It seems a lot of people are interested in how I built my set-up, so I?ll give as many details as I can covering the construction and operation aspects of plumbing an external reservoir with a controller bucket in DWC. I won?t cover the actual building of the bubbler buckets, this can already be found in the FAQ section on bubbler information. This set-up took me quite a while to construct, many parts were bought and never used, basically trial and error until I got it right. Only a few people on this board run DWC with a controller and external reservoir. I will be explaining how to build this set-up slightly different than mine, as I have discovered a few problems that could use some improvement. First off, let?s cover the supplies and tools you?ll need, this took me quite some time to figure out what will work and what wouldn?t.
What you will need..
13 X 1/2? Rubber Grommets - 3 box of 5@$1.49 = $4.47
8 X ? Barbed elbow fittings 8@$1.38 = $11.04
5 X ? Barbed straight fittings 5@$.88 = $4.40
Roll of ? Poly Water line = $5.76
1 X ? On/Off valve = $1.95
5/8? & ? bit =$10.39 + $7.98 = $18.37
Rubbermaid reservoir(33 gal in this case) = $14.97
G.H. Float valve = $14.95
4 X ? Tee-sleeve fittings 4@$2.14 = $8.56
Boxcutter = $2.39
Vinyl tubing = $2.96
Power Drill with 5/8? & ? bit
A water pump of some kind is good for changing out the nutrients, I use a Rio 1100, and it seems to be adequate.
Obviously, this set-up is designed to be leak free, and if you do as I did, you can accomplish this as well. This is easily done with a steady hand when using your drill. You must be very careful when drilling your holes in your buckets. My 5/8? bit has a corkscrew on the tip for stabilization; I recommend these for a good clean cut. Hold your drill perfectly straight up, aim about -1/2? above the bottom of the buckets, then drill all the way through in a fast, steady motion, at the drill?s full-throttle. It?s best to drill the holes at the bottom to ensure full water pressure, which is applied by gravity(hole location applies to plant and control buckets). I had trouble getting watertight seals until I came across a drill bit with a screw on the very end to lead into your cuts. After that, getting perfect cuts was very easy. If there are any frays or bits of plastic left around the hole you just made, cut them off carefully with a box-cutter, making sure not to damage the edges of the hole, which will soon ensure a watertight seal with your grommets. Do this to all of your buckets, and to your controller bucket. The amount of holes you drill on your controller bucket will depend on how many buckets you have. I have 8, so I drilled 4 holes in the control bucket, so each outgoing line can feed 2 buckets each.
After you have made all your holes-- carefully I hope-- it is now time to insert the rubber grommets. This can be quite painful if you don?t have tough hands. The trick is to get a small part inserted first, then work it in all the way around in a circle until you get back to where you started. If everything went right, you should have half of the grommet inside the bucket and half outside. Reach inside your bucket, grab the edges of the grommet and pull any part of the lip that didn?t go through from the outside. Also make sure the inner ring is completely flush with the inside wall, otherwise they might not seal watertight. I also insert a flathead screwdriver into the grommets, making sure the inside of the grommet is as close to the edge of the drilled hole as possible. Do this to all the buckets, your reservoir, and to your control bucket as well.
Now it?s time to insert the barbed fittings. You may need a small amount of Vaseline to get these babies in. If you don?t, then you may have drilled too big of a hole and therefore will not be watertight. Wipe off the excess that oozes out of the sides. Use the straight barbed fittings for the control bucket, and the elbow-barbed fittings for the plant buckets. Place the fittings in all of your buckets. Make sure that the buckets? fittings face the direction of the fitting of the bucket it will be linked to.
The control Bucket..
To change out the nutrients in this system, simply place a water pump in the control bucket, and have it pump into an empty bucket. You?ll have to make several trips to get this done. Also, you?ll have to wait for the control bucket to fill back up with nutes, which comes in from the plant buckets. Most of the nutrient gunk that builds up in the system can be removed after it?s sucked into the control bucket. The only thing about changing the nutes, you can only get the system?s water level down to the level of the water pump?s intake. The rest can be removed by hand if needed. I usually have a full reservoir of fresh nutes waiting to be pumped in after I drain everything out.
A look inside the bucket..
The Outgoing lines..
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