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Thread: Want to grow Highland/UltraHi Nepenthes ?

  1. #1
    Not Growing Up! GrowinOld's Avatar
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    Want to grow Highland/UltraHi Nepenthes ?

    Hello all you who want to grow Highland/ultra highland Nepenthes...

    I am soliciting opinions at this time, And I can use YOUR help and input!
    I may have the opportunity in the future to build and produce Highland terrariums
    that are nearly fully automatic.
    I have been researching these for some time now,
    and having a background in design engineering, I have come up with a few
    innovative designs and improvements to such a unit, that I believe can solve
    the "Highland" growing difficulties encountered by so many people.
    I am now testing out one of my prototype units and am working on designing
    another. So far things are looking very good. (Sorry, no Pictures yet.)

    In order to complete my research at this time,
    I would like to find out what the general consensus is concerning
    what users and "customers" like yourselves are looking for in a
    nice terrarium capable of growing these "demanding" yet fascinating plants.

    YOU, every one of you who has even remotely thought of wanting to grow these
    plants, can provide an important thought and opinion possibly affecting how (and if)
    I proceed in designing these units in the future. Even the most inexperienced grower
    can offer me valuable ideas, considerations and opinions.
    So please, anyone and everyone, take a moment to reply or PM me on your thoughts.

    (Also, just please try to keep this relatively reasonable and serious.)
    I am soliciting the opinions of you, the mainstream of amateur/professional growers
    and "wanna-bies", as it is your opinion that matters to me.

    And while telling me that you want a grow chamber the size of Hawaii and
    your wanting it to cost $5 is funny (and ideal), there are many people that ARE seriously
    interested in one and I believe I have something that can help the average person, easily
    grow these wonderful plants.
    While it is nice to finally be able to buy such rare plants, I think it is important
    to not just be able to keep these plants alive, but to keep them thriving!

    I would appreciate any input you may have as far as your "wants" are concerned.
    In general, what are you looking for? GO into any features, details, etc. as you want...
    as any information you can provide as to your wants in looking for a unit like this
    might be.
    As we are from all over the country/world, everyone will have specific needs and wants
    based on their local conditions. Make your opinion count.

    For example and to get you started:

    What are you looking for in a Highland/Ultra-highland Terrarium?

    Near Fully-Automatic?
    How much dedicated work and time do you want to put in to your plants?
    Is it worth the extra money for you to have something
    more "automatic" and "undemanding"?

    Appearance?
    Want something nice for the living-room and for everyone to admire,
    or just something to shove in the corner of your basement?
    (Such as...as long as it works, who cares how it looks!)


    How large of a unit (dimensions) would you be interested in?
    (Think about this realistically...If you are putting this in your living room,
    do you really have room for one 4 feet high, 3 feet deep and 6 feet wide?)
    And if you are only really wanting to grow a few N.Villosa's, wouldn't one
    2 ft x 18" fit nicely in a corner of your kitchen better?

    Being reasonable and honest, about how much would you be willing or able
    to pay for such a unit as you have described?
    I wouldn't base pricing on your answer at all, however, component costs (even wholesale)
    and labor involved may make production of these impossible at a reasonable price.
    However we all have different ideas of what "reasonable" is!

    Would you prefer one for placing in a window, receiving natural sunlight, or
    use artifical lighting?

    Any other thoughts, opinions or ideas you might want to throw out there would be appreciated.
    My goal in this venture is to provide growers with the tools they need to keep their plants thriving.
    (Also, hopefully to assist in my making a living doing that.)

    I have already spent much time and resources in researching this out,
    and in "inventing", designing and creating a Terrarium that I think will solve
    many of the problems encountered by the average grower today.

    Thanks in advance... for your opinions and input.
    Paul
    GrowinOld

    By the way, I placed this "thread" here... where I felt that the people who are
    really interested in growing the N.Highlands will be looking, for it is YOUR opinion that I want.

    (If everything goes well, I will keep you posted as to how things are proceeding.)
    Last edited by GrowinOld; 09-05-2008 at 10:27 PM. Reason: text corrections
    Experience is the best teacher. At least it used to be.
    But then, common sense isn't so common anymore, is it.


    http://www.terraforums.com/forums/sh...d.php?t=113866

  2. #2
    NECPS President Dave S.'s Avatar
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    I would want a a highland terrarium that is easy to get in and out of for watering. Currently, I have to move the lights each time I water on some terrariums. It should be tall and wide for nepenthes and look good in a living room. I would prefer to grow my plants in my main living area, but my cold basement makes the most sense for now. I would expect it to be partially-insulated to keep it cool and to keep energy cost down, but have glass to view the plants as well. A temperature range of 55F at night and 75F in the day would be ideal for me and it is the most difficult element to the project.

    I would want T5 and LED lights to be integrated into the overall design with fans to keep the T5's from heating up the tank too much. There should be a misting system and perhaps a watering system built in. There should be shelves that can be raised or lowered as the plants grow. It should be a range of sizes as highland plants should get big over time. I would want fans that pull air in at the bottom and and push air out near the top for air-movement.

    There should be a way to easily drain excess water and perhaps have a cabinet underneath for storage of water bottles, plant food, etc, potting mix, etc.

    I would pay over $1,000 for the highland terrarium as described above, but I assume it would cost more as I have not seen a highland tank like this for sale.

  3. #3
    Av8tor1's Avatar
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    all I would add to Dave's parameters would be over temp and high water protection. Last thing you want is cooked plants or flooded livingroom.

    Personally, I am going to use a PLC to control mine... I already have the controller, inlet valves, misting nozzles, pressure reg etc. That way I can customize the parameters as I see fit and access/control it via the internet.

    Everything should be "off the shelf" items as well, no special components that cannot be found locally and quickly in case of failure.

    e.g., common dishwasher float switch, water inlet vavle from an ice maker, common thermal fuse or thermal disc from home clothes dryers, etc etc

    no need to reinvent the wheel

    electronickits.com has some really nice items that may of value

    Av

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    BigBella's Avatar
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    Ideally, you should have full access to plants and the terrarium / case should allow for the installation of lighting, misting systems, for draining, and some exhaust fan -- and should be, for all intents and purposes, automatic. Currently, there are Edwardian Cases or what is marketed as an "orchidarium" available at the following site and they are quite attractive as furniture. I've seen some in "fancy-schmancy" offices overseas:

    http://www.orchidarium.com.

    They currently range in price from around 800.00 to 2500.00 for all of the bells and whistles . . .
    “Sì perché l'autorità dell'opinione di mille nelle scienze non val per una scintilla di ragione di un solo . . ."

    -- Galileo "Biff" Galilei

  5. #5
    A yellow M&M Jefforever's Avatar
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    AHH. Highland tanks are such a pain. I've got a minifridge with a metal coil (found in cars) that has water go through it.

    It cools down the water a bit, but not enough. My Macrophylla, Izumea, helis, Lowii, etc seem fine though.

    The fridge also makes a loud buzzing noise, so somebody keeps turning it off...

    It's probably off like 200 nights a year.

  6. #6
    Grow Pitcher Plants! DroseraBug's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GrowinOld View Post
    Hello all you who want to grow Highland/ultra highland Nepenthes...


    For example and to get you started:

    What are you looking for in a Highland/Ultra-highland Terrarium?

    Cool nightime temps in the hot summers of the southeastern U.S.

    Near Fully-Automatic?
    How much dedicated work and time do you want to put in to your plants?
    Is it worth the extra money for you to have something
    more "automatic" and "undemanding"?

    Would like to be able to set any temp and/or humidity regulators on timers.

    Appearance?
    Want something nice for the living-room and for everyone to admire,
    or just something to shove in the corner of your basement?
    (Such as...as long as it works, who cares how it looks!)

    It would not have to be extravagent but decent looking would be nice.

    How large of a unit (dimensions) would you be interested in?
    (Think about this realistically...If you are putting this in your living room,
    do you really have room for one 4 feet high, 3 feet deep and 6 feet wide?)
    And if you are only really wanting to grow a few N.Villosa's, wouldn't one
    2 ft x 18" fit nicely in a corner of your kitchen better?

    36" long, 24" deep, and 3' high

    Being reasonable and honest, about how much would you be willing or able
    to pay for such a unit as you have described?
    I wouldn't base pricing on your answer at all, however, component costs (even wholesale)
    and labor involved may make production of these impossible at a reasonable price.
    However we all have different ideas of what "reasonable" is!

    $475+ depending on hourly rate, lighting not included

    Would you prefer one for placing in a window, receiving natural sunlight, or
    use artifical lighting?

    artificial light of my choice

    Any other thoughts, opinions or ideas you might want to throw out there would be appreciated.
    My goal in this venture is to provide growers with the tools they need to keep their plants thriving.
    (Also, hopefully to assist in my making a living doing that.)

    One idea if you haven't already thought of this would be an adjustable shelf or two within the terrarium to allow the grower to shift plants up or down depending on there relative size and maturity.

    I have already spent much time and resources in researching this out,
    and in "inventing", designing and creating a Terrarium that I think will solve
    many of the problems encountered by the average grower today.

    Thanks in advance... for your opinions and input.
    Paul
    GrowinOld

    By the way, I placed this "thread" here... where I felt that the people who are
    really interested in growing the N.Highlands will be looking, for it is YOUR opinion that I want.

    (If everything goes well, I will keep you posted as to how things are proceeding.)
    Thanks and keep us posted.
    "And this is what happened, and this is why the caribou and the wolf are one; for the caribou feeds the wolf, but it is the wolf that keeps the caribou strong."
    — Farley Mowat

    My Growlist

  7. #7
    Not Growing Up! GrowinOld's Avatar
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    Update & My Thanks!

    Hello Again,

    My thanks to you Dave S., Av8tor1 and BigBella, and even DroseraBug & Jefforever!
    Out of 167 people who have viewed this post so far, only the 5 of you have bothered to
    offer your opinions or ideas! Please know that I GREATLY appreciate YOUR help
    and input in this! I had hoped for more input, but perhaps you 5 have covered it all.

    I don't know what the future holds for me in terrarium design and sales,
    however so far I am reassured by what you all wrote, that I am absolutely
    on the right track. I also believe that once I am finished, you will definitely
    like what you see! (I don't know if the 145 other people who didn't bother
    to give their opinions will like it, but then they can't say I didn't try!)

    So far, I have pretty much everything automated on the terrarium.
    (Well, compared to most people's set-ups.) While there are still some
    technical restrictions and much testing and tweaking of things left to do,
    overall the unit is working pretty nicely. It's relatively compact, self contained, and
    addresses most of the concerns that have been brought up. Cost is still an issue,
    however I am still working on that too.

    I also am a "standard and readily available parts" kind of guy, as Av8tor1 mentioned,
    which is one of the reasons I got out of engineering... as every company seemed to
    want to use "their" "unique-custom" parts, and I didn't agree with that kind of thinking.
    It seems however, that my 25 years in design engineering may soon be of help
    to CP growers and the plants they grow..

    I am designing the terrarium so even a total novice can use it successfully.
    That is my goal in creating these (besides helping my making a living), is to offer
    ANYONE a better chance to successfully grow Highland Nep's and related
    orchids/plants. Other than some basic maintenance, I don't see the need for
    normal folks to have to worry about things like running tubes or wires to create the
    needed humidity, temperatures and such. Your interests are in growing these
    amazing plants, not necessarily in plumbing, heating, ventilation, lighting and so on.
    While some people enjoy the challenge of devising a grow chamber better than others,
    other people would rather be enjoying their plants and watching them grow and thrive.

    There does seem to be many opinions out there concerning using natural sunlight
    from a window or artificial lights. (I may have to let people have the option
    to decide their own lighting solution, while still providing "how-to" information
    to do it successfully and "automatically" in sync with the rest of the unit.

    I am also wondering about peoples views on Plastic or glass?
    I know there is concern about light transmission thru plastics and whether it is as
    beneficial to the plants as glass is (and vice versa), and also about its durability.
    I have always been a "glass-man" myself, as it is readily available, inexpensive,
    strong and scratch resistant. However, plastic is in many ways more versatile,
    easier to work with and lighter and durable to ship.

    I did look at the fancy-schmancy"-"orchidariums" BigBella mentioned,
    and looked up the sizes they offer. (I have also seen other places that offer
    even larger sizes.) In general however, While I think they are really nice,
    I don't think most people can fit the larger ones into their living rooms or "decorative"
    schemes. At least not without their wives divorcing them!

    Dave S., you gave me a very good description of what you would like.
    You took my request seriously and make me want to hear more!
    ANY other thoughts you may have, I am all ears!
    (Specifics especially! Wood/Metal? Glass/Plastic? Dimensions! Anything!)

    Right now the prototype I have built (and currently testing) is about
    24"w x 15"d x 25"h inside dimensions. The "refrigeration" equipment does not add
    too much to the units size compared to what others are doing, however
    it does add some bulk to the unit. It is still relatively small and nice, however getting
    it down to compact size does have its limitations on the cooling end.
    It currently cools to about 60 degrees at night (however I can't seem to get
    accurate readings using 5 different thermometers [that were claimed to be
    highly "accurate"]....I get 5 different readings! Some say as low as 48, others 60),
    and during the daytime up to 75-80.

    The humidity also, regulated, adjustable and fully automatic.
    (It is however a very un-conventional, new design I created.
    Simple yet proving to be very effective!)
    I have ignored it over a week so far and it is doing the job.

    Lighting is currently both window and fluorescent supplemented.
    The window lighting has created some intensity/heat issues, which I foolishly
    ignored the common sense I normally use (the sun seemed to have cooked
    my N. Macrophylla a bit in the beginning) however overall things are recovering
    and getting back on track.

    The real test for me coming up, is that I am having someone house-sit for us
    for a couple weeks, during which time they will be doing "nothing" as far as
    taking care of the plants that are inside. After setting it up before I leave,
    if it passes that test I assume that will be "automated" enough for most of you!
    And to be honest, other than watch things and track temp. and humidity
    measurements and making sure everything is working right,
    I haven't done all that much these past few weeks anyway.
    From what I see, I am pretty close to having things as automated as possible!

    I am now getting my larger and "improved" version designed, drawn-up and started.
    I know it will take a lot of research and more testing before I get into actually
    producing these, but I know I can eventually offer you more for your money
    than whats currently out there.

    Just for fun, here's a picture of the shabby terrarium I built about 16 years ago
    (and rebuilt after cutting it down in size about 10 years ago!).

    It's held up all those years, and being made from scrap wood, plastic sheeting
    and glass, isn't bad considering the humidity and use its been under!
    Sorry it's such a bad/dark picture. No, it didn't have the automatic humidity system
    at the time, but it does now. (Doesn't have the cooling/refrigeration system
    nor any lights. It was for low/intermediate use and has definitely served me well.)

    My Thanks again to you who have taken the time to give your opinions.
    I will try to post again with updates to let you know how things are going in the future.
    If you (or anyone else) have ANY further thoughts or comments on this,
    I would appreciate it.

    I know I am still in the beginning stages of this venture and that my future with it
    is uncertain. However, things are looking very good so far!

    Paul
    Experience is the best teacher. At least it used to be.
    But then, common sense isn't so common anymore, is it.


    http://www.terraforums.com/forums/sh...d.php?t=113866

  8. #8
    Tony Paroubek's Avatar
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    I have no need for such a structure so don't have alot to add. But I think if you are going to focus on a unit that will cool highland plants it is imperative that you not only maintain temperature readings inside the unit but simultaneous readings outside. It isn't enough to say it will hit 60 degrees at night. Is that if the room is 65? 80?? What is the units ability to drop temperature over ambient room temperature? That is a much more important measure. Can you expect a 10degree drop? 15? 25? Some people may only need 10 or 15 while others may need 25 or 30. Perhaps they want to grow ultrahighland like N. villosa!


    Regarding the sun.. It's HOT as you noticed. And not all that reliable for many. What happens if the unit is sitting in a window and the cooling/venting system fails? Nice to think green but promoting the use of sunlight for an enclosed grow chamber opens up a host of difficulties and potential problems with temperature control, daylength etc. Lighting will still be needed as the sun coming through a window is usually only for a short period of time during the day. The lighting will need to supply the proper intensity for when the sun isn't around anyway.. so all that you accomplish really is maybe having the lighting system off for a few hours while the sun is there. Provided you can overcome the heating issues. And while I am not a electrical engineer, it would seem to me that it will cost a whole lot more in energy use to run a cooling system trying to combat heat buildup from the sun vs some efficient high intensity lights.
    Is that a Nepenthes in your pocket or you just happy to see me?

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