Internal piping to eliminate leaks.
Built in muffler.
No-drip system that decreases water loss. Read the rest of this entry →
Internal piping to eliminate leaks.
Built in muffler.
No-drip system that decreases water loss. Read the rest of this entry →
11:35 am in Completed Window Farms, made from scratch (without a kit), Materials and Resources, Plants, pumps, R&D-I-Y, Starting Seeds, Uncategorized, Version 3.0 Modular Airlift Columns, Water flow by Matt
Here, I am going to highlight the nitty-gritty parts of the operation.
For the resevoir exit, I drilled a hole in a rubbermaid and secured a small piece of tubing into it with some waterproof caulk. This small piece of tubing is then connected to the rest of the line by that funny white connecter doo-dad. Having a removable connection point makes cleaning very easy.
I find that I don’t necessarily need a check valve since the T-joint is significantly lower than the pump. I used to have one check valve for each line, but I found that the check valve restricted the one line quite a bit, so I removed it. After doing that, I found that the check valve line was much quieter. It seems that without the valve, I experience the gurgling noise. Hmmm
A very simple setup here. The resevoir is about a foot above the T-joint. This creates more than enough pressure, even when the water level is quite low. After the T, the flexible tubing continues for about a foot and then connects to the rigid tubing. To make this connection, all I had to do was shove the flexible tubing into the rigid tubing. No leaks! Easy.
Here’s the top of the farm. I used zip ties to secure the rigid tubing to the chain. To get the coiled up, rigid tubing to straighten out, I boiled some water and syphoned it through the tubing. This allowed me to bend it and straighten it with ease.
I used to have some serious gurgling sounds. I found that by lowering the T-joint, I was able to get rid of them. No need for a silencer. The key is to make sure your tubing has lots of water running up it at one time.
One thing I really like about using these chains is that I can adjust the height of my pots at any time without disturbing the others.
Here is the bottom of one of the pots. You can see the net cups full of clay balls through the holes on the bottom. I thought I would have to plug up some of these holes so that water wouldnt be dripping everywhere, but (luckily) I was wrong! By hanging the pots on a slant (see gallery), the water only drips out of one of the holes! This is another nice feature of the chain. I can change the angle or direction of slope for any pot at any time. So, what did I do about the bottom pot?…
For the last pot in the line, I poked a hole in a plastic bag, taped a piece of rigid tubing to it, and shoved a piece of flexible tubing in it. The tube connects straight back to the top of the resevoir. The net cup sits in the plastic bag. This is a simple solution that works like a charm. You can also see that the pot is hung at an angle.
Hello, I’ve attempted my first window farm this week as a prototype for class. It’s been a bit difficult to find proper supplies in Hong Kong due to language barriers. Challenges and questions I’ve come across while exercising my poor engineering skills. I will be using black socks to cover the bottom of the bottles.
1. My seedlings have already been attacked twice with aphids and fungus gnats in it’s growing plugs. I had to start a fresh batch. If the seedlings are already so sensitive to the moisture and humidity, how soon will my window farm be attacked by these pest? Anyone have experience with handling this in a humid country?
2. My tubing is too stiff to direct it away from the seedling. I’ve seen some systems using a toothpick or wooden chopstick, but my result was a moldy chopstick. I ended up using a fishing wire just to hold it down and a tape to keep the tube in place. I obviously need to find a better alternative.
3. Reservoir problem. Due to the limited space in HK, I don’t have the luxury to have a big bottle for reservoir so I attempted to use a ketchup bottle on the bottom. I found the tip was a good way to plug the tubing in (I still need to reinforce it with plumbers tape, but haven’t found it yet).
4. Cutting through plastic was the biggest challenge. I am not a very handy person, but I attempted to use the drill to make some holes on the bottom of the bottles but the bottom is thicker than the rest of the bottle, so I am not able to cut through it. In the end, I made a big circle but the bottles don’t fit perfectly. Any suggestions? I thought about using sticks to reinforce it.
5.I wanted to try out using water beads instead of clay pellets. Anyone have any success in it?
I am doing a couple of vertical pallet planters and changed the airlift to suit the planters. In this case, the next planter will have 2 wooden legs in plastic buckets. The water will drip down the legs and back into the buckets. I usually use the t joint method outside the bucket but I also appreciate that not everyone has room for a u tube that is one ft lower than your T joint. I tried a few different methods and this one works.
This way uses all the depth of the bucket and you might get a little bubbling when it restarts for a few seconds but usually not. Note that once again, I got a few days where the tubes acted funny before they behaved themselves. Pretty sure it is whatever sheen or grease is on new tubes. I think all new tubes need to just sit low with nutrient running through them for about a day before you put them up in position. There is almost zero drainback in new tubes and that is what is causing the problem. Newbies are going to be very confused by this.
My pallet planter project is at instructables A very interesting aspect of this (for me) is that the air pump is 120 ft away from the planter. (It still works and pumps the air through 1/4 inch tubing all the way to the greenhouse). Brian
I’ve just about finished construction on a 2-column windowfarm, and I am just waiting for my seedlings to get big enough to put them in. I’ll post some pictures when it’s up and running. Anyway, I have some comments and reflections on the “official” instructions and parts list.
So, I followed the instructions pretty closely except for on two points: first, my windowfarm is suspended from a free-standing frame on casters (which doesn’t really affect anything), and I used a t-joint for the airlift system. The t-joint (a.k.a. t-valve) design is really simple and easy to install and use, whereas I found the method(s) outlined in the instructions to be really complicated and, frankly, intimidating. The fact that the size of the check valve included with the air pump determines some of the other parts is pretty inconvenient. Anyway, I hope the instructions are changed soon to include this more user-friendly design.
Speaking of the t-joint design, there are some issues that I ran into with parts. Mainly, I bought a t-joint off the Petco shelf with all three openings the same small diameter. It’s made for three of the standard 1/4″ OD tubes that come with the air pump. The problem is that this makes a bottleneck for the flow of water. At least I think it’s a problem. Brian White say’s that the airlift tube should have an ID of 1/4″ for optimal performance, and he seems to have done his research. I ran the 1/4″ OD aquarium tubing from the reservoir bottle to the t-joint, and from the t-joint up to the bottom of the 3/8” OD 1/4” ID rigid tubing from the parts list (McMaster.com #9245K17). It works, but maybe it would be better if I had bought a wider t-joint and used wider tubing.
Speaking of things that could work better, there’s the Petco pump (#9902). It’s not adjustable, as far as I can tell. I guess I can add a little adjustable valve in the airline, but if I throttle it that way I’ll be wasting energy. I think an adjustable pump should be recommended.
Then there’s the tubing. Two kinds of tubing on the parts list reference McMaster part numbers, but the 3/8” ID flexible vinyl tubing for some reason does not. Now, McMaster has a ridiculously extensive selection of tubing, so we should be able to find one that works. I used #5103K36 (Chemical-resistant Clear Tygon Tubing, 3/8″ Id, 1/2″ Od, 1/16″ Wall Thk). It was okay for joining the two long pieces of rigid tubing, but it was not flexible enough for the top, to curve down into the top bottle. Technically speaking, the “bend radius” is too big. Maybe #5231K185 (Clear PVC Tubing Chemical, 3/8″ ID, 1/2″ OD, 1/16″ Wall Thickness) would be better.
Chains. I think the ball/bead chain is a good way to go, and McMaster was a convenient way to order it. Weirdly, though, the part number on the parts list (#3606T16) turns out to be stainless steel chain, whereas in the instructions photos it looks like they’re using plastic. It’s not important, but what’s up with that? I also ordered the specified couplings (#3606T41). They are listed in the McMaster catalog as being the same size as the chain, but for some reason the chain does not fit through the center hole. I had to widen the hole. I’m not sure what to suggest here.
I think that’s everything. I don’t mean to complain; I think the design is great and I really appreciate having access to it, but I want to help make it better and easier for windowfarmers who come after me. I hope this post is the right way to give this feedback. Sorry it’s so long and boring!
Here is my modification to the bottle caps @karenwslp made. After several leaks, and a need to just pull the tubing free during reservoir cleaning, I came up with an improvement to the bottle caps. Oh and these caps are from Poland Spring sports watter bottles. Just in case you can’t read the steps:
Step1) remove the blue cap.
Step2) Remove the plastic “Y” piece.
Step3) Insert 1/4 inch coupler onto top part of cap (hexagon shape in cap)
Step4) Insert size “00″ flat washer inside cap. *note use pliers to push it in
*use a little bit of aquarium silicone on the coupler before inserting it into the bottle cap to add extra sealant!
8:23 pm in Being a good member of this community, Education, energy consumption, Help the project by testing this, How-Tos, Materials and Resources, Outside Farms, posts with pitcures!, Projects in Process, R&D-I-Y, Uncategorized, Water flow by Brian White
I have only done this outside but it probably works good inside too. The advantages are, no pump, can use dirty water, very low tech, can work for a long time unattended.
Best vid for understanding it is http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=3yQOVUR1TpQ
So, now it has happened to me to. Algae has started to grow in my windowfarm, or rather in the tubes. I knew it would eventually start to grow algae because the tubes are transparent, but that was what my local pet store had. The plants doesn´t seem to have suffered.
This isn’t our first hydro build, by far, but it is our first one to be hung in a window! It’s in an east facing window in our living room & we love how it brings the same esthetic as a houseplant, but the benefits of FOOD!
This was about a week after we set it up. We started the beans & cucumbers from seed in a little greenhouse on top of the fridge. The top two pots are cucumbers and the bottom has 4 green beans.
We hung the pots with some hemp we had in our craft surplus & made the trellis out of the hemp & bamboo stakes. I’ve even made a bow and arrow out of the bamboo!
This is how the middle & bottom pot get watered. There is a piece of bamboo shoved up there to keep the tubing straight.
Here’s the reservoir, made from a cereal tupperware we got at Target & some ducting tape to make it lightproof. We took the little hinged pour spout off of the lid and ran the watering and drainage tubing through the opening. You can also see the timer there, right now we run the water pump for 15 mins every 2 hours from 6am to 6pm. As the plants get bigger we might have to adjust the schedule, but for now it works out.
We use a water pump we had around the house and it works great until the water level in the res gets down to about 25%. It’s a good reminder that it’s time for a refill without having the pump run dry.
Our first sight of beans!
….and more BEANS!!
Okay, enough beans. Here’s our first cucumber flower!
We’re getting a lot of male flowers, just waiting for that female! Well, that’s what we have so far. If you have any specific questions on what we used or how we use it leave a comment or send a message & we’d love to share!
I came here just in the right time to see cool mods like the t-valve technique (thanks @gaiatechnician), and the way of splitting airlift (credits goes to @kenokazaki) allowing two columns to be watered using only one reservoir and airlift. Read the rest of this entry →