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Cptbjorn's 3g DIY Pico Cube


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#1
cptbjorn

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So, I'm halfway through my 13g build that I won't be able to get water in any time soon due to moving plans and had an extra HOB filter so I decided to get a pico going :D

Implemented so far:
9x9x9 cube (2.5g actual water capacity, 3g with HOB)
1/4" glass with lightly beveled edges and smoke gray back panel
Elos style black silicone (kinda)
Drsfostersmith surface skimming HOB modded with whisper 40 motor.
Jalli 100w heater (for now)
Couple pounds of DIY white live rock
1/2-3/4" live sand
4blue/3white LED Light in acrylic enclosure with DIY driver board
Simulated sunrise/sunset by arduino controller with 16x2 LCD

I'm currently working on finishing the hardware and have started on the software for the arduino controller that is integrated into the lighting fixture; so far plans include an LCD and keys, ATO, automatic light control/dimming based on season and lunar cycle, temperature probes and full heater control, and data logging among many other ideas.

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Current livestock:
6 or 7 assorted zoas/palys, 4 mushrooms, ~8 ricordea florida, blue xenia (cespitularia), green and pink encrusting gorgonian, blue and green cloves, 7 assorted acan lords, diploastrea, 4 chalices, a maze brain, blue candy cane, 6 montis (mostly encrusting with a cap and a digitata), 3 acroporas, a birdsnest, pink pocillopora, millepora, blue maxima clam, 3 sexy shrimp, several virgin nerites, a couple dozen stomatellas and a lone blue hermit crab.

Edited by cptbjorn, 04 February 2010 - 11:49 AM.


#2
evilc66

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Looks like a nice start.

#3
cptbjorn

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All the angles:
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Hereís a closeup of the silicone, I had originally planned on silicone just in the gap a la Elos but it turned out to be easier said than doneÖ I just couldnít get it how I wanted it and the silicone was starting to skin over so I laid down tape and did an 1/8Ē fillet on the inside corners.
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One from higher up:
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Obligatory kitteh pic:
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Comments? Suggestions? Especially on the aquascape, Iíve got a kiddie pool full of this rock so I can change it to whatever. Iím hoping to get every square inch of rock covered in corals eventually so Iím mostly wondering if this looks like a good base to build on?

#4
evilc66

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I think it will be a good foundation to build on. No rockscape is perfect, so you just have to adapt.

#5
cptbjorn

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Sweet, thanks. I think it looks good but I'm realizing there isn't much room if my corals come attached to rocks at all so I'll have to dremel and glue everything but I can deal with that.

#6
capsfan

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Sweet, thanks. I think it looks good but I'm realizing there isn't much room if my corals come attached to rocks at all so I'll have to dremel and glue everything but I can deal with that.


Because of the limited space within a pico, I always take my frags of the rocks/disks to conserve space. It also looks better.

#7
evilc66

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Thats the price you pay for a pico I guess.

#8
lakshwadeep

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I like the tank. With the aquascape, I think you could make it more open with less rock. You may not reach the 1-1.5 lb/gal rule, but that rule is mainly for tanks stocked with fish. Corals and other invertebrates have usually much lighter bioloads.

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#9
cptbjorn

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Alright, I ended up deciding that I needed more free sandbed and more open space overall. Removed one small rock and a bunch of shifting and here's what I have now:

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Probably looks exactly the same to everybody else but I was staring at this thing for like an hour doing tiny shifts and studying the water flow and in order to justify all that work I'm going to say I like it much better :)

Also I have rigged a fan and temporary ATO with a water glass up on a book case, some airline tubing and a tiny thumbwheel c-clamp to both hold the end of the tubing in place and restrict the flow to a drop every couple seconds. Its been upper 90's the past couple days and with ~500 continuous watts worth of heat sources in the room (computers and plant lights) its been... toasty up in here omgomgomg

#10
deepdvnarq

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nice cappy!

#11
pismo_reefer

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that looks really good from all sides. i likes it. i likes it alot!

:D
*clickety*
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#12
cptbjorn

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Schweet, thanks guys. Now I get to have it right here next to my computer monitor doing absolutely nothing for a while. :mellow: One of the LFS here has a tank of nano rock that I'll raid in a week or two for a tiny chunk with some coralline to seed but for now I'm having pH issues, turns out the rock wasn't quite ready and I did some breaking to get all the right pieces which must have exposed some parts that hadn't fully leeched.

Just did 3 pH tests in 2 hour intervals and then did the math on exactly how much HCl to add to my ATO drip to pH constant. Seems to be working so far, I'm back down below 8.5 and it feels like being a doctor and giving a patient medicine in their IV lol. Hopefully I can keep it there but I'm assuming there isn't much living bacteria or anything in there now as pH was way off the charts there for a minute.

#13
nosser

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i like it!

#14
MGDMIRAGE

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Cool cube and the aquascape looks awesome!

#15
Zo0k365

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Cool scape.

#16
cptbjorn

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So I have been logging my temperature for the last 3 days with a serial port attached DS18S20 to see how the 50w stealth is handling such a small volume for its rating (I am a geek, this is what we do). It's been hot here so during the afternoon/evening the heater doesn't turn on but during the late night/morning its doing its thing. Here's the best I can do to show the 8640 data points so they make sense:

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I'm not too concerned about the overall temperature range, but it appears that the hysteresis of the heater in 3g is nearly 2F and the cycle takes around 2 hours when it is going. Anybody know if I should be concerned that it is shooting up 1.5-2 degrees in 15 minutes every couple hours? I would assume that corals never see that steep of a change in the ocean.

In other news I think that I'm starting to see a very light dusting of diatoms :) Might be able to add a couple snails here in a week or so since there probably will never be any ammonia or nitrite spike :)

Edited by cptbjorn, 01 August 2009 - 03:39 PM.


#17
lakshwadeep

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The fast spikes are probably because the heater is rated up to 15 gallons. Smaller heaters would take a longer time to increase the water temperature. I'm not sure a 2 degree spike would be too harmful since all the temperatures are in the normal range. However, you could always adjust the heater down to 80ļ so the spikes won't be so high.

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#18
fishbabies

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That looks very sleek. Where did you get the custom glass?

Edited by fishbabies, 04 August 2009 - 04:41 PM.


#19
cptbjorn

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Its from a local place called Perkins Glass, 13 bucks plus tax for the glass, then I sanded and beveled all the edges with wet/dry sandpaper wrapped around a big heavy chunk of 2" aluminum channel. Used a 5g bucket full of water with a length of small tubing as a siphon to keep everything wet and wash away the grit and glass powder, it went quicker and easier than I thought it would.

I also just got a quote from them for a starphire tank for my Mom and was pretty impressed, I sent them an email and then a woman called me and first said they hardly ever deal with starphire because they mostly do commercial glass for storefronts etc but then proceeded to give me a quote half the price of the others I've gotten. Plus its a family owned/operated kind of place and I like that.

#20
fishbabies

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Thanks. I'd like to try to make a 10" cube based off the ELOS design. instead of having wall-to-wall coral like i do now in my 1 gallon, it would be nice to have an island of rock with space around the edges.... like a Japanese rock garden :lol:

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Edited by fishbabies, 05 August 2009 - 12:04 AM.


#21
cptbjorn

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Yeah my glass/silicone style was based mostly on Elos, I didn't get my silicone nearly as clean as they do but as long as you don't look too close it looks really good. I've seen a couple Elos tanks at a LFS and it seriously looks like they drew them up in CAD and used a replicator from Star Trek to make the tanks; whoever they have building them is a freakin silicone rock star. Anyways if I were to do it again I would probably get enough glass for 2 tanks and then build one right after the other since the glass is so cheap, then just use whichever one looks better and give the other one away.

I decided to change my heater to a 100w Jalli titanium one that I have for my other build and the temperature is much more stable now, I'll post a comparison chart once I get it dialed in to exactly 80F and get a full days worth of data collected. I'll be using this heater for the time being but I am now planning on making a custom 25w titanium heater that will be controlled by my Arduino if/when I get that going.

I tested my ammonia/nitrite/nitrate levels today (0,.25,40 ppm) and then did a 1g waterchange and added a 2 bristle worms and 2 cirratulid worms. Once that nitrite is back down to zero (it got up to 1 ppm at its maximum) its CUC time probably about a week from today. I'll probably add a small GSP frag at that time as a "canary" and then I'll start adding zoas once the GSP shows signs of being happy.

I have the LED and Arduino hardware 90% planned out and I'm just waiting for a day I feel like making PCBs to get moving on that. If I can figure out the software side this should end up pretty cool :)

#22
cptbjorn

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So a couple things have been changing, first of all the "Bio System Power Filter & Oxy Surface Skimmer" that has been on my parent's picotope for the last month started getting super noisy and after a bunch of messing with it I determined that the motor/impeller assembly on it sucked, both literally and figuratively. The shaft was rusting and the motor itself had started rattling and the decision was made to upgrade to an AC70 on that tank so I took the old filter and was able to swap in the motor/impeller off my Top Fin/Whisper 40 to gain the adjustable surface skimming and larger volume of the Bio System filter without having to listen to it whine at me :) Works great and I seem to be getting even more flow now.

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Also my nitrites were still hanging around the .25-.5 mark after 10 days so I decided I needed to bring in another source of some bacteria and grabbed about 1/2 lb worth of nano rock from a LFS. I'll probably end up taking out or breaking up the biggest rock eventually but the rest are just what I wanted.

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And a FTS with the room light on. I couldn't figure out how to get the colors to come out true; the rock and the sand actually look the same color IRL.
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Here's the comparison I promised of my new heater to the old stealth, and the new one is still getting more stable as time goes on. I know the stealth will perform better in a larger aquarium but IMO after testing it pretty thoroughly compared to a (cheaper) titanium heater they don't really deserve the reputation they have as super stable heaters. Kudos to their marketing team.

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And last but not least a CUC has been ordered from reefcleaners :) John hooked me up, I'm not 100% sure how they are making money but I can't complain :) Virgin nerites, nassarius, ceriths, cheato and mangroves are shipping monday, haven't decided if I'll put any mangroves in this tank yet though.

Edited by cptbjorn, 14 August 2009 - 09:58 AM.


#23
cptbjorn

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My ammonia and nitrites have been reading zero the past couple days and my order from reefcleaners showed up today so I put 10 of the 5 dwarf ceriths I ordered in this tank and the other 50 in my picotope :) A couple virgin nerites will go in in a couple days once the ceriths show signs of being happy, plus I have a little puff of chaeto and a couple twigs of flame algae in the HOB now.

There was a tiny aiptasia on one of the LR pieces that I didn't take care of right away and it has now relocated to an unknown location <_< Hoping it got caught in the filter or something...

#24
cptbjorn

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Figured its time for an update. The tank is doing great, I have 7 or 8 small zoa frags in there and a little frag of GSP. I've been waiting for a day where everything looks happy to take some pics but it never seems to work that way... Anyways the picotope light just isn't doing it for me and I finally had a chance to work on my lighting a little bit. My first try at bending the acrylic for the enclosure was a miserable failure (tried using an oven instead of the blowtorch I'm used to) but I got the heatsink all drilled/tapped and loaded up and also finished my driver design and built one over the weekend. Fired right up on the first try, here's a pic:

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Works great and preliminary testing (me holding it over the tank with my hand trying to dim it all possible ways preferably without dropping it in) shows that it'll probably be plenty of light. 4 blue and 3 cool white crees are MUCH brighter than the picotope lamp and probably bright enough for pretty much anything that could fit in a pico :) Can't wait to get it on there permanently to see how everything reacts :)

I'll try bending the acrylic again in the next couple days, plus I still have to make the arduino board and start the whole process of figuring out a decent program for it. Lots of work left :)

#25
fishbabies

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your light looks really good. what shape are you trying to bend the acrylic?