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Old 09/08/2011, 04:10 PM   #1
Spaced Cowboy
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Talking Joining the club... my new 240G build :)

That vision-thing...


So this is the build-thread, finally . I closed down my old 180 gallon system last November, and started planning and slowly buying (as I could afford) the equipment and parts to upgrade to the larger system. Some of this is therefore already done. The plan is that the build-log and reality ought to converge around the time when I'll be adding water to the system, around Xmas, hopefully. With that out of the way...

The tank is ordered - it’s 8’ long by 2’ wide by 2’ deep, with StarFire glass on the front panel. It’s replacing my previous 180-gallon tank, which was too narrow (18”), too tall (31”), not long enough (6’) and is made out of normal glass. Along with the tank comes a custom-design sump, loosely modelled on Melev’s model-F design.

I’m going to build a custom stand, following the basic design set out by RocketEngineer. I’m going to face it with Red Oak, and do some nice trim to make it look good. I was originally going to build the tank into bookshelves on either side, but reading about how books and salt-water don't really mix long-term has persuaded me against that. I think it'll look pretty clean standing alone though, so no real problems there.

I’m going to use a Bean Animal overflow system, using both the “return” and drain bulkheads in one of the overflows as drains to the sump, and having the return come over the back of the tank. I'll put the third 'emergency' drain into the other overflow and actually use the return there as a return. Hopefully there'll be enough of a weir (22") that surface-skimming will occur. Since the tank is in the main living room, having the water motion silent will be very welcome...

The skimmer will be a Warner Marine K2. Of course, as soon as I bought one, it seems they’ve stopped production of them [sigh]. However, they’re supposed to be great skimmers, and they’re quiet. Both of these properties are independent of whether they’re still in production, so I’m still happy...

Controlling the tank will be my new DIY controller... More details on this later.

Lighting will be done using DIY LEDs. I’ll be using the CAT4101 design I first proposed on Reef-central many moons ago. I think a lot of DIY people on Reef-central are using this same design, it’s tried, tested, simple to implement and above-all cheap I have a modular (2’ by 1’) design that combines the elegance of a wooden facia with ducted-air through extruded aluminium LED mounts. Each light-module will talk to the above controller, and I’ll be able to simulate clouds crossing the tank, etc.

Finally, behind the tank I intend to install a shadow-box, to give the illusion of far more depth than I really have. Yes, this will increase the maintenance, forcing me to keep the rear of the tank clean as well as the front, but look at those pictures. It’s worth it.

I've got a little bit of a head-start on the actual work, so hopefully I'll be able to keep up, posting pictures etc. in a timely fashion as I get more done...

Simon


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Old 09/08/2011, 05:55 PM   #2
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Cant wait to see the progress. Im just starting a 240 build also but I have a feeling yours is going to move a lot faster than mine.


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Old 09/08/2011, 10:17 PM   #3
Spaced Cowboy
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Yep, it'll go quickly enough to start off with, and then hit a wall and slow down to my usual snail's pace as I catch up to where I am right now...

Thing is that my wife is now 3 months pregnant with our first . So I've got about 6 months before (ahem) other things will take precedence

Simon



Last edited by Spaced Cowboy; 09/08/2011 at 10:22 PM. Reason: A sense of urgency...
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Old 09/09/2011, 11:18 AM   #4
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Standing room only...

The old tank & stand was sold, clearing the way for the new tank to be built and made ready before the new tank arrived.

It’s an 8’x 2’ x 40” stand, built using a 2x8 box (red & yellow, below) supported by 2x4’s (purple) dropping to a 2x4 box (blue and orange) that rests on the ground. It follows the recipe laid down by RocketEngineer. The green pieces aren't load-bearing, they are only there to screw the purple (load-bearing) supports into, and to help make it square.

My tank builders (Glass Cages) recommend a flat solid top to the stand and to cover that top with polystyrene, even though it’s a glass tank. I know conventional wisdom says you don't put polystyrene under a glass tank, but personally I can't see any reason why not.

In any event, I’ve skinned mine with plywood on the top. I also put a plywood bottom underneath the orange & blue beams, forming a tray into which I’ll put my sump, pump, and electrical components. The bottom tray thus formed will be segmented to trap any spilt water into the two potentially-wet components; that way, even if the sump does somehow overflow, or a pump-seal leak, the stand base (which will be water-proofed) will take the first hit, rather than the hardwood floors in the living-room, and the electrical section won't be affected. A small detail, to be sure, but worth it, I think.

The raw-materials were ordered from the local lumber-yard, and delivered pronto - an auspicious start; a rather large quantity of wood turned up, and work could begin. In fact, I let the wood dry in the garage for a while (a couple of weeks) before starting on the stand.


The cuts weren’t particularly accurate, as delivered, so I had to do some trimming to get the legs to be all the same length. Fortunately they were `over’ rather than `under’, so I could cut them down to size. I also wasn't that concerned about the specific lengths, I was more concerned they were all equal

Starting work, I first built the top box-frame, that the plywood top will rest on - this is made from 2x8’s to minimise the deflection when an 8’ tank of water is resting on it. It will be supported at all four corners, and in the middle of the span. Technically I could have left the middle support out if I'd used a 2x12 or sistered 2x10's, but the design of stand I had in mind called for a center tower anyway, and it makes it easier to put doors in. The overriding concern is that I could get the sump in/out of the stand once everything was in place. After a bit of maths, it seemed the sump could fit, and I was happy.

Clamps are your best-friend here - clamping in both directions (you can just about see them in the picture) really helps get those corners to be at exactly 90° to each other before screwing the beams together.

The lower box-frame. Once the lower frame was put together, it is time to start attaching the screw-strips. Again, clamps are your friend. This time, we’re ensuring the upright is vertical by clamping hard against the two horizontal directions. Combined with the fact that the wood was now dried (having been sitting there for a couple of weeks), this made my legs come out within a fraction of a millimetre of each other when attached to the screw-strips. You can see how I'm preventing the screw-strips from being load-bearing by putting a wooden block underneath when I was attaching them. The point about them not being load-bearing is that the load is then all born by wooden uprights in compression (which is amazingly strong) rather than screws, which would eventually rip out of the uprights and cause a collapse of the stand.


Once all the screw-strips were in place, the legs were attached simply by screwing them in-place (again with clamps to make sure everything is at 90° to each other). This meant I could place the whole thing on its side, maneuver the top part into place over the legs, and screw them into place. I actually stood the stand upright before screwing the top on, so the weight would be distributed as it will be when the tank is on top. Once that was done, the only thing left to do was attach the plywood top, bottom, and back-brace, resulting in a finished stand...


Well, ok, not quite structurally finished - I ran out of screws while building the tank, so I haven’t put the centre-brace uprights in place yet.

Note that the back-brace doesn’t extend all the way down the back of the stand - there are two reasons for this - first that it makes plumbing the return (which will go over-the-back of the tank) easier to install, and secondly, it lets me still have access to the electrical outlets that are behind where the stand will be. The stand will ultimately be faced with plywood on both left and right as well, which ought to give plenty of support to prevent “racking”. There's not going to be any side-door because the room is only 11' wide where the 8' stand will be By the time I've added decoration on the side of the stand, I'll only have about 10" on each side - just enough to squeeze in and look down the tank...

I have also put in a couple of transverse braces - on the top of the stand the brace is in the middle of the long side - no reason not be central, but on the bottom box, it's actually slightly offset - that's because the sump (which will be 75 gallons) is 48" long, and I wanted to allow 50" + the offsets of the interior wood support posts to make sure I had some wiggle-room when placing the sump.

So, the guts of the stand now being there, we're ready for the tank to arrive

As a side-note, no-one ever mentions how heavy these things are when you're building them - an 8-feet long by 2-feet wide 2x8 top-box is heavy and unwieldy to maneuver into position - lifting it up and delicately placing it in the perfect position is hard, at least I found it so. It might have helped if there was someone else there, I suppose...

Simon



Last edited by Spaced Cowboy; 09/09/2011 at 11:25 AM. Reason: Forgot stuff, of course :)
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Old 09/09/2011, 03:18 PM   #5
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The tank arrives...

So, after a bit of a mix-up with the trucking company (who knew you had to call them to make an appointment to receive a delivery! Why don’t they call you ?), the tank arrived a day late.


It was nicely packaged, strapped down onto a palette, with plenty of foam and wood surrounding it. Given that I’d ordered an acrylic sump as well as the tank itself, the packaging was over 5’ tall by just over 8’ long and 4' wide. The driver had a lift-gate on his (8' wide) truck, and a palette-lifting-thing to move it around. As far as I could see, there was no way we were going to get this off the truck...

The driver and I decided we would have to separate the tank and sump, to make it easier to get it off the truck - so we basically unpacked it in-situ, and carried the (lightweight) 75G sump off separately. That left just the tank, sitting on the palette. Even then, it was an 8' by 2' tank that had to get positioned onto an 8' by 2' lift-gate... Did I mention the truck was only 8' wide as well ?

Before we took it out of the truck, I had a good look at the seams and the panes to make sure there was no damage etc. It looks perfect, at least on first inspection: smooth siliconed seams without smearing or excess silicon, and (obviously) no cracks in the panes. The starfire glass looks clear as crystal as well - as compared to the (normal) glass on the back of the tank.

By variously rocking, shoving, manoeuvring the palette so it was half-hanging over the air then pushing it back at a different angle, we just about managed to get it onto the lift-gate without it falling off, but it looked really unsteady. The driver then got me to push the button to lower the gate while he steadied it on the way down; every time I pressed the button, the lift-gate jerked up, down, up and then started to lower itself. I was convinced at this point there was going to be an almighty crash, but it worked out ok. Now the tank was about 6” off the ground.

Enter the dolly - I’d made up an 8’ by 2’ dolly from plywood, 2x4’s, and 6 castors rated to 500 lbs each. We pushed and rocked the palette onto the dolly - it just about fit, and then it was just a matter of rolling the dolly up the driveway into the garage. The dolly worked fantastically. I was really pleased I’d taken the time to make it.

We also got the sump, which I had sent in a design loosely modelled on Melev’s model-F sump, with a couple of additional features...


The inverted baffles are set to appropriate heights for the two input sections - respectively the skimmer (left) and refugium (right).

The siphon-drain and open channel drain from the tank will come down into the left (skimmer) section, and stay submerged. The Bean-style overflow ought to be completely silent, from what I’ve been reading. The pump will source water from the central section, and return over the top (on the left side of the tank) and via the return bulkhead (on the right side of the tank), as well as provide water to a manifold with five outlets, with the outlets positioned at various distances along the sump.

The UV filter (an Emperor Aquatics Smart HO UV Sterilizer) will take a feed from the manifold, and return water to the refugium into the corner box, from which it will overflow to the center partition and return eventually to the display tank. I'll be running the UV at about 250 gph, which ought to be sufficiently slow to kill off protozoa like ich.

You can also see the tank-moving vacuum handholds (the 6 red handles) in the sump, waiting for the eventual move of the tank to the stand when everything is in-place. I also took a snapshot of the schedule-80 bulkheads, a 1.5" and a 1" for each overflow.

At the time, I wasn't sure, but now I think I'm going to run a DSB in a section of the sump, so I'll be adding some acrylic separators in the "refugium" area, and I'll have to re-baffle the corner box so the slots in the bottom don't get blocked up by the sand. I think if I just put another box around that box, joined to the base and not extending as high as the weir, that will prevent the slots from being blocked, then I can just extend one edge all the way towards the weir, and have a DSB at the front, and chaeto tumbling at the back.

Simon.


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Old 09/09/2011, 04:40 PM   #6
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Love the attention to detail you've put not only into the tank/sump/stand design, but also the thread itself.

This is the kind of thread that really helps when planning our own upgrades.

Thanks!

-Chad


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Old 09/09/2011, 07:17 PM   #7
Spaced Cowboy
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Thanks I've had a *lot* of time to think about all of this stuff, although I've almost certainly screwed up all over - there's just so many small details that turn out to be ... ahem... not so small.

Case in point. I had originally expected to mount the UV system horizontally, suspended from the roof of the sump. It turns out you're supposed to feed water vertically downwards into the UV, not vertically upwards... That means I'll have to mount it vertically instead, which doesn't fit into the sump. Fortunately there's a side to the stand which is pretty much out of sight in the corner of the room, so I can just put at the side of the stand there...

I guess I ought to have downloaded the manuals and read them first. Oh well, live and learn

Thanks for the kind words

Simon


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Old 09/10/2011, 04:23 PM   #8
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Room preparation

I moved into this house about 5 years ago, and it's never been decorated since, so with the tank and stand ready and waiting in the garage, it was time to take a long hard look at where we were going to put them. The room is 10’6” wide at the end we want to place the tank, so the tank will take the lions share, leaving gaps at both sides of 15”.


Before any of that can happen though, we needed to get the room ready. The old tank had scuffed the floors, and there were holes in the walls where pipes had been taken to the old “fish room” (an otherwise unused toilet). The holes were to be patched, and the entire room (35’ long by 15' wide for the most part) was to be painted so it looked nice and fresh.

We chose an off-white colour (“silky bamboo”) that has the curious property of changing colour depending on the light shining on it - it looks either yellow, green, or tan at different stages of the day. Sometimes one wall looks green and another looks yellow - at the same time - because of the lighting...

Getting started at the tank-end of the room. We figured that if we screwed up, at least it wouldn’t be visible (!)


In the (pre-paint-job) photo, you can (perhaps, just about...) see there are two 20A circuits just for the tank - one with a GFI, one without. There is also a wired ethernet port to connect the tank network into the rest of the house network.

This turned out to be an amazingly lengthy task. It’s not so much the painting that takes the time, it’s the preparation. We really didn’t want paint on the nice hardwood floors, so there’s lots of painters tape, newspaper, drip-cloths, etc. Then there’s moving everything out of the way and back again. It took about 2 days to gives this room two coats of paint, between the two of us...

Finishing the stand

Once that was done, we moved the stand into the room, and I started to make it look a bit more visually appealing. We decided on a Red Oak texture, but I’ll be finishing it with a Brown oak dye followed by a Brown Mahogany stain, topped off with an oil-based varnish. This’ll give a deep warm brown that is typical of many period antiques, and coincidentally match the other furniture in the room.

First order of business was to reinforce the centre of the stand - putting a single 2x4 in the centre makes it into dual 48” spans, which the 2x8 is very over-specced for.

Next, was the basic facing work. I’ve used ¼” thick Red Oak for the facing, 8” wide. They’re attached using glue and galvanised brads. There’s a little too much play in the one or two of the boards, but by the time the trim is attached, that play will disappear.


Speaking of trim, the goal is to build out the corners and the centre post, to provide some decoration over the plain exterior, as well as to hide the joins at 48”. Most of my tools are non-professional, I just don’t have the space for a “real” table-saw for example, so one of the design principles was to make everything work with 48” lengths, which my tools (and I!) are far happier with.

I also want some detail around the top of the tank, which will hide the expanded polystyrene, as well as the black plastic around the rim of the tank. That means there has to be a lip of about 2¼” above the tank base.

To make the top-trim, I routed out three pieces of wood with different profiles. The goal is to have a solid top to the trim (provided by the far-right piece), which holds the other two in-place.


The far-left piece forms the back of the trim, with the middle-piece locking into place in the channel in the far right piece. You can see how they go together below.

One important note is that the far-right piece has a ¼” overhang at the rear of the trim. This is because when the trim is placed against the existing facing (which is ¼” thick), it will be that ¼” away from where the glass is, due to the width of the facing. Having the overhang will remove the visual “gap” between the tank and the casing. It’ll also make placing the tank onto the stand a sight trickier because there's going to be less wiggle-room...

Once the pieces are assembled, you can see the profile that is produced, as well as that overhang. Of course, this is upside-down - the flat part will form the top of the trim when it’s installed.



This took several hours to do, but I ended up with 16’ (in 4 four-foot lengths) of trim, which ought to be enough for an 8' tank, as well as a tired back and a huge feeling of accomplishment [grin]. The trim will be “wrapped” around two protruding corner-columns of the stand, and also around a central protruding column. I’ll also be adding some relief work to the columns, so they aren’t just plain wood themselves.

I didn’t take too many photos when I was actually putting the trim together, but here’s one when the top moulding (above) has been wrapped around the top of the stand, hiding all the ugly joints.


It’s not particularly obvious, but I’ve also inlaid the closest column with some detail work around the edges. All the columns will eventually get that - you can see that the far column is still having the raised relief applied to it.

Stains, on my honour!

We decided on the door-styles we wanted - a half-french-arch on each door, and over the long weekend, I finally got my act together, screwed up my courage (I absolutely hate doing things there’s no going back from, when I’ve already invested a huge amount of time into the project), and set about dying and staining the wood.

I chose to use Lockwood’s English Brown Oak dye to alter the underlying colour - dyes add a uniform colour to the wood, without obscuring the grain. Once that had dried, I applied a generous coat of General Finishes Brown Mahogany stain to bring out the grain, and highlight the woods natural features. Once all that was dry, I applied some finish varnish to add some protection. I'm pleased with how it turned out...


Here’s a photo of the detail in one of the corner posts, once stain has been applied. The dark grain is gorgeously visible and the dye and stain combination really highlights the mouldings applied to the top of the stand, and the inlay work in the columns.


The doors are attached using magnets, so they completely lift off. This is necessary for removal of the sump (it really does *just* fit, thanks “mathematics” The (standard) furniture magnets I used are very secure, though. I was originally going to have 2 magnets per door, but they are perfectly secure with a single magnet per door.

This is my first-ever piece of "furniture" that will stay in the room. I'm pretty pleased with the results, even if there were times along the way that I thought it would never work ...

Simon


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Old 09/10/2011, 07:27 PM   #9
luxtralarge
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Nice. looking forward to see the tank full of coral.


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Old 09/10/2011, 09:09 PM   #10
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Nice job with the stand! I'm looking forward to seeing the rest of this build.


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Old 09/11/2011, 01:08 AM   #11
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stand looks amazing!


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Old 09/11/2011, 11:37 AM   #12
Spaced Cowboy
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Nice. looking forward to see the tank full of coral.
So am I!

The coral is a ways-away yet though. There's a lot of DIY going into this, so I can spend the money on things I need rather than things I can do myself. The down-side of the DIY is that the journey is going to be longer... Still, it's kind of a fun journey

Simon


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Old 09/11/2011, 12:13 PM   #13
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Wish I was as DIY inclined as you are... I'd be proud to say I build something as beatiful as your stand.


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Old 09/11/2011, 12:14 PM   #14
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Great stand! Looking forward to watching this one come together. Have you said what were you going to keep in it, or did I miss it?


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Old 09/11/2011, 12:17 PM   #15
Spaced Cowboy
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Nice job with the stand! I'm looking forward to seeing the rest of this build.
Quote:
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stand looks amazing!
I'm really pleased with it. Consider that I've never used a router-table or mitre-saw before; people were ... skeptical All those cuts have to be dead-on when you're making something that's over 8' long, or the tiny imperfections will cause you to be out by 1/32 of an inch at the opposite end to where you started. That might not sound much, but 1/32 of an inch is very visible on a mitre-cut.

I did my research - I bought magazines on finishing wood, and learnt the difference between dyes and stains, how not to tear or burn the wood when routing it, etc.

The other thing that surprised me was just how much wood I went through by doing the wrap-around-the-columns thing. The mitering of all those little bits to protrude out then go back into the stand plane took a heavy toll on my self-built moldings. If I were doing it again, I'd make more moldings!

Although it looks complex when it's finished, to build it isn't actually that complex - it's hard (because I'm only a novice woodworker ) but it's not complex. For example...


...the pillars at the ends and center are just a shallow box laid flat on top of the vertical front of the tank, then I used the router to create a molding along the inside edge of an inlay piece, mitered the corners so they'd fit nicely; put 4 of them together and you have a nice piece of relief-detail that looks complex, but really isn't. You don't want to know how many times I walked back and forth from the garage (where the mitre saw is) to the tank, having shaved off another fraction of a millimeter to get the inlays to fit...

... anyway, today is my wedding anniversary, so no DIY, just PWA (pay wife attention

Simon.


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Old 09/11/2011, 12:25 PM   #16
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Great stand! Looking forward to watching this one come together. Have you said what were you going to keep in it, or did I miss it?
Nope, not yet. It's going to be a progression - first FOWLR, then in maybe a year or so we'll start adding LPS, and finally (some time after) going SPS. We're in no particular hurry - it's been a year since I started planning it (almost) and you can see how far we've (ahem, not) come I want this to be a long-term thing, and I'm happy to go about it slowly if it means there's more likelihood of it working well...

So, I guess I'm still in "building mode", I want the whole shebang, but it's going to take some time to get there. Oh, and there's some ongoing negotiation with she-who-must-be-consulted [grin] over what fish go in when, as well I'm setting up a QT in the garage, I have a JBJ all-in-one that'll work quite well for that, so even the fish will take some time to get into the display tank...

Simon. (Definitely the tortoise in this race )



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Old 09/11/2011, 08:40 PM   #17
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Orders up!

So, BRS ought to be happy chappies, at my expense [grin] - the orders have started to come in. These are two of the four orders I've placed to these guys over the last month or so...


Things of note in the left-hand (or upper, depending on how wide your browser is set to) photo:
  • 3x 100' roll of water tubing(red, blue, black). Usage to be detailed in a post or two (or three, who's counting ).
  • A 6-stage RO/DI unit - San Jose uses chloramines as well as chlorine in the water (which by the way I deeply suspect had a part to play in my previous tank's fortunes), so this is their we-handle-chloramines version.
  • The reeflo dart gold pump I'll be using as a return pump.
  • Lots of schedule-80 plumbing. Yeah, I know, schedule-40 has slightly-better flow for our purposes, but grey/orange looks way cooler than white/red, I've more flow than I know what to do with, and I didn't fancy spray-painting afterwards

Things of note in the right-hand / lower photo:
  • The UV steriliser - a 50W high-output model. Ought to kill protozoa like ich at 260gph.
  • Lots more schedule-80 plumbing. Can you ever get enough schedule-80 plumbing ?
  • The power-bars that will form the basis of the manual-control part of the electrical cabinet.
  • The white box with a pen on it is (the sun killed the label) is a LiterMeter-3 and extra pump. I'm going to be using this for water change and ATO.
  • The 4 lok-line (assembled) fittings that will form the return from the sump
  • Everything is sitting on the big box full of piping - 1", 1.5", and 2" pipe for the various parts of the plumbing.

Simon.



Last edited by Spaced Cowboy; 09/11/2011 at 09:22 PM.
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Old 09/11/2011, 08:53 PM   #18
Spaced Cowboy
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Quote:
Originally Posted by c-me-fish View Post
Wish I was as DIY inclined as you are... I'd be proud to say I build something as beatiful as your stand.
Well, as I said, this was the first time I've ever tried my hand at something like this. Previously the largest thing I'd built was a chair in woodworking at school when I was 14. That's almost 30 years ago! Thanks for the nice words though

For me, it was all about the planning - thinking about what I wanted, sketching something down, then leaving it for a bit, coming back later and immediately noticing the glaring error(s) in what you had thought was ok. I'm sure someone skilled in the art would just knock it out without a second thought, but the planning took me forever, and even when I started, I was still scared there were things I hadn't taken account of...

Case in point: when I was thinking about the molding around the top. The "glaring error" in this case was that I'd already faced my stand with 1/4" wood. If I put the molding on top of that, I'd have this 1/4" gap all around the stand, between the tank and the molding, and I wanted a perfect fit. So I built the molding to extend backwards by 1/4" - problem solved

So, really it was lots of inexperience, tempered by lots of planning, and it eventually came out (I think) good. It definitely was the largest thing I've ever tried to build, but I have this nasty feeling my wife is now thinking "if he can do *that*, we need new kitchen cabinets..."

Quote:
Originally Posted by muttley000 View Post
Great stand!
Forgot to say thanks for the compliment

Cheers
Simon.



Last edited by Spaced Cowboy; 09/11/2011 at 08:59 PM.
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Old 09/12/2011, 12:39 AM   #19
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Water, water, anywhere ?

So, as I've mentioned, there's not much space around the tank, I'd traded the "fish room" (see diagram in post #8) for a larger tank, and I wanted to make water-changes as automated as possible. The rear wall behind the tank is an exterior wall, and all the space behind it was used as an already too-narrow driveway; on the right of the tank was the afore-mentioned fish-room, and on the outside of the only remaining wall was the main fuse-box for the house. I really didn't want salt-water too close to that!

So, there was only really one place I had the space and "hide-ability" to put the water tanks - at the other end of the house, some 70' away...


There are three water-lines shown here. The black line is salt-water-out, the red line is salt-water-in, and the blue line is RO/DI water in. Now even this wasn't that good an idea...
  • Part of the proposed area was cement, part was dirt so I'd have to lay new cement to support the weight of the water tanks.
  • There was no water supply or drainage available so I'd have to lay down a drainage pipe to the nearest house water vent (actually at the front of the front yard about 30' away) as well as provide a tap - the tap's not so much of a problem because the water main for the rest of the yard actually runs right next to that area of the yard.
  • Neither was there any power available. I would have to tap into the sub-panel that ran the swimming pool, and lay a line from there (through armored cable) to an exterior switch-box. Not a problem, but still needs to be done.
  • It was 70' away! That means I need a way to transport the water over that distance in a measured manner.

The first thing to get sorted was the water-supply. This was just a matter of tapping into one of the existing underground pipes that supply the sprinkler system. The back yard has a master-off valve, so I didn't even have to switch off the water to the house while I was doing it...

So, the next step was to fix up the concrete. I dug out the soil and stones (you can see them piled on the old concrete) then drilled into the existing path to lay some rebar. I then just mixed and laid the concrete down, and brushed/scored it to match the pattern on the already-existing concrete... Once it was laid down, I let it set for a few days, just to be sure. While I was doing this, I built a fence on the garden-side, to hide the ugly-white tanks that were going to be placed on the concrete.


Once the concrete was set, I ran the three plastic water lines in the above diagram all the way from one end of the house to the other, going down through the floor into the crawl-space (and boy is that name accurate!) at the tank-end, and stapling (with staples that allow for free movement) the three plastic water-lines to the joists, all the way down to the other end of the house. There's a crawlspace-vent at the far end of the house by where the water-tanks will go, so I just brought the lines out through that vent.

The other ends of the three (single-piece, no joins) plastic water-lines all come out behind the tank and I'll link them up later to provide my water-change and ATO... First, though, there has to be somewhere for the red and blue lines to source water from!

So the next step was to start building the framework for some shelves to hold the water-storage tanks. I had ordered a 225-gallon free-standing circular tank, and I already had two 70-gallon rectangular tanks. The plan was to use the 225-gallon tank as salt-water storage, one of the 70-gallon tanks as RO/DI, and the other 70-gallon tank for mixing up salt-water. The framing was built with this in mind, and I also wanted some extra shelf-space for storing the various components I'd need when mixing up the NSW. The positions of the large & small(er) water tanks are as in the diagram above - NSW on the right, RO/DI and mixing-tank on the left, so the framework looked like:


The left-hand side has a storage area for salt-mix on the ground, then the RO/DI water tank will be on the first shelf, then the mixing tank will go above that. I'll install a ball-valve onto the mixing tank output so that I can drain fully-mixed new salt-water directly into the large tank using gravity. On the right-hand-side, the ground space will be taken up by the larger salt-water tank, and above that we have a storage shelf. On top of both, I'll place a slightly-angled roof to protect the tanks from the sun and rain a bit.


It's difficult to see from the photo, but you can just about make out that the second photo above shows the slanted roof. The cheapest exterior-type wood I could find for the shelves/roof was in fact redwood fence-boards - $0.99 each at Home Depot! Once all these were screwed into place, finally, I installed the tanks...


... and some pull-up shades over the front of the frame to further protect the tanks from the sun, and to prettify the tank storage area, so there wasn't an eyesore in that corner of the yard. I'm quite pleased with these because you can just roll them over the top of the frame onto the roof, and they're totally out of the way when you need to get into the top areas. You can just about see the roof on the frame in this one as well...


Ok, that's enough for one post - the tanks are physically present, although nothing is linked up. Still, quite a lot of progress as far as I'm concerned [grin]

Simon


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Old 09/12/2011, 12:53 AM   #20
Spaced Cowboy
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Originally Posted by bdwilson View Post
Nice build, keep the pics coming!
Cheers

Don't worry, I fully intend to

Simon


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Old 09/12/2011, 04:02 PM   #21
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Finishing off the water storage/making area


So, now that the tanks are in-place and ready to go, I had to link up the RO/DI system. As mentioned above, I bought the six-stage Chloramines system from BRS since San Jose uses Chloramines (basically Chlorine bound to Ammonia, yuk!) as part of their sterilization process. I mounted them above the large SW tank, mainly because that's where the tap is


I also added a power line, taken via an armoured cable from the swimming-pool sub-panel, and plumbed in a ball-valve at the base of the mixing tank, so once the NSW reads 1.026 s.g., all I have to do is turn the valve and 70 gallons of NSW gets dumped to the large NSW storage tank...


Both the mixing-tank and the RO/DI tank are fed (via a T) from the same RO/DI system output. There's a shut-off valve located where the RO system is fed, which is activated by the back-pressure from the float-valves in each tank. If either tank is not yet full, that tank will be filled with RO/DI until it reaches the top, at which point the RO/DI will switch to filling the other tank if needed, finally shutting off completely, all completely automatically.

This is rather cool because it means I always have a full 70 gallons of pure RO/DI, and it also means the mixing tank starts to refill as soon as I empty it via the ball-valve to the NSW storage.

One of the things I have noticed is that I do seem to be going through DI resin quite fast - I've ordered more, but I thought I'd get through it slower than this. The resin changes to a brownish colour when it's exhausted, and you can see in the first picture below that it's going brown after only ~210 gallons of water produced (still at 0 tds output though). I was expecting ~800 gallons before exhaustion, not ~300 gallons (estimated).


The middle image is my digital refractometer. Nice little toy, and makes it easier to measure the s.g And finally I laid down some cable-protector so the water-pipes that go from the storage-tanks under the house to the display tank won't get crushed when I step on them

Simon.


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Old 09/12/2011, 04:58 PM   #22
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subscribed!

hope my 265 turns out as good as this ones going! Attention to detail is awesome


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Old 09/12/2011, 07:24 PM   #23
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Cool! My first-ever subscription

Thanks for the kind words!

Simon


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Old 09/13/2011, 10:50 AM   #24
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Sump'n's up!

So, a bit of work on the sump-side of things. Glad I'm not crawling around on my belly under the house any more! I painted the inside of the sump (including the doors) with several coats of gloss exterior wood paint. Spilling some water onto the surface resulted in a gratifying beading of the water The white colour will help with seeing what's going on in the sump when the only light down there is a refugium light, as well...

One of the design principles of the tank is for it to be as quiet as possible, so we're running a bean-animal overflow, the skimmer is the quietest good skimmer I could afford, the pump is a quiet one etc..


This is the Warner Marine K2 skimmer I bought a while ago. It fits neatly into the skimmer-section I'll be linking up the nog-drain valve to a suitable closed container which will go over by the pump ... which is the other photo: a reeflo super dart gold. At 5' head, it ought to provide ~3200gph, but given the losses due to plumbing, I'd expect more like ~2000gph being returned to the display. Soon, I'll bolt the pump to the wooden support platform, which rests on top of four sound-dampening pads.

There are true-union ball-valves immediately before and after the pump for easy maintenance, and in fact there are probably too many unions all over the plumbing. I tend to use them in order to make fitting the plumbing easier... If you put an union on a pipe, and then an elbow after it, you can make the other side of the elbow point at any angle - it just means you don't have to get everything spot-on perfect the first time when you're joining the slip-joints with cement.

The pump doesn't just do the return - I've built the below manifold ...


... to give me some flexibility in the future with respect to how the water flows. The nearest and farthest lines are the returns - still got to plumb in the near one. The middle set of valves are for "everything else" The middle set are positioned so that two are above the skimmer section, two are above the return section, and one is above the refugium section, for flexibility in which section to dump water back into. The manifold is supported in the middle at the moment, but I still have to add some more plumbing supports ...

Finally, there's a photo showing how the water-lines from the storage tanks at the other end of the house emerge from the floor. I'll be linking those up to a peristaltic pump (the Litermeter III) and doing both ATO and water-changes with them. I've heard great things about the LM3, so I'm hoping the distance and head-pressure won't be a problem.

One other thing: I was walking back from the garage with the manifold / straight-pipe section under my arm (the mitre saw and cement are in the garage - my 3-months pregnant wife didn't want any "nasty chemicals" in the house. Fair enough ). Picture the above manifold, upside-down for ease of carrying, being held by one of the middle-ish valves, the others resting in the crook of my elbow, and the section of straight pipe sticking out ahead of me. Bear in mind that's about 3.5' long... My wife took one look and labelled it a "terminator-gun"

... and there we are... All caught up. From now on the posts will slow down to a more manageable rate, as I actually have to do something before writing about it [grin]

Simon.



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Old 09/13/2011, 11:22 PM   #25
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DUDE that Looks awsome! cant wait to see it filled and a year mature. Looks like youre having a blast! and moving rather quickly I might add.


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