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Old 03-09-2011, 08:41 AM   #31 (permalink)
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Default Re: Automatic water change system design DIY

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Originally Posted by RSidetrack View Post
While I have the stuff in front of me, for the water emptying circuit:

You will need:
A/C Power Cord
5.7v 800mA power supply (or close to it)
Outlet of some sort (to plug in emptying pump, you may hardwire if you wish, I just wanted easy removal)
OEG OJ-SS-109TM Relay
A diode (unfortunately numbers are worn off mine :-/)
Resistor (Mine is Gold, Orange, Black Brown)

I was trying to type out how to build, but too complicated. Will have to get a picture when done. If you are good with electronics you might be able to make what I provided work.

My brother is the electronic genius that came up with this system, I am just a computer nerd . I am not good with electronic lingo, etc, or how stuff actually works
Thanks! I think I can get one working. Come to think of it, this is basically the exact same thing as a water sensor that you would buy off ebay. It might even be cheaper to make these and wire them all into the same relay. That way if one water sensor triggers on any of the tanks then it shuts off all incoming water to all the tanks, until the problem is fixed. Wire in a little light bulb or buzzer to the relay as well and you can be alerted to the problem as well.
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Old 03-10-2011, 12:41 PM   #32 (permalink)
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Default Re: Automatic water change system design DIY

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What causes your electrodes to malfunction exactly? Is it corrosion or sludge/algae build up? It might be worth it to have a look at some of the other metals out there. I have heard that some are ani-microbial and do not tarnish.
The electrodes corrode - but it is just copper wire so it isn't a surprise. I have been considering looking at other metals. Aluminum may be a good choice as well, but it could get the build up. I will have to look for the anti-microbial stuff.

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You might also want to add small plastic float valves (from ebay) to your design. They will prevent incoming water into the tank if the overflow and the electronics fail. They will be a third safeguard. I think I might add your electronic safety system to mine for a third fail safe .
Not a bad idea - I am trying to not have too much clutter, but better than having gallons on the floor

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As a side note there are actually water sensors / water alarms that are available on ebay for about 7 bucks each. They could be useful as a fourth safety feature or an alert system. They could probably be wired into your preexisting electronic system or my solenoid/drainage system.
My problem is when I am not home a sensor isn't the best thing to alert me. I think just having a bunch of safe guards and monitoring and testing them monthly is the best way to avoid catastrophe.

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Just make sure that 3 isn't too close to the bottom of 1 since the water level in the tank drains down to the level of 3. So if 1 is a very long pipe that sits near the bottom of your tank and you put 3 just above the bottom of 1 then your whole tank remains unfilled.
I got one working nicely now . Thanks for all your help on this.


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What I did before I had the aqualifter is I snaked an air bubbler tube into 1 and made sure the tube reached the U joint between 1 and 2 while the overflow sat in the tank. Then I sucked out the air by mouth until I saw water in the tube. Then I removed the tube. If you install an aqualifter there you don't have to suck out the air by mouth, you can just run the pump and it removes the air for you.
Okay - I will do this for now until I get the pump you suggested below

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Yeah I agree, I think it would be safer to buy a separate pump for the job rather then using your canister filter. Getting airtube line connected securely to 1/2" filter line is difficult since the fittings are impossible to find at local hardware stores. Also, there might be unforeseen consequences to having multiple intakes into the filter.

The one I am using is Aqua Lifter, Aqualifter Pump by Tom AW-20 Drip/Dose. They are about $14.


Thanks!
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Old 03-10-2011, 12:43 PM   #33 (permalink)
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Default Re: Automatic water change system design DIY

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Originally Posted by Zapins View Post
Thanks! I think I can get one working. Come to think of it, this is basically the exact same thing as a water sensor that you would buy off ebay. It might even be cheaper to make these and wire them all into the same relay. That way if one water sensor triggers on any of the tanks then it shuts off all incoming water to all the tanks, until the problem is fixed. Wire in a little light bulb or buzzer to the relay as well and you can be alerted to the problem as well.
Yea it isn't a complicated design. I do like it because water is replaced rather than diluted. I have mine set up to do a 10% change daily. It isn't bad, but I do have to keep dosing with salt as my sharks need a little bit.

As far as expense, very cheap, just a couple bucks for everything.
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Old 03-13-2011, 03:41 PM   #34 (permalink)
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Default Re: Automatic water change system design DIY

@Zapins

in theory...couldnt you just extend part 1 farther down into the tank? that way, the water level drains to the height of tube 3 but never risks the water level falling below the entrance to tube 1 and sucking any air

also...with the hole in tube 3...if the hole is open, you have an overflow that stays level with tube 3...with the hole plugged...you create an autosiphon that will drain your tank to the bottom of tube 1

controlling whether the hole in 3 is open or closed essentially is the difference between an overflow control and a water change mechanism no?
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Old 03-13-2011, 09:24 PM   #35 (permalink)
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Default Re: Automatic water change system design DIY

Yep, you have the right idea killa. Tube 1 can be as long as you like really, but it can't be shorter then where the water line sits in tube 3.

If you closed tube 3 it wouldn't siphon because there is still an air pocket in the bend above tube 3. You'd have to use a tube and suck out the air pocket above tube 3 and between 1 and 2 for a siphon to work. But if you put a second aqualift pump above 3 to suck out the air then it would work as a water change mechanism very nicely. I actually never though of using it like this.

You know this opens up the possibility of making a really simple water changer.

You'd need 2 aqualifters, the overflow pipes and a float valve. You could just put the aqualifter on 3 on a timer and have it suck out the air bubble whenever you want to drain the tank, then the float valve would fall and fill the tank up as its draining.

There seem to be so many variations on making an auto-water change system. I'm surprised more people don't have them.
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Old 03-13-2011, 11:06 PM   #36 (permalink)
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Default Re: Automatic water change system design DIY

i gotta try it to be certain...but i respectfully disagree good sir

if done correctly...there isnt an air pocket between 1 and 2 (really ever) which means you focus on the air pocket in tube 3....if the water is filled slowly...it will trickle over 3 and just drain slowly

however, if you fill it quickly...water will spill over 3 and create a siphon as it travels down

much like your toilet (most common autosiphon)...if you fill with water slowly (a broken float), it will never overflow as any excess water simply trickles over ...but if you dump water in quickly (empty the tank), it drains the entire bowl until it can suck air/break the siphon or runs out of water

the only difference here is that you cant [easily] "reprime" the overflow if you drain it to the bottom...the reason that you need the hole in tube 3 is to "break" the siphon as its easier to draw/compress air than it is to move water

i may look into this tho for an "easy" way to do EI dosing's 50% water changes on a larger tank (when I get one)

...gotta get a pen/paper to think this thru first tho

question...is the aqualifter a simple air pump? or can it pump water as well?

**EDIT**

nvm...its a nice little diaphragm pump...wish I saw this earlier (for a different project) but it could definitely work now with 1 aqualifter and 1 check valve

Last edited by killacross; 03-14-2011 at 05:13 AM..
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Old 03-15-2011, 02:41 PM   #37 (permalink)
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Default Re: Automatic water change system design DIY

Right, but the pocket between 1 and 2 doesn't stay there permanently. There are dissolved gasses in the water that accumulate between 1 and 2 over time, they eventually prevent water from flowing over from 1 to 2. That is why the aqualifter is necessary there. I initially had no aqualifter and the gas bubbles stopped the overflow from working after about a month, so I added the aqualifters and since then the system has worked without a problem for over a year.

If 3 didn't have a hole in it then you are right, you would get a siphon effect if you removed the air pocket above 3 (either by filling it quickly as you say or by adding an aqualifter to remove the air bubble like I suggested).

If you have 2 aqualifters you can re-prime the overflow since the aqualifters suck air and water up and out of the joints between 1 and 2 and above 3 (the only places where gas accumulates and breaks the overflow). That is the beauty of adding them to the system.

After you mentioned closing the hole at 3 for the siphon effect I thought it was a good idea, because what would happen is the tank would drain down to the bottom and air would be introduced into pipe 1. As the siphon clears all the water from the pipe, air would get sucked into all sections of the overflow. Then after your tank fills with water again (and is prevented from overflowing by float valves that cut off incoming water when the tank is full) your first aqualifter pump is set on a timer to suck the air out of the joint between 1 and 2 (restoring the overflow but not the siphon - because air is still trapped above 3 at this point). When you want the siphon effect to drain the tank again for your next water change you just have the second aqualifter (above 3) on a timer. When the aqualifter removes the air above 3 the siphon is able to drain the tank all the way to the bottom of pipe 1. Thus resetting the whole thing.

The length of tube 1 would simply determine how much water is drained out of the fish tank. If tube 1 is 25% the depth of your tank, then each water change would do a 25% water change on the tank. If the tube is 50% the length of your tank then each cycle would change 50% of the tank water etc...

Of course this whole system relies on you having a good auto-shut off contraption on incoming water. If the float valve, electric switch, etc... malfunctions then you would get water overflowing the tank until the aqualifter timer triggers and restores the overflow. I suppose if you had several redundant methods of stopping incoming water if the overflow isn't working then this kind of system would be dependable.

The aqualifter is able to pump air and water. Its not particularly powerful, but it gets the job done
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Old 09-07-2011, 08:39 AM   #38 (permalink)
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Default Re: Automatic water change system design DIY

Thought I'd chime in seeing I had similar issues with my original water change setup where the overflow would occasionally loose it's prime...

I ended up using a pump to pull water out of the tank and a traditional ATO to fill it back up. Been rock solid for over a year now, very happy with this solution.

Details here:
https://www.aquaticplantcentral.com/f...ted-180-a.html

Regards,
Giancarlo
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Old 09-22-2012, 06:11 PM   #39 (permalink)
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Default Re: Automatic water change system design DIY

Here are my proposed modifications to the system:

1. Non-continuous
Instead of making it a continuous WC system, I opted for a water storage tank where the water could be aged and heated prior to filling the tank. This is a discus tank, so I want to maintain consistent water parameters.

2. Overflows
Instead of making a PVC outflow, I'm going to plumb an emergency overflow directly in the back of the tank. The reason why I labeled it as an "emergency" overflow is because it won't be used very often and it is plumbed directly to a drain.

Water will instead be drained via a pump on a timer directly into the same drain. (Step 1) As a result, the only purpose the overflow serves is to prevent a flood in the event of a failure in the filling system. (Step 2)

3. ATO relays
Instead of one ATO relay, I will have two ATO relays: one in the tank and one in the water storage tank. The ATO relay sensors in the tank will be hooked up to a timer, which will only turn on after the tank has been drained, and only until it fills the tank back up

The ATO system in the water storage tank will also be timed to refill it only after the tank has been refilled. So when the ATO turns on, it will activate the relay switch for the solenoid to open allowing filtered water to refill the water storage tank back to normal levels. The water storage tank, itself, will also have an emergency overflow connected directly to a drain.


With these modifications, the whole automated system works like a cascading chain of events that has to be precisely timed to change out a set amount of water, instead of continuously changing it. As far as I can see, I don't see a chance of flooding with the emergency overflows. I'm hoping maybe you might be able to spot any flaws or places I overlooked that can be improved, assuming everything is setup and fitted properly.

I also wanted to know where did you get the solenoid used in your system and would it be able to handle the pressure from the cold waterline?

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Old 09-23-2012, 02:40 AM   #40 (permalink)
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Default Re: Automatic water change system design DIY

Hello heartnet,

I'm glad my thread was helpful to you. I do have some suggestions and considerations for you about your plans. Also, even though the thread hasn't been active in a while I would still get the update if you had posted there since I am subscribed to it. I think you should copy and paste your message to me into the thread I made since it could help someone else in the future. I will copy and paste my reply there as well after yours goes up.

As for your designs. They seem pretty good however you will want to add a float valve in the tank on the tube that fills up the tank with fresh water. This will prevent a siphon from forming if the storage bin is higher than the tank level. Also if for some reason the float switch on the relay fails (and they do) the pump will keep filling the tank up. You do have an overflow which should be able to drain the tank and prevent flooding if everything goes right, but occasionally those can get clogged or blocked by plants/fish etc... Adding a float valve on the fresh water inlet ensures that if the water ever gets too high it will automatically turn itself off without relying on other devices to prevent flooding.

The same logic applies to the reverse osmosis filter in your diagram. You don't need a 2nd relay to prevent over filling of the storage bin. A simple float valve on the water is enough to prevent the RO system from over filling the storage bin. I also have a second auto water change system that uses RO in a setup very similar to your diagram which uses a float valve to stop the RO system. This will also save you money as relays and float switches are not cheap!

The solenoids I used came from ebay, I think I listed the details and price in the thread somewhere (first or 2nd page I think). They can withstand the pressure from the cold water line. I did have a problem with one of the valves after about 2 years. It seemed to jam in the closed position so the tank it fed was not getting filled. I'm not sure if this is a common problem or a one off with that particular solenoid. Make sure you buy the solenoids that are always in the "off/closed" position when unpowered.

Also, when I made my system I wondered what to do with the waste water. I thought it would be ok to pipe it into the drain, however, I called the building inspector at my local government hall and talked with them about it to be sure. Apparently it is against building codes (illegal) to pipe your waste water into the septic system of your house if your leaching field was not designed to handle the water. The same for draining it into a sewer drain (if I remember correctly). The inspector told me it was legal to drain it outside onto the bare ground or under bushes if they were at least 15 feet from the house so that is what I ended up doing. You may want to check with your local inspector so you don't get cited when they do the 10 year house inspections for tax purposes.

Looking at the picture I almost wonder if you should have a relay & float switches at all in the tank. If you connected a thinner tube to the pump in the water storage bin than the tube that sits in your tank connected to the draining pump #1 (in the picture) your tank would drain faster (1-2 minutes) down to the level of the #1 pump. The storage bin pump (connected to the same timer as the #1 pump) would also be on at the same time, however, it would not take 1-2 minutes to fill the tank but much longer since the tube is much thinner. This setup removes the need for a relay at all in the entire system and uses only 1 timer which also removes one more step that could go wrong, resulting in a safer system that costs less. You would need to put the #1 pump at 50% of the tank's height so that it only drains 50% of the water (it would still be on for a few minutes longer spinning in the air while the 2nd pump in the storage bin fills the tank). This idea is technically a continuous flow system, but since the incoming water fills much slower than the draining water you will be quite efficient about it, not mixing very much new and old water.

In my systems, the only place I use a relay is for the waste water bin. I only use it there since I have all my tanks in the basement and I have to collect the waste water somewhere in order to pump it up and out of the basement to the garden. If your waste water is being taken care of you don't really need relays at all, though you can certainly use them if you really want to. Be sure to buy at least 2 float switches per relay though since if one float switch fails you definitely want a 2nd one there to switch off the relay.
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