Introduction: 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
Step 1: Gather the Materials
Floating Solar fountain Harbor Freight Tools
Clear Spray Lacquer
4" ABS pipe (2' segment)
4" end caps (2)
3/8" vinyl tubing
ABS pipe cement
Saw (handsaw, bandsaw, jigsaw, or miter saw)
Step 2: 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
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
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
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:
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