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Chad

Interest in Arduino projects?

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As you may have read in my recent newsletter article, I have dove head first into the world of Arduino as a solution to many reefing problems (and my need to tinker with things tongue.gif ). Now that my latest project is coming to its conclusion (still in CNC que, but will be complete within a week or two of getting the parts), as I always do, I am looking to find out what is next.

 

I started this thread to guage interest in WAMAS on some sort of collaborative project, I think Arduino is a pretty powerful platform that could have a lot of uses and will satisfy my need to tinker for quite a while.

 

I know there are a ton of folks that have dimmable DIY LEDs. How about we start by building an automated controller for it? I have done this a few times and there is pretty good info out there on it; as good of a place to start as any!

 

Arduino, electronics, and all that may sound intimidating, but if you have built your own LED light fixture, if/then and logic statements are not foreign, then you have the basics and are ahead of where you need to be to start a project like this. If not, jump in, we'll get you up to speed.

 

If there is some interest, I will post some info on what hardware you need to start and where you can find it.

 

 

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Guest thefishman65

Well, I was just thinking this. I have been working with dave w and we are going down this route. I am working on combining these 2 kits from an ebay seller.

Kit 1 with expansion board

Kit 2 with starter kit

I felt this combination would be a good starting place for Dave (what do you think?). Do you think there is a better set of hardware to begin with?

Edited by Chad
Removed full name

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i still need to get my DIY LEDs built, not to mention the new tank up and running....i gotta stop saying this and just do it.

 

but i would be interested (would be cool to have full dimming) obviously not necessary but would be cool for my actinics.

 

Im guessing this would work just fine with fishman's board would it not? i know the basics behind the arduino just would want help soldering and making the boards/box for it....that stuff im clueless on not to mention coding, if then isnt that bad but ive seen some explanations that make my head twirl.

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Guest thefishman65

Yes, they work with my driver board. The one I picked out would require a few wire from the arduino to the LEDs.

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Well, I was just thinking this. I have been working with Dave W and we are going down this route. I am working on combining these 2 kits from an ebay seller.

Kit 1 with expansion board

Kit 2 with starter kit

I felt this combination would be a good starting place for Dave (what do you think?). Do you think there is a better set of hardware to begin with?

 

Why the i/o board? I am not sure of its benefit, descriptions say it makes adding circuits easier, but all I can tell that it does is move the pin locations and turn them into male connections. Have you looked at the proto-shield?

 

The second kit you posted is the one that I started with, although from a different seller. This is probably a good place to point out that I have had mixed experience with ebay Arduinos - most are sent out of China (for the record, Arduino is an Italian company). One seller sent me non-Arduino cards that ended up working, but are a little different. Some of the hardware he sent with it (an LCD and a breadboard), however, did not work. (the faulty breadboard gave me a praticular headache when I couldn't figure out why my project wasn't working like I expected it to)

 

I did buy a few boards from a particular Ebay seller that appeared to be real Arduinos and worked quite well, I can forward the seller when I get home tonight if you want.

 

I'm intrigued and would love to add this to my DIY repertoire.

 

Glad to have you on board, Jon!

 

For those following along, an Arduino is an open-source electronic prototyping platform that is useful for "physical computing." Meaning that we tell it what to do in command form and it does something physical (for example, we tell it Dim the LEDs, and then watch the LEDs dim).

 

The Arduino is designed to easily interface to "Shields" which are pre-made boards that plug directly into the Arduino board to accomplish a purpose. For example, there are ethernet shields that can be used to connect the Arduino to the internet, LCD schields to connect LCD modules and more. Of course, any of these things can be done without the shield too, the shields just make the project look nicer.

 

For all of my projects, since I haven't built any of the "premade" projects, I have used a prototyping shield, which just gives me a board to solder to in whatever configuration I want.

 

What functionality do y'all want to go for?

 

For an LED controller project, I propose that we choose a number of controllable outputs (somewhere between 2 and 12), what sort of interface we want (buttons, etc.), and what sort of display we want (LCD vs. GLCD vs. connect to computer monitor), temperature controlled fan, etc. The functionality will determine which specific Arduino card we will need to get started.

 

Basically, if we need more than 6 controllable outputs or want to use a GLCD we need at least a Arduino Mega board, otherwise an Arduino Uno board should work just fine. The mega is available from non-ebay sources for around $60 and around $30 on ebay. The uno is available from non-ebay sources for around $30 or around $20.

 

Finally, (for now anyway), this project will probably cost somewhere between (my quick and dirty SWAG) $80-150 depending on options and where we parts are purchased from.

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Im guessing this would work just fine with fishman's board would it not?

 

It actually works better with Fishman's board for two reasons:

 

1) Dimmable meanwell drivers only dim from ~10-15% to 100%. And for the record, 10-15% is a whole lot brighter than you think it would be!!

 

2) Meanwell P drivers require a 10Vdc signal, not difficult to convert the Arduino 5Vdc signal, but it does require an additional circuit to do it.

 

i know the basics behind the arduino just would want help soldering and making the boards/box for it....that stuff im clueless on not to mention coding, if then isnt that bad but ive seen some explanations that make my head twirl.

 

Exactly why I posted this as a collaborative project. We have different folks with different strengths, fabrication, electronics, computers etc. If you are interested in the project, jump on it, I am sure you have something to contribute and we will help you through the rest.

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Guest thefishman65

Chadd,

Perhaps I am wrong, but I think it would be easier to connect a few cables rather than having one massive one. I also picture things like temperature and water level as being repetitive. If one temp or float switch could just plug in to the expansion board rather than sorting out the wire on a massive cable I think it might be easier.

 

Say you want to add an ATO to an exisiting setup. Rather than take the whole thing down you plug in a sensor for your sump level, a sensor for your supply level, and a relay for your pump. Then modify the code.

 

I suppose you could do it with the prototype shields also, but I wonder which is cheaper.

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Some interesting threads for reference:

 

https://sites.google.com/site/richardorme1979/

http://www.reefcentral.com/forums/showthread.php?t=1726936

^^This guy built a DIY controller (and more) using the Arduino Mega.

 

http://www.reefcentral.com/forums/showthread.php?t=1987110

^^Another one. Includes references to other threads.

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Guest thefishman65

There are many threads out there. One actually designed the board from scratch as a reef controller and included such things as Ph.

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^exactly why I recommend starting with functionality of a fairly widely applicable project like an LED light controller.

 

Fairly simple hardware, and code as simple or complicated as desired.

 

Starting with functionality is the best way to keep a project like this from spiraling out of control.

 

For the sake of a starting point, I recommend an LED light controller with this functionality:

 

- Six controllable outputs

- A 16 x 2 LCD

- A four button user-interface

- An on-board clock

 

I am, of course open to other ideas and other functionality, but thought we needed a starting point to discuss.

 

 

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Guest thefishman65

Hmm, sounds like the typhoon over on RC.

spiraling out of control
but this does not simulate real world experience

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Yes, it does. Although without the DIY printed circuit boards that incorporate an arduino chip without other features (i.e., reduced future expandability). I think that some aspects of the Typhoon project alienate a beginner that would otherwise get involved. Great for a purpose-built, cheap, standalone project, but IMO, not necessarily the best for an introduction to Arduino (at the cost of additional $ for parts and un-used capability or future expandability).

 

but this does not simulate real world experience

 

tongue.gif

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^All that being said, if that is the requested direction (a purpose-built, standalone controller), we can do that too.

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Guest thefishman65

I personally am more interested in the reef controller portion. ATO, temperature, and Ph sensing. Dave (well what can be said) he is interested in controlling about 30 pumps, temp and ph. He may have to do his own since his system is a little larger and a little more advanced than ours. What I would like to see is a good general outline. From what I have read no one has used interrupts and if we go down that route a whole world may open up to us.

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I am game, but I would really like to keep it as an entry level project. I think this can be done with a reef controller, but (I think) that means it would be something modular with a small part at first and expansion capability.

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I like the idea of an entry level project so that I can use it to learn enough to do more later.

 

If it's too complex from the beginning I'll just copy all the steps "monkey see, monkey do" style. I'll have a crazy cool controller, but won't learn as much.

 

Jon

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I like the idea of an entry level project so that I can use it to learn enough to do more later.

 

Count me in to Jon's idea. Fishman 65 recently explained arduinos to me and now I have $200 worth of digital timers to throw away.

 

The idea of controlling timers in microseconds and the idea of feedback sold me. I never would have imagined that for so little money I could have a probe sense dropping pH and instruct the lights over the algae refugium to stay on until the pH comes back up. Ditto with evaporation water and temperature. Our only limit is our imagination and the number and types of electronic probes available.

 

For example, I will be growing bags of phyto to feed my tank. If we program a probe to read total dissolved solids (or turbidity or light transmission or pH) it could automate this process (when the bag gets too green or brown, the controller tells the aqualifter to pump clear nutrient water until the feedback parameter is back to normal, while dense greenwater overflows to the tank.

 

So please put me down for the basic unit and later we can figure out the dozens of ways this can help automate our tanks.

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With the goal of doing an expandable, entry level project, what do y'all think about doing a reef controller without the "sensing" inputs like pH, temp, etc.?

 

It wouldn't be too dificult to wire a relay panel to a hand-full of outlets, or perhaps convert a DJ switchbox to a controllable panel.

 

Temperature, pH, ORP, or any other input could be added at a later date if you wanted.

 

(If not reefing, you could use this for an awesome Christmas light display controller :) )

 

 

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I'm totally in for this, I'm actually looking to build a "fishroom monitor" with probes for humidity and air temp as well as something to add to my T5 fixture (Tek 8x54). I have been planning to do a fan mod to actively cool the bulbs, but I'd love to make the fans "dimmable" based on a temperature sensor in the fixture near the bulbs (or maybe an infrared temperature sensor pointed at the bulbs ph34r.gif).

 

Arduino is incredibly easy to pick up for the first time, and there are lots of sample codes and libraries on the Arduino site that you can then modify for your own needs.

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With the goal of doing an expandable, entry level project, what do y'all think about doing a reef controller without the "sensing" inputs like pH, temp, etc.?

 

It wouldn't be too dificult to wire a relay panel to a hand-full of outlets, or perhaps convert a DJ switchbox to a controllable panel.

 

Temperature, pH, ORP, or any other input could be added at a later date if you wanted.

 

 

This sounds like a good place to start. People with complicated tanks like me would race ahead on the extras at the same time as learning the basic system, but I think the simple approach would fit more people.

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OK, it looks like the desire is to start with a basic reef controller with upgrade capability. I will do some research on parts and post a starting list. Y'all want to do a group buy for parts?

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OK, it looks like the desire is to start with a basic reef controller with upgrade capability. I will do some research on parts and post a starting list. Y'all want to do a group buy for parts?

 

Count me in, and I can get pretty great pricing on components from a few sources...

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OK, it looks like the desire is to start with a basic reef controller with upgrade capability. I will do some research on parts and post a starting list. Y'all want to do a group buy for parts?

 

Fishman65 will be ordering parts for me, I don't know whether it will be as part of this group buy or not. I'll probably be working on the pH probes and controllers at the same time as learning arduino.

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