Hi everybody !
It took me a couple of weeks of thinking, and a whole weekend to work out everything, but there it is. My sailboat windowfarm is now working on a regulated dripping system since… 5 hours. This one is not plastic-free, but it is electricity-free and if everything works out as planned, the dripping flow will be entirely automated… in between the moments I choose to close it (since there is no timer either on this installation).
By the way, Brian, I tried twice to send you a comment on your last post (Easy way to attach a T-Joint…), because I had a few questions, but nothing would pass. I posted another comment to someone else and it passed. So I don’t know what I did wrong or if you blocked the receiving of comments by mistake. Anyway, thanks a lot for your explanations and drawings. It made things a lot easier.
I’m still looking for a mainly non plastic dripping system for my clay pot windowfarm, so I may come back to the emitter valve (if I can find one somewhere) and glass or metal containers, but this one is my practice, servicing my all plastic sailboat windowfarm.
Photo 1 : While looking for an emitter in my local hydroponic store, the salesman directed me right to this product (which is intended for animal water tanks). At 22,99$ (Canadian), I couldn’t resist long, as he didn’t have the emitter and didn’t seem to know exactly what I was talking about. It ressembles a toilet float valve, only much more compact. The brand name is Little Giant, item number TM825, by Miller Manufacturing co. Glencoe, MN.
Photo 2 : Here’s one of the plans provided with the thing. It’s easy enough to assemble. You fix the red floater to the black housing with a “cotter pin”, you tighten your brackets to the black housing with two short screws, and later, you use two long screws to thighen the whole thing to the side of your reservoir. You have a washer to put down into the mouth where a garden hose will be screwed up (standard 3/4″). That’s about it for the stuff provided in the box.
Photos 3 and 4 : I still needed other components though. I spent another 10 box on the rest. As I wasn’t just about to use a 10 foot garden hose, I needed to mount one much shorter. So I bought an adaptator (on photo 3, it’s the grey plastic part just under the yellow hose) between the 6″ bit of yellow garden hose that I used and the float valve (in black), and then another adaptator (on photo 4, it’s the black part) between the upper reservoir (a cheap plastic container that I had to pierce a round hole into) and the garden hose. Finally, I placed two of these plumbing metal necks (I don’t know their name in English) over both junctions to insure watertitghness. By the way, the green electric wire is just there to keep the garden hose bent down, because I was tight on vertical space. I only had 12″ vertical clearance. Now that the hose adapted in it’s place, I won’t need the wire anymore. With that bent in the middle of the garden hose, I was afraid to block the water’s flow, but thankfully, it just slows it down.
Photo 5 : I used a flimsy plastic container made of half a kitty litter container. It doesn’t show on the photo, but I put a small piece of wood between the container’s exterior side and the float valve brackets so both long screws could set onto it. It makes everything more tighten at the same time. The container is only 4 1/2″ deep. I think it’s just the minimum to make the float work properly (if you don’t need a fast refill).
Photo 6 : Here’s a view of the whole installation. the principles are quite simple. You have two reservoirs, one on top of the other. The upper reservoir will empty out gradually. The bottom reservoir acts like a buffer, because the float valve regulates the intake of water and keeps this reservoir always at the exact same level. This way, the water pressure in the bottom reservoir is alway the same, so you can adjust your dripping valve once and the water flow will remain constant until your upper reservoir is empty. In that event, the float valve reservoir would then start to empty itself and from that point, your water flow would not be even anymore, slowing gradually. One end of my drop-by-drop tubing is maintained at the bottom of the reservoir with a rock, just like in the previous system. The tubing runs over the edge of the tank, so I didn’t have to pierce any hole to drive the tubing through the container’s side. It lowers the risks of leaking, which is to greatly please me, considering the position of all this water just above my dictionnaries LOL ! The white plastic bottle neck is simply a piece I cut out and squeezed under the black float valve to stabilize it. It doesn’t get in the way of the red floater (which you cannot see on this photo, because at that moment, it was in its upper position, inside the black housing, shutting the flow of water).
There’s at least one drawback on this installation : it won’t be that easy to dismount it to clean up every component. I could not find the proper parts that would have allowed me to separate the two tanks in a jiffy. I tried with metal garden hose connectors, but it kept leaking, so I brought everything back to the hardware store to get a refund. Next time, maybe ?
Photo 7 – 8 – 9 : To make the installation a little tidier, I used an old wooden crate to put the float valve reservoir in it. It also acts às a support for the upper reservoir. It’s too long for nothing (about a third too long), but it’s 12″ wide, just the exact depth of my shelf. My instatallation is barely under 12″ high, so it almost scratches the upper shelf. But I can draw the whole installation a little outward (so it sticks out about an inch) and it becomes very easy to refill the upper reservoir (photos 8 and 9).
Photo 10 : A view of the whole thing. You’ll notice that my highest bottle is at least a foot lower than the shelf where the float valve reservoir is sitting. I think it’s the reason why I can get away with the water pressure given by less than 2 ” of water depth in that reservoir. Otherwise, the resistance in my tubing would be too high to let the water flow freely, possibly. It would be different if my reservoirs would be directly over the windowfarm, but the ceiling clearance is not sufficient to allow me such an installation.
Just before publishing this article, I noticed that the drip rate is at roughly one drop every 4,5 seconds. Five hours ago, I settled it at one drop every 2,5 seconds, so it slowed down very gradually. But it’s my drop-to-drop ajustment valve that is the culprit, I’m sure of it (it’ this small white thing on the tubing, with a red adjustment wheel on photo 10). The water level in the float-valve reservoir didn’t move a millimeter. I’ll give you an update on that.