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Looking for advice - aero/T5HO

86stang

New Member
Hey guys, first post here. Have done some reading around here, seems like a good place for me to plan and document my second grow. Starting from scratch, have some good ideas though I think.

Needs:
Low budget, energy efficient

Wants:
1st go at aeroponics, and hydroponics in general
simple grow
Small, little consumables, reliable
Grow some awesome stuff

My plan was based on this idea:
An Easy to Make Homemade Aeroponics System

It looks like a cheap setup to me, and easily doable with on hand resources. It recommended a 200GPH pump, and I just so happen to have one of those from a previous project. It is... this guy.

I was curious about how many plants I should put in a 5 gallon bucket though. 3-4 would be ideal for me, but I didn't know if there was an effective size limitation on that.

I am planning on using tap water (ours isnt bad here) that has sat out for a few days to remove the chlorine. Would there be any benefit to filtering the water through a Brita, or purchasing water from the store for the project?

Planning on using BIOCANNA Bio Vega and/or Bio Flores nutrients. Is there a real benefit to using both versus one or the other being acceptable for both stages?

I think a 20" box fan aimed at the plants should keep their stems strong... good idea, bad idea?

As far as lighting goes, I think I've settled on this: 2 Foot 2 Lamp PL-55 Tek Lamp. Two 55W T5 High output lamps. I am thinking I'm definitely going to get both grow and flower lamps, the price difference is only 14 bucks. 10000 lumens is what they claim. Hooked up on a timer of course, was thinking 18/6 then 12/12.

As far as what I'm growing... anyone have experience with these?
Acapulco Gold
Tangerine Dream
Super Lemon Haze

Any criticism or advice is welcome. Not that experienced, but I think I can do a decent grow for around 200 bucks. I imagine the aeroponics is better than soil by a large factor, and it seems much simpler to regulate nutrients and ph, while never having to worry about how much water they are getting.
 

Stoned4daze61

New Member
Hello, Im not the most experienced grower by far but you may want to consider a different lighting setup. For vegging they would be okay but your not gonna be getting the kind of dense good quality buds that your after. I mean yes it will work as many people might state but after putting all this work & money in I don't think you would want to sacrifice your quality by going cheap on a light. Also the T5's are higher wattage but they put out less lumens which is what you are after. The T12's are supposed to be more efficient with more lumens, & less watts. Personally I would do some more research & get some more opinions before spending $70+ on that T5. You could go a lot further if you spend money wisely, I built a homeade CFL light from home depot that cost me $60. Currently I have 12 26watt daylight bulbs & 5 26watt soft whites in it. The bulbs are 1750 lumens each so do the math, 1750x17=29,750 lumens.

Also, about the aero bucket, don't quote me on this but I've heard people having problems with aero setups that doesnt use a fine mist. I Don't mean to be a downer but I have an aero cloner that uses the ez-clone sprayer heads & some even complain that that isnt a fine enough mist. It works great for clones but most people use high pressure aeroponics & the sprayer heads spray such a fine mist. The water coming out of the hose in your picture looks like a straight flow of water not even a mist. Are you using netpots, if so what size ? Depending on the spacing between plants, and length of veg you may not want more then one plant per bucket because you will get massive root growth & you don't want plants competing.

For nutrients, was there a specific reason you wanted to try the Biocanna? You may want to try a complete nute kit, like fox farms trio, general hydroponics GO box or Technafloras Recipe For Success. They all come with the base nutrients for Vegging & flower & also come with several supplemental nutes. I would suggest using a 1/3 or 1/4 of the concentration recommended on the bottle.

As I said earlier I'm not a pro so If any growers see anything incorrect or misleading please don't hesitate to step in and correct me
 

86stang

New Member
From what I've read as far as efficiency goes, T5>T8>T12 and such. It looks like T5 is the most expensive by far, so maybe I'll have to consider a T8 setup. Still up in the air, I'd like to hear more opinions.

Do you think 4 buckets would make that much of a difference over one? I'm not going to grow them huge, probably switching the lights when they hit 18 inches or so.

I always could get some of those nozzles and try that, I've heard they get clogged though.

Netpots was the idea, yes. 4 inch I think would be ideal if I could find that. Open for advice on that too.

The Biocanna is organic so there shouldn't be any chemicals throwing off the pH that far, and it also comes in one bottle. Simple and effective is what I was going for there.
 

Stoned4daze61

New Member
Sorry, I must have been mistaken. I looked up a few journals with T5's & they look decent. I'm just kinda skeptical about them for $70, supposedly they are more efficient but run hotter so you have to keep them a little further then T8's or T12's. Personally I would feel like i'm getting ripped off for only 10,000 lumens. Especially when I could make a CFL hood with 3x the lumens for the same cost. Even my 150w HPS that was $60 puts out 16,000 lumens.

But that's just me, to each his own.

I've been using my 2 cloner buckets constantly for the past 5 months and I have had 1 sprayer head clog, which took about 10 seconds to replace. I change my reservoir every 2 weeks and clean with bleach.

Wouldn't it be easier to build an aero system with a reservoir using 5x5 fence posts and a tough box tote ? Kinda similar to the expensive aeroflow setups ? It would be more work to fabricate but would work fantastic & i'm sure after a few harvests you would never regret it.

Putting multiple plants in a single aero bucket would most likely cause problems. Ive seen a rootball that filled an entire bubble bucket (5 gallon). Especially with Aero since the roots will block the misters, grow into the pump, compete with each other, etc. Usually people who make aero systems in buckets or tubs that intend to flower the plant in there have separate reservoirs.

I've seen people using organics having problems with ph still but I can't help too much there. Dynagro is also another excellent choice if you end up ditching the biocanna. It is complete with macro & micro nutrients, & gives incredible results

For the first 2 weeks or so you could give your plants 24/0 for improved growth & then switch to 18/6 or personally I prefer 20/4

Anyways what ever you end up deciding on :goodluck:

Also, 18 inches is still a decent height before switching to flowering considering plants will generally grow 2-3x larger then Veg size. You would DEFINITELY have a decent sized root mass with that plant
 

86stang

New Member
If you have some good ideas on cheaper lighting, I'm all for it. One person will say T5 is the way to go, others say HPS/MH, LED looks promising. What kind of ideas do you have for cheap lighting that can support a minimum of four plants effectively? What I've read said 2500 lumens per plant was plenty, so I was thinking 10000 would be good for four. Do you think I need more than that? I've grown plants on much less than that, but I wouldn't call it spectacular results. Really trying to avoid HPS/MH, that seems better suited to larger operations and doesn't seem as efficient as I'd like.

I'll look into the sprayer heads if you think it'll make a difference. Means I have to revamp the idea completely. I liked the idea of the bucket because it is self contained - no drains or pressure lines going everywhere. If you have a good example of how to do a better system while still keeping it somewhat simple and the cost down, I'm all ears.

Putting multiple plants in a single bucket was the hope, but if it can't happen, it can't happen. Would I be able to use the single pump I had for enough sprayers for 4 plants in separate buckets? It moved more than enough water for an automotive A/C condenser based heat exchanger for my dorm room. 200GPH, 4.5' head max.

Biocanna was what I read works, but if someone else has experience with something else that will produce better results, I'm game. I haven't purchased anything yet, wanted a second or third opinion on the idea.

I'll do 24/0 for the first two weeks, then 20/4, then 12/12.

Do you think 18 inches is too much then or just right? Seems to be a good sweet spot for indoor grows.

Thanks for all your help by the way. I was hoping more people would chime in. I'm trying to make a quality production, but can't do that without a little help from those more experienced. Know which battles to fight and when to ask for help.
 

Stoned4daze61

New Member
LED's are becoming more popular & I'm interested in one myself when I can save up the cash. If you are trying to stay on a low budget then LED's are probably not what you are looking for. I agree with you on the Fact the HPS/MH would not be very well suited for your grow. 10,000 Lumens would work but the more lumens the better, fatter, denser, more potent nugs.

If your interested I built a 8 bulb & a 12 bulb CFL Fixture

8 bulb fixture costs $30-40 to make, 2 ft Long, 14,000 lumens with cheap 26-27watt bulbs

Or you could go all out & make a 12 bulb fixture, $40-$50, 21,000 lumens

I have 11 plants Vegging under my 12 bulb hood and they are doing great !

Also, im sorry if you end up revamping your idea but I know how much of a pain in the ass it is when you figure that out right after you built the initial idea. If you are going for simple, then you may want to try something other then Aero as you have to keep up on proper maintenance & have to consider lots of things.

- Separate reservoir for flowering systems so roots do not clog pump
- Reservoir temp ( Need to keep reservoir at certain temp, I think ideal is around 68 degrees) May need to consider water chiller which is more $$
- That pump may not be adequate for several buckets
- You need to use a cycle timer ( I use the NFT1e) 1 min on/ 4 min off
- You REALLY need to closely monitor ph/ppm's/ water level

I'm not sure how much research you've done on Aero or how familiar you are with it but it takes some time & work but you are awarded with fantastic results.

Type in "Harvest a pound every 3 weeks" & you will find designs from Stinkbud on how to make a Aero flower unit along with his Veg unit & cloner. Many people have had great success with these units.

Flipping at 18 inches is fine

No problem, its my pleasure to help as much as possible I am surprised myself no one else has given their input yet, good luck
 

Stoned4daze61

New Member
If you're interested in those CFL fixtures I made here are the parts, all from home depot

- 4-6 bulb vanity fixture ($10-20)
- 4-6 Y socket bulb adapters ($2.50 ea)
- Bulbs (Larger packs the cheaper)
- You have to wire it which take 5 minutes tops (Super Simple)

Here are some pics

8 Bulb

2011-08-12_23_21_33.jpg
2011-08-13_00_01_54.jpg
2011-08-13_00_02_57.jpg


12 Bulb

Light_1.jpg
Light_22.jpg
Light_3.jpg
 

86stang

New Member
Nice, I like the setup. Very cheap. Will definitely consider it as an option for some supplemental side lights, but really want tubes for the mains.

I've revamped the idea and priced it out. I think I'm going to do a design similar to the one used in the 'harvest a pound every three weeks.'

The plan is a single five gallon bucket with lid in the center, acting as the main reservoir with easy access and containing the pump.

I'm going to build the setup with the 200GPH pump I have and test it. I may have to get a larger pump, and if thats the case, I'll do it for aero! ;)

I will be using two 18 gallon totes, approx 24"L x 18"W x 15" deep. Each tote will have two holes in the lid, containing six inch net pots with expanded clay pellets, and perlite/vermiculite if you think it will help it. I will have a rigid PVC setup with 330deg and 180deg sprayers, so each plant will be sprayed from four sides. Not sure how high up I should mount this in the tote, any recommendations? It will be essentially an '8' pattern, with squares of PVC around the lovely roots.

I think primary lighting will be done by two fixtures. Each is a 4' 2 bulb T5HO fixture, rated at 10000 lumens each. 20000 total lumens, for a 4-6 sq ft grow. Think that will suffice? I looked into HID, but I think its too hot for where I'm trying to do this.

Total cost of the project before seeds and using the pump I currently have totals around 250. However, if it goes well it could easily pave the way for expansion. Possibly LED or HID supplemented by the T5HOs, for 8 plants. :yummy:

I think I'm going to go with Dynagrow for nutrients. Price looks good, reviews are good.

Do you think a cycle timer is required? If so, could I get around it with an air stone? Cycle timers look expensive... I can't imagine why.

I have the option of doing this in either an attic, closet, or basement. I was thinking the basement might keep the water cool enough, but then I might need a heater. Hmm. I'll just have to run the system for a day after I build it for testing and see what the water temps are like.

Oh, and what can i use to test my nutrient concentration and how much i put in? cheaper = better, but it has to work.
 

Stoned4daze61

New Member
I've done some more research technically this is not true "Aeroponics" it is considered Hydro or Aero-Hydro. Here is a post another grow wrote

Mini sprinkler heads, spinning disks, and tubes with pin holes.
Technically this is not really Aeroponics. It's still effective, but it is hydroponics. The water droplets they produce are quite large in comparison to other methods. These types of systems are usually in small containers or PVC fence posts. This is a bad thing because the purpose of aeroponics is to suspend the roots. a puddle forms when the roots hit bottom and it becomes more of a deep water culture. They use a pump you can buy at wal-mart for under $50. Again not really aeroponics.

Your 200GPH is not a high PSI pump. High PSI pumps use mister heads that are way lower micron water droplets contrary to your setup and my cloner. Your initial hose idea was more of a "pin" of water & my cloner's sprayer heads are like a smaller version of a garden sprinkler. It is also referred to as a Fogger hence the mist is soo fine it looks like fog. Look it up on Google or youtube

The pump you have and my 400gph pump I use in my cloners are low pressure systems

Definition:Low-pressure units

In most low-pressure aeroponic gardens, the plant roots are suspended above a reservoir of nutrient solution or inside a channel connected to a reservoir. A low-pressure pump delivers nutrient solution via jets or by ultrasonic transducers, which then drips or drains back into the reservoir. As plants grow to maturity in these units they tend to suffer from dry sections of the root systems, which prevent adequate nutrient uptake. These units, because of cost, lack features to purify the nutrient solution, and adequately remove incontinuities, debris, and unwanted pathogens. Such units are usually suitable for bench top growing and demonstrating the principles of aeroponics.



High-pressure aeroponics is defined as delivering nutrients to the roots via 20–50 micrometre mist heads using a high-pressure (80 pounds per square inch (550 kPa)) diaphragm pump.

NASA has funded research and development of new advanced materials to improve aeroponic reliability and maintenance reduction. It also has determined that high pressure hydro-atomized mist of 5-50 micrometres micro-droplets is necessary for long-term aeroponic growing.

The key to root development in an aeroponic environment is the size of the water droplet. In commercial applications, a hydro-atomizing spray at 360° is employed to cover large areas of roots utilizing air pressure misting.

A variation of the mist technique employs the use of ultrasonic nebulizers or foggers to mist nutrient solutions in low-pressure aeroponic devices.

Water droplet size is crucial for sustaining aeroponic growth. Too large a water droplet means less oxygen is available to the root system. Too fine a water droplet, such as those generated by the ultrasonic mister, produce excessive root hair without developing a lateral root system for sustained growth in an aeroponic system.

He also stated this

This one is super important. The entire purpose of aeroponics is to get more o2 to the roots. Cold water is dense and packed with o2. 75 degree hold 100x less o2 than 60 degree water.

Which relates to the water chiller, it is a must

2 Gallons per plant is a good baseline for your reservoir

The less water= sooner res changes and you have to keep a close eye on the water level

Why were you going to use hydroton ?

A distinction of a true aeroponic culture and apparatus is that it provides plant support features that are monomial. Monomial contact between a plant and support structure allows for 100% of the plant to be entirely in air. Long-term aeroponic cultivation requires the root systems to be free of constraints surrounding the stem and root systems. Physical contact is minimized so that it does not hinder natural growth and root expansion or access to pure water, air exchange and disease-free conditions.

Have you considered bubble buckets ? They are basic and low budget and I've seen fantastic results with them. Its just a bucket, net pot, hydroton, & air pump w/stone

Check them out as well, just type in bubble buckets and there are plenty of threads on how to build them

The DynaGro is great, careful with how much you use because the concentration is higher then some other nute brands

Yes cycle timers are expensive (mine was $65) but they are important. The whole benefit of Aero is an increase of oxygen to the plants roots. Air stones are used to add oxygen to the roots but MJ's roots prefer to have what they call "dry feet". Cannabis likes when the roots are repeatedly dampened rather then staying wet, hence why in ebb & flows you flood & drain several times a day, & why soil growers use high % perlite mixtures for more aerated soil and why moisture retaining soil is not preferred. Root rot is a concern when not using a timer and it kinda defeats the "Aero" purpose

To measure your nutrient concentration you need a TDS meter. You can get the HM digital for around $20 (Most reliable for the price i've found)

Hopefully this helps, It's better to take your time to do something right the first time instead of realizing you should of done something differently. It happens to growers all the time, trust me, you will be revamping your idea yet again after 1 or 2 harvests, but the difference would be you improving your idea, or having to start with a new one.
 

86stang

New Member
Started on the build today, total cost so far is 63 bucks. About ten more than expected, but i think the quality of it will make up for it. I want this thing to be reliable. Open for criticism, but a total redesign is out the window now.

The grow will take place in a closet measuring just over 5 foot by 3 foot. The two totes will be set side by side in the back under a shelf/bar. Hooks in the shelf will support chains from the lights, adjustable to the inch or so. Should be good enough. The totes will be elevated enough to allow the 5 gallon bucket on the floor have good coverage of the pump. The bucket will be attached to the totes via drain tubing in such a manner that the bucket will hold approx 3-4 gallons of water, with the totes containing the other 4-5 gallons. I have vinyl 1/2"ID 5/8"OD tubing that fits snugly into a rubber grommet that fits into a 3/4" hole. I'm hoping the fit will be tight enough to discourage leaks. To help the matter, I'm going to apply internal pressure to the tubing with a barbed coupler. The flange will keep it from coming out of the hole, and the grommet should expand to a leak-free fit. If it doesn't, I'll have to figure out something to glue it with.

The pump in the 5 gallon bucket will have vinyl tubing out going to a tee between the totes, then into the threaded PVC/barbed fitting on the PVC assembly. I'm thinking just a 5/8 hole in the tote will suffice for that, but may use a grommet there as well just to make it right.

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This is the PVC assembly. It is a modification of what I saw in the harvest every 2 weeks articles. I'm going to go ahead and drill and tap the PVC for EZ-Clone sprayers. 10-32 thread. They are designed for these mag-drive pumps and people seem to get good results with them. I just need to figure out their spray pattern and the optimal spray height so that I can size out the PVC legs and caps for the assembly. I thought about adding a ball valve somewhere on the pressure side, but there really isnt much room unless i do it off one of the legs and i always could just unhook the pump from the tee to drain it.

Still need a cycle timer. Damn they are expensive. I suppose they are required for this.

Planning on going with the 2x 4' 2 bulb fixtures, 20k lumens T5HO. If the first grow starts going well, supplemental lighting may be considered. Time will tell.

That's all for today... probably ordering some goodies tomorrow. :thumb:
 
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