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Question regarding Controler for large system


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  1. #1
    CR Member
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Location
    Lakewood, OH
    Posts
    8

    Default Question regarding Controler for large system

    I almost split this into two different posts, but I think it's all related enough to not justify two posts. The primary reason for the post is that I am looking for a controller to help automate the control of my tanks. I was wondering if anyone has anything similar and has anything that's working for them. I'm mostly handy at construction and electronics, but I'm a bit nervous to start building one from scratch like I've found online.

    History of the tanks:
    I have 4 tanks merged together on 1 large sump. The sump resides in the basement which is climate controlled. 1 tank resides in the basement with the Sump and the other three are on the floor above. Each tank has it's own supply pump. The tanks total gallons will be ~500 gallons (220,125,125,55: 220 and 125 currently running, other 2 soon to come!) and the sump is an additional ~200 gallons. In the sump there is/will be a Ca++ reactor, Protein Skimmer (Only found 1 so far to handle this much water, hence why other two haven't been added in yet), a PO4 reactor (Week 6 of trying to get PO4 down w/o success in 220g before combining them all { Nitrogen Cycle & Phosphate GFO without a reactor? - Page 2 - Captive Reefs - Saltwater Coral Reef Tank Aquariums }), Alk doser, Ca Doser, two 500 watt heaters on an external temperature controller and a 1000 watt heater on an external temperature controller. The sump is 8 feet below the 3 tanks on the main level. There is 16 linear feet (for wires to run) between the sump and tank 1. There is 25 linear feet between the sump and tank 2. There is 35 linear feet between the sump and tank 3. There is 15 linear feet between the sump and the basement tank 4. QT tank is not listed in these requirements, as I prefer that to stay manual and it will stay on it's own system.

    Lights have been controlled with mechanical timers connected to temperature controllers. To date, everything has been manually maintained and adjusted. (Side note: I'm not too impressed with the PC fixtures, but I've heard so many horror stories of MH & T5 melting acrylic tanks that I still have PC only over acryllics.)

    This is my second attempt to move to automation, first attempt to move everything to automation. The first attempt was using x10 gear for light automation: This failed due to RF signals getting lost any time the MH's were on. Once a MH fixture was on, nothing would come on or off.

    I may be missing some "common" things that people want to monitor: Please let me know if you think this is so! I would like to utilize WiFi portion of a system if it is available and known to be stable. Ideally, here is what I would like to automate/monitor. I realize that I may not be able to get all of these on one system, though I hope to!

    Temperature of Sump Room abmient
    Temperature of Basement (tank ambiant)
    Temperature of First Floor ambient
    Temperature of tank 1 canopy
    Temperature of tank 2 canopy
    Temperature of tank 3 canopy
    Temperature of tank 4 canopy
    (Room temp x 7)
    Temperature of water Upstairs tank (To date always within 0.2oF of basement tank)
    Temperature of Water in Basement tank
    Temperature of water in Sump
    (Water temp x 3)
    sump Salinity
    sump pH
    Auto top off of RODI water for low water level in sump
    Power on/off of Alk doser
    Power on/off of Ca Doser
    Power on/off of the Heater set 1 (2x 500w) based on temperature of water in sump
    Power on/off of the heater set 2 (1x 1000w) based on temperature of water in sump
    Power on/off of sump lights (Metal Halide 2x 250w)
    Power on/off of tank 1 PC 4x 96w actinics
    Power on/off of tank 1 PC (4x 96w 10KK)
    Power on/off of tank 1 Moonlights
    Power on/off of tank 1 Circulation Pumps (Auto-back on after X minutes)
    Power on/off of tank 1 Supply Pumps (Auto-back on after X minutes)
    Power on/off of tank 2 PC 4x 96w actinics
    Power on/off of tank 2 Metal Halides (2x 250w)
    Power on/off of tank 2 Moonlights
    Power on/off of tank 2 Circulation Pumps (Auto-back on after X minutes)
    Power on/off of tank 2 Supply Pumps (Auto-back on after X minutes)
    Power on/off of tank 3 PC 4x 96w actinics
    Power on/off of tank 3 PCs (4x 96w 10KK)
    Power on/off of tank 3 Moonlights
    Power on/off of tank 3 Circulation Pumps (Auto-back on after X minutes)
    Power on/off of tank 3 Supply Pumps (Auto-back on after X minutes)
    Power on/off of tank 4 PC 4x 96w actinics
    Power on/off of tank 4 Metal Halides (4x 250w)
    Power on/off of tank 4 Moonlights
    Power on/off of tank 4 Circulation Pumps (Auto-back on after X minutes)
    Power on/off of tank 4 Supply Pumps (Auto-back on after X minutes)


    Thank you,
    Michael

  2. #2
    EMUreef - Reefkeeper
    IT Guru

    Join Date
    May 2010
    Location
    Walled Lake, Michigan
    Posts
    1,029
    Awards March Madness Award - 2013 March Madness Winner Photo of the Month Fishbowl Drawing Winner

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by msk007 View Post
    I almost split this into two different posts, but I think it's all related enough to not justify two posts. The primary reason for the post is that I am looking for a controller to help automate the control of my tanks. I was wondering if anyone has anything similar and has anything that's working for them. I'm mostly handy at construction and electronics, but I'm a bit nervous to start building one from scratch like I've found online.

    History of the tanks:
    I have 4 tanks merged together on 1 large sump. The sump resides in the basement which is climate controlled. 1 tank resides in the basement with the Sump and the other three are on the floor above. Each tank has it's own supply pump. The tanks total gallons will be ~500 gallons (220,125,125,55: 220 and 125 currently running, other 2 soon to come!) and the sump is an additional ~200 gallons. In the sump there is/will be a Ca++ reactor, Protein Skimmer (Only found 1 so far to handle this much water, hence why other two haven't been added in yet), a PO4 reactor (Week 6 of trying to get PO4 down w/o success in 220g before combining them all { Nitrogen Cycle & Phosphate GFO without a reactor? - Page 2 - Captive Reefs - Saltwater Coral Reef Tank Aquariums }), Alk doser, Ca Doser, two 500 watt heaters on an external temperature controller and a 1000 watt heater on an external temperature controller. The sump is 8 feet below the 3 tanks on the main level. There is 16 linear feet (for wires to run) between the sump and tank 1. There is 25 linear feet between the sump and tank 2. There is 35 linear feet between the sump and tank 3. There is 15 linear feet between the sump and the basement tank 4. QT tank is not listed in these requirements, as I prefer that to stay manual and it will stay on it's own system.

    Lights have been controlled with mechanical timers connected to temperature controllers. To date, everything has been manually maintained and adjusted. (Side note: I'm not too impressed with the PC fixtures, but I've heard so many horror stories of MH & T5 melting acrylic tanks that I still have PC only over acryllics.)

    This is my second attempt to move to automation, first attempt to move everything to automation. The first attempt was using x10 gear for light automation: This failed due to RF signals getting lost any time the MH's were on. Once a MH fixture was on, nothing would come on or off.

    I may be missing some "common" things that people want to monitor: Please let me know if you think this is so! I would like to utilize WiFi portion of a system if it is available and known to be stable. Ideally, here is what I would like to automate/monitor. I realize that I may not be able to get all of these on one system, though I hope to!

    Temperature of Sump Room abmient
    Temperature of Basement (tank ambiant)
    Temperature of First Floor ambient
    Temperature of tank 1 canopy
    Temperature of tank 2 canopy
    Temperature of tank 3 canopy
    Temperature of tank 4 canopy
    (Room temp x 7)
    Temperature of water Upstairs tank (To date always within 0.2oF of basement tank)
    Temperature of Water in Basement tank
    Temperature of water in Sump
    (Water temp x 3)
    sump Salinity
    sump pH
    Auto top off of RODI water for low water level in sump
    Power on/off of Alk doser
    Power on/off of Ca Doser
    Power on/off of the Heater set 1 (2x 500w) based on temperature of water in sump
    Power on/off of the heater set 2 (1x 1000w) based on temperature of water in sump
    Power on/off of sump lights (Metal Halide 2x 250w)
    Power on/off of tank 1 PC 4x 96w actinics
    Power on/off of tank 1 PC (4x 96w 10KK)
    Power on/off of tank 1 Moonlights
    Power on/off of tank 1 Circulation Pumps (Auto-back on after X minutes)
    Power on/off of tank 1 Supply Pumps (Auto-back on after X minutes)
    Power on/off of tank 2 PC 4x 96w actinics
    Power on/off of tank 2 Metal Halides (2x 250w)
    Power on/off of tank 2 Moonlights
    Power on/off of tank 2 Circulation Pumps (Auto-back on after X minutes)
    Power on/off of tank 2 Supply Pumps (Auto-back on after X minutes)
    Power on/off of tank 3 PC 4x 96w actinics
    Power on/off of tank 3 PCs (4x 96w 10KK)
    Power on/off of tank 3 Moonlights
    Power on/off of tank 3 Circulation Pumps (Auto-back on after X minutes)
    Power on/off of tank 3 Supply Pumps (Auto-back on after X minutes)
    Power on/off of tank 4 PC 4x 96w actinics
    Power on/off of tank 4 Metal Halides (4x 250w)
    Power on/off of tank 4 Moonlights
    Power on/off of tank 4 Circulation Pumps (Auto-back on after X minutes)
    Power on/off of tank 4 Supply Pumps (Auto-back on after X minutes)


    Thank you,
    Michael
    Im only gonna give you my experience with the Digital Aquatics Reef Keeper since its the only one i've used.

    If you get the elite system you can intergrate with 60 modules.. a module being, 1 PC4 power strip (4 outlets per strip), SL1/2 for ORP,PH, Salinity, Temp.

    the power strips can control pumps, lights, basically whatever you want to plug into it you can control on/off. There are also additional features to control, say temp, if the temp of the water gets to high, you can turn off a heater, or the lights. You can control the times pumps come on and the frequency.

    One thing im not to sure of is monitoring temp outside of the water, i dunno if the temp probe they sell is able to do that but i never researched it.

    I have a reefkeeper lite on my 90g which only can handle 4 modules. And i love it mainly for lights and temp monitoring.

    Im getting a second one for my 30 shallow tank.

    also you can get the NET module which gives you an ethernet port, so you can plug it into a network and have access to it VIA a web interface anywhere and have control over your tank.

    ---------- Post added at 02:27 PM ---------- Previous post was at 02:26 PM ----------

    i should also add that they sell float switches for top offs or whatever you wanna do with them too.

  3. #3
    CR Member
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Location
    Lakewood, OH
    Posts
    8

    Default Re: Digital Aquatics Reef Keeper

    Quote Originally Posted by EMUreef View Post
    Im only gonna give you my experience with the Digital Aquatics Reef Keeper since its the only one i've used.

    If you get the elite system you can intergrate with 60 modules.. a module being, 1 PC4 power strip (4 outlets per strip), SL1/2 for ORP,PH, Salinity, Temp.
    ....
    also you can get the NET module which gives you an ethernet port, so you can plug it into a network and have access to it VIA a web interface anywhere and have control over your tank.
    Thanks EMU Reef: How was setup? Were the instructions in plain english? Did you have to 'code' your information in or did it have a good interface?

  4. #4
    EMUreef - Reefkeeper
    IT Guru

    Join Date
    May 2010
    Location
    Walled Lake, Michigan
    Posts
    1,029
    Awards March Madness Award - 2013 March Madness Winner Photo of the Month Fishbowl Drawing Winner

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by msk007 View Post
    Thanks EMU Reef: How was setup? Were the instructions in plain english? Did you have to 'code' your information in or did it have a good interface?
    no coding involved you can do it right through the controller interface which is just for example

    Plug 1 - pump - on/off than you can select the settings, so on.

    or you can do whats easier is use the SID which is basically a USB plug you can plug into your computer and into the controller set up, use the software you can get from them and you can set it up all via computer and add names to things and what not.

  5. #5
    CR Member
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Location
    Lakewood, OH
    Posts
    8

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by EMUreef View Post
    no coding involved you can do it right through the controller interface which is just for example

    Plug 1 - pump - on/off than you can select the settings, so on.

    or you can do whats easier is use the SID which is basically a USB plug you can plug into your computer and into the controller set up, use the software you can get from them and you can set it up all via computer and add names to things and what not.
    Thanks! I look forward to other's input on others as well!

  6. #6
    woods4542000 - Reefkeeper CR Member
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    Location
    webberville
    Posts
    216
    First Name
    mike

    Default

    Reef angel is a pretty wide open unit completely expandandable codi
    ng is involved, but people on forums are quick and friendly. And the base unit with 8 plugs is only 219$.

  7. #7
    CR Member
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Location
    El Cajon, CA
    Posts
    11
    First Name
    Russ

    Default

    The three primary contenders for controlling a system of that scale and complexity are the GHL Profilux 3, the Digital Aquatics Reefkeeper Elite, and the Neptune Systems Apex. The Profilix will cost a small king's ransom to build out to cover all of your requirements. The other two will still cost a good sum, but not nearly as much as the Profilux.

    The RKE is overall easier to use, but I think the Apex is more scalable and flexible for your purposes. As mentioned earlier, the RKE is primarily monitored and controlled via a PC software interface, with a limited web capability; the Apex is a web-based system. Apex systems have wired networking built in, the RK has an optional network module. Neither has native WiFi, but they can be connected to a wireless router with a third party wireless adapter which typically cost about $60. When connected to a network, both can do email alerts if configured conditions are met, ie temp or pH is too high or too low.

    Both RK and Apex have expansion modules to add the desired number of probes - temp, ORP, and salinity/conductivity. Both also have the capability to control 0-10v dimmable lighting and controllable Tunze Stream pumps. For the top-of-line Apex, this is built in (up to 4 channels of dimmable lighting or 4 Tunze pumps, or a combination thereof), and more channels can be added with add-on modules; the Apex Lite and RKE support these capabilities only through added modules.

    Apex can control Vortech pumps; RKE cannot. Both system can control AI Sol LED fixtures. Of note is that the DA module still does not support the Sol SuperBlue (3-channel control)

    Apex works with Macs; there is no support whatsoever for Macs from Digital Aquatics, if tags matters to you. Apex has an official iPhone/IPad app as well as a well-supported Android app from a third party. I am not entirely up to date on apps for DA controllers, so will leave any commentary on that to others.

    Russ
    http://www.reeftronics.net

  8. #8
    ROGERWILCO357 - Reefkeeper CR Member
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Location
    Michigan
    Posts
    202

    Default RKE works fine

    you can setup each pc4 to control whatever you have plugged into it halides on and off at set times , pumps ,it will ramp lights up and down , has alerts where if the tank gets to hot it will shut off halides or other heat producing elements mine shuts off the lights and heater also extra pumps running gfo and such I really like the ReefKeeperElite for its ease at setting up , but would like to buy the Apex for the vortech controller module alone ..

    good luck with your choice you cannot go wrong either way.

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