Getting back to work

Elbow is feeling better and it is high time to get back to work! I got most of this done before my injury, so I’m just catching up on the blog. The outer frame of the stand is just held together with glue and nails. That’s really not gonna cut it. I added a second inner frame that connects all of the pieces together more firmly. Then I put cross supports on the top and bottom to support the bases for the tank and sump.

Inner Frame Added

I wanted to see how the front door would look, so I went a little bit out of order and made that next. It is made out of 1×6 and 1×2 sides. I think it came out really nice. There is an 1/8″ gap between each horizontal board to allow for some air flow.

Front door

Next up are the bases for the sump and tank to sit on. These are just made out of 3/4″ pine plywood. I decided not to do cutouts for the frame in the sump so I would have a lip for a support on the door to sit on. The frame was racked by about 1/4″ which was really annoying, but thankfully easy to fix. I nailed the front edge of the base to the top of the stand and then clamped the other end to pull it straight. Popped in a few more nails and it was back to square ūüôā

Bases loaded!

From here I’m going to paint the inside of the stand and then stain the outside so I can finally get the tank back on here and cycling. Once that’s all going I can finish building the doors and stain them separately.

More to follow…

Turning big pieces of wood into smaller pieces of wood…

With plans in hand, I took a trip to ye-old Home Depot to pick up my supplies. I needed to rent their truck, so I bought more than I needed and I also picked up some supplies for other projects. No I’m not using landscaping timbers in my build!¬†It was hard to find enough 2×1 pine boards that were straight. I went through probably 50 to get the ones I needed.

Raw materials for the stand and some landscaping stuff around the house too.

I quickly got to work cutting everything down to size, starting with the frame boards themselves. I figured if I go a section at a time it will allow me to adjust my cuts for any imperfections along the way. I bought a new blade for my miter saw and whew does that make some smooth cuts!

I cut down all the boards for the frame first.

Once the boards were all cut, it was on to the Kreg jig for pocket screws. I put a pair on each end of the cross supports. A little clamping and a few screws later and I had four frame sections done.

Clamping one side of the frame to screw together. The bottom board was just there temporarily, that isn’t the height of it.

Things were going along really well and I was getting an hour or so in each day to get more together. After about a week or so I got the whole frame together, glued, and nailed together. There will be an inner frame to add rigidity and to hold everything together better.

Frame glued together

You know how when things seem to be going well something has to go wrong, right? Well….

So yeah, I broke my elbow. Not doing this! You remember those landscaping timbers from earlier in the post? Those were for a new swing set we got for our kids. I needed to level off a large space for it to be installed. I rented one of these bad boys to do the hard work…

It really worked well. Throws you around a bit, but it was a lot of fun. I rented a second bucket for it so I could move a ton of mulch around to get more bang for my rental buck. I changed out the bucket and went to get back on to start moving mulch around and….. I tripped and fell on my concrete driveway. OUCH!

Long story short, fractured my radius at the elbow and I’ll be immobilized for 2 weeks and then another 6 before I can really do anything with it. Looks like I’m gonna have to hit pause for a while.

DIY Stand (Planning Stage)

When breaking down my tank for a reboot, I discovered that my stand had pretty sever water damage and needed to be replaced. Originally I just wanted to paint the stand white to match the rest of the room. Since that was no longer an option, I decided to build one myself. I have 6 weeks to get this done, so it is going to be a lot of little bits of work between work and dinner most nights.

The nice thing about starting over is that I can design it the way I want it, not the way it came. I would love to have a “dry” compartment for electronics and a larger sump area that can fit my top off and dosing containers. I did some digging and found a few design elements that I liked and then I jumped into SketchUp to draw it all out.

Here’s what I came up with:

Stand Rendering

The tank is 24×24″ but this stand is 36×33″ (including the shelf on the top). The extra space allows me to create the shelf, a nice thing to have to put things down on while working, and to create the extra space inside that I need for the electronics and equipment.

Stand with Doors Removed

To maximize the interior space and my access to it, I’ve designed the doors to take up the entire face of three sides. The doors will be the skin when installed. They’ll all be held on with magnets so I can get them out of the way while working. That’s another thing about my current stand that bothers me. I have to twist and work around the doors.

Stand without the Doors

Here’s the stand without the doors. You can see on the left side there is a “dry” compartment to hold my electronics. On the right side is where the sump and all of the related components will go. As you can see, looooooots of space.

Rendering of it all together

And finally, here is everything all together. Now…. to the shop!

Flood No More!

I have an amazingly supportive and understanding wife. She’s never said no to any of my aquarium projects. That said, I think the last time I flooded the basement making RO water pushed the limits. We have high CO2 in our water, so I need to degas it before running it through the DI stage. That means I need to fill up a bucket and run an air stone in it for 24 hours. It takes me about an hour to fill up this 5g bucket with my booster pump set to 85 PSI. I used to just set a timer on my phone and go down to the basement and shut the production off. That’s worked fine 95% of the time, but I’ve flooded the floor and my workbench at least 5 times. The last time I wound up with about 20 gallons on the floor. Whoops!

My¬† booster pump has a pressure switch to shut down the pump and a solenoid to shut off the water flow. There’s really no reason I shouldn’t have this set up with a float valve to turn everything off automatically. Bulk Reef Supply makes a kit with everything you need to do this for just $25. (Click Here)

In the kit you get a fixed position float valve, some rigid 1/4″ tube, a check valve and an auto shut off valve. Installation took me all of 5 minutes. Let’s review each part and what they’re for…

The fixed position float valve is very similar to how your toilet works. It is just a simple hollow space that floats when the water reaches it. Once enough water is in the bucket, the valve at the back of it closes. There are some options out there for adjustable position float valves, but don’t buy them! You’re liable to forget to check if it is tight and the valve will never shut off.

The rigid tube is fairly self explanatory. They give you plenty. One section goes between the compression fitting at the back of the valve and the output side of the check valve. The rest goes either to your DI output or your RO output and hooks into the other end of the check valve.

The check valve is important. You don’t want water to flow back into your RO system and you need it to build up the needed pressure to shut the system down when the valve closes. Make sure you have the flow pointed into your bucket.

The final piece of the puzzle is an automatic shut off valve. This closes the drain line when no water is flowing through the system. If you didn’t use this, even though you aren’t making product water you would still be putting water down the drain. This simple device senses when no product water is moving through and also shuts off the drain line.

Here’s what my completed setup looks like. You can see the output of my RO (which is connected to my TDS meter) running up to the input of the check valve (the white side). Then from the check valve into the compression fitting on the valve. (The tube coming out of the bottom goes to my DI stage after this water is degassed)

Inside the bucket is the float valve. I set it so I can mostly fill this bucket up.

And that’s it! Simple project with hopefully big and dry results.

Weird/New Way to Frag Zoas and Palys

I think we are all familiar with the standard way to frag zoas and palys. ¬†You cut them off a rock or cut a frag plug and glue them on another. ¬†Pretty simple, right? ¬†I usually wind up whacking a few polyps in the process and as a result I’ve tended to just go with “natural frags” by putting a piece of rubble next to a colony and waiting until it grows onto it. ¬†I came across a really cool thread on Reef2Reef.com¬†where “GoFish” talks about a new and quite possibly brilliant approach. ¬†Just cut the top of the polyp off an glue it to a plug and you wind up with two polyps…. How could that work!?

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