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Anybody have a location to purchase monitors that I can use for online (web) access.  I want to monitor my system when I am on travel.  Someone had a system on youtube but he did not give any suggestions on the hardware it would take.  I am looking to monitor PH, PPM, Nitrite levels, etc. 

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John, you might want to chat with Rob on the Greenhouse Group as he has a bit similar experience creating things like this. I know I would be interested if you were to come up with kits and instructions for doing some of this. I only have minimal experience with electronics but I can solder and have built my own repeat cycle timer relays to operate the pumps feeding my indexing valves but I'm not so good figuring out what sensors would be appropriate or how to use them.

Things most important to measure and track if possible include.
Temperatures (in tank and air, if a greenhouse, indoor and outside would both be important.)
pH, is probably the next one that should be tracked closely
Dissolved oxygen would be high on the list for any commercial scale operation.
Perhaps some sensors to make sure water if flowing where it should and send an alarm if water levels drop too low where they shouldn't or if the main water flow stops.

I don't know if there is any electronic way to easily or cheaply monitor things like ammonia, nitrite or nitrate but they would be the other things that most fresh water aquaponics systems regularly need testing for.

Some people will monitor light levels in a greenhouse when doing research so that might be helpful.
Also, humidity may be worth tracking especially if the controller can open and close vents and turn fans on/off according to temperature and humidity.


John R said:

Hello,

 

Thanks for the interest.  Right now I think the price would be right, free!  As in I can help you build something but I don't have anything to sell.  If building something is of interest to you then please let me know.  What I have going requires a significant amount of technical know-how.  I've done this for a living and to me its just the hammer I already have for the aquaponics nail I want to put to work.

 

What I'd like to do commercially is to design some modules that could be scattered around a greenhouse to measure or control various items.  I'd want these to be as inexpensive as possible while still being able to survive the environment.  These would all be connected together to a PC (or two - redundancy rocks) that would provide a web site for monitoring and control of all the modules.  If anyone out there has ideas about what those modules should measure or control I'd really like to hear them.

 

John

Namaste TCLynx,

 

I agree with you. Rob had shared a wonderful monitoring system.

 

I had requested such to Rob a few months back. At that stage he had replied back that ...

"Currently my software is not available for public use. It requires custom hardware that is not available as a marketable item to work with it. There's also an added risk if it is release to the public. If something goes wrong with it, potentially, I could be liable for damage...Thanks for your interest. At some point, I would like to release it to the public, but it isn't ready."

 

I hope that it is ready soon :-)

 

God bless,

 

TCLynx said:

John, you might want to chat with Rob on the Greenhouse Group as he has a bit similar experience creating things like this. I know I would be interested if you were to come up with kits and instructions for doing some of this. I only have minimal experience with electronics but I can solder and have built my own repeat cycle timer relays to operate the pumps feeding my indexing valves but I'm not so good figuring out what sensors would be appropriate or how to use them.

Things most important to measure and track if possible include.
Temperatures (in tank and air, if a greenhouse, indoor and outside would both be important.)
pH, is probably the next one that should be tracked closely
Dissolved oxygen would be high on the list for any commercial scale operation.
Perhaps some sensors to make sure water if flowing where it should and send an alarm if water levels drop too low where they shouldn't or if the main water flow stops.

I don't know if there is any electronic way to easily or cheaply monitor things like ammonia, nitrite or nitrate but they would be the other things that most fresh water aquaponics systems regularly need testing for.

Some people will monitor light levels in a greenhouse when doing research so that might be helpful.
Also, humidity may be worth tracking especially if the controller can open and close vents and turn fans on/off according to temperature and humidity.


John R said:

Hello,

 

Thanks for the interest.  Right now I think the price would be right, free!  As in I can help you build something but I don't have anything to sell.  If building something is of interest to you then please let me know.  What I have going requires a significant amount of technical know-how.  I've done this for a living and to me its just the hammer I already have for the aquaponics nail I want to put to work.

 

What I'd like to do commercially is to design some modules that could be scattered around a greenhouse to measure or control various items.  I'd want these to be as inexpensive as possible while still being able to survive the environment.  These would all be connected together to a PC (or two - redundancy rocks) that would provide a web site for monitoring and control of all the modules.  If anyone out there has ideas about what those modules should measure or control I'd really like to hear them.

 

John

Yea Sahib I was thinking more along the lines of those electronics tinkering guys being able to collaborate a bit.

 

I've learned a little about trying to do electronic projects and trying to get them to an actual marketable state is really a challenge and not one that makes for an inexpensive but reliable product quickly.

 

TCLynx - thanks for the sensor listing.  I guessed that these would be important but the priority is something I don't have the experience to know.  Temperature is easy but pH is more difficult since, as I understand it, the sensor must be moved from one solution to another to keep it accurate.  It can be done but anytime mechanics become involved reliability decreases.  DO is an obvious one but those sensors are expensive and one per tank makes it more so.  Alarm sensors can be pretty simple like using a light weight flapper door for the outlet of a pipe to determine whether there is flow or not. A magnet and reed switch can be used to detect its position.  These are both simple and cheap and can be quite reliable.

 

I'd like to offer PC based software that I can release using an open source license (no guarantee of fitness, etc) that can be used for monitoring and alarm notification.  It would be web based and could be used on almost any old PC someone might have laying around.

 

And you are exactly right in your comments about the difficulty and expense of taking an electronic product to market.  UL listing is neither easy or cheap.  That's partly why I try to stay in the monitoring area.  Basic controls are readily available for controlling fan and heat based on thermostats and humidity.  They are relatively cheap and reliable but having the monitoring to back them up is really pretty nice.  I've been monitoring the heating system in my houses for many years now and its nice to be able to check it out online and know I won't be coming home to frozen pipes.  I'll try to attach a graphic of last weeks temperature to this comment.  On my website, I can click on this graph and get a larger view.  If I click on a particular day within that week, I get the larger view of that days graph.  This is the kind of data I'd like to use to monitor my pending ap system.

 

Attachments:

Most probes comes with a callibration fluid and or cleaning fluids that have regular use interval stipulated.  There are a range of options starting at hand-held through ones that can be emmersed continually to those that monitor themselves through a controller and can give you an indication of when the readings are incorrect. The permanently installed probes can become very expensive. Multi-probes exist that can cover temp, pH, DO and other combos, but if you start wanting to monitor nutrients, you will get into single parameter probe cost issues.  I do not know of a probe that can give Ammonia and nitrate, so you will either go with a OR (oxygen reduction) type probe, a conductivity probe and then have to deduce or hand test specifics if you are interested.  Ammonia and Nitrate are usually separate probes. A further issue with these things is that they normally come with their own controllers.  It may be difficult to write your own software for the interpretation of the readings - specially for multi probes were complex callibration of temp to pH reading is done by the controller to modify read-outs.  I'm no software expert, but my gut feel is that the best way to integrate a probe into open ware software would be to have the probe with its controller feed the data to the pc, and from there do your own programming.  It will add significantly to your cost though.

 

Take a look at this pdf catalogue from aquatronica - it will give you an idea of what is out there and how the different components are made to interact with a pc. 

John R said:

 

TCLynx - thanks for the sensor listing.  I guessed that these would be important but the priority is something I don't have the experience to know.  Temperature is easy but pH is more difficult since, as I understand it, the sensor must be moved from one solution to another to keep it accurate.  It can be done but anytime mechanics become involved reliability decreases. 

Attachments:

 

Kobus - Thanks for the link to the catalog.  I looked at their website after your previous post but they don't seem to have a very good relationship with their No. Am. distributor - the link is broken and after going to the distributor's website directly I found no listings of aquatronica's products.  I'll keep after it though since I'd like to see what their prices are.

 

I totally agree that, if one has the budget, using sensors with integral controllers for measurement conversion is the way to go.  But most hobbyists won't have that budget and I'd like to keep my own expenditures to a minimum for now too.  My current plan is to automate what measurements I can while keeping logs of standard hand measurements of ammonia, nitrites, nitrates and pH.  Thanks for the heads up about OR in combination with conductivity, I'll try to work those into my automated sensors if possible.

 

I am interested in learning more about the ion-specific sensors.  Some time ago I designed electronics to support a sub-ppm chloride ion sensor and am intriged by the flourescent DO probes.  Once I'm waiting for my ap system to cycle (soon, really soon) I'll spend some time on that.  It would be awesome to find some cheap ways to monitor these things.

 

I'd like to learn some more about your research, present or past.  Please point me to it if its publicly available.  You might be interested in a project that I support in my day job.  Its specificly designed to support research.  You can find the generic project at hubzero.org and one of dozens of science specific implementations at nanohub.org.

 

John

 

I'll definately have a look at the project.  As far as my background goes, I have a long study record and then immediately started working for myself, thus no publications to date other than degree related theses.  I first did a 3-year diploma in conservation (2 years academic, 1 year in-job training) from where I went straight into B Sc without working - In South Africa we have a strange system of a base 3-year degree, followed by a 1 year honours degree that tally up to what is typically a 4-year B Sc undergrad qualification in the rest of the world.  I did the B Sc with Botany, Zoology and Geology as main subjects, with the honours focusing on conservation and environmental modules.  My research project there was monitoring the decline of a section of the commercial fisheries around my home town.  Measured about 80 - 100 000 fish! For an M Sc, I focused on aquatic ecology, and in particular, estuarine management issues.  While I studied I developed undergrad courses and lectured for the university, and was basically busy with a Ph D on energy flow dynamics when the finances for the study was shut down by the country's research agency.  So PhD is on ice while I wait for the university to figure out what they are going to do.

 

I had always been a huge fan of fish - anything with fish, and wanted to get into aquaculture.  Only hassle is it hardly exists here.  I struck it lucky in consulting, being able to land three contracts in a row focusing on aquaculture issues, which is where my interest in AP was born.  I started focusing on AP in 2008 (all private) and has been at it since then.  I'm also busy on one aquaculture related study (government funded) where we are developing a filter for semi-intensive aquaculture that yields products in stead of waste.  That project is in its second year of pre-commercial work, and if I iron out one or two little glitches, we should be building a full-scale unit this year towards the end of the year. 

John R said:

 

Kobus - Thanks for the link to the catalog.  I looked at their website after your previous post but they don't seem to have a very good relationship with their No. Am. distributor - the link is broken and after going to the distributor's website directly I found no listings of aquatronica's products.  I'll keep after it though since I'd like to see what their prices are.

 

I'd like to learn some more about your research, present or past.  Please point me to it if its publicly available.  You might be interested in a project that I support in my day job.  Its specificly designed to support research.  You can find the generic project at hubzero.org and one of dozens of science specific implementations at nanohub.org.

 

John

 

That hub looks really nice, but I have to confess that when it comes to web-based apps, I'm a bit of an outsider.  I'll need some time to figure out what it can do.  I'm not that hot with computer programming - much better with a power tool than a smart phone or a computer!

John R said:

 

 

I'd like to learn some more about your research, present or past.  Please point me to it if its publicly available.  You might be interested in a project that I support in my day job.  Its specificly designed to support research.  You can find the generic project at hubzero.org and one of dozens of science specific implementations at nanohub.org.

 

John

 

 

Thanks for the details on your school in S.A.  Ours are different in interesting ways.  At my alma mater, lots of people do internships at various corporations as part of their degree program.  My program offered an Associate's degree after two years then very difficult and weakly supported third year classes (swim or sink philosophy) followed by very cool fourth year classes with access to very cool technology to get the bachelor's.

 

I'm enrolled in a Master's program in sustainable energy but its slow going when one has a day job.  I took some interesting classes last year but now I've got to do some basic, less fun classes so my motivation is lagging.

 

I'm also a big fan of fish.  I raised gobs of tropics when I was a kid.  Looking forward to raising more now.

Kobus Jooste said:

I'll definately have a look at the project.  As far as my background goes, I have a long study record and then immediately started working for myself, thus no publications to date other than degree related theses.  I first did a 3-year diploma in conservation (2 years academic, 1 year in-job training) from where I went straight into B Sc without working - In South Africa we have a strange system of a base 3-year degree, followed by a 1 year honours degree that tally up to what is typically a 4-year B Sc undergrad qualification in the rest of the world.  I did the B Sc with Botany, Zoology and Geology as main subjects, with the honours focusing on conservation and environmental modules.  My research project there was monitoring the decline of a section of the commercial fisheries around my home town.  Measured about 80 - 100 000 fish! For an M Sc, I focused on aquatic ecology, and in particular, estuarine management issues.  While I studied I developed undergrad courses and lectured for the university, and was basically busy with a Ph D on energy flow dynamics when the finances for the study was shut down by the country's research agency.  So PhD is on ice while I wait for the university to figure out what they are going to do.

 

I had always been a huge fan of fish - anything with fish, and wanted to get into aquaculture.  Only hassle is it hardly exists here.  I struck it lucky in consulting, being able to land three contracts in a row focusing on aquaculture issues, which is where my interest in AP was born.  I started focusing on AP in 2008 (all private) and has been at it since then.  I'm also busy on one aquaculture related study (government funded) where we are developing a filter for semi-intensive aquaculture that yields products in stead of waste.  That project is in its second year of pre-commercial work, and if I iron out one or two little glitches, we should be building a full-scale unit this year towards the end of the year. 

John R said:

 

Kobus - Thanks for the link to the catalog.  I looked at their website after your previous post but they don't seem to have a very good relationship with their No. Am. distributor - the link is broken and after going to the distributor's website directly I found no listings of aquatronica's products.  I'll keep after it though since I'd like to see what their prices are.

 

I'd like to learn some more about your research, present or past.  Please point me to it if its publicly available.  You might be interested in a project that I support in my day job.  Its specificly designed to support research.  You can find the generic project at hubzero.org and one of dozens of science specific implementations at nanohub.org.

 

John

 


Its basically a joomla based web site but with extensions specifically designed to aid research and computational simulation.  Give the virtual machines a try if you're interested in seeing the major points.  Also note that accounts on either site is free with registration.

 

What really makes it special is its use of virtual machines nominally called 'workspaces' that can give anyone with a web browser access to a unix (or windows) computer with the proper tools already installed and configured for whatever science the site is setup for.  These tools are often fully configured to use massively parallel computational resources at the click of a mouse and this is where the power of the system really lies.

Kobus Jooste said:

That hub looks really nice, but I have to confess that when it comes to web-based apps, I'm a bit of an outsider.  I'll need some time to figure out what it can do.  I'm not that hot with computer programming - much better with a power tool than a smart phone or a computer!

John R said:

 

 

I'd like to learn some more about your research, present or past.  Please point me to it if its publicly available.  You might be interested in a project that I support in my day job.  Its specificly designed to support research.  You can find the generic project at hubzero.org and one of dozens of science specific implementations at nanohub.org.

 

John

 

After my Fish Kill  While I was out of town last week, I'm not thinking that I must add a bit more electronic monitoring to my system if I'm going to keep doing this while traveling so much.

 

I've figured out a way to add a temperature sensor to my existing timer and with another relay I'll be able to stop the fish feeder from delivering feed if the water temperature gets too low.  Perhaps I could also add another relay that would turn on the air pump if the temperature gets too high but I would also want to work that one out so that if the power goes out the air pump would turn on with the battery power.

 

Now before I go adding anything like a DO meter that would need very regular maintenance, testing, calibration I think perhaps a constant pH meter might be more worth while since I do have to track the buffering in my 300 gallon system.

 

Perhaps before or after that one, a web cam might be more worth while so that I can check things daily at least sort of and call some one to go do something if it seems wrong. 

 

What would be the best way to deal a web cam from out in the middle of the yard?

You can get a Wireless Outdoor Webcam. 

 

Fish don't need to eat daily. I've left my fish tanks for 2 weeks and none were the least bit distressed. I attribute it to the live food I leave in the tanks. Cherry shrimp, black worms, daphnia, snails and various fish fry. I've noticed if I don't feed my fish for a week or to they get more active and look better. I guess they are burning off the fat and are becoming fit and trim.

TCLynx said:

After my Fish Kill  While I was out of town last week, I'm not thinking that I must add a bit more electronic monitoring to my system if I'm going to keep doing this while traveling so much.

 

I've figured out a way to add a temperature sensor to my existing timer and with another relay I'll be able to stop the fish feeder from delivering feed if the water temperature gets too low.  Perhaps I could also add another relay that would turn on the air pump if the temperature gets too high but I would also want to work that one out so that if the power goes out the air pump would turn on with the battery power.

 

Now before I go adding anything like a DO meter that would need very regular maintenance, testing, calibration I think perhaps a constant pH meter might be more worth while since I do have to track the buffering in my 300 gallon system.

 

Perhaps before or after that one, a web cam might be more worth while so that I can check things daily at least sort of and call some one to go do something if it seems wrong. 

 

What would be the best way to deal a web cam from out in the middle of the yard?

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