What is the perfect Apex System?

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rcpalmer1

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First I will give some background, then the objective I would like to complete.

I have had saltwater tanks for over 20 years. My current system I setup 3+ years ago. I have never owned a controller. I never could justify the price. I am a DIY'er. I have built devices to control my tank. I can go over a month without seeing my tank and it will only need the glass cleaned. With the current system I built an ATO from relays and float switches. I have built custom electric box that shuts off AWC pumps if AWC reservoir runs low. All equipment is connected to Alex via smart plugs.

I have a friend shutting down his tank and I am getting all of his Apex equipment from him. Even with a discount I am thinking it is going to cost around $2000 to get everything setup. With that kind of expense I want to take my time and get everything setup the best it possible can be. I am looking for anyone who has used an Apex. What did you do the best? What would you do different? What do you wish you could do? Most importantly how would it be done?

The system

There are three locations; Tank1(T1), Tank2(T2), Fish Room(FR).

T1 is a 120 gallon tank. Under the stand is the sump for both tanks. All pumps and power heads are DC and vdc controllable. The only exception is the ATO pump. The current equipment is this area is: Lighting is Kessil AP700, Aquatic Life Hybrid Fixture(2 cords), dc variable speed fans, auto feeder that is usb powered and controlled. In the tank are 4 power heads. Under the tank is a DC return pump, Dc pump for reactor, Kessil H380, osmolator ATO, Skimmer, UV, and pwer head.

T2 is a 56 gallon tank. Lighting is Kessil AP700, Aquatic Life Hybrid Fixture(2 cords). In the tank are 4 power heads.

FR dc solenoid for RO system, DOS for AWC, DC pump for transferring and mixing water. I am thinking of getting 3 versa pump for my two part.

I am planning on building a control panel next to T1. I have a 10" non ad supported fire tablet ordered. It will go at the top. The Triton will probably be under it. I would like to have all the wires in an enclosure but easy to access. I will have the head unit located here also. I want to put a couple of action buttons on the outside. one for feed, one to shut pumps off for maintenance and one to reset everything. I want to get rid of all the pump controls and have the apex control their speed. All are 3 wire so they should be easy enough to make connecting wires.

In the fish room I am going to put 3 5 gallon two part containers. Should I put low level sensors or does the apex keep a volume count and notify me when low?

I am not sure of everything I have coming but I know I have at lest this
Full apex
triton
EB8
EB832
DOS
ATK
Apex display
10" Fire Tablet

I know everything gets connected with Aqua bus cables. I know that different modules have different connectors. I am look to map the system out so I can figure out what modules I need in addition to what I have.

I am open to all comments and suggestions
 

SuncrestReef

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If you haven’t seen them yet, take a look at my series of Apex tutorial articles here at R2R. They go over best practices and provide a lot of tips and examples:


The key thing is planning which devices you want the Apex to control, and what conditions to monitor in order to control them. Once you have that mapped out, then you need to inventory the available Apex modules to ensure you have the needed features. My Apex Hardware Overview article is a good starting point:

 
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rcpalmer1

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If you haven’t seen them yet, take a look at my series of Apex tutorial articles here at R2R. They go over best practices and provide a lot of tips and examples:


The key thing is planning which devices you want the Apex to control, and what conditions to monitor in order to control them. Once you have that mapped out, then you need to inventory the available Apex modules to ensure you have the needed features. My Apex Hardware Overview article is a good starting point:

I have read many of the tutorials, threads here (including several of yours) and on Neptunes site, and numerous videos. I feel I have a good understanding of the programing and what each will do but I have never done it. Most times once I start with actually doing it something new I find there are things I wanted to do I can't or things I did there were better ways to do it. With the apex it seems there are multiple way to do the same thing. Things like do I need sensors in my dosing containers or if the system can keep track and notify me. I have seen both but not real clear. Also there are 24v ports. is it better to use these or use an outlet. I am at the stage I need to start mapping the system out. I was just looking for some opinions of users of what they feel are the best ways for each task.
 

SuncrestReef

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I have read many of the tutorials, threads here (including several of yours) and on Neptunes site, and numerous videos. I feel I have a good understanding of the programing and what each will do but I have never done it. Most times once I start with actually doing it something new I find there are things I wanted to do I can't or things I did there were better ways to do it. With the apex it seems there are multiple way to do the same thing. Things like do I need sensors in my dosing containers or if the system can keep track and notify me. I have seen both but not real clear. Also there are 24v ports. is it better to use these or use an outlet. I am at the stage I need to start mapping the system out. I was just looking for some opinions of users of what they feel are the best ways for each task.

The DOS can display the amount it delivers each day, but those values cannot be used in the programming to warn you or stop the dosing when the reservoir is empty unless you have a sensor that detects it's low. The DDR has built-in optical sensors for this purpose, or you can buy a DIY kit on Ebay if you want to use your own dosing reservoir. One thing to be aware of with the DDR is that it's made of acrylic, so it's not compatible with any alcohol-based additives such as NoPox which will cause the acrylic to crack.

The 24v ports on the EB832 are handy for any devices that run on 24v since it eliminates the need for a 24v power adapter. If you use the 24v port on the FMM module, it will require the FMM's optional 24v power adapter.

Other tips off the top of my head:
  • Don't program anything important based on the Salinity probe readings. The probes are pretty sensitive to electrical interference, air bubbles, or detritus and can easily provide inaccurate readings. It's best used just to observe salinity trends over time rather than instantaneous readings to control devices.
  • Optical sensors and float switches can have momentary changes if the water surface has any waves or turbulence. Always use a Defer timer when monitoring these switches to force it to wait for a consistent reading before making any programming decisions.
  • When programming an output based on multiple conditions (for example, temperature, time, switch readings, etc) be sure to make a chart of all the possible combinations of conditions so you can analyze how the output will react. It's easy to overlook a combination you hadn't thought of which could produce undesired results.
  • Rename every module, input, and output with descriptive names rather than the factory default names. It will make programming and troubleshooting much easier. Inputs are limited to 6 characters, so be creative with abbreviations. Output names can be up to 12 characters long, and module names can be up to 11 characters long
  • Use the Fusion Tasks where possible rather than creating programming from scratch. You can always go into the Task-generated programming to customize it later.
  • When mounting your equipment, be sure to make cables accessible for routine maintenance or replacement. Don't zip-tie all the cables into a neat bundle because you'll make it very difficult when it comes time to swap out a failed pump or other device.
  • Label both ends of every cable.
  • Save a backup of your Apex configuration any time you make a significant change. Follow my instructions here: https://www.reef2reef.com/threads/apex-users-public-service-announcement.622847/
 
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rcpalmer1

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Thanks. That is a lot of good points.

I see a lot of control boards with modules mounted on the outside. Is there a benefit to this? I would prefer not to have a dozen different blue lights.
I know fire code says not to plug a power strip into another power stip. I have read were some suggest to plug all power heads into one outlet on the eb832 as long as the combined is under 800 watts. Then have the 0-10 control the on and off. Any opinions on this?
I dose BRS Soda Ash and Cacium, and Tropic Marin part C. I seen where the BRS 360 was using the Vera pumps instead of the DOS. They would be $150 cheaper. Does anyone have any experience with apex and these pumps?
I currently have generic usb auto feeders. Does anyone have any experience with them and Apex?
 
Fritz

SuncrestReef

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Thanks. That is a lot of good points.

I see a lot of control boards with modules mounted on the outside. Is there a benefit to this? I would prefer not to have a dozen different blue lights.
I know fire code says not to plug a power strip into another power stip. I have read were some suggest to plug all power heads into one outlet on the eb832 as long as the combined is under 800 watts. Then have the 0-10 control the on and off. Any opinions on this?
I dose BRS Soda Ash and Cacium, and Tropic Marin part C. I seen where the BRS 360 was using the Vera pumps instead of the DOS. They would be $150 cheaper. Does anyone have any experience with apex and these pumps?
I currently have generic usb auto feeders. Does anyone have any experience with them and Apex?

I don't think there's much actual advantage by mounting the modules on a control board, aside from things being neatly organized. Some of these boards would make it more difficult to access the cables during times of maintenance or troubleshooting. I just have mine mounted to the interior cabinet walls on my Reefer 425XL.

I'm no expert in fire code, but I'd guess a lot of codes are generally broken by many aquarium systems for having unprotected electronics in close proximity to saltwater. One thing to know about the EnergyBars is that they do not have any built-in surge protection, so it's common to have the EB plugged into either a surge protector power strip or a UPS backup battery that also provides surge protection. That's essentially the same as what you're describing with plugging multiple powerheads into a powerstrip and then into the EB.

For your dosing question, the big advantage of the DOS over non-Apex dosing pumps is its integration with the Trident, so the dosing can by dynamically adjusted based on Trident test results, giving you unattended automation of your dosing to keep things stable. The Apex can work with any dosing pump, but adjusting the dosing amounts is typically based on how long or how frequently the Apex turns the dosing pump on and off. That requires you to accurately program it. The DOS on the other hand will calculate all the programming for you.

For your autofeeder question, it depends on whether the feeder automatically runs when it's powered on. If it is, then it would behave just like Neptune's AFS.
 

rmay6850

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Today my answer would be one that works. Haven’t been able to connect to Fusion for 1 1/2 days...
Everything is running obviously but still frustrating.
 
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rcpalmer1

rcpalmer1

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I don't think there's much actual advantage by mounting the modules on a control board, aside from things being neatly organized
That what I was thinking. I have about 18" between the tank and the wall. I am thinking of using PVC sheet to make a cabinet about 4 inches deep with a mount on top for a fire table and a shelf on the bottom for the trident. I will have slots or holes down the side to be able to easily run wires. Then mount everything inside.

I know Ecotec makes a lot of Apex ready gear. I was hoping their new pump was. It is a variable speed stepper pump like the dos. The only difference is they sell the pumps separately so I would not have to buy 4 pumps to dose 3 components. I currently dose once an hour. The only time I have to modify my dose is when I remove some larger colonies. I would not wanting the trident to change my dose.

Has anyone had experience with an Apex and versa pumps?
 
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