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Thread: Automatic Watering System

  1. #1
    Doing it wrong until I do it right. xvart's Avatar
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    Automatic Watering System

    Update 6/13/08: For working directions, click here to jump to later in this thread.

    So after converting several of my Nepenthes to hanging pots on my grow shelf, I was having difficulty watering the ones in the back. Being the proactive person that I am, I decided that just being annoyed and complaining wasn't a good enough solution. So, I made a trip to Lowe's to start a project with little knowledge of what I was doing. With reckless abandon, I started buying stuff to create an automatic watering system. Additionally, since I had just cleaned the floor in my plant/project room I had more than enough clean space to make dirty again.

    The clean floor:


    Please remember that it has been four or five years since my last physics class involving pressure in pipes and liquid flow systems.

    I had done some reading online about similar DIY projects, but I was unable to find one that had split tee joints.

    Here is everything I bought laid out:


    Inventory
    Submersible Fountain Pump (40-80 GPH)
    20 ft. Clear Vinyl Tubing, 1/2" x 3/8"
    5 x Nylon Hose Barb Tee, 3/8" x 3/8" x 3/8"
    3.5 Gallon Bucket
    1 x Wendy's Spicy Chicken Sandwich, hold the mayo, add cheese and pickles

    STEP ONE: Eat My Sandwich


    STEP TWO: Test the Fountain Pump
    I initially filled up the bucket with water, submerged the fountain pump in the water, and attached a length of tubing. I then plugged it in to see if the tubing size and connection was correct.



    Sweet! It was working. Off to a good start.

    STEP THREE: String the First Length of Tubing up the Shelf
    I split the tubing at the top of the hanging pot shelf and taped it to the top of one of the legs. Before splitting the tubing too many times I decided it would be important to test it with only one junction.



    STEP FOUR: Test the Junction
    At this point, I didn't think I would be able to split the main line too many times without significant drop-off in pressure through the tubing. I turned it on again and discovered that the water wouldn't even climb the four feet to the top from the bucket that was sitting on a chair. I looked at the fountain pump box for the first time and read: "Pumping Height 3.3 ft (Max)." Whoops!



    STEP FOUR (B): Move the Water Bucket and Repeat Step Four
    I put the water bucket on the very top shelf so gravity would no longer be my enemy.



    I turned on the pump again. Remember this:
    Quote Originally Posted by xvart
    At this point, I didn't think I would be able to split the main line too many times without significant drop-off in pressure through the tubing.
    Well... The first split was yielding hardly any water through the second tube.



    So I unplugged the pump and waited for the water to finish draining... and waited... and waited... Then it struck me. My non-enemy gravity was now my non-friend gravity because the water in the tube was sucking up water from the top bucket as it poured from the tube into the bottom bucket. I had essentially created a slightly more expensive siphon.

    Conclusion
    So, it looks like my wreckless abandon would have to be supplemented with a little more research and help from others. But, I still had created something that solved my original goal of making watering the back plants easier, since I can easily pump water through one small tube.

    Here I am watering my N. Kohala. Ahhhh... how easy.


    Potential Ideas: Research Denied!
    • Plug the main line and force water down the side shoots;
    • Get a more powerful pump; or,
    • Stop kidding myself and read more information.


    Any and all comments will be appreciated. Eventually I'll have it so I just turn on the pump for a minute and it will water six or seven pots.

    xvart.
    Last edited by xvart; 06-13-2008 at 08:24 PM.
    "The tragedy of life is not that every man loses; but that he almost wins."

    "Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?"

  2. #2
    Cardiac Nurse JB_OrchidGuy's Avatar
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    No all you need to do is set a pipe in each pot and then just flip a switch to water them all at once. Looks good. Going to set something up like that myself when I move.
    JB
    Friend me on facebook with JB_orchidguy@yahoo.com.
    Growlist Updated 05/08/13

  3. #3
    Doing it wrong until I do it right. xvart's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JB_OrchidGuy View Post
    No all you need to do is set a pipe in each pot and then just flip a switch to water them all at once. Looks good. Going to set something up like that myself when I move.
    Yeah, but the water wasn't flowing out of both pipes when I only split it once. Not enough pressure?

    xvart.
    "The tragedy of life is not that every man loses; but that he almost wins."

    "Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?"

  4. #4
    Cardiac Nurse JB_OrchidGuy's Avatar
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    You need to do what I did for my bog. You have the one pipe. It is a heavier black tubing then you pierce it and use these connectors to run smaller tubes off the main one. You did the same thing I did in the beginning. You need to look at the micro drip irrigation stuff at lowes then use the pump to feed it. I will have to take a pic of my setup. You can see it easily on the back of the bog.

    Don't buy the fancy irrigation heads. There will not be enough pressure, but it will be enough to get an even flow out of each tubing.
    JB
    Friend me on facebook with JB_orchidguy@yahoo.com.
    Growlist Updated 05/08/13

  5. #5
    Doing it wrong until I do it right. xvart's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JB_OrchidGuy View Post
    You need to look at the micro drip irrigation stuff at lowes then use the pump to feed it.
    How much does that cost?

    Quote Originally Posted by JB_OrchidGuy View Post
    I will have to take a pic of my setup. You can see it easily on the back of the bog.
    I would appreciate that. Thanks.

    xvart.
    "The tragedy of life is not that every man loses; but that he almost wins."

    "Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?"

  6. #6
    Av8tor1's Avatar
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    info/component source

    Drip irrigation tutorial and downloadable guide

    HTH's
    Av

    oh and flashback... total dynamic head = total static head + total friction head
    I teach it every semester

  7. #7
    OMG h8 pings MrFlyTrap2's Avatar
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    One of the pieces you might be missing is something called a manifold. The manifold is something used to somewhat solve that problem. They are cheap and will sometimes do the conversion of pipe sizes for you. Mine accepts a 1/2" pvc thread, and spit out 1/4" tubing. The manifold delivers water to everything, just not the path of least resistance. And each outlet is adjustable in case it's doing just that. The part runs about 3 - 5 dollars.

    http://www.leaffactory.com/wp/v/thev...30159.JPG.html

    You can see it in that photo, black circle with some capped off, some with hoses connected.

    http://www.hardwareandtools.com/invt/u695443?ref=gbase
    Last edited by MrFlyTrap2; 06-01-2008 at 07:34 PM. Reason: Added link more linking
    My Grow List

    "It is only by studying nature that can we ever hope to defeat it."

  8. #8
    Doing it wrong until I do it right. xvart's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Av8tor1 View Post
    Thanks for that link. Some good reading.

    Quote Originally Posted by Av8tor1 View Post
    oh and flashback... total dynamic head = total static head + total friction head
    I teach it every semester
    Ahhh... the cobwebs are falling down now and it's starting to come back with that vocabulary! lol. Thanks for all the information Av.

    Quote Originally Posted by MrFlyTrap2 View Post
    One of the pieces you might be missing is something called a manifold. The manifold is something used to somewhat solve that problem. They are cheap and will sometimes do the conversion of pipe sizes for you. Mine accepts a 1/2" pvc thread, and spit out 1/4" tubing. The manifold delivers water to everything, just not the path of least resistance. And each outlet is adjustable in case it's doing just that. The part runs about 3 - 5 dollars.

    http://www.leaffactory.com/wp/v/thev...30159.JPG.html

    You can see it in that photo, black circle with some capped off, some with hoses connected.

    http://www.hardwareandtools.com/invt/u695443?ref=gbase
    I see. How does the manifold play into the upper pvc piping in your picture? Are they separate systems? I remember you mentioning changing pipe sizes during our last conversation on AIM but I never realized or saw that manifold. Any chance of getting some pictures of the connection pieces to it and how it connects to your water supply?

    I think that might work with the pieces I've currently bought.

    I'll have to ponder all this before taking the next step. Thanks for all the help, JB, Av, and MFT.

    xvart.
    "The tragedy of life is not that every man loses; but that he almost wins."

    "Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?"

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