An easy and economical way to build your own "Top feed hydroponics system".
a project by Troy Hinke  and seth cordy
what you will need
-3, five gallon buckets   -$5. ea
- 3, grommets 3/4"         -$ .25 ea
- 5 feet of  plastic hose 3/4"   -$ .50 per foot
- 1,  "T" connector 3/4"    -$ .50
- 2,  3/4 " connectors for tubing
- 2, substrate baskets                     -$3 ea
- clay pellets   10# bag     -$10
- 2, rockwool cubes.  6"x6"     -$2ea
- water pump 264gph   -$20
- 5 feet of  3/4" flexible plastic tubing     -$1/ foot
- 1, end cap  3/4"  for tube      -$3
- 1, 1/4" connectors            -$2         
- 4 feet   1/4" spaghetti tubing      -$ .25  per foot
-  1, pack of 1gph pressure compensating drippers    -$7
- 1, bottle       PH up                                 - $7
- 1, bottle       PH down                           - $7
-   air pump                  -$30.              
-  12 feet, air tubing          -$ .10  per foot
-  1pk, air stones          -$5

Step 1: Prepare the Buckets

 in two of your buckets, drill a 3/4" hole, 2 inches from the base.
in the last bucket, drill a 3/4" hole, 1 inch from the base (this is your reservoir bucket).
insert rubber grommets into all three buckets.

Step 2: Installing the Water Return System

phase one
take your five foot piece of 3/4" plastic hose and cut in half.
insert a 3/4" connector to one end of each piece of hose.
connect both pieces of hose with the "T" connector.
insert "T" connector into grommet of reservoir bucket.
now that you have grommets and connectors on your hose and buckets, connect the other two buckets to the main reservoir.
your main reservoir will now be centralized in your system.

phase two.
fill a separate 5 gallon bucket with water and test pH levels using a pH tester kit.
you may need to use your pH up or pH down to adjust your levels accordingly.
once pH levels are optimal, you can dump your water into the buckets. the water level should equalize quickly.

Step 3: Assembling the Drip System

with the 5' length of plastic tubing, attach one end to your submersible water pump, and attach end cap to the other end.
with the 1/4" hole puncher tool, make a hole on each side of the tubing about halfway down the length and insert 1/4" connectors.
cut the 4' spaghetti tubing in half, fit each piece to one of the1/4" connectors.
to the open end of spaghetti tubing attach a pressure compensating dripper.

Step 4: Preparing Substrate Baskets

insert substrate baskets into the two outer buckets.
fill about half way with clay pellets.
submerge rockwool cube into center of basket and fill basket up to the top of the cube with more pellets.

Step 5: Setting Up and Installing Air Pump

cut the 12' of air tubing into equal lengths. the number of lengths needed will vary depending on the number of air outlets your pump has. ours has four.
attach each piece of tube to the pump, and to the open ends of your tubes attach air stones.
put ends of air tubes with air stones into the reservoir bucket. DO NOT PUT PUMP INTO BUCKET. place next to reservoir and plug in. watch the bubbles and have an iced tea.

Step 6: Installing the Drip System.

put the submersible water pump into the reservoir bucket.
position the tubing between the two planter buckets and stake the spaghetti hoses and drippers into the rockwool.
before turning on your water pump, make sure that it is completely submerged in water.
if you need to add more water, make sure you adjust the pH before adding it to your reservoir.
now plug in your water pump and watch your garden grow.
well written and easy to follow!

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