Introduction: The Bubble Bucket
A bubble bucket is a hydroponic method for growing indoors that is small and compact. It uses a soilless medium and sprays nutrient enriched water on the roots of the plant to encourage rapid growth. Now lets get started...
Step 1: The Shopping List
Shopping list for local hardware store (Homedepot/Lowes)
One five gallon bucket with lid.
One roll aluminum tape (not duct tape).
One 1/2" PVC Ball Valve (inside threaded on both ends).
Two 1/2" PVC Male Adaptor **Thread x Socket**
Two 1/2" PVC Elbow for Flexible Pipe.
One 1/2" Threaded PVC Plug.
One 1/2" Threaded Coupling.
Two 1/2" Threaded PVC Adapter to Flexible Pipe (some times called funny fittings).
Two 1/2" Grommets.
Four "O" Rings that fit the threads of the Male Adaptor.
One piece of 1/2" PVC Pipe (you need less then a foot per bucket).
Two 1/2" PVC Tees
2' Clear Flexible Tubing with 1/2" inside diameter
Shopping list for the local pet store:
8' of Silicone Airline Tubing
2 Plastic check valves
1 Air Pump
Shopping list for a hydro store:
1 6" Net Pot
1 Bag of Hydroton Pebbles
Step 2: Lets Start Building...
We don't want light to pass through the bucket, so I use aluminum tape. Duct tape won't work. Light will pass through duct tape. Also its better to tape before drilling holes.Start by taping outside of lid. Completely tape the outside of the bucket. Do the outside bottom as well.
We now need to cut a hole in the lid to fit your mesh basket. The hole has to be about 1/4" smaller then the top outside diameter of your basket. If you don't have any good hole cutting tools, you can use a razor (don't cut your fingers off). Drill/Cut your hole in the center of the lid.
Its important to know the height of your mesh basket so you can position the fill hole below the bottom of your basket. After measuring your basket height, place your lid on your bucket. Mark your fill hole location about an inch more then your basket height from the hole in your lid.
The 1/2" PVC Male Adapter has an outside diameter of about an inch. This will be your drain, so it needs to be as close to the bottom of the bucket as possible. I measure up and mark it about 3/4" from the bottom of the bucket. If you drill to close to the bottom it will not install correct.I like to have my drain and fill, inline with each other. You can put them anyplace that works with your grow. Use a small drill to make pilot holes through your bucket.
Now flip your bucket over. You should be able to see the locations of your pilot holes. Switch to a 3/4" drill bit. Anything that will make a 3/4" hole will work. Drill out your drain and fill holes.
To make your fluid level Indicator. We have to drill two more 3/4" holes. Place the bottom hole at the same level as the drain. Drill the top hole 1.5" from the top. You can make the top hole higher if you want.
Lets drill two holes (#7 drill bit or one slightly smaller then your air line) below the top lip on opposite sides of the bucket for the air lines.
Now the fun part. Time to install all our fittings. Place O-rings on all both 1/2" PVC Male Adapters. Insert the male adapters through the drain and fill holes from the inside of the bucket. It will be a tight fit.Add O-rings to the threads that stick out of the bucket. Then screw on your valve to the drain and 1/2" threaded coupling + plug to your fill.
Install your rubber gromits to the 3/4" holes you made for your level indicator.I like to cut half the barbs off one side of my tubing elbows. The cut side will go into the clear tubing. This gives me another inch or so of indicator.
Install your two tubing elbows into your gromits. Careful not to push your gromits out of the holes you drilled. I spit on the barbs before installing them.
Measure the distance between the two elbows. Cut your clear tubing to the same distance between the two elbows. Now install the tube to your elbows.
Cut a 7.5" piece of 1/2" PVC pipe. Attach the a PVC Tee to each end (no glue). Using a number 7 drill bit or a bit that is just slightly smaller then your silicone airline tubing, drill two holes in your pipe.
Drill close to the base of the Tee. Cut about 4' of silicone airline tubing. Run your silicone airline tubing through your Tee and into your pipe then out the hole you drilled. It helps to cut a point into the end of your silicone airline to thread through the small holes.
Attach your air stone and do the same thing to the other side. This will hold your air stones in place without adding any metal parts. Feed the airline through the bucket.
If you want your air line to be neat your can drill small holes in the top rings of your bucket and attach zip-ties. If you plan to have an air pump below your nutrient level, then you need to have check valves. You don't want to ruin your new pump by having water back-up into it.
Now test out our new Bubble-Bucket. Look for leaks. Don't over tighten against your O-rings. If your rings smash, back up a turn or two.
A few folks said they fear the sight indicators (light causing algae). I have used them the last four cycles, without any scum growth. They work so good, I don't know how I ever lived without them.
And your done...
Only clean roots and water here. Not even a hint of pond scum.