So... What can you do? DIY projects.

Discussion in 'Weekly Reef discussions' started by jlanger, Jun 9, 2016.

  1. jlanger

    jlanger "The North Remembers"
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    TCMAS Weekly Discussion

    We would like to get more reef related discussions going on the forum. We will post a weekly topic to get the discussion started then let you all take it from there. The rules are simple, keep on topic and keep it positive.

    This weeks topic: So... What can you do?

    What DIY projects you have attempted; successful and not so much?
    What outside knowledge, talents and abilities you have brought into or gained in this hobby?
    [SIZE=5][/SIZE]

    Since this hobby is just more than a box of water with pretty animals, it suggests that the hobbyist learn a wide array of knowledge, talents and abilities.
    Many of us probably never thought that we would learn so much about plumbing and electrical or chemistry and biology. And as we've dipped into these different areas of skill and knowledge, many of us have developed a knack for doing it ourselves; the DIY'ers.

    There is something to be said for those that like to take the challenge of designing/building/programming what we want for our systems by oneself. Of course, we all could just go out and purchase these items off the shelf or internet, but that's not what we're after.
    When a project is successful, there's the satisfaction that comes with that accomplishment. And there's also the pride associated with knowing that you did it yourself.
    Sometimes, it takes a few tries. Not every attempt is perfect; sometimes it's not every attempt is even close to what we thought. But the knowledge that we gain in trying to improve on the earlier attempts is what is really matters.
    When it comes down to it, this hobby really isn't just a box of water with pretty animals. We find ourselves brainstorming and researching a myriad of topics and projects to make that box of water into a working/living piece of art and science.

    What I would like to discuss this week is your DIY abilities and projects.
    There seems to be plenty of talented and knowledgable members here that have "done it themselves".
    Let us know what projects you have attempted; successful and not so much.
    Let us know what outside knowledge, talents and abilities you have brought into or gained in this hobby.
    And show us what you have designed/built/programmed; post some pics or share a link to your thread.
     
  2. ArstenA

    ArstenA I contributed!
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    Rodi controller - success
    ATS - success
    Led fixture - success
    Sump - success
    Stand - success
    Being awesome - fail
     
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  3. Leicester56

    Leicester56 I contributed!
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    1. 1. Been making my own filter socks for a year- successful and I learned how to use a sewing machine.
    2. Custom sump- sucessful. Learned how to work with silicone.
    3. Hardwood canopy- Not my first woodworking project by far, but I have zero painting/staining/sealing experience. The canopy was a success aside from a less than perfect stain job.
    4. I actually learned quite a bit just designing and installing drain and return plumbing for the 3 tanks I set up in my first year in the hobby.
     
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  4. Bodegus

    Bodegus I contributed!
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    Led fixture - success - But I spent more than buying Radions all said and done
    Sump - success but too specialized and not as future proof as I wanted.
    Stand - success no complaints
    Hardwood canopy - success no complaints
    8 outlet and LED microcontroller - success but Janky looking
     
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  5. marty9876

    marty9876 Banned
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    Stands and platforms - success
    ATS - success
    Sumps - success
    Acrylic work - crude success
    Sulfur denitrator retro of calcium reactor - fail boat
    More plumbing than is healthy - mostly success
    Drains - Herbie and Bean - would not call them successes yet, more like ongoing annoyances
    Fuges (macro, cryptic) - failures in achieving objectives
    Ghetto 100' Apex links via cat 5 cable - success
    Floats, switches, alarms, annoyances - mostly success (or I quit and called it a success, it's a gray area)
    General contracting of lots of other fish related things (metal work, floor reinforcement, in-wall plumbing), success.
     
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  6. OP
    jlanger

    jlanger "The North Remembers"
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    My foremost submission is building aquarium stands.
    I grew up with a dad that was a home builder and had a small garage shop, so I started early. I've spent the last 23 years working with wood; the last 15 years at my current shop where I build all of the custom cabinets for new construction and remodels.
    If I want something built from wood (cabinets, doors, trims, shelves, brackets, etc.), I prefer to do it myself so it matches my design/style and is the exact size I want.

    This is a stand and canopy I built based off of my own 120gal stand's design.

    [​IMG]

    Along with working with wood, I have dabbled with working with plastics; mostly polycarbonates but I would like to venture into acrylic fabrication also. I'm not confident in making something required to hold water yet, but I just need to spend more time playing around with making boxes.
    These are some of the frag racks, fish traps and other small projects I have built using polycarbonte.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]


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    A common DIY project in this hobby is the screen top.
    For my Fluval I had to come up with a design that allowed the lighting fixture mounts to be used without interfering with the screen, so I came up with this design.

    [​IMG]

    Working with pvc pipe and fittings; lots of experience there and almost required in this hobby.

    Designed and built my sump from a 40BR.
    I wanted to incorporate a frag section and have the return pump centrally located, so it took some creativity and custom glass pieces to achieve that goal.

    [​IMG]

    Not very difficult, but I built my own water change siphon from sch80 fittings and clear hose.
    The design here is that the siphon will drain exactly 24gal every water change. Since I use a 32gal Brute container on a dolly for moving water, I can walk away from the tank and know that it will not overflow.
    When I refill the tank, I attach a water pump to the end and the water enters the tank without disturbing the reef.

    [​IMG]

    And to know just how much water I have in my containers, I built a measuring stick from a piece of pvc pipe with vinyl decals.
    I repeatedly filled my Brute containers with 5gal of water at a time, recording the depths and doing simple math to figure out the depth at each gallon. This makes it so much easier when needing to know how much water I have.

    [​IMG]

    Way back in the early days, I built my own fluorescent and power compact fluorescent lighting fixtures, but I haven't played with LEDs yet.

    Also back in the early days, I built some DIY "aragorocks"; that name alone says how long ago that was. I don't have any digital photos from those days, but they were kinda cool but not really worth the time invested to make and cure them.
    I did make a DIY rock shelf for my nano tank from a piece of Pukani rock and some plastic coated magnets.

    [​IMG]

    And I suppose these are related to the reef hobby... my fish cookies.
    I build each and every cookie cutter myself from copper strips. And I decorate the cookies by hand to resemble various reef fish. I have plans this summer of changing the decorating techinique so that the cookies will be easier to ship; and hopefully look even more realistic.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    I think that covers most of what I have learned from and built for this hobby.
    Now I'm hungry for a cookie; or two!
     
    #6 jlanger, Jun 10, 2016
    Last edited: Aug 6, 2017
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  7. OP
    jlanger

    jlanger "The North Remembers"
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    Come on... there's more handy reefers out there!
    :bump1:
     
  8. cypho

    cypho I contributed!
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    What have DIY'ed everything that can reasonably be DIY'ed and a few that were not so reasonable. My most memorable projects include:

    air driven protein skimmer (a pretty big accomplishment considering i was in elementary school)
    syphon overflow & carlson (toilet bowl) wavemaker (jr high)
    dump bucket algae turf scrubber / wavemaker (highschool)

    My current system, everything from the Glass tank to the aquarium controller is DIY.

    Most out there: Artificial Sea salt - my own proprietary blend of table salt, Epsom Salt, ice melt salt, baking soda, and a few other things. yes, this actually worked / did not immediately kill fish or coral.
     
    #8 cypho, Jun 16, 2016
    Last edited: Jun 16, 2016
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  9. JuniorBirdHater

    JuniorBirdHater Senior Member
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    Current DIY Project is a large In-wall set up with a dedicated fish room behind. Framing and electrical underway.
    Am currently looking for a large tank, if anyone knows of one for sale. Would like something 4' - 6' long x 3' - 4' deep x 2' tall.

    Plumbing - For me noodling around with plumbing ideas is a never ending part of the hobby.

    Two powder coated tube steel stands which were fantastic and several wood stands.

    Several years back I modded some maxi-jets in to propeller style pumps and was able to coax them in to always spinning the correct way so i could run them on a wave-maker. Huge success.

    Also a while ago, Light fixture consisting of three 250w mH, two 6' long VHO and a smattering of moonlight LEDs.

    Made a skimmer out of a 5g salt bucket and ran it for a while on the 405g i had at that time. It was only a marginal skimmer and was ultimately replaced.
     
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  10. danknuc

    danknuc TCMAS Event Committee
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    Do you know the weight strength of the magnets you used? How did you know what size to use? Did you order them through one of the aquarium suppliers or a magnet supplier?
     
  11. danknuc

    danknuc TCMAS Event Committee
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    So far not done much with the tank other than some plumbing and putting dividers into a tank to make a refugium. I do not have a controller so I wired 3 outlets in my stand with a switch on two of them to be able to turn off a to mess with plugs.
    Also, wired a dedicated 15 amp outlet for my system since it was on my living room circuit.

    Failed at gluing acrylic to make a larger siphon overflow box, more just for tinkering sake than anything (my tank is not drilled). It was functional but very ugly.

    I also tinker in woodworking, nothing like jlanger but I can do some things. If the picture actually posts, it is showing the canopy I made to match the purchased stand so I didn't have the lights sitting on the top of the display.


    As stated before, I can do my own electrical (was a Navy Electrician for 20 years).

    I do a lot of water quality stuff at work from cooling tower chemistry to RO/DI for glass washers. We have from 20GPM to 90GPD RO units, DI beds, Continuous De-ionization Units, water chemistry controllers, and 10GPM UV sterilizers. We rebuilt all of our own water pumps ourselves and set up our own water cooling systems (mainly stainless steel and PVC because of the DI water)
    I can weld and have made various stands and support structures (MIG, TIG and Stick).

    As a hobby, I used to make my own PC's but I am not very good in the software end of it. I manage by myself but really know nothing about code.

    Also, as a Nuclear Propulsion Plant Supervisor I have been trained in water chemistry control and testing for submarine nuclear reactors.
     

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    #11 danknuc, Jun 21, 2016
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  12. OP
    jlanger

    jlanger "The North Remembers"
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    I purchased the magnets from K&J Magnetics for my magnetic frag racks and fish trap. Since I had a some of them left over, I used those. They're strong enough to hold a full 12oz. can on ¾" thick glass, so I knew that they would be strong enough on the ¼" glass on my Fluval.
    The K&J website has the pull strengths of each magnet listed. If you purchase any magnets for your tank, make sure you buy the plastic coated ones; the epoxy coated magnets scratch to easily and expose the magnet.

    BTW... if you click on my link above for the rock shelf, specific information is discussed in the build thread.
     
    #12 jlanger, Jun 21, 2016
    Last edited: Jun 21, 2016
  13. danknuc

    danknuc TCMAS Event Committee
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    Thanks, I did not notice the link before. I am going to give it a try, your directions are very well written.


    Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
     
  14. acharpenter

    acharpenter Senior Member
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    I can project manage like no ones business! Do that count?
     
  15. blennieluvr

    blennieluvr TCMAS Event Committee
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    Throughout the years, my hubby and I have DIY'd some projects. Usually, I have the idea and he builds it. So, that would probably be a HBI (hubby built it) project. The first I can remember was a 10g AIO setup with false back wall and a little air-stone style skimmer. Cute little tank that won a build contest and earned me some corals. Success! We did our own plumbing to a basement sump once.....I really miss having that sump room but we have moved since then and it doesn't work in our current home. So I would say, also a success. Also, have made rock (I didn't use it so not sure.), screen cover for existing tanks, the usual frag racks, food... I'm sure there's more. I learn something with each project so they all have all been successful. My current setup, I designed and had a friend build. It's mostly a success. He did an awesome job. There are some things I would change of I could do it all over again.
     
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  16. Pharmascience

    Pharmascience Banned

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