Amy Aces Summertime Fun
Okay first set of seeds failed to launch 🙁 unfortunately they sat in a mailbox in Arizona for four days. So I started another batch of seeds. I hedged my bets and started more than I needed. The middle row is Amy aces, the farther row is some purple irkle the closer row is blue Jack city feminized seeds.
so they should be ready to be transplanted this weekend. I am excited to start them up in my revised system. Next post will detail the fixes for the archives since this v0.5 hardware and software.
Okay here are the fixes for my auto system aka the GrowMaster.
- Added a 3D printed catch box in the runoff tank that catches all the water that is received from the grow tray. This catch box has a small hole in the bottom to slow down draining so the runoff sensor and the runoff ec sensor can measure fresh runoff. There are two holes above the runoff sensor so any excess water can drain into the tank. The ec sensor & runoff sensor mounts to this catch box. The runoff sensor also doubles up as the runoff tank full sensor.
- Removed the acrylic storage tanks, and I am now using the bottles the nutrients come in as storage tanks. This should keep my chemicals from reacting with the acrylic in the storage tanks.
- Removed the nutrient stirring system, used it's relay to drive a solenoid that allows the system to drain out the fertigation res to runoff tank bypassing the drip rings and plants. This allows me to drain the res, and program in clean in place cycles, without harming the plants.
- Removed the fresh water valve that could be use to fill the fertigation res with fresh water. It was not ever used but 2 times, and didn't add any real value to the system.
- Now that I have an extra fresh water valve I used it to fill up my humidifier. I was able to use the extra level that was used as the runoff full sensor from change #1 to detect when the humidifier is empty. I timed how long it takes to fill, and recorded how many gallons it takes to fill the humidifier. The system uses it's fresh water flow meter to fill the tank and a timeout value. So it will either deliver 2 gallons to the humidifier, or it will timeout after 4 minutes. Just in case the flow meter malfunctions.
- Upgraded the humidifier to an AC Infinity Cloud forge T7 this thing is a beast and it doesn't take up any room in the tent! However I need to make a water catch so it's drips make it into the grow tray. Since I am using a AC Infinity Controler 69 Pro this humidifier integrates with it and has different levels of humidification. This really locks in the humidity in the tent. Now the VPD stays within +- 0.11 of the target. This occurs even when the exhaust fans ramp up to higher speeds.
- On the 1/2" drip line added a quick disconnect to the end of the hose so I can tap off the res to fill a bucket, and use the nutrient solution to feed other plants.
- Added a quick disconnect to the runoff tank to make it easy to run a hose out to the yard to water the plants in the yard with the runoff.
- Added another 3 dosing pumps to the system to bring the total up to 11 dosing pumps. I wanted to be able to add some other chemicals for clean in place, and a surfactant.
- Added some 2x4s to raise the grow tray up from the bottom of the tent. It was a real pain to open the zipper on the tent because the grow tray was interfering with the grow tent's zipper's operation.
Now onto the software changes:
- Removed the dosing supervision and sequencing from the presentation (User Interface) tier into the hardware tier. It was quick to develop the dosing program in the presentation tier, and quick to change. However about every 3 batches it would make 1 would fail due to a NULL exception??? Further research into this issue is caused by the low level hardware dropping connections intermittently. Been having networking issues lately and this kills the entire batch making process at random. It is also further complicated by the time it takes to mix up a batch 1.5 hours for a small batch and 2.5 hours for larger batches. Now the User interface tells the controllers how much water to fill, the recipe, target ec, and target PH. Then once that is done successfully it tells the controllers to make up a nutrient batch. The controllers take over from there, and message the UI as the process is performed, and when each step is completed. I have made 12 batches so far with this new software architecture 0 failures.
- Changed how the system deals with target PPM of the recipe. The system will now make up a batch then once it is mixed it will dilute the mix to the target PPM. The old way was the system would try to dial back the ppm's by reducing the dose of all the nutrients to match the target. This didn't work at all and each batch would be off the target EC. The error could be off by +-200ppm or more if you changed the recipe. By diluting the recipe after it is mixed the target ppm is coming out +- 25ppm as long as the nutrient strength is higher than the target EC. Only issue comes up is when the batch EC is lower than the target, or if the mix tank runs out of volume to dilute the batch down to the target EC. During my last run I only needed about 2.5-4 gallons of nutrients a day. I was afraid that I would run out of mix tank volume to dilute a recipe down. This was a stupid way of handling EC and had to go. Well thought I had a better mouse trap but it was worse, as it would catch mice but then an hour later the mice would escape. My mix tank is 5 gallons, and now I know why Dr. pushed me for a big mix tank he suggested I go with a 10 gallon tank, however that was way too big of a footprint for my system. The nutrient resivor is 7 gallons with 5 usable gallons (cheap home depot storage bins should never be completely filled or they bow out).
- Added 2 modes to fertigate the plants. Mode 1 uses a timed fertigation where it will turn on the pumps and valve to the fertigate the plants wait for a preset time and then shut down. This mode is what we are all used to using in our auto fertigation systems. Mode 2 uses the flow meter to dispense a known volume of water so you can calculate how much nutrient solution you need to achieve runoff, and dose just that volume of water. Mode 3 is similar to mode 2 but uses the nutrient reservoir's scale to measure the volume of water. I haven't tried Mode 2 or Mode 3 but I am hoping it will not waste as much water as mode 1. Plus mode 2 & 3 also allow the system to account for when the reservoir needs to be recharged, and pro-actively mix a batch before it is needed. We will see how this works, but any three of the modes can be used. I am hoping with the improved runoff catch I will be able to tell the EC deltas, and time to runoff. I want to use this as feed back for the system to dial in the perfect fertigation volume to keep EC in check, and not waste nutrient solution.
- Changed the dosing program to use either the flow meter's fill volume, or the volume of water in the mix tank by weight. The flow meter is much more accurate and responds quicker without calibration issues over the long term. Just put a phone on the mix tank cabinet when the system fills the tank and your nutrient solution will be off. Using the flow meter these issues are not a problem. The system used weight before, and worked decent I just think the flow meter is more accurate, and repeatable.
- Added a program to fill the Humidifier, and added a sentry program that runs every 10 minutes to make sure the system is not doing something stupid like trying to keep on filling the humidifier, mix tank resevior, or repeatedly fertigating the plants every 10 minutes.
Well that is all the fixes for this grow, hope I get even bigger plants than the last grow. Here are some future refinements I plan on implementing.
- Create a grow planner, that will allow you to build a plan that will control the dosing recipes, transitions. So you can plan out a grow, drop seedlings in press go, and it will automatically transition nutrient recipes, and environment for taking a plant from seed to harvest.
- Add a reporting system that will allow you to print out reports from previous grows, and keep track of all the variables that the system can monitor or control.
- Develop a more compact system that can be put on a cart or doesn't take up more than 2x2 space minus the runoff tank and nutrient reservoir. Refine the wiring to use a Modbus or can bus system so you can just run a cable with four wires using M12 cables to all the devices on the system to deliver power and communications to the devices.
Well before I do any more improvements I have to see what is better with the new software, and hardware. I think this version is about there, and then I just need to reduce size and complexity. I already have big plans for that. I am hoping this time next year the Grow Master will controlling your system too.
Okay living with the new software is a blessing have not had any batch mixes failures. The EC control is far better +- 20 uS so we are in like flin, added another doser bank of 4 dosers so I can have just H2O2 to keep things clean, and it is working we have about 4 more days before the next pics....
Well it is time for the weekly update. All I have to say is WOW!!!!
Day 13 from seeds wet. I had to abort the first seeds planted. I would say the new software is working. I probably just jinxed myself but the proof is in the pictures. Mixed 34 flawless batches. I am really happy about how things are working. Only issue is I replaced my recirculating pump in the res, and it will not self prime if it runs dry. Even though the pump sits in the resivor. Well next week I will replace that pump, runs great as long as it doesn’t run dry. However the auto doser has not missed a single beat and keeps the resivor stocked up. I am off to San Antonio tomorrow for the week so I will either be singing praises next weekend or cursing myself for screwing it up.
Okay so mode 2 is a abject failure, and with that being said I get to simplify the system a bit more. The flow meter on the diaphram pump = FAIL!!!! Well one less flow meter 2 less connections = win. Frees up 2 pins on the processor, for something far more useful. So we are now on time dosing, which is where we started. I still have dosing by weight to try, but I only tried that once, and I am on the road. I have a saying the Devil you Know is better than the Devil you DON'T KNOW. Sorry for the caps but that is the way I say it as it has served me well. I will try it when I am around to measure it and see it work. I have used the time mode for two months. I am excited by the scale however it is so sensitive it can see the changes in the water temperature. That is probably cool but something that is that sensitive creates repeatability problems. Plus look at the swing, 0.1 gallons based of temperature, nope I have to admit Dr Coco is 100% correct. Time is the way to go on furtigations, if you have a know volume in GPH of pressure compensated dripper taps you can compute over time the volume of water. The main issues is that I am using diaphram pumps, and they create a pulsed flow. So trying to sum the flow is a waste of time. Using the weight of the water is also a waste of time because of the picture below. A small temperature change in the water causes a 0.1 gallon weight difference.
Okay been away from the system since Monday morning, no floods, not even a failed batch process. I am now very happy with my system firing on all cylinders. I want to put in a pic but I am only doing those on Sundays, since it shows the growth over the week. I am about ready to top and flip I am aiming for 4-6 plants being female, we will know in about a week or two what happens, I want to top them first on Sunday, want to do the topping on the @SmotPoker & @CrispyWannabe show, and let the audience participate in the topping regimen, and training. Then I will start the flipping process, and that takes about 6 days reducing the light cycle 1 hour at a time from 18 to 12 hours. The growth has been phenomenal, no tip burns no deficiencies. Just some good looking plants going from veg to flower soon. Still got two runtz in the group but if they want to hang then who knows they might be the best flowers if they are female.
Okay we are at 50 batches made, no faults no issues. The plants are loving it they were topped on Sunday. Check it out on you tube.
Yes the hearts are flowing to my fellow growmies.
Okay sorry guys been a minute time for an update. Flowering cycle has commenced. Already found 3 plants with nanners that were ejected from the tent. 2 Blue Jacks feminized, and one Amy Aces. Free seeds suck as they are never what the label says they are.
Also rebuilt the res as the recirc pump crapped out after a year of continuous running new pump is fire.
Who needs air pumps when you have a fire hose pump, I think I bought one too big.
We are on batch 65, only one fault so far and it was my fault downloaded a program change while making a batch. Ooopppppsseeee my bad. I also took a trip down memory lane and made three batches by hand to see how far off EC a hand made batch was. My hand batches were off by 40, 35, -40 from the target of 1100 uS. Well my auto dosing system beats me. I forgot how monotonous making nutrient batches by hand was. I would gladly pay what I have to not have to do that again. Only thing worse is manually handling runoff. How do you guys do it??? @Smotpoker @Crispywannabe I don’t get it you guys own 3 cannatrolls but you still hand mix nutrients. Yeah after Dr Coco has his time with one and we get it ready for the masses you are the first real world users. I would say making a batch by hand is like hand washing a week of laundry. My auto doser is equivalent to a washing machine. Still have to hang the clothes if you don’t have auto water but heck hanging clothes is way better than grinding all the dirt plaster and oil off your clothes.
Okay so we have transitioned to flower. We lost all the Blue Jack City's they were supposed to be feminized??? They all turned up male WTF (oh wait they were the free seeds). So there are two monster Amy Aces females showing pistils, but only on one spot. I would take photos but they are barely showing. I also got 2 purple irkles that have pistils barely showing. I think some one was high when they labeled the seed packets, and got the blue jacks, and purples crossed. It happens I can only imagine how much smoking goes on in those seed banks. I am happy got 2 Amy aces out of too many attempts. Now just so everyone knows these seeds sat in a mailbox for 4 days in Hellzona when it was 160f in the mail box. So this is not the fault of the seeds but the grower, for not having anyone home to get the seeds out of the mailbox. The Amy's and the Purples are rocking the tent. So started with 9 now down to 4 and they are already filling the tent up. Next time I will flip earlier. I didn't take into account that I slowly walk the daylight back an hour a day. It took six days to go from 18 lights on to 12 lights on. Then another 7 days to really flip over so next time at week 1-2 I will start the flip.