Aquaponic Gardening

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I just bought a sprinkler timer to control two pnuematic fish feeders and now that i have it, I can imagine all kinds of uses for it, Like a FT cleaning cycle. Valve #1 opens to create a swirl in the tank then valve #2 opens to drain off the bottom of the tank. The possibilities are endless.

My question would be, Has anyone used one of these timers to control unusual or out of the ordinary stuff, and if so how and what did you do with it. I have 6 zones to play with so let me know what else i can do with it. Thanks

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Well the sprinkler timers are usually 24 volt so you are stuck controlling things that operate on that.  Now keep in mind that most of the irrigation valves, require quite a lot of pressure to operate and most aquaponic system pumps are not going to supply enough pressure to operate an irrigation solenoid valve no matter what timer you have for it.  However if you can find valves that will operate without differential pressure (or if you can figure out how to have the sprinkler timer operate the automated diversion valves that are actually motorized but I'm not sure if those sprinkler timers can handle the amperage for the motors.)

Thanks TCLynx, I was going to go buy the solenoid valves today (atleast one). Now i know to look for one that operates with low or no delta P. I saw a site last night that showed how to retrofit a 24v sprinkler valve to operate off air pressure, I wonder if that same modification could be used to (preload) the valve, so it will still operate with a lower pressure.

I also located some 24 volt Pnuematic valves, that would be good for my air powered feeders, their operational range is 0-120 PSI, so they should work well.

One thought i had, was to have a water valve open up to a 20 gallon tank filled with Brine shrimp, that would then overflow to the fish tank (taking shrimp with it) to feed fingerlings. Then have another valve open to drop more eggs in the 20 gallon tank to start the cycle over again. To create an automatic (live food) feeder. Lots of things to work out, like flow rates, amount of eggs to drop in, how often to cycle.

Keep in mind that most sprinkler valves are not designed to handle much in the way of solids.  The sprinkler valves tend to restrict flow quite a bit and most of the irrigation ones that require between 5-10 psi differential pressure, the solenoid is actually only opening/closing the air hole to the space behind the diaphragm and it is actually a diaphragm and spring that is restricting the flow of water.  So if the pressure isn't enough to overcome the spring/diaphragm and atmospheric pressure then the valve doesn't let the water pass at all.

To get a solenoid valve that will work under 0 pressure you are usually looking for something that the solenoid plunger is actually the part of the valve that opens and closes.  For large pipe sizes, that usually means a Costly valve, I've never seen one at Lowes of home depot and I don't think I ever found a 1" 0 pressure solenoid valve for under $400 online.

Those automated pool valves become cheaper then even though you still need the valve, the motorized actuator and some means to control it.  those usually start at 1 1/2" size.  You can probably get Valve plus actuator for $200 and then controllers, well I don't know the programing for the pool controllers so I haven't much bothered with them.  The Bigelow Brook Farm controllers can be modified to operate the motorized actuator but an additional power supply is needed to actually power the actuator.  If some one is handy with electronics it doesn't take too much to build your own controller using a picaxe chip, I have a couple of those home made controllers running now and I could probably help some one out who wanted to go that way.

Go ahead and play with one of those sprinkler valves and let us know what you come up with but I fear it isn't likely to work the way you are hoping.  Now you might be able to use a pinch valve type solenoid valve for this purpose with say 3/8" tubing but you probably have to mail order those.

I bought a Toro 1" slip fit valve. It has an operating range of 5 - 30 GPM and 10 - 150 PSI. I plan on using it to control the air pressure going to the feeders, so it will have 50# of differential. Just hope it doesn't leak by. I couldn't find anything about differential pressure needs in the box or on the web so i hope it works.

My sump pump puts up 30#'s at the pump and 10#'s at 26 feet high. So it is more likely to work closer to the pump.

Well sounds like you might be one of the few with a water pump that might be strong enough to operate a solenoid valve.

Do read the specs on the valves though since some sprinkler valves can't be installed lower than the "sprinklers" or water outlets while others can.  I had a whole set of solenoids fail on my irrigation system when I set up drippers to hanging pots along my front porch before I discovered aquaponics.

This one can be mounted underground. Although i must say, im not sure if i understand the difference. This was the only one on the shelf.

Looking at the timer, the shortest setting is 1 minute, and it goes up to 10 hours, so i have some timing to work out as well. I'm going to start a drawing so i can add it to this discussion later.


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