OFF GRID & SOLAR POWERED…!

OFF GRID & SOLAR POWERED…!

May 1, 2016

I live in central Florida near the coast where we get plenty of sunshine.  After completing my Aquaponics system I wanted to have a backup for when the power goes out. So I figured that solar power is a good way to go here. We have been lucky for the past six years with no major hurricanes but that is unusual. We have been without power for seven days, five days, three days and so on. Most times it is at least one day so I designed for three days without power. A lot of the following information can apply to wind power as well.  Let me say that working with solar panels and batteries can be dangerous. I have a background in electronics and have certifications from two tech schools and a solar design and installation certification. I think that it is worth it to at least get a certification in solar installation so you know the basics. http://www.sunpirate.com/ If you are unable to do that then please do a thorough study on the subject.  We need to have a great deal of respect for electricity and the dangers of batteries. Let me explain the basics. After getting a certification in solar design and installation I decided to do a small experimental system. I found a small photovoltaic (PV) system on Amazon made by Sunforce.  I added another kit from http://www.harborfreight.com/45-watt-solar-panel-kit-90599.html I just used the panels from the second kit because I didn’t care for their charge controller. It would drain the battery at night.  Before buying anything make sure that you have enough sun in the location of your installation. Six hours of sun without interference from trees or anything that will block the sun from reaching the cells. This is known as “Shading” In my location the panels are oriented to the south.  While I am talking about orientation, it makes sense to mention Azimuth here. The Azimuth is the angle at which the panel is aimed at the sun for maximum power. Watch the sun at different times of the day to see how it tracks across the sky.  In general PV solar panels should be mounted at an angle of...

DO IT YOURSELF…WHY NOT..?

DO IT YOURSELF…WHY NOT..?

Apr 20, 2016

I was a little hard pressed for all the articles I needed to fill all seven slots for this issue but ONE (Rich Feiller came through for me, thanks Rich) so with this particular subject, I decided to do a visual of some of the ingenious ingenuity of others who have the “AQUAPONIC BUG”. Study each graphic carefully to see if you can find an idea therein that you can incorporate into your current operation or to add to your plans for your first project.             BarrelPonics anyone               Maybe the inhouse hobby setup.             Build it yourself inhouse or garage             Or throw up a greenhouse and go large.                   A Do It Yourselfer in action               I sure hope the neighborhood doesn’t miss their bathtubs!               Yes, your fish should definitely help with the watering of the house plants               An example of a well thought out outdoor unit.             Looks a little rough but very functional.  Never saw a raft system using wood as the raft but I guess it works.     I think my favorite of all the possibles displayed is this one.  It utilizes every inch of space which is important when it comes to economy of growing your own food. All graphics courtesy of...

BELL SIPHON vs CISTERN VALVE CONTROL (cvs)

BELL SIPHON vs CISTERN VALVE CONTROL (cvs)

Jan 24, 2016

Some time back I posted an article on using a cistern valve to flush your grow bed. The system has been running for around 12 months and I’ve had some interesting results with it. To explain the background to why I tried the cistern valve. There were only two options for me. The first was to use what I had available and the second was to manufacture my own bell siphon. At the time I had already tried auto siphons with some success but since the pipe I had available was either 1” HDPE or 2” PVC, I was stuck. There were already a few people who had the Cistern Valve Control (CVC) working without much great explanation so a quick trip to the loo to remove the cistern cover revealed all. The CVC has it’s original lid on and has only needed cleaning once in the year. I would have thought there would have been more algae build up in the clear 2L bottle but somehow it keeps ticking. It is the MK2 version and MK1 was build using a white 25L bucket. This now gives trouble almost every day. The white walls of the bucket encourage algae to grow in the bucket. This then blocks the hole in the cap of the 2L bottle. When this happens the system stays on permanent flush. After another trip to the electrical store I became one ¾” PVC pipe richer and I made my own bell siphon by flaring a 1” HDPE pipe to look like a 1” – 1 ¼” reducer. This was fitted onto the ¾” PVC pipe to make a stand pipe. The whole thing fits nicely into a bulk head fitting and is covered by a 75mm diameter Bell inside a 100mm sewer pipe with removable cap. I will openly admit I am far fonder of the CVC but will table the comparison below. Despite being fonder of them, I’m going to replace the CVC with Bell Siphons. Description Cistern Valve Control Bell Siphon Maintenance Regular Almost never Fault Finding Visual on outside Investigation Setting Level Control Set in seconds Trial and Error Minimum Flow Trickle Feed Depends on Stand Pipe...

A DIY TILAPIA PROJECT…!

A DIY TILAPIA PROJECT…!

Jan 13, 2016

“A do it yourself (DIY) Tilapia operation”, that phrase called to me like the mythological Sirens called to Odysseus.  Unlike Odysseus however, when I heard the Sirens’ call, I was free to steer my fish operation onto the rocks. My first misstep was impatience.  During March in Northwest Virginia, the water temperature in an unheated, enclosed tank hovers around 12 degrees Celsius/53.6 degrees Fahrenheit.  Having just sold my last Rainbow Trout as a Lenten meal, I thought I could hasten the transition to Tilapia by raising the fish in the basement.  I read that Tilapia are hardy, how difficult could it be to provide an environment better than their native habitat?  After raising trout, raising Tilapia would be a snap.  It soon became obvious though that I was mistaken; transforming a residential basement into a DIY Tilapia production facility required more than filling a livestock tank with water, adding a bio-filter, and tossing in food as needed. First, there were the fish (or perhaps the lack of them).  I located Blue Tilapia for sale on-line but did not realize that the vendor was taking orders for the prenatal offspring of her breeding fish.  Several weeks passed between the day I paid for the fish and the day they arrived.  I was beginning to suspect a fraud when notice came via email that the fish were available.  UPS notified me to expect a package weighing five pounds.  I thought it incredulous that fifty Tilapia could travel in a container weighing five pounds.  The shipping costs suggested something much larger, military vehicle sized perhaps. When the container arrived, I opened it to discover that the fish looked like the sea-monkeys advertised in comic books decades ago.  They were tiny!  Once in the 75-gallon livestock tank, I could barely see them! My smallest pump is rated at ¼ horsepower so the micro-fish now required a DIY filter that would move water but not fasten them to the intake screen like pins in bulletin board.  I settled on a fabric wrapped, plastic coffee container inserted into a perforated (and weighted) two-gallon bucket.  My DIY filter’s outflow resembled that of a fire hose but the fish seller advised not...

DIY CALCIUM FERTILIZER…

DIY CALCIUM FERTILIZER…

Dec 27, 2015

We eat nutritious plants, but the plants need a starting place for their nutritiousness!  Well, here at DIY Aquaponics we live in the spirit of the DIYer.  With that said, let’s tart with a quick overview of plant nutrients. Macronutrients We are all familiar with fertilizers from the store with printed numbers like 20-20-20 on the front.  And maybe, one might even know the numbers stand for the N-P-K or the nitrogen-phosphorous-potassium concentration of the fertilizer.  Fertilizers are labeled in this manner because plants require these nutrients in large quantities, or macronutrients.  Interestingly, there are 3 lesser known macronutrients: magnesium (Mg), sulphur (S), and calcium (Ca). Aside from Potassium, Calcium may be one of the hardest nutrients to provide our plants in Aquaponics.  There are a collection of calcium supplies offered in the marketplace.  The most prevalent varieties include calcium nitrate, calcium chloride or calcium acetate (Tourte, & Faber, 2011).  Most of us are searching for organic solutions or at a minimum fertilizer solutions to supplement our plants that won’t harm the fish or bacteria.  So, how do we do this? Method to My Madness There are plenty of ways to add calcium to your system, but I would like to propose an inventive solution that is empowering by giving you control of the fertilizer creation process and best of all, it’s cheap!  This method is organic, but some may have slightly different opinions. Method Relevant chemical reactions: CaCO3 + 2CH3COOH = Ca (CH3COO)2 + CO2 + H2O Materials Needed: Eggshells (cleaned) Table vinegar, clear and distilled (3-5% acetic acid) Small container First, clean and crush some eggshells. The more you crush them the faster they will dissolve, but don’t worry about crushing them into a fine dust. Just crunch them in your hand a few times, this is enough. Alternatively, you can use old seashells, clam shells, or oyster shells, but the amount of vinegar will be different and it’s a lot harder to crush some of these meaning they will take longer to dissolve in some cases. Now, for every egg shell use 1 cup of vinegar. Pour the vinegar into a container, preferably glass. Add the eggshells and let it sit...

WHERE DO I START..?

WHERE DO I START..?

Dec 13, 2015

Some time back I was visiting a hardscape contractor and longtime friend at his storage yard. While there I couldn’t help but notice the menagerie of containers with veggies and flowers growing out of them. There was an old bathtub, some buckets, a couple of metal troughs, and some black plastic pots among other things. Actually except for the good looking plants growing out of them it look pretty much like a section of the city dump. I noticed that each of the containers had a small tube going to it from large container which turned out to be his reservoir. I had seen Hydroponics before, but, it didn’t resemble anything like this. My friend told me it was his Hydroponics garden and I should try it. He referred me to his favorite store. I need to mention up front that there are stores I do not visit, not because I don’t like the stores, just the opposite, I can rationalize my need for just about anything! I did go to the Hydroponics store and it had shelf after shelf of bottles of magic formulas for doing the near impossible with growing plants, mainly one species of plant; marijuana. I was overwhelmed by what I saw in that store, so much so that I did not go back to that store for some time. A few months passed before I returned to the store but when I did go back the store was gone. I was kind of relieved, because unless I was going to grow marijuana, my crop of veggies and flowers would never pay for the nutrients and tech equipment they sold. .I had decided since my goal is to retire within two years and since I will be on a fixed income (love that term) I needed to become self-sustaining. That meant raising my own veggies and I needed help with that so I called up my contractor friend because he still had his JUNKYARDPONICS going. He redirected me to another very well stocked Hydroponics store. Now to digress a moment, I Googled Hydroponics and was totally overwhelmed by the number of hits there were and not only that but the different variations...