Instructables

How to Build a Home Hydroponics System

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Step 7: Making the Hydroponic Grow Chambers / Tubs

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To make the grow chambers were going to need a few materials and a few tools:

Required Materials

Drip irrigation kit from Harbor freight. Mainly you get 100 feet of 1/4" size tubing for six dollars.
1/2" inside diameter clear tubing from Lowes.
One package of 25 straight hose barbs 1/4" size for drip irrigation Home Depot
Five Packages of 10 each 90 degree 1/4" elbows for drip irrigation
One hole punch tool for drip irrigation (metal tip kind) from Home Depot
Can of flat black spray paint 99 cent kind from Home Depot
One hole saw kit from Harbor Freight
One 1/2" Toro funny pipe tee from Home Depot
One big bag of Hydroton from Plantlighting Hydroponics
23 net pots from Plantlighting Hydroponics
One Package of two aquarium air stones from WalMart
One 27 gallon size Best Plastics heavy duty Tote from Home Depot

Required Tools

Cordless Drill
15/64" Drill bit (go figure this odd size works perfectly)
Wire cutters or knife

1. Take out the 3" hole saw from the kit and cut your 23 holes. Center them in the diamond shapes of the lid the best you can and use the pictures as a guide. Read the comments.

2. Fit a net pot in a hole so you can tell how wide the rim of the pot is. Then keep away from the edge with the drill at least that far when you drill for the water lines. Making room for the pot rims drill all of the water line holes close to the edge of the larger holes with the 15/64" drill bit.

3. If your lid is opaque you don't need to do this part. Spray paint the lid flat black so no light at all gets through the lid. You don't want algae to grow in the water. Use up the whole can of paint and make sure its an even coat. Hold the lid up to a strong light, or sunlight, to see where the light comes through and you need more paint. Paint more where you need it. Then let the lid dry. Better yet, find a tub with an opaque body and lid. I happened to like the heavy duty tubs that I found, but they had yellow tops. So I opted to paint them. I have used other totes which had black lids. However the walls of those totes bulged out when full of water. So I searched for heavy wall totes.

4. Get out the 1/4" black tubing from the drip irrigation kit. Cut 23 separate pieces 18 inches long. Set them to the side.

4.5. Cut a one inch diameter hole in the wall of the tub towards the top. This is for the electric cord and air tubing to go through. I cut my holes halfway behind the handle (another words half the hole is hidden behind the handle and half you can see below the handle. The hole is lower than the handle obviously.

4.6. Cut a length of the 1/4" tubing about 6 to 8 feet long for your air stones. Make it as long as you need to reach from the tub to the air pump. Put a tee at one end and connect two air stones to the tee using two short pieces of 1/4" tubing. Fish the end of the air line through the hole you made in the tub. Then of course hook the other end up to your air pump. The stones should be inside the tub with the air line running out through the hole.

5. Get out the 1/2" inside diameter tubing. Cut a piece about 24 inches long. Fit both ends to the 1/2" tee making a donut shape. Look at the picture to compare. You can make a smaller hoop. Use your judgement. Mark out 23 dots equally spaced on the top ridge of the donut. I say top ridge but you can imagine a ridge where the barbs will fit in holes and all face straight up. Once they're marked with a marker, cut the holes with the punch tool at each mark you made. Press down with the tool while twisting it. It will eventually go through. Don't worry about any tags hanging, you don't have to pick them out. Don't poke through the other side of the tubing though. You kind of have to use one hand to smash the tubing to form a ridge where you want to make the hole. The other hand pokes with the punch tool. You should have 23 holes.

6. Push the straight barbs in each hole you made in the donut, all twenty three of them. I licked each one to make them slide in easier. I liked it.

7. Connect the 23 total 18" pieces of 1/4" tubing that you cut to each of the straight barbs on the donut.

8. Poke each end of the 23 tubes you just connected to the donut through the 23 little holes you made in the lid of the tub. Try to spread them out in a pattern for example tubes going to opposite ends of the lid should go to opposite ends of the donut. If you don't feel like being neat....no biggie.

9. Cut an 8 inch piece of 1/2" tubing and connect it to the donut tee. Connect the other end to the water pump.

10. Pick up the lid with the pump and big rats nest of tubing and put it inside the tub. Pull the cord through the hole in the tub wall. Close the lid.

11. Now you can make the hangman style injectors at each pot using two 90 elbows and a short length of tubing. You may as well cut out 23 short lengths of tubing the same size. Just figure out how long they need to be so that the nozzle hits the center of the pot.

Now its time to fill the tub with water and nutrients, fill the net pots with Hydroton, and plant the plants! Hooray for me... Sorry that was a little feminine.
 
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