I recently concluded a couple upgrades to the hydroponics rig.
1) Conversion from constant-flow to fill-and-drain
I read various internet post about some of the benefits of fill-and-drain design over the constant-flow design. Each has its merits, but I like the idea of servicing drained planters, and managing the nutrient liquid when all liquid is in the basin. This is the case when the pump is off in a flood-and-drain system.
To implement this, I devised and deployed check valves as shown in this diagram:
Here’s a close up of a check valve:
For detailed information about this solution, see this instructable.
2) New nutrient management system
The two 5-gallon buckets I’d been using had too low a capacity in both water and flow handling. I replaced them with a 20 gallon trash can from Home Depot. For the plumbing, I constructed a rig (drawing in progress, just below) which is submerged in the can.
Altogether, much nicer to uses maintain
Phase 2 Pic
Note that the aforementioned check valves are denoted by the three yellow drawn boxes along the right edge.
Phase 3 plans
- Move the connective plumbing from each planters end-caps to the tops and bottoms of the planter pipes. (See first drawing way above for sample new positions.)
- Optimize some of the plumbing on top of the basin.
- Experiment with “triple layer” planter pipes to keep light out of the planter interior.
Phase 4 ideas
- Add an automatic water refill mechanism. (Toilet float type.) This involves getting pressurized water to system vicinity.
- Implement automatic nutrient testing and dosing.
Thanks for reading!