bars for my control. Pretty much everything I run is simple on/off timer control vs probe based. However, by the time I get the separates, it seems to be around the same price as a Reef Pi without giving me monitoring function. Additionally, the Milwaukee controllers appear to only go to 1 decimal point. The ph probe is newish and I have 2 spares, so that would save on cost.

Some notes on me. I have a comp sci degree focused on engineering and system designs. I am skilled at soldering from RC, custom audio equipment, and I had a small side business making cables for a while. I have been working on software integration contracts for 10+ year, with minor linux/unix experience over the last 3 years (I can get around, but need a command cheat sheet from time to time). I am a major DIYer. Building and troubleshooting PCs for over a decade to include small side business in college doing this for others with 30+ years windows experience. So I think this is up my alley. Where my experience is none existent is on the hardware/breadboard side of things and I am an average coder at best.

List of Plugs:
2x Powerheads
1x Return Pump
1x T5 2 bulb
2x AI Prime HD (always on)
1x RO essence 130 skimmer
1x Tunze Osmolator
1x Canopy fans
1x heaters (currently 1, thinking of doubling up)
1x Kamour CaRX doser
1x CaRX Circulation Pump (always on)
1x Co2 Regulator
1x Port for laptop workstation surge protector (always on)

14x total to date (10 smart/4 dumb) potential +1 for heater, +2 for flow, +1 dosing pump


Requirements:
-2x ph probe (one to monitor tank ph and the other CaRX)
-Control Co2 reg for CaRX to a second decimal point (tank is 30g frag tank with a 20h sump)
-Monitor temp
-Control heater on/off based on temp probe as backup
-Outlet control via KASA power bars
-Ideally Kasa will handle the timers and Reef Pi will only deal with the outlets needing more that time
-DB to store and search long term trends (minimum 3 months, preferred 12+)

Nice to have:
-Add display for Tank ph+graph, CaRX+graph, Tank Temp+graph, CPU utiliation, CPU temp, memory utilization
-Alexa control of KASA bars not messing up reef pi
-LED indicators on “Reef pi case” (preferred rbg with tank ph/temp/CaRX ph high/low/in range)
-Off network monitoring and control

Potential future upgrade:
-Adding floats to ato container for near empty (warning message) and empty (ato off)
-Add floats to return chambers to back up ato running dry and return pump dry
-Email or text alerts when parameters out of range
-Salinity probe monitoring
-Second temp probe
-Add other RPi zero Ws as nodes for other tanks and this installation as a server


Hardware Thoughts:

It looks like the easiest method to get this up and running without learning all the breadboard to RPi stuff is to go with an Atlas Tentacle 3 with 2 ezo ph circuits, 1 ezo rtd temp circuit, one atlas temp probe. This appears to be a plug and play solution that just requires converting hexadecimal to decimal vs some of the other solutions. Due to potential server based expansion in the future, I am thinking a pi 4b. Additionally, I am planning on 2x Kasa 6 port bars and 1 dumb bar for always on ports.


Questions:
  • Is anything sound way out of whack here?
  • From what I can tell Atlas appears to be accurate, but some complaints of durability. Anyone have issues with these? Are there better options?
  • If I use Reef Pi to control kasa bars, can Kasa still handle timer based outlets?
  • If I use Reef Pi to control kasa bars, would using alexa voice commands to turn off plugs cause any issues with Reef Pi sync or would Reef Pi turn the ports on prematurely? If this is any issue, I may add a couple diyed direct outlets to the RPi and bypass Kasa integration.
  • Is reef pi state based control like the apex or trigger controlled like kasa bars? If device X is on and power goes out and outage returns after the off trigger is supposed to initiate, what state is device X in (on/off)?
  • Would Pi 4b 2gb ram be enough/ is anyone approaching the ram limit with database/communication apps plus reef pi?
  • How much storage is necessary for most installations? 32/64/128 gb
  • Can the Atlas temp prob be submerges as sold or does it require a “cover” to prevent rust?
  • How well does the salinity probe work on reef pi? I have heard lots of issues with apex salinity regarding accuracy and longevity of their system. Is this a universal issue with salinity probes or just apex’s implementation?
  • If I add a display to show system/reef stats, is there a preferred AIDA 64 like software to create a dashboard for this?
  • Is there any need to adding a physical power button to the Reef Pi case? Any need to restart Pi or Reef Pi periodically to address memory leaks, general system slowdown, packet loss issues? And if so, what frequency have people had issues (days/weeks/months)? The fix would be running a scheduled job to reboot every Sunday at 3am or first of the month.
  • Any warnings I haven’t thought of at this point?
  • Are their any issues with near sealed RPi cases for Reef Pi regarding heat or is ventilation necessary?


Thank you in advance, any help is greatly appreciated.
 
Maxout

Mikeneedsahobby

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#reefpi

you have way more skills for this than I have and I was successful. You will be too.

the system is very flexible for someone that is motivated but that same flexibility also ensures no one has the exact same system to copy. You’ll need your skills to get what you want.

my advice is start with a prebuilt board. Mike lane has a good one. Robo tank seems quite capable. I have heard good things about leviathan. Theatrus made beautiful boards but I think he may be working on something new now.
The prebuilt board will get you started and passed the first bump. You don’t give up any flexibility and the cost isn’t much more than sourcing and soldering your own components.

then add features one at a time starting with common to get familiar with it. From there. Skies the limit.

some of your questions.
I don’t know what atlas is. My ph board was integrated with the pico board from theatrus. For my mike lane build, I sourced the ph board from him.

my temp probes are from Amazon. I like the double sealed with silicone covered cable. Search ds18b20. No cover needed for these type. Keep in mind that most problems on temp probes are at the connector. Source good connectors. Many don’t cover the standard probes either

I don’t know what kasa is and haven’t tried Alexa stuff.

I’m running a pi zero w on the pico board install with no issues with ram, storage, or processing power. The mike lane install is using a pi 3 with no problems. Pi 4 won’t have a problem regardless of which one you use.

salinity probes are rare in use. Probes go out of calibration too easily to be useful.

the reef pi interface is through a website. There doesn’t need to be any physical connection between the pi and your display. I use my phone most often. Skies the limit here. Look up @b4tn , he just finished a beautiful build with display on the unit. Custom dashboards are most often created using Prometheus and grafana.

there is no need for a physical button, but it is possible. I never reboot on purpose. Shutdowns should be done through software if possible but I have pulled power many times. Risk is to the sd card. Have a backup. The software has never stopped working or locked on me. I’ve pulled to fix something on hardware, add features or move my tank.

my installs are fully sealed boxes. No temp problems. The biggest heat source is the ac/dc converter. I have a meanwell and no heat issue.

You got this. Now start!!!!
 

monicalooze

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I'm currently using a Kasa, a wifi controlled heater controller and a wifi ai prime. I don't have continuous monitoring yet and my system is really simple, but I'd like to add it; however, you may be able to use IFTTT + Kasa "scenes" with the data produced by your probes to do it, though I haven't investigated it in detail yet.

I also purchased the Leviathan and have a raspberry pi that I'm starting to tinker with. Half the reason I don't want an apex is because it's ugly .

I'm going to try IFTTT before I dig too much into the reefpi because my programming skills leave something to be desired. Will follow up if I figure it out.
 

Urtoo

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  • Is anything sound way out of whack here?
No
  • From what I can tell Atlas appears to be accurate, but some complaints of durability. Anyone have issues with these? Are there better options?
I am using some amazon ones with mic jacks. I coated the metal ends with a small dressing of silicone to seal them up.
  • If I use Reef Pi to control kasa bars, can Kasa still handle timer based outlets?
Mine are working fine, the plugs, and the strip.
  • If I use Reef Pi to control kasa bars, would using alexa voice commands to turn off plugs cause any issues with Reef Pi sync or would Reef Pi turn the ports on prematurely? If this is any issue, I may add a couple diyed direct outlets to the RPi and bypass Kasa integration.
Mine is working just fine using ReefPi and Alexa
  • Is reef pi state based control like the apex or trigger controlled like kasa bars? If device X is on and power goes out and outage returns after the off trigger is supposed to initiate, what state is device X in (on/off)?
I do not use this function, but see it in 4.0
  • Would Pi 4b 2gb ram be enough/ is anyone approaching the ram limit with database/communication apps plus reef pi?
I use a Pi Zero
  • How much storage is necessary for most installations? 32/64/128 gb
I have a 32GB running mine, with 2 temp, PH, doser, ato and others
  • Is there any need to adding a physical power button to the Reef Pi case? Any need to restart Pi or Reef Pi periodically to address memory leaks, general system slowdown, packet loss issues? And if so, what frequency have people had issues (days/weeks/months)? The fix would be running a scheduled job to reboot every Sunday at 3am or first of the month.
Mine has been rock steady since ver 3.*
  • Are their any issues with near sealed RPi cases for Reef Pi regarding heat or is ventilation necessary?
My setup is in a watertight box, the only circulation in it is internal convection.
 
Fritz

Ranjib

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Atlas temp probes are not supported in reef-pi yet. Any pi with more than 512mb ram and 2gb storage is good for reef-pi. Alexa or any other integration with Kasa should work fine, but be aware of the consequences of different things controlling the outlets., since none is aware of other controller, they can lead to inconsistent / risky behavior . I don’t know much about the calcium reactor/co2 regulator control, rest of the things looks doable,
Godspeed
 

Bigtrout

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As far as co2 regulator control, I am using reef pi in a 75 FW planted to control my co2 for plants. I have reef pi control a 8 relay board that controls 8 outlets. One of them has my co2 solenoid power brick supply plugged into it. Simple on off control for co2. I would not trust KASA plugs for this however. Too much co2 would kill my fish , so i wired that outlet as normally open, in case the pi fails, then co2 fails in the off position. Reef pi has to be up and working to turn co2 ON.
 

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