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Noob to hydro, first attempt at NFT system


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  #21  
Old 02-16-2016, 06:03 PM
brandonbelew brandonbelew is offline
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Hello brandonbelew,

Any drain/overflow line needs to have air coming in from above the water line. I attached some examples. Air pockets can form in the overflow line causing all kinds of weird things to happen. If there is a air intake in the overflow line above the water level, it allows the water to flow down freely.

Have you ever stuck a straw in a drink and put your thumb over the top opening, then pulled the straw out of the drink. The liquid stays in the straw, as soon as you take your thumb off the top allowing air in the tube, the liquid flows freely out the bottom. By adding an air intake in the overflow line you accomplish the same effect.

P.S.
So what was the temperature of the water before you added the heater? You never did say, you just said you weren't monitoring it and didn't know.
Thanks, i'll have to get creative and do something like this. Right now I just have a 90 degree coming out of the end of cap to tubing running to the reservoir.

I ran to walmart and couldn't find a remote probe temperature sensor, they remodelled our walmart and nothing is in any kind of logical place.... so I never took a measurement. I just put the heater in to regulate it. Just by the feel of the water though it doesn't feel much warmer than it was before the heater.


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Old 02-16-2016, 07:03 PM
GpsFrontier GpsFrontier is offline
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Just change the 90 degree connector to a "T" connector. You can also just drill a small hole in the top of the elbow connector (90 degree connector) if you have to, but water can leak out the hole sometimes. That's why I switched to using "T" connectors. I still get the 90 degree elbow, but I also get a raised opening to allow air in withough't any chance of water leaking out.

Quote:
I ran to walmart and couldn't find a remote probe temperature sensor,
I don't know if I somehow led you to believe you need a remote probe temperature sensor, but If I did I'm sorry. You don't need anything of the sort. You can if you want to spend the money, and want to get fancy. But all you need is a small basic glass aquarium thermometer from anywhere that sells pet supplies. I get them at Wal-Mart for $2.

Never rely on how the water feels (at least until you have enough experience). In your case buying a aquarium heater may have been a waste of money. Why? Because you didn't use a thermometer. When I asked you what the water temp was, I purposely didn't go into detail about water temperature because I didn't know if it was an issue for you. Or if it was out of range if it was to low or to high. I was waiting for you to tell me what the temperature was before I replayed about it. Again because you don't rely on guessing, you use a thermometer.

The human body is around 98.6 degrees. When you rely on touch to tell temp all your really able to tell is if the water temp is above or below 98.6 degrees. So even if the water seems cool to the touch, it can still be to high, and withough't a lot of experience you wont even be close guessing what the temp is by touch. You need a thermometer.

I just wrote this article on nutrient solution temperature Nutrient Solution Temperature is Important
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Old 02-16-2016, 08:17 PM
brandonbelew brandonbelew is offline
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I needed a new heater anyways, the one I'm using now was oversized for my fish tank. So I bought a smaller one for my tank.

I just wanted a remote probe sensor, so I don't have to open the reservoir, or remove a plant to get the temperature.

Plus I do IT for a living, I can't stand buying analog

In fact this time next year I'll probably have gone full nerd and built a remote monitoring suite either with usb sensors and a cheap computer or with something like raspberry pi.
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Old 02-16-2016, 10:58 PM
GpsFrontier GpsFrontier is offline
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Hello brandonbelew,

Quote:
Plus I do IT for a living, I can't stand buying analog
Analog is always far superior to no-log at all..

Quote:
In fact this time next year I'll probably have gone full nerd and built a remote monitoring suite either with usb sensors and a cheap computer or with something like raspberry pi.
It's nice to have money burning a hole in your pocket, but do you really want to pay $10 to grow one strawberry when you can buy them at the store for $2-$3 a pound? Perhaps I'm missing the point, but for me it's about being economical as well as successful, not seeing how much money I can spend doing it.
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Old 02-16-2016, 11:03 PM
brandonbelew brandonbelew is offline
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Hello brandonbelew,


Analog is always far superior to no-log at all..


It's nice to have money burning a hole in your pocket, but do you really want to pay $10 to grow one strawberry when you can buy them at the store for $2-$3 a pound? Perhaps I'm missing the point, but for me it's about being economical as well as successful, not seeing how much money I can spend doing it.
I spend money on things I enjoy. Gardening I never really enjoyed, hydroponics I do. I also enjoy programming. If I can merge hobbies, it makes that hobby that much more enjoyable.
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Old 02-16-2016, 11:37 PM
GpsFrontier GpsFrontier is offline
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I understand combining an interest to make things more enjoyable. Alao maybe for you it's more about the experiment and learning than the actual product. With your skills and background, I can easily see why you would make that jump right away before you have even successfully grown a plant. Your mind just works that way. I even get wanting to design a automated system, I've contemplated it myself. But I still don't get intentionally paying $10 to grow one strawberry when you can buy them far cheaper. You even asked about "Affordable" strawberry nutrients, so I naturally figured you were interested in growing your plants economically. For me an automated system would have to have a much larger purpose to be economical and practical, like controlling multiple (half dozen or more) LARGE systems etc. Otherwise it just doesn't pay for itself and isn't practical. For me the money would be much more useful being allocated to buying more nutrients and building more systems to grow more plants. That gives me a return on my investment, I cant eat electronics.

But then again, I do enjoy gardening and watching my plants grow, so I take the time to observe my plants. That tells me as much as any automated system would. Observation is free, thus won't break the bank. Really the only time an automated system is practical is if you simply don't have the time to observe the plants yourself because you have too much to do, and don't have time to actually observe and tend to the plants regularity. Then an automated system can be set to monitor parameters, and notify you when something's wrong. That's why large hydroponic farms use automated systems, to monitor the routine functions and reduce labor costs (practical and economical). But I understand that you don't enjoy watching plants grow, so interrogating your interest of computers with the plants makes it more enjoyable for you, even when it's not necessary or economical.

I took up hydroponics because it's economical and practicable. Growing hydroponically makes much better use of space, allows you to grow where you normally wouldn't, uses far less water and resources. As for the belief "growing hydroponically is expensive," well that's a myth perpetuated by hydroponics manufactures and largely enabled by the pot growers through the fundamental laws of supply and demand. But when done right and economical sources for supply's are sourced out, growing hydroponically is cheaper than growing in soil. Those are the things I get from hydroponics. Do what makes you happy, as long as you enjoy what your doing it's worth it.
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Last edited by GpsFrontier; 02-17-2016 at 07:37 AM.
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  #27  
Old 02-17-2016, 03:03 PM
brandonbelew brandonbelew is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GpsFrontier View Post
I understand combining an interest to make things more enjoyable. Alao maybe for you it's more about the experiment and learning than the actual product. With your skills and background, I can easily see why you would make that jump right away before you have even successfully grown a plant. Your mind just works that way. I even get wanting to design a automated system, I've contemplated it myself. But I still don't get intentionally paying $10 to grow one strawberry when you can buy them far cheaper. You even asked about "Affordable" strawberry nutrients, so I naturally figured you were interested in growing your plants economically. For me an automated system would have to have a much larger purpose to be economical and practical, like controlling multiple (half dozen or more) LARGE systems etc. Otherwise it just doesn't pay for itself and isn't practical. For me the money would be much more useful being allocated to buying more nutrients and building more systems to grow more plants. That gives me a return on my investment, I cant eat electronics.

But then again, I do enjoy gardening and watching my plants grow, so I take the time to observe my plants. That tells me as much as any automated system would. Observation is free, thus won't break the bank. Really the only time an automated system is practical is if you simply don't have the time to observe the plants yourself because you have too much to do, and don't have time to actually observe and tend to the plants regularity. Then an automated system can be set to monitor parameters, and notify you when something's wrong. That's why large hydroponic farms use automated systems, to monitor the routine functions and reduce labor costs (practical and economical). But I understand that you don't enjoy watching plants grow, so interrogating your interest of computers with the plants makes it more enjoyable for you, even when it's not necessary or economical.

I took up hydroponics because it's economical and practicable. Growing hydroponically makes much better use of space, allows you to grow where you normally wouldn't, uses far less water and resources. As for the belief "growing hydroponically is expensive," well that's a myth perpetuated by hydroponics manufactures and largely enabled by the pot growers through the fundamental laws of supply and demand. But when done right and economical sources for supply's are sourced out, growing hydroponically is cheaper than growing in soil. Those are the things I get from hydroponics. Do what makes you happy, as long as you enjoy what your doing it's worth it.
Just to clarify I wouldn't be making an automated system, i'd be making a monitoring suite. So I could for example pull and display on a website the current and historical readings of pH, TDS, temperature, humidity, total dissolved oxygen, etc. Yes it could be done the manual way, but to me what's the fun in that? I enjoy building things, and am normally terribly inpatient. So sometimes I need something to occupy my time while waiting for others to develop so I don't lose interest.

As far as my request for economical nutrients. The reason I can afford to nerd out in some areas is because I save in others.

Lets face it, with the purchase of lights, wood, pipe, pump, reservoir, nutrients, etc. This crop of strawberries will be expensive. But going forward they shouldn't be. Unless I decide to change out lights or something along those lines, which ultimately wouldn't be wasteful either since my wife would just use my fluorescent lights for her seedlings each year.

And as far as spending my time/resources growing more plants instead of going full nerd, i'm limited on space. I built my setup with the full intention of being kicked out of that space once we have another kid. So I needed to build something small enough I could move elsewhere in the house. In my most recent re-design I did maximize my space though and can double my current number of plants fairly easily in the same footprint.

Last edited by brandonbelew; 02-17-2016 at 03:07 PM.
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  #28  
Old 02-19-2016, 09:56 AM
brandonbelew brandonbelew is offline
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I took some temperature readings yesterday. It's been pretty warm in Kansas the last couple days, actually had to turn on my AC yesterday. Water temp in the reservoir and in the tubes hovers between 74 and 75.
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Old 02-19-2016, 05:40 PM
GpsFrontier GpsFrontier is offline
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Hello brandonbelew,
That temperature (74-75) is just fine. The optimum temp range is between 68 and 72-75, but your still fine if it's between 60 and 80. Below 60 will inhibit growth, and above 80 heat stress begins.

P.S.
Ya, I knew this round of strawberry plants was not going to pay for itself with just 10 plants growing. And unless that variety of strawberry plants bloom and fruit all at once rather than spread over it's life cycle, you will be hard pressed to even get enough fresh strawberry's to make a couple of strawberry shortcakes for dessert. You would need to be growing 30+ strawberry plants for that. But I know you said your wife was growing some in soil as well. Typically strawberry plants will produce between 1 to 2 lbs of strawberry plants over it's summer life cycle (4 months). For me it takes about 1/2 lb of strawberry's to make one strawberry shortcake.

Wont' your wife allow you to grow outside in natural sunlight, so you can eliminate the cost of lighting? Even if it's only in an area she doesn't use much (side of the house, patio, back of the garage etc..)?
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Old 02-19-2016, 05:52 PM
brandonbelew brandonbelew is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GpsFrontier View Post
Hello brandonbelew,
That temperature (74-75) is just fine. The optimum temp range is between 68 and 72-75, but your still fine if it's between 60 and 80. Below 60 will inhibit growth, and above 80 heat stress begins.

P.S.
Ya, I knew this round of strawberry plants was not going to pay for itself with just 10 plants growing. And unless that variety of strawberry plants bloom and fruit all at once rather than spread over it's life cycle, you will be hard pressed to even get enough fresh strawberry's to make a couple of strawberry shortcakes for dessert. You would need to be growing 30+ strawberry plants for that. But I know you said your wife was growing some in soil as well. Typically strawberry plants will produce between 1 to 2 lbs of strawberry plants over it's summer life cycle (4 months). For me it takes about 1/2 lb of strawberry's to make one strawberry shortcake.

Wont' your wife allow you to grow outside in natural sunlight, so you can eliminate the cost of lighting? Even if it's only in an area she doesn't use much (side of the house, patio, back of the garage etc..)?
I ordered some pineberries bare root plants today, so with them going i'll get 20 plants total. White strawberries with a mixed flavor of pineapple and strawberry seems like my type of fruit.

I also invested my birthday money and bought a 600W HPS/MH light setup. I'll pass the fluorescents down to my wife, she needs more space to get her seeds started for her outdoor garden.

As far as growing outside, she is growing strawberries outside as well. Or will be as soon as the temperature is right. I don't think we'll have an issue with the number of berries, between both of our gardens. I'd let the plants die if I grew them outside, I hate all forms of yard work, so weeding is out for me.

I expect a couple of my plants to die, as they die i'm going to swap them out for day neutrals to get more berries throughout the year. This is really my test crop being my first year, i'll add to them and swap things out as I go.

Plus I could probably squeeze in another couple rows if I moved my tubes closer together, and could add a dutch bucket system as well to the side if necessary. I have plenty of pumping capacity, and apparently plenty of lights now too.
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Old 02-19-2016, 06:22 PM
GpsFrontier GpsFrontier is offline
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When I mentioned growing outside, I didn't mean in soil. I meant growing plants in a hydro system outside.

P.S. With a 600 watt HID you can easily cover a 225 (15x15) square foot area. More if the sides had plants in a vertical system. However I would have went with 4, 150 watt bulbs. That would give a wider footprint (coverage area) like a 20x20 area, and better overall (even) coverage because the light is coming from 4 directions spread out, instead of just one point. It would also be more versatile, in case you decide to grow in different spaces, or smaller areas and don't need a 600 watt light.
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Old 02-19-2016, 07:39 PM
brandonbelew brandonbelew is offline
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Too many animals and pests around for my liking. My wife put up fencing around her garden plot, but I doubt it'll even be enough to keep the pesky neighborhood cats, dogs out, as well as the occasional deer.

I figured 600W would be enough on the light. It's dimmable, so I can turn it down if necessary. I doubt i'll need to expand out any further than my 4x4 area now. We don't have a ton of space and as soon as we have another kid my current space will go away. I'll have to find somewhere else in the house to put it, and hope the cat doesn't decide to eat it.
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Old 02-19-2016, 08:08 PM
GpsFrontier GpsFrontier is offline
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Have you ever thought about planting some catnip in the neighbors yard to keep the cats away???

Since I already went to the trouble of creating the drawings, may as well post them. I attached a couple of drawings of to help visualize what I mean by better coverage using multiple light fixtures with lower wattage, compared to a single fixture with a higher wattage.
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Old 02-19-2016, 08:27 PM
brandonbelew brandonbelew is offline
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I've been thinking about making some reflective panels to go around the outside of my grow box, to keep the light in. Heat would become an issue then I fear. The HPS might put off too much heat as is. I'm going to have to get creative on the cooling in that room if it does. There is only one floor vent in there.
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Old 02-20-2016, 02:45 PM
brandonbelew brandonbelew is offline
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My new light came in today

It came with a MH and HPS, I figured starting with the MH would be the best course of action to promote the plants vegetative growth, then switch over to the HPS when they get bigger.

I also put a fan in the room, as I assume this thing will increase the temperature a bit.

Also started monitoring humidify, it's been sitting at 50-60% in the room.

Do you think I should have my light higher or lower? It's a 600W light, 67,000 lumens on the MH.

Thanks!
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Old 02-20-2016, 06:34 PM
GpsFrontier GpsFrontier is offline
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3-4 feet from the plants should be fine as long as it's not to hot for the plants. A 600 watt bulb puts out more heat than a standard 400 watt bulb. You want the air temp at the plants foliage to be between 80 and 90 (preferably 80-85). Well at least for most varieties of strawberry's. There are cool weather (northern) varieties that don't tolerate heat well and would prefer temps closer to 75-80, and varieties that do tolerate heat that will do fine up to 100 degrees. It depends on what varieties you have.
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Old 02-22-2016, 12:17 PM
brandonbelew brandonbelew is offline
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Thanks! I moved the lights down as close as possible. It's an air cooled hood, so I was able to move it a bit closer ( it's about 3' give or take a few inches ). The issue i'm running into now is the light is heating up my nutrient tank, it was sitting at 80 yesterday when I checked.

I picked up a sheet of insulation and put it between the tank and light to see if that would make a difference.

I'm also going to have to change the angle of my light I think. I have the lamp facing the same direction as the plants now but the reflector doesn't seem to be putting out the same amount of light on the edges as the middle and i'm overshooting the tubes in the opposite direction. So i'm thinking about rotating the light.

The plants seem to be loving the new light though. They are starting to bush up a bit more than they were previously with the T5's. The plants on the ends are leaning towards the light which is why I want to rotate it.

Last edited by brandonbelew; 02-22-2016 at 04:15 PM.
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Old 02-22-2016, 07:29 PM
GpsFrontier GpsFrontier is offline
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Now you see why I would have opted for using multiple lights points for a more even coverage, rather than a single light source. But still a 600 watt light should be plenty for the small 4x4 foot space your trying to cover. If raising the light up to cover the area better works, you shouldn't have any problem with light intensity (lumen drop) with that 600 watt bulb as long as you don't go beyond 4 feet. But if you can rotate it for better coverage and get it at 3 feet, that would be even better.

Direct heat from the lamp to the reservoir can be a problem in itself like you mentioned, but the reservoir temps will usually be close to the ambient air temperature even if you block heat from the lamp. In other words if the light is raising the ambient air temperature in the room, it can indirectly raise the reservoir temperature through the air temperature as well.
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Old 02-22-2016, 08:58 PM
brandonbelew brandonbelew is offline
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I don't think the ambient temperature will be too much of an issue come summer when the AC runs for 12+ hours a day. Right now it will only run for maybe an hour a day, if that. My backup plan is to run 6" flex duct to the nearest window and exhaust the heat from it.

For now I bought a couple one liter bottles i'm going to freeze and put in during the hot part of the day to see if I can maintain 70 ish on the temperature without cooling it too much.
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Old 02-23-2016, 05:37 AM
GpsFrontier GpsFrontier is offline
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I know the plants aren't really big enough to be drinking much water right now, so you don't want to dilute your nutrient solution as the ice melts. But when they get bigger and start drinking up more water, you can just replace the water their drinking daily with ice blocks. That at way you can do both (add ice and water) at the same time, thus help keep the nutrient solution cool, while topping off the water volume.

P.S.
Depending on how much ice you add daily (frozen water volume), you may want to pH adjust the water before you freeze it. If not, it can change your nutrient solution pH. Depending on the pH of the water source and volume of water your adding in ice daily, it can change the pH fairly quickly. If you pH adjust the water before you freeze it, you won't have that problem. To make it easier, I'll pH adjust about 5 gallons of water at a time, then freeze it a few blocks at a time (using cleaned out butter or whip cream tubs) until I'm out of room. Then just use the ice blocks as I need them, and their already pH adjusted. There's been a few times I have even frozen nutrient solution, so when I added the ice it also added some more nutrients to the reservoir. I did so because I wanted all the water I added back to be ice because I needed the cooling effect, but I also wanted to add some nutrient solution back as well. So I just froze it first.

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