Hydros Control 2 Review

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SPitts6654

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  • Bottom Line Up Front:
    • It seems to be a great entry level controller, that offers further expandability, for the aquarium enthusiast that doesn’t have an overly complex system and initial controller cost has held them back.
      • Control 2 $199.99
      • ATO $79.99
      • Total $279.98 for a basic controller with an integrated ATO!
    • Seems like an ideal replacement for those of us that started with the Reef Keeper.
    • At least for now, I don’t see this overtaking Apex for the more advanced users. Yes, you can do advanced setups with Hydros, but for those that are familiar with writing the basic code required to get the more advanced functionality/automation out of an Apex will likely find that the Apex is more flexible and customizable than Hydros.
  • My Use Case:
    • I needed a simplistic setup for a small tank in my daughters room where I am mostly interested in monitoring temperature, having an ATO and controllable outlets for the return pump, skimmer, refugium light timer, etc.
  • Where They Missed the Mark:
    • The Control 2 has 2 Command ports, 2 Sense ports and 2 Drive ports (I guess that's why it's a Control "2"). In my scenario above I am am using both sense ports and and one control port. It would probably provided a better value to the entry level/budget concious consumer it there were 3 Sense ports and 1 Drive port. Beyond the ATO pump, there isn’t a lot of need in the basic setup for a 2nd Drive port. It would have been great to have an additional water level sensor for the ATO supply tank, a backup/high level sensor to turn off the ATO, leak detect or even a skimmer cup high level that the more basic user would get more value out of.

Packaging:

  • About what you would expect for the price point. Not fancy like Apple, but enough to protect it and not drive up the cost.

Application:
  • I'll be brief, very user friendly/intuitive and modern as you would expect out of a newly developed App.
    • This is something the competition should take note of.
  • No default “Return Pump” type for setting up an Output, I had to use a “Constant” type setting.

Hardware:
  • Control Box:
    • Very modern looking with LEDs and audible alerts built in.
    • Marked up a bit, need to handle better during the manufacturing process.
  • Sensors and Cables:
    • Controller power cable not color keyed.
      • Not using instructions, initially tried to plug it into the wrong port, but the connector keying prevented it.
    • Strain relief screws should be shortened to decrease protrusion.
      • Coming from an electronics manufacturing background, this would be done for personnel safety to keep fingers/hands from getting scraped/cut on them.
    • Strain reliefs would look better if they were clocked consistently/uniformly.
    • Backshells seem to come loose easily.
  • Wifi Power Strip
    • Mounting bracket securely holds it.
    • There is a reluctance to to use a Wifi power strip and that’s understandable, but there was once a reluctance for the aviation industry to transition from cables to fly by wire. I understand yes there is still a physical connection/wire, but there are also people flying in the plane. I think we’ll see more things in the industry heading this direction given more time.
    • We just need to be smart with the setups so it something get’s stuck on it doesn’t result in catastrophic failure (i.e. heater).
      • You may be able to mitigate/reduce some of this concern by purchasing a highly rated/reliable non-hydros branded wifi power strip.
        • I was able to connect and program 2 "other" Wifi power strips that I was already using that had 3-120v and 3-USB strip using Quad Outlet setting.
      • Establishing a secondary dedicated Wifi network for the system could also mitigate some concerns over using your ISP provided switch and access point that generally aren't as reliable.

ATO:
  • Wet/Dry status updates quickly.
  • The basic setup doesn’t seem to apply a time limit on pump run time or minimum off time, you must use advanced settings.
    • The instructions indicate advanced settings are for advanced users only, but these are critical for an ATO that doesn’t come with a backup/high level sensor and should be part of the basic setup.
  • My kit was missing siphon break - submitted a ticket.
  • Fails wet - prevents pumping in too much water.
  • Warranty registration was easily done with a QR scan on the box.

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Budmans

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Thanks for review. This is very helpful. I'm thinking the same application with Control 2. Do you feel comfortable enough with the ATO?

Do you know if there is an option to only enable the ATO pump say 8-9am everyday? My goal is to fill the tank only when i'm home.

Yes it can be done like this picture below, but it is better to maintain the ATO over the entire day to keep salinity stable.
 

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n2585722

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I plan on doing AWC next. I have my ATO switched over to the Control 4. There is a bug in the scheduling of multiple events during a 24 hour period on the outputs. It should be fixed in the next update. I could do it as a once a day change but I have been doing it 3 time a day at this time. I did set up once a day timing on an output and it seems to be working ok like that. I have that output monitored and the graph is in the screenshot below. I have only had it setup for three days. There is a relay being energized on the output of the hydros that when powered opens the switch contacts. These are hooked to a switch input on my Archon. It is programmed to come on for 45 minutes at 1 PM. So it is possible to do this on this controller using the generic recipe.

B4CCE879-0E94-414A-86C5-84C43ACCF5E8.png
 
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SPitts6654

SPitts6654

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Thanks for review. This is very helpful. I'm thinking the same application with Control 2. Do you feel comfortable enough with the ATO?

Do you know if there is an option to only enable the ATO pump say 8-9am everyday? My goal is to fill the tank only when i'm home.

If you enable the advanced settings it has a Max On Time and Minimum Off Time, so that helps, but I would be more comfortable with it if I had a backup sensor, but not possible with the C2 unless you don’t use the temp sensor. We’ll have to see how reliable these sensors are over time, hopefully more reliable than the sensors Apex uses...
 

n2585722

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If you enable the advanced settings it has a Max On Time and Minimum Off Time, so that helps, but I would be more comfortable with it if I had a backup sensor, but not possible with the C2 unless you don’t use the temp sensor. We’ll have to see how reliable these sensors are over time, hopefully more reliable than the sensors Apex uses...
If it runs to the max on time it will send an alert so you will know it is happening. I have hit the max on time when I was first setting them up.
 

newfly

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If you enable the advanced settings it has a Max On Time and Minimum Off Time, so that helps, but I would be more comfortable with it if I had a backup sensor, but not possible with the C2 unless you don’t use the temp sensor. We’ll have to see how reliable these sensors are over time, hopefully more reliable than the sensors Apex uses...

I thought about this ( no backup sensor) as well. I am thinking either get control 4 and have 2 optical sensor or get a old fashioned float valve.

I might just get the float valve. Cheaper and proven low tech solution . I have an AIO , so let a see if true float valve fit in the back chamber neatly.
 

thewire

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nice review. Might be the new thing i will buy after the light, tank, rodi, rocks, salt and test kit lol

So, on the sense ports, I can use the temperature and Optical sensor for ATO. Can the temperature sense port control to an attached fan?
 
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Nargard

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I'm in the middle of my 1st build and trying to learn about controllers in general. I have already purchased two brs 2 part dosers and a Tunze 3155 ATO. Can I integrate these into the Hydros 4?
 
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Nargard

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You can run the dosers if you trust them on a WiFi power bar. The ATO can be powered from the bar as well, but it won’t integrate into it sensor wise. They sell their own ATO that does.
Can you explain how something is controlled through the controller simply by plugging it into a wifi power strip?
 

shred5

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I'm in the middle of my 1st build and trying to learn about controllers in general. I have already purchased two brs 2 part dosers and a Tunze 3155 ATO. Can I integrate these into the Hydros 4?

Tunze ATO is a stand alone unit.

Doser info is still coming.
 

n2585722

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Can you explain how something is controlled through the controller simply by plugging it into a wifi power strip?
The Hydros power bars are WiFi power bars that are controlled through the Hydros. I use a 12v doser powered by the drive port to do my ATO and AWC.
 
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SPitts6654

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Can you explain how something is controlled through the controller simply by plugging it into a wifi power strip?

For the BRS dosers you mentioned, yes, plug them into the power bar and then setup an output to turn them on and off per your desired dosing schedule/duration.
 

shred5

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For the BRS dosers you mentioned, yes, plug them into the power bar and then setup an output to turn them on and off per your desired dosing schedule/duration.

Right they work on timers.
I never owned a BRS doser but I am guessing that is the only way they run correct.
They are just dumb units.
Like I said though doser info is still coming.
I think over the next 3 or 4 months there will be allot added for the control and people will be surprised.
 
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