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Picture of Solar powered fountain/herb garden
Here is a simple garden fountain utilizing a $20 solar panel/pump combo, some sewer pipe, bamboo, and a strawberry pot. The fountain will only run in direct sunlight, but the herbs will thrive in the same conditions.

This one isn't hard to do, and again doesn't require any special tools. Everything should run you about $50

 
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Step 1: Gather the Materials

Picture of Gather the Materials
Pot.JPG
fountainpump.gif
Floating Solar fountain Harbor Freight Tools
Bamboo
Clear Spray Lacquer
Strawberry pot
4" ABS pipe (2' segment)
4" end caps (2)
3/8" vinyl tubing
shrink tubing
wire
epoxy
ABS pipe cement

Tools:
Drill
Saw (handsaw, bandsaw, jigsaw, or miter saw)
Router (useful)
Lathe (optional)

Step 2: Disassemble the Fountain

Picture of Disassemble the Fountain
This this is waterproof and therefore, taking it apart is a bit of a pain. In my case, Harbor Freight sent the wrong item as a replacement and I do not have a pool...so this was my only option.

Flip over the fountain. Along the bottom are circular bumps. Drill through each one with room to spare. If this does not loosen it, you will have to cut the two halves apart. Your reward for this arduous task will be a pump and two solar panels.

This was the by far the hardest step!

Step 3: Cut the pipe and bamboo

Picture of Cut the pipe and bamboo
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Plug.JPG
The fountain does not need to utilize bamboo, I just REALLY like it. It's a sickness! Cut the bamboo to the height you want. The fountain is supposed to have 19-1/2" inches of lift. Remember the water is traveling from the bottom of the pot.

Measure the pipe with one cap on. After the two halves are dry-fitted, it should fit like it does in the picture below. I used a bandsaw, so I haven't provided a measurement. The pot might be different, and we all know no one can just a straight line around a cylinder. This might be a bit of trial and error.

The bamboo I chose to use has the nifty little spout. This was cut on the bandsaw, then the horrible cut was covered with twine (epoxied in place) to hide the flaws.

The sewer caps are $6 a piece, and I glued the top on first. I chose to save the $6 and make the project harder. The caps are also domed, so I routed a small trough near the edge and drilled some drainage holes to capture most of the water.

Due to another one of my mistakes, I had to make the plug to hold the bamboo upright. This isn't necessary. If you don't have a lathe, the large hole will need to fit the end of your bamboo. Or you can epoxy the bamboo to the cap. Just remember to drill for the wire and the tubing. I left out the wiring/solar panel portion. There are only two wires. Be sure to use the shrink tubing to make sure the wire are fairly well protected from the water.

Step 4: Dry fitting

Picture of Dry fitting
Assemble the fountain without gluing anything in place. If you use the a plug to hold the bamboo upright as I did, make sure the wire and tubing clear the cap and that the wire can get out of the pot.

Another issue I found with my original configuration was spout was too long. I had to cut it nearly in half to make sure the water. It is better to find this out before it is totally assembled!

If everything fits, lacquer up the bamboo and twine. When it's dry, you're all set.

Step 5: Plant those herbs and enjoy

Picture of Plant those herbs and enjoy
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I'll add pictures just as soon as my herbs/solar panels are in place. Some contrasting rocks hide the ABS pipe and really cap off the whole fountain.

I had to add some clear vinyl around the edges of the pipe to keep the water from draining off as quickly. It has been two days, and the water is getting to the plants, but keeping the fountain running.

For the solar panels, I chose to use the part of the fountain already containing everything just because it was easier than building another setup. If you do plan to make your own container for the solar panels, use super glue and clear acrylic. I did some tests with this, and it works very well.

See the video of the fountain in action:



sleighbedguy (author) 2 years ago
It has been a long time since I wrote that one. Harbor Freight now sells this http://www.harborfreight.com/solar-powered-fountain-pump-66093.html,
Which eliminates the need to cut apart the fountain.

On subsequent ones, I used drain pipe with a cap on the bottom and a green or black drain. The build itself is greatly simplified, and you won't need to alter the ABS cap as a drain.

Sorry for the mess, good luck!
phazes2 years ago
Luv this idea. Having trouble with instructions
I like it, now how did you keep the plants watered and what type were thy?
TOCO4 years ago
I couldnt see much in your video. Could you post a new video that makes it easier to see it in action.
sleighbedguy (author)  TOCO4 years ago
This one has since been dismantled. The video was only there to show the pump in action. With the 24" of lift at maximum, the water trickles out of the bamboo spout as intended. If you are going to do this, just make sure the vinyl hose that carries the water does so all the way up to prevent the bamboo from rotting.
why did you take it apart?
sleighbedguy (author)  TOCO4 years ago
I moved to Texas and couldn't fit the whole thing in the back of the truck. I took the the panel and the pump and gave the rest to my neighbor.
grooooovy4 years ago
Wow, this is a great idea- you could use this a lot in landscaping. If you're something of an artist, painting the pot would be neat, or using other embellishments.
sleighbedguy (author)  grooooovy4 years ago
I've built just one since, but it still works really well. Using pvc drain pipe and drain fittings for the top eliminates the machining part of it. I'll have to update it.
I couldn't see from the instructable how you keep the dirt in the planter separate from the fountain, or how you keep the fountain water from just pouring out into the dirt. I would love some pictures of that part of the assembly. Aside from that--mega cool!
sleighbedguy (author)  TheDragonlady5 years ago
There is a piece of ABS pipe in the center sealed at one end that supports the fountain and keeps the dirt out of the water.  I made a second one last year and had more success using PVC drainage pipe (~$7 10') and actual drain covers.  Then it was just a matter of cutting the bamboo to fit between the slots in the drain cover.

It works a great deal better and doesn't require any machining for drainage.  There was a pretty hard winter here (Houston) so I have to replant nearly all of the plants, but the pipe held up well.
starshine716 years ago
I was poking around for alternatives to busting open the floating solar pump and it turns out Harbor Freight now offers one that you won't have to dismantle.
http://www.harborfreight.com/cpi/ctaf/displayitem.taf?Itemnumber=66093
Makes this easy project even easier!
rauly_zang6 years ago
Hola, he hecho una fuente con rueda de agua, si te interesa aqui dejo un link de video.
Hello, I made a fountain with a waterwheel, if you interested this is the link.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8nB3lZklvmE
skincage6 years ago
I want to thank you for posting this. I just did an instructable that includes a re-purpose fountain, but I have to plug it in. There's a Harbor Freight in town so I will check it out and see if I can adapt my rig to include the solar fountain.
Could you have fit the solar panel(s) inside one (or two) of the pockets of the strawberry jar?
sleighbedguy (author)  Tom_n_6bzone7 years ago
The solar panels that came with the fountain are just about 4" X 5" each. The pockets are much smaller than that. I currently have the panels sitting on the roof and the pot on a table. There is well over 10' of wire and everything seems to run very well.
I'm curious to know how powerful the pump really is when using the solar panels. I build a lot of hydroponic gardens and might be able to modify this idea to grow the herbs hydroponically using a solar pump. I hope you'll update with more pictures when you get the solar hooked up and some herbs planted but you get a +1 from me for the great idea.
sleighbedguy (author)  Handsome-Ryan7 years ago
Believe it or not...I got roughly 27" of lift in direct sun. I wouldn't bank on that all the time, but let's say I had to redesign a little to keep the water in the fountain. Sorry it took so long to get a response. I should have just picked up the new fountain at the store instead of waiting for the mail...
thanks for the update! I hope your fountain give you many hours of peaceful relaxation.
dat ryte there is a new thing man itz most appreciative to have this in my knowledge yaddaddmean????? ok well post a hydro 1 for me >>> ok then ..........................................
matseng7 years ago
Nice.... I think that I'll need to pay a visit to my local Ace hardware store in the next few days. "Direct sunlight", yea, we got a lot of that here in Dubai :-) Even the parking ticket machines are driven by solar cells here...
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Penny matseng7 years ago
Do you s'pose this could be used to grow watercress and other water-lovin' herbs?
sleighbedguy (author)  Penny7 years ago
I think just about anything could be grown in the fountain. Changing out the top sewer cap for a plastic screen could conceivably allow for a miniature water garden or suspended hydroponics. The flowing water might be a issue, but that can be changed about altering the spout design. Does that make sense?
Lftndbt7 years ago
Nice instructable!! I made a similar project but with a dish instead of the pebbles... Reticulating water supply for a very fussy rednose pitbull.. She refuses to drink stationary/stagnant water so now she has her own little waterfall running all day!!! One happy pup!
Mr. Rig It7 years ago
This is akin to a long term project I am working on. I searched Harbor freight for a solar powered pump and nothing came up. But now that you have provided the link I can get back in business working on it. You made this look really nice, good job.
sleighbedguy (author)  Mr. Rig It7 years ago
The Harbor Freight site can be a little finicky. Search for "fountain" if the link is not working. There aren't that many items. As to the actual pumping height, I'll have to wait until the new fountain gets delivered. Sometime during my project delay, I lost the impeller and can't seem to find it. I will post pictures/info of the deconstruction, and if possible video of the pump in action as soon as possible.
gmoon7 years ago
Yeah, you really need to add the solar panels to complete this project...