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-   -   Timer watering for holidays/travel (http://www.orchidboard.com/community/parts-and-equipment/102094-timer-watering-holidays-travel.html)

SouthPark 12-27-2019 06:33 PM

Timer watering for holidays/travel
 
6 Attachment(s)
This is another one of those threads - sharing automated techniques.

I'm not going on holidays just yet. But preparing in advance for it. Early testing of the watering method and system.

At the moment, the system is based on some device available on ebay stores called 'easygrow drip irrigation'. The ones I bought are cylindrical casings that houses the electronics and 2 buttons, with a green coloured panel on the top.

It allows you to water each day, or every 2 days or every 3 days, or every 4 days, etc.....depends on what we pre-set it to. It runs on four 'AAA' batteries. Not 'AA'.....they are triple-A batteries. Apparently should be able to handle holiday trips of up to a few weeks. This is what I will be testing later too.

The system comes with dripper spikes, but they're not going to be much use for orchids and orchid-growing-media.

So instead, I have options - such as using spikes to hold down watering tubes (terminated on the end with a plug so that water doesn't run out the open end of the tubes). I put holes along the length of the watering tube with a soldering iron.

I also have the option of putting holes at the top of plastic pots for passing the watering tubes through the tops of the plastic pots.

Another option is to put small holes at the top of the plastic pots (using soldering iron), and then run each tube over the top of the pot, and use twist-ties (those green coloured gardening strips) and the holes for fixing the positions of the watering tubes.

The watering tubes come in a rolled up coil, which can be cut to desired lengths with scissors. One issue is that the tubes retain a curved shape due to the coiling. It is relatively easy to undo the curve (or even make the tube curve the other way if needed) by either heating the tube in an oven to say 100 degree C for a little while, or run the tube across a powerful 'heat gun', or dunk the tube in very hot water for a while. The idea is to get the tube hot enough, which makes the tube fairly pliable again. This allows you to reshape the tube when the tube is hot enough - just hold the tube in whatever shape you want. And the new shape becomes retained when the tube cools down again.

The timer obviously should be set to some satisfactory watering time. Too much watering may result in too much build-up of water in the draining dish/tray, which could be an issue.

The timer needs to be reliable too obviously - as in turning off properly after the watering duration time is reached (eg. 20 seconds). The timer also needs to be reliable - running at the correct schedule. So enough testing needs to be done in advance, before a trip.

I also looked inside this irrigation device to see what sort of pump and motor is inside it. And after finding out, I ordered some of the same sort of pump/motor parts, which will later allow for our own custom electronics and user interface to work with (for reliability and features).

At the moment, it looks like this 'easygrow' device should get the job done. I think this 'easygrow' name isn't unique. It's probably just been mass produced, and various sellers pop their own name/brand on it.

A forum member mentioned this 'easygrow' device. So that's what I'm testing. They said it worked for approximately 10 plants. This is what I'm going to be testing. I personally didn't think the easygrow pump will accommodate 2 pots - let alone up to 10 pots - which is the reason why I purchased two of these easygrow kits, plus pump-motor assemblies for future work.


http://www.orchidboard.com/community...1&d=1577489656
Above: the whitish spikes are only used for holding down the watering tubes in place. If the spikes aren't secure enough and move around too much, then other methods can be used to keep the watering tubes in place. Working well for ONE pot.


http://www.orchidboard.com/community...1&d=1577489656
Above: showing the 'easygrow' watering device.



http://www.orchidboard.com/community...1&d=1577489656
Above: another way to insert the watering tubes. Holes made by a soldering iron at the tops of pots (ie. putting a hot soldering iron tip into the side of the pot, melting the plastic to form holes) for inserting the tubes. Each tube goes into one hole, then comes out of the other. Working well for ONE pot.



http://www.orchidboard.com/community...1&d=1577489656
Above: note the little holes in the watering tubes, also made by hot soldering iron tips. Just place the holes where-ever they are needed. Some adjustments of the tube may be needed sometimes - to straighten out the watering tube on the media surface, so that the water coming out of the holes come out cleanly.



http://www.orchidboard.com/community...1&d=1577520371
Above: another mounting arrangement for the watering tubes. Using the green 'twist-ties'. There are two separate (individual) tubes. The two tubes are connected together by a 'T piece' or 'T connector'. The T piece is then also connected to the water supplying tube (the third tube for supplying the water). Working well for ONE pot.



http://www.orchidboard.com/community...1&d=1577565678
Above: two separate DC motor/pump units, purchased from ebay stores - which are the same kind of water transferring part inside these 'easygrow' drip irrigation devices. These can run at 6 volt (DC). They can also run at other voltages, such as 5 volt, or maybe even 8 volt DC. But 5 or 6 volt is recommended for 'battery' operation.


Diane56Victor 12-27-2019 10:02 PM

Re the water build in the dish.
Would it be possible to double up on the racks you have in the dishes, that could stop the bottom of the pot being in water, but keep the dish full....for humidity.

SouthPark 12-27-2019 11:14 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Diane56Victor (Post 907692)
Re the water build in the dish.
Would it be possible to double up on the racks you have in the dishes, that could stop the bottom of the pot being in water, but keep the dish full....for humidity.

A top idea Diane. I think I will go ahead to do that.

Normally, I can control the amount of drainage as I do manual watering.

But automatic watering using this basic automated system can lead to too much water draining out of the pot. A thicker drain grate, such as double grate will sort out any possible issues.

Thanks for that excellent suggestion. It's definitely workable.


DirtyCoconuts 12-28-2019 09:13 PM

I think the setup looks top shelf. If you don’t mind, what does one of the pumps cost and how many plants can you run for each pump?

Other questions, can you post a pic of the res? Is it a common res for all the pumps or on for each? You might want to set up discrete reservoirs in case one pump goes haywire and decides to run continually...with your drainage the plant would be fine but all the other plants on the same reservoir would be quite thirsty....

An old spear fisherman once taught me that redundancy means you MIGHT be ready lol

SouthPark 12-28-2019 10:41 PM

2 Attachment(s)
Quote:

Originally Posted by DirtyCoconuts (Post 907729)
I think the setup looks top shelf. If you don’t mind, what does one of the pumps cost and how many plants can you run for each pump?

DC ..... I'll eventually find out what this particular easygrow unit is capable of. I'm just beginning to test it with the supplied items, and my own four AAA batteries.

Yesterday, I found no problem for a single pot, with water tubes (4-way connect, ---- ie. 3 watering tubes and 1 supply tube).

Today, I find that the flow becomes weaken pretty dramatically when applied to just 2 pots.

So this morning, I'm trying a different tube-termination arrangement, as shown in the pics below, which is working with 2 pots. Each pot has 2 tubes, with each tube connected to the supplied drip-nozzle. It's not connected in the 'standard way'. I just need a nozzle that allows the water to spread out, but doesn't lose a heap of pressure.

The limitation of course is in the power supplied to the pump/motor and the 6V battery! There wouldn't be a problem with a more substantial pump and pump power - such as a hefty 12 volt battery or mains-power (with battery backup etc).

The reservoir is described to be as large as practical. The instructions say the reservoir (I assume water surface level) needs to be below the pot level to avoid gravity siphon effects.


http://www.orchidboard.com/community...1&d=1577590855

http://www.orchidboard.com/community...1&d=1577590855

DirtyCoconuts 12-29-2019 01:46 AM

Shame about that last part... I was going to suggest that you could take advantage of your “steps growing area” and have the water flow down to the plants greatly reducing the resistance and increasing the efficiency and productivity of the pump.....

Maybe inline check valves?


I know most aquarium stores would have them in whatever diameter tubing that is

SouthPark 12-29-2019 04:24 AM

1 Attachment(s)
Quote:

Originally Posted by DirtyCoconuts (Post 907734)
have the water flow down to the plants greatly reducing the resistance and increasing the efficiency and productivity of the pump.....

That's definitely a decent idea to try out DC. For my regular plants, I use 24 volt AC mains powered solenoid valve that waters regular pot plants with those generic micro-spray irrigation accessories - using a fairly reliable mains-powered home timer system (with battery backup for the time-clock). Works excellently for regular potted plants - out in the garden. But the timer doesn't get down to options for number of seconds water duration hahaha.

I hadn't got around to purchasing (finding) or making a controller for setting the number of seconds.

I'll do some more testing and trials with this easygrow device. And tomorrow will try to get some of these water dispersing components (click here) - and see how they perform.

It looks like the easygrow unit can handle at least 2 pots (as that's what I've tested so far). A needed key component will be a water dispersing component - that can spread the water around, rather than all the water getting dumped in a localised spot.

It also looks like for those with a few orchids to take care of (while on holiday), the easygrow can handle it.

For those with much more than a few plants - a much more powerful and versatile system (as well as reliable) might be needed.

I usually have someone going out of their way to keep an eye on the orchids and help with watering when I'm away.

But I recently decided it's a good time as any to being testing these off-the-shelf watering systems for indoor and semi-indoor usage.

I'll report on the results of how well (or how bad) these work with the easygrow system tomorrow. My plan is not to use them as spray jets, but to just spurt some water outwards - even if I have this component oriented upside-down.

--------------------------------------------

UPDATE: The water dispersal is ok for two pots.

I think one issue is that the easygrow kit has tube connectors, but the diameter of these connectors appears to be 3 mm, while the inner diameter of the tubes supplied by the easygrow kit is 5 mm.

So my assumption is that these easy-grow adapters (such as T pieces) are constricting flow unnecessarily.

The setup with the adjustable water spurter heads is shown in the photo below.

I think that - for handling many more pots, a more powerful pump system will be needed.

So all this will likely and eventually head towards a more powerful system - such as fed by water mains and powered by mains electricity (with battery back-up of course).

When water mains is concerned - it usually pays to use the best water connecting components (tubes, connectors, tap fittings etc) --- otherwise - leaks and water gushing out of busted components could create really bad situations.

http://www.orchidboard.com/community...1&d=1577696898



Ray 12-29-2019 07:06 AM

There are lots of short-duration, repeat-cycle timers available. Google that or "hydroponics timer". The one that came with my Mist-King system was similar to this, which can be programmed for "on" cycles as little as 1 second.:

https://hydrofarm.com/img/l/2l98ba5/...Angle.jpg?s=lg

SouthPark 12-29-2019 07:09 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Ray (Post 907738)
There are lots of short-duration, repeat-cycle timers available. Google that or "hydroponics timer". The one that came with my Mist-King system was similar to this, which can be programmed for "on" cycles as little as 1 second.:

That's awesome Ray. I'll google that one to take a look at it. Thanks for sharing that information about this particular unit that's similar to yours.

DirtyCoconuts 12-29-2019 10:14 AM

I had an idea....but I think it wouldn’t work but I wanted to share in case it helps you come up with other ideas

What if you only had one hole in the tube to feed ea h plant, by the tube kept going into another pot and then another for a total of two or three per tube.
I realize that there are two likely failures, all the water comes out of the first tube and none makes it to the other plants or 2) not enough gets to the last plant BUT, if you want to try to ‘ daisy chain ‘ it then you might get less set ups per plant and save money


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