Waterlink Spin Touch FF - First look and review

JeffB418

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Many weeks ago, Reef Builders put out some info on a new product by API, Aquaspin. Seemed like a neat multi-test platform that made testing easy and quick. So I started to do some digging. Turns out a company by the name of LaMotte has been making automated testers for the pool industry for many years, and most recently they ventured their Spin Touch series of testers into the aquaponics, and fish farming area. Now there are 2 different machines, the API Aquaspin and the LaMotte Spin Touch FF. From all the details I can find, they are the same hardware but different software. The API unit is only available to professionals (Stores), while the Spin Touch FF can be found on a couple of online retail stores for use in the fishery industry. From my comparisons of people who actually have the API unit, the type of tests they run and test ranges are the same (including how detailed the results are). So I ended up getting a LaMotte version to try out...here are my first impressions.

IMG-0297.jpg

Here is the unit, for ~$900 you get the tester, a case, and accessories you need to test. You also get a calibration disc to check (but not calibrate) the photo sensors in your unit. You have to send it back to LaMotte if your readings are off, but I don't think most have to do this. This meter uses disposable reagent discs to test your tanks water. They are NOT cheap, about $3/ea and you have to buy them in packs of 50. They contain a small amount of dried reagent in test cells around the parameter. They come sealed in these packs and test the following items with the displayed ranges. Now LaMotte doesn't publish any accuracy or precision data on these tests unfortunately.

Annotation 2020-08-02 204614.png


Here are the test disks in their packages:
IMG-0296.jpg


Here is a used disk from the top, showing you the reagent pools, and a center track you fill with test water. The unit spins the disk and evenly deposits water into each reagent chamber. The top and bottom of these chambers are clear so that photosensors can read up through them. In addition one cell has no reagent for getting a base reading.

IMG-0295.jpg


Another neat thing about these disks, they use metal balls in each chamber to mix the sample and dried reagent. The tester has magnets that move these up and down. You can see these balls here:
IMG-0294.jpg


Here are the photo sensors on the bottom, and the top are the different wavelength light generators (LEDs). This unit uses 6 different wavelengths during tests based on the reagent color.
IMG-0291.jpg


So to do a test you fill a syringe with tank water and then fill the test disk using the fill hole. It will fill up the center test chamber to the line. You must make sure no air bubbles get in while filling or results will be off. Then all you do next is put the disk in the test machine, put a black cover disk on top, and close the lid. The blocker cover helps the sensors read the samples independently. Then all you need to do is push a button, and 2 mins later you have your 8 test results.
IMG-0287.jpg


So that's the basics. So is this unit worth it? Yes and no. It has some shortcomings I have found. First is cost. $900 for a handheld tester is not for everyone. Second $3/test is steep as well. That is the main reason these are marketed for professionals, where time can be money. These will be attractive to stores since they can pass off the $3/test fee to the customer and get them decent results in only 2 mins. In addition the API system even emails the results to the customer along with product suggestions.

IMG-0292 (1).jpg

IMG-0289.jpg

Now some data. I have only had this unit for a day and initial testing I've done has fallen short from my expectations. First off you'll notice Phosphate only measures to 1 dec point. I missed this during my research of the unit. Most of my tanks run between 0.04 and 0.10, but this unit will not tell you that resolution. That was a HUGE disappointment. Also I reached out to LaMotte and they said they had no plans to update that test to have anymore resolution. Next I wanted to see how close results were from test to test. So I ran 10 tests one right after another from the same tank water. Here are the results:

ALK (PPM/dKh)CALCPHOSNITRATEMAGPHNITRITEAMO
164/9.174310.11314268.300
159/8.8943401114458.300
161/9.0044001114388.30.10
159/8.8944901114198.300
157/8.7843501114828.300
160/8.9546201013988.3400
161/9.0043601714118.30.10
157/8.7843501114268.300
164/9.1742801214078.300
166/9.2846301114488.300

To compare, I also ran my 2 APEX Tridents while doing this test and they returned: ALK 8.8/8.86, CAL 413/415, and MAG 1273/1279. Also I ran my Hannah Phos tester 2x and got 0.05 and 0.06.

So you will see most data trends around the same values but outliers do appear. The precision on some of these tests concerns me, esp for $3/test. So first impressions of this tester have it falling short of where I'd love it to be.

I am going to spend so more time using the machine but here are my initial thoughts:

Pros:
- 8 test results in only 2 mins!
- Super easy to use, no clean up
- Results seem decent for ball parking issues in a reef tank (great for stores/customers)
- Reagent disks have 1-2 year shelf life
- Link the unit via bluetooth to cell for data transfer
- Firmware is updatable

Cons:
- Cost, both the unit and reagent disks. Huge con.
- Phosphate measurements are useless for those who need 2 dec places
- Precision of test data is questionable for some tests, can't run reagent disk twice (I tried, values are way off)
- Limited retail outlets for purchase (I've only found 2).

I will try to post more as time goes on. I honestly don't know at this point if I will keep it and use it as part of my weekly test regime or ditch it due to running costs.

Oh yeah and one last thing, you can also get freshwater test disks as well that run on the same unit.
IMG-0290.jpg
 

reefluvrr

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Thanks for sharing info!
I agree on the huge disappointment with the PO4 reading to just the tenth decimal place....I too probably would not have noticed this until I purchase a unit.:mad:
 

Larry L

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Bummer about the phosphates reading, would be nice to get even just one more decimal place...

The repeatability is actually pretty good compared to most test kits, even the range of Alk measurements is probably closer than what you'd expect with a Hanna checker (±0.3 dKH ±5% of reading).

You mentioned the $3 per disk as downside, but considering that each disk does 8 tests, that's about 38 cents per test, which isn't far off from the per-test price of the typical titration test kits.
 
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JeffB418

JeffB418

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Bummer about the phosphates reading, would be nice to get even just one more decimal place...

The repeatability is actually pretty good compared to most test kits, even the range of Alk measurements is probably closer than what you'd expect with a Hanna checker (±0.3 dKH ±5% of reading).

You mentioned the $3 per disk as downside, but considering that each disk does 8 tests, that's about 38 cents per test, which isn't far off from the per-test price of the typical titration test kits.
Yeah the $3/disk isn't horrible when you break it down that you get 8 tests. But the downside is that most people don't ever test (or need to test) things like Nitrite, Ammonia, or pH (if you have a probe). But yeah overall, per test you aren't paying much more than standard box kits and you are doing 8 tests in only 2 minutes.
 

Ceti

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I took the plunge and ordered one with 50 disks. I think that it is still cost effective and more importantly, it’ll save me a great deal of time doing testing. I want to transition to spend more time enjoying watching the tanks than doing maintenance. This device will save me several hours every one to to weeks. The next time consuming item to streamline will be filter socks.
 

Reef Hammer

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I took the plunge and ordered one with 50 disks. I think that it is still cost effective and more importantly, it’ll save me a great deal of time doing testing. I want to transition to spend more time enjoying watching the tanks than doing maintenance. This device will save me several hours every one to to weeks. The next time consuming item to streamline will be filter socks.
Did you get it yet?
 

Ceti

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Did you get it yet?
Yes, I did. It is easy to use, fast and fun. My son jumps at the opportunity of running the tests. From the perspective of being a time saver, it is amazing. I work long hours. The time this device saves me pays off the sticker price immediately. Moreover, there is so much subjectivity in visually interpreting colorimetric tests that the inherent margin of error is huge. Years back I took a photography course. One of the subjects of the course was how not everybody see colors the same. I’m not referring to color blindness. This is why colorimetric test should be interpreted by a machine and not the human eye.

 

anonomous09

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I hope other uses will be chiming in on this device as well. As I’m sure many forum members spend much more time working than in front of the tank, this may be a worth investment!
 

BighohoReef

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Many weeks ago, Reef Builders put out some info on a new product by API, Aquaspin. Seemed like a neat multi-test platform that made testing easy and quick. So I started to do some digging. Turns out a company by the name of LaMotte has been making automated testers for the pool industry for many years, and most recently they ventured their Spin Touch series of testers into the aquaponics, and fish farming area. Now there are 2 different machines, the API Aquaspin and the LaMotte Spin Touch FF. From all the details I can find, they are the same hardware but different software. The API unit is only available to professionals (Stores), while the Spin Touch FF can be found on a couple of online retail stores for use in the fishery industry. From my comparisons of people who actually have the API unit, the type of tests they run and test ranges are the same (including how detailed the results are). So I ended up getting a LaMotte version to try out...here are my first impressions.

IMG-0297.jpg

Here is the unit, for ~$900 you get the tester, a case, and accessories you need to test. You also get a calibration disc to check (but not calibrate) the photo sensors in your unit. You have to send it back to LaMotte if your readings are off, but I don't think most have to do this. This meter uses disposable reagent discs to test your tanks water. They are NOT cheap, about $3/ea and you have to buy them in packs of 50. They contain a small amount of dried reagent in test cells around the parameter. They come sealed in these packs and test the following items with the displayed ranges. Now LaMotte doesn't publish any accuracy or precision data on these tests unfortunately.

Annotation 2020-08-02 204614.png


Here are the test disks in their packages:
IMG-0296.jpg


Here is a used disk from the top, showing you the reagent pools, and a center track you fill with test water. The unit spins the disk and evenly deposits water into each reagent chamber. The top and bottom of these chambers are clear so that photosensors can read up through them. In addition one cell has no reagent for getting a base reading.

IMG-0295.jpg


Another neat thing about these disks, they use metal balls in each chamber to mix the sample and dried reagent. The tester has magnets that move these up and down. You can see these balls here:
IMG-0294.jpg


Here are the photo sensors on the bottom, and the top are the different wavelength light generators (LEDs). This unit uses 6 different wavelengths during tests based on the reagent color.
IMG-0291.jpg


So to do a test you fill a syringe with tank water and then fill the test disk using the fill hole. It will fill up the center test chamber to the line. You must make sure no air bubbles get in while filling or results will be off. Then all you do next is put the disk in the test machine, put a black cover disk on top, and close the lid. The blocker cover helps the sensors read the samples independently. Then all you need to do is push a button, and 2 mins later you have your 8 test results.
IMG-0287.jpg


So that's the basics. So is this unit worth it? Yes and no. It has some shortcomings I have found. First is cost. $900 for a handheld tester is not for everyone. Second $3/test is steep as well. That is the main reason these are marketed for professionals, where time can be money. These will be attractive to stores since they can pass off the $3/test fee to the customer and get them decent results in only 2 mins. In addition the API system even emails the results to the customer along with product suggestions.

IMG-0292 (1).jpg

IMG-0289.jpg

Now some data. I have only had this unit for a day and initial testing I've done has fallen short from my expectations. First off you'll notice Phosphate only measures to 1 dec point. I missed this during my research of the unit. Most of my tanks run between 0.04 and 0.10, but this unit will not tell you that resolution. That was a HUGE disappointment. Also I reached out to LaMotte and they said they had no plans to update that test to have anymore resolution. Next I wanted to see how close results were from test to test. So I ran 10 tests one right after another from the same tank water. Here are the results:

ALK (PPM/dKh)CALCPHOSNITRATEMAGPHNITRITEAMO
164/9.174310.11314268.300
159/8.8943401114458.300
161/9.0044001114388.30.10
159/8.8944901114198.300
157/8.7843501114828.300
160/8.9546201013988.3400
161/9.0043601714118.30.10
157/8.7843501114268.300
164/9.1742801214078.300
166/9.2846301114488.300

To compare, I also ran my 2 APEX Tridents while doing this test and they returned: ALK 8.8/8.86, CAL 413/415, and MAG 1273/1279. Also I ran my Hannah Phos tester 2x and got 0.05 and 0.06.

So you will see most data trends around the same values but outliers do appear. The precision on some of these tests concerns me, esp for $3/test. So first impressions of this tester have it falling short of where I'd love it to be.

I am going to spend so more time using the machine but here are my initial thoughts:

Pros:
- 8 test results in only 2 mins!
- Super easy to use, no clean up
- Results seem decent for ball parking issues in a reef tank (great for stores/customers)
- Reagent disks have 1-2 year shelf life
- Link the unit via bluetooth to cell for data transfer
- Firmware is updatable

Cons:
- Cost, both the unit and reagent disks. Huge con.
- Phosphate measurements are useless for those who need 2 dec places
- Precision of test data is questionable for some tests, can't run reagent disk twice (I tried, values are way off)
- Limited retail outlets for purchase (I've only found 2).

I will try to post more as time goes on. I honestly don't know at this point if I will keep it and use it as part of my weekly test regime or ditch it due to running costs.

Oh yeah and one last thing, you can also get freshwater test disks as well that run on the same unit.
IMG-0290.jpg
Great write up! Still sounds like some bugs need to be worked out especially for a $900 setup.
 
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JeffB418

JeffB418

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Update after using it for a month or so. It's useful for spot checking my trident. Had issue with trident reading high and this device confirmed it was out of cal. Nitrate tests are useful but phosphate still falls short. I still use Hannah for phos every few days. Most of the time measurements are consistant from test to test but I get random off values from time to time for calc, mag, and alk mostly. Per cost test still sucks =( wish they were lower and finding in stock discs is getting harder and harder. Seems like the demand for this unit is decent so people are buying up the discs as soon as they are in stock. Plus only 1-2 online vendors stock the unit and discs.
 

Ceti

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I’m glad the demand is there. Imagine if there wasn’t... we would end up with a $900 white elephant. BTW, when I bought mine, I also bought a box with 150 test disks.
 

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