ReefKeeper's Departure Hurts The Industry

Discussion in 'Reef Aquarium Discussion' started by DSmithZ28, Jul 27, 2018.

  1. DSmithZ28

    DSmithZ28 Active Member Build Thread Contributor

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    I have been stewing about this for weeks since I found out that Digital Aquatics aka ReekKeeper has finally closed it's doors. Even though it was no real shock because there was no service or updates for a very long time, the official word of their demise still has a significant impact. First, even though there was non existent customer service or updates, there was always hope of someone buying out the company or the parent company taking an interest in it again. So while that was happening many people were still buying and investing in ReefKeeper. So now that the whole thing is dead, and BRS like many other retailers have blown out the remaining inventory, we are stuck with a system that will become harder and harder to find parts for.

    The ReefKeeper was perfect for me . Well, it would have been if they could have just improved the web access a bit. The Net Module was an absolute nightmare. I would have liked to be able to access the controls from my iphone and a simple method should not have been that difficult or expensive in today's software availability. Otherwise, I absolutely loved it. It did everything you needed it to do and was expandable at a very affordable price. It was so easy to use as well. Even the controller was easy to navigate. So what now? APEX for a beginning reefer is so difficult to justify with the massive cost. It is a very robust system, industry leader and very high quality system with amazing support. I get that this hobby is very expensive but I think the whole APEX ecosystem is geared towards the high discretionary spending reefer to the very advanced aquarist. I understand that they still have the classic and the junior model that can save some cash. But I think the whole APEX ecosystem can be a little intimidating for new reefers and budget minded aquarists.

    There are some other controllers but they seem to be positioned in the middle of the Reefkeeper and APEX cost or not a complete controller option. Tunze seems to be the best replacement option but it does not come with power outlets and seems more geared towards running their own equipment instead of a bare bones generic controller to run any mfg device. Seneye is awesome but it isn't a controller, but more of a monitor.

    I was hoping to start a discussion on what ReefKeeper owners are planning on doing and if anyone has any knowledge of a replacement coming to market for the ReefKeeper?

    Here's my setup that will be slowly heading out to pasture:

    01c3fa78227c41f080f86110ed8a923bd7bb8bf56b.jpg
     

  2. lbacha

    lbacha Valuable Member R2R Supporter Build Thread Contributor

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    I have a redfkeeper liteand a herpkeeper lite. I'll keep using them as cheap controllers on tanks. I just set up a evo5 on my desk at work and I'm using the reefkeeper lite to run it. My herpkeeper is running my vivarium but it was a very disappointing purchase. I got it to control humidity but the sensor crapped out 3 months after I got it due to them not sealing the electronics. They wouldn't replace the sensor so it is essentially how a reefkeeper lite without a temp probe
     
  3. Super Fly

    Super Fly Active Member

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    I wasn't aware they went under, thanks for the info. Was considering buying a used DA controller but no longer now.
     
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  4. Gareth elliott

    Gareth elliott Read, Tinker, Fail, Learn R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award Build Thread Contributor NJRC Member

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    If by chance you are using a mistking, could look at their controller replacement for the seconds timer. Full misting and humidty and temperature control at $200 if starting with out the misting system.

    I only recently setup my mist-king so cant really give a thumbs up or down.
     
  5. davehead86

    davehead86 Member

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    I had no idea they closed!
    I love my reefkeeper and will still be using it as long as I can (my probes are due to be replaced so many getting an APEX Jr. now).


    With that being said I feel like many of the people that are using a Reefkeeper could migrate over to an APEX Jr. with little problem. I know thats the direction I will be going. Even though the number of ports are limited I dont see myself needing the high end models. $1000 on a controller is so expensive!
     
  6. mcarroll

    mcarroll PM me R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award

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    I'm also still stewing. Thankfully their demise is no particular reason to switch.

    My RK Lite (+1 PC4) is still working....me having broken the tab off the iTemp connector is it's only problem so far.

    I liked the Windows program, though I would have wished to have a Mac version. It was a silly reason to have a whole Windows laptop around, but used they only cost a little more than a power strip, eh? Thankfully, the MyReef program worked pretty well, so I was happy with it. Never felt the need for more.

    If my RKL burned up tonight (*knocking on wood*) I'd have to look at the Tunze controller. "Having to use their gear" is hardly a limit that would be hard to live with. :D And unless I'm mistaken, there is the ability to add an outlet (and more) to it if needed for something.

    Here're a couple of add-ons, inlcuding the outlet. (Pic shows the euro plug, but it's the US version.)
    I don't even have my whole system wired through the RKL and have no desire to, so I don't really see any limits in the Tunze direction. It's a lot more $ than what I've spent on the RKL. But it does a lot more too, so the price on the Tunze seems pretty fair to me.
     
  7. lbacha

    lbacha Valuable Member R2R Supporter Build Thread Contributor

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    Yeah I have it running a mistking and a fogger. The vivarium is almost 10 yrs old so I pretty much have the humidity levels down without measuring them so I'm good there.

    [​IMG]
     
  8. Sierra_Bravo

    Sierra_Bravo Valuable Member R2R Supporter Build Thread Contributor

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    When I read the news I bought a replacement temp probe to keep on hand while they were still available, since the temp probe seems to be the one item that people have had go bad the most and would be unreliable to buy used without testing. This will keep me for a while but I expect I will move to APEX at some point.
     
  9. Greybeard

    Greybeard Valuable Member R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award Reef Squad Build Thread Contributor

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    I bought a RKL after watching BRS's vid on using one in place of a heater controller and basic light timers. Made sense to me... I'd never had a controller before, but it seemed worth a try.

    Last November, about six months in, my RKL had been expanded by adding another PB4, and I was using it for several things I'd never really considered before. Then... it wigged out. Equipment quit turning on and off on schedule... it left my heater stuck 'on'... communication between the base and the 2 PB4's would fail for no apparent reason. No support, email was being returned as undeliverable, no phone numbers anywhere on the website... Noting.

    I bought an Apex Classic, and sold the RKL. Cheap. To a LFS that _knew_ it had been screwing up.

    The Apex is most certainly not any more difficult to use than the RKL was. It's much more advanced, capable of a great deal that the RKL was not capable of... but, you don't have to use that stuff. Instead of plugging in a USB cable, you have to get it on your network, point your browser at it, but as long as you can do that, it's not terribly much different from setting up the RKL, at least not until you start wanting to use some of the more advanced features.

    So far, my Apex Classic has been rock solid, and I'm doing far more with it than the RKL was capable of, even when it worked.

    Price? RKL was what, $129, right? That's with 4 outlets. Add a PB4, that's another hundred bucks. Add a pH probe, you've added another hundred. Add the rather questionable 'net' module and an SL1 so you can hook up a float switch or two, and you're approaching the price of the Apex Classic, which already has all of that stuff, and is capable of so much more.

    I do believe that there's room in the market for an under $200 low end Apex... perhaps a new revision of the Apex Jr. Built in wireless, pH and Temp probes, and a single EB4. Probably sell like hotcakes. Maybe once they get the Trident released :) You listening, Neptune?
     
  10. chipmunkofdoom2

    chipmunkofdoom2 Always Making Something R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award Reef Squad Article Contributor

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    I currently have a RLK. My next controller is going to be a Reef-Pi by Ranjib, a member here. There are many things about the Neptune Apex that I do not like, and as a result, will not get one. Not unless something substantially changes with the way Apex works now.
     
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  11. mcarroll

    mcarroll PM me R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award

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    That was the beauty of it. Right there. That's my setup. All the rest is extra....abd to do it in apex is >$300, right? :) :)
     
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  12. Greybeard

    Greybeard Valuable Member R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award Reef Squad Build Thread Contributor

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    Yup. And, as I said, the reason I bought one was the price justification that BRS made. Buy a heater controller, a couple of decent light timers, and a power strip, you're in for the same money.

    Once you're 'in', and see what controllers can actually do for you, things can change. I'm doing some fairly advanced things with my Apex these days, and I'm quite happy to be doing so. At this point, knowing what I know now, realizing the functionality I get from a controller, the $800 Apex doesn't seem out of line. Even the $1100 GHL isn't really out of line.

    At the bottom level, as a replacement for a heater controller and a few timers, well, even the $239 Apex Jr seems a bit steep. Sure, you're getting the benefits of the Fusion web portal, and some expansion capabilities, but if all you're wanting is a safety for your heater and to turn your lights on and off, well, it's a bit much... and the old RKL (if it were dependable!) is much more in that ballpark.

    Wireless is _cheap_ to implement these days... IMHO, there isn't a reason in the world that Apex isn't putting wireless in their entire line... except that doing so would likely lower sales of their more advanced model. It's a nice feature. Fortunately, anyone that has a bit of networking knowledge can get around that issue with the classic or Jr. models fairly easily. (The $25 Netgear N300 works real well!)

    I'd like to see Apex, or someone, come out with a more modern but similarly priced replacement for the RKL. I wouldn't be in that market any more, since I _like_ the higher end capabilities, but there are many reefers who would be.
     
  13. CherBear811

    CherBear811 Active Member

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    Im frustrated. Bought a RKL used to control heater and fan, and monitor pH.... but it didn't come with instructions and the website is gone so unless I can find someone who has pdfs of the instructions, Im screwed.
     
  14. Greybeard

    Greybeard Valuable Member R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award Reef Squad Build Thread Contributor

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    Kali, FlamingGrapes, KMench and 4 others like this.
  15. redfishbluefish

    redfishbluefish Stay Positive, Stay Productive Staff Member Team R2R R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award Article Contributor Build Thread Contributor NJRC Member

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    I was saddened when they discontinued the ReefKeeper 2....and now the whole company. So does that mean Archon is gone...just launched in 2014? I currently run two of these antique ReefKeeper 2's, and firmly believe there is a market for these simple type controllers, without connectivity.

    Shame. :(
     
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  16. saf1

    saf1 Valuable Member R2R Supporter

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    There are other controllers out there that are reliable and affordable. Reef Angel is one. I've had one now for a little over 6 years. I've scaled it back the last couple of years to only control lighting but still never had a issue with it. Primary controller is Apex but before the RA was doing it all.
     
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  17. MartinWaite

    MartinWaite Active Member UK Reef Club Member

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    While I don't run any sort of electronic system controller at the moment I must say that I have thought about setting a one up but there is no way I could justify wasting my hard earned money on an apex system not until they commit to us the customers in the UK I would rather get a raspberry Pi and learn how to code and make my own as many other have done there is software out there I just need to decide what I require from it and go forward.
     
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  18. Tiger-Paws

    Tiger-Paws Active Member

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    When I was looking for a controller I researched Digital Aquatics and what I found suggested that they were in trouble, so I am not surprised they have closed their doors.

    The warning signs were there for anyone who was willing to look.

    I purchased an Apex and it has worked well for me.
     
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  19. n2585722

    n2585722 Valuable Member R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award Partner Member 2019 Reef Tank 365 Build Thread Contributor Controller Advisor

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    Dynon Instruments has not closed down. They decided to drop the aquarium controller part of their business to concentrate on the avionics part of their business.

    The pH and ORP probes can be purchased from other sources. The salinity probe can also be source elsewhere. I am looking into a source for the temp probes. The buss cables are six conductor flat cable with RJ12 connectors. As long as you modules are still good you should be good to go.

    pH and ORP probes you can use generic probes or brands such as Pinpoint.

    Salinity probe is A K1 conductivity probe. The one below I have and it is working without issue on my Archon. I did try it on an RKE also.

    Apera Instruments AI1304 2301-C Conductivity Electrode (K=1), Range: 0.5 μS/cm to 200 mS/cm
     
  20. sjstelmach

    sjstelmach Member R2R Supporter

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    With the availability of cheap sensors and other components, I personally feel like DIY solutions like Reef-Pi and my own version (https://www.reef2reef.com/threads/automated-reef-controller.412996/) are going to become more and more popular. There’s a lot to be said for not tying yourself into a proprietary platform and being dependent on a company for long-term support.
     
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