My Automated Terrarium "Degobah"

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Wendy

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In my old 8' x 8' grow room I had three 400 watt HID lights. That was a lot of light. Based on that I think you should be fine with your light situation.
 

naoki

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Wow, nice set-up, Mike!

Do you happen to know energy efficiency of the water-cooling vs air-cooling (portable AC connected to the enclosure)? For intermediate temp growers, I don't need cooling (since I have converted most of the grow tents to LEDs), but I've been trying to find if there is a cost effective way to grow cool/cold growers. Water cooling has an advantage for retaining humidity.


For finding temp info, Cribb, Baker and Baker has the climatic info for each Paph species:

http://www.amazon.com/Genus-Paphiop...ords=The+Genus+Paphiopedilum,+Natural+History

http://www.amazon.com/Genus-Paphiop...ords=The+Genus+Paphiopedilum,+Natural+History
 

naoki

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I could not get an ultrasonic fogger to work with RO water, maybe if you add the minerals you want...

That's weird. Ultrasonic doesn't use any ionic/magnetic aspects of water, right? I haven't had any problems with RO in ultrasonic humidifiers. The metal plates vibrates at a high frequency, so it just kicks up the mist.
 

John M

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Holy cow, Mike! I had no idea your set-up was so technical and impressive. Of course, it's understandable that at times, you may not be able to water by hand; but, your idea to do it as much as you can and not fall onto relying on the automated system when you can do it yourself, is VERY wise. The best growers spend time with their plants and they pick them up and look at them and generally stay VERY familar with each one. Some rots can move so quickly, a "hands on" watering schedule will save you losses as the years go by.

Agian, I'm super impressed with your set-up. Bravo!
 

Happypaphy7

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In my old 8' x 8' grow room I had three 400 watt HID lights. That was a lot of light. Based on that I think you should be fine with your light situation.

How far above the plants were the HID lights hanging?
and how much did it cost to run the light?
Did they release a lot of heat?

Reading through some posts, I think I would like to try HID instead of T5.
I need to collect more info.
 

Justin

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How far above the plants were the HID lights hanging?
and how much did it cost to run the light?
Did they release a lot of heat?

Reading through some posts, I think I would like to try HID instead of T5.
I need to collect more info.

For what you are growing T8 is probably the best. HID is good if you have a larger space/room or are growing a bunch of multifloral Paphs or Cattleya. I have 250 watt MH and HPS each on a 4x2 shelf about 2' above the plants and it is a lot of light. My Paphs under compact fluoros, T12, and T8 do fine.
 

Justin

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one other feedback/suggestion. with any plants where you might have a recirculating or shared water reservoir under the pots--i would do some virus testing.

since you have some valuable plants like that parishii clone, I would be certain you don't have any virus-positive plants in the same environment. imported Phals etc. are notorious for virus and may not show visible symptoms.
 

ioperate

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Quick update

Terrarium filling up! Order from Orchidweb cam a few weeks ago. In response to a couple questions, I haven't tried any automated feeding, so far only by hand and going to keep it that way unless I absolutely can't find someone to drop by and water for me. I haven't tried the ultrasonic with RO yet, mainly because I have to go fill up my containers by hand and haul them back to my basement and that would double my water usage. Plants seem pretty happy at the 400w setting on the MH. Will be transplanting Jason's plants in a week or two to get them all in my mix (a few came in pure spag which I was surprised to see, maybe just for shipping weight i dunno).




Parishii is just finishing on its last spike. One of the flowers looks like it pollinated with no help from me and has a nice fat green seed pod forming.



Here it was in full bloom a few weeks ago



Bess from John M in bloom today





Onc NOID and Zygo NOID up in the living room on display




 

ioperate

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Update time

Been a while since I had a few minutes to update. Will try to answer a few questions and go over some problems i've had along the way.

First and foremost, DO NOT use tap water with a fogger in a closed system!! Learned this one the hard way after I noticed my big can fan wasn't pulling a lot of air like it used to and I was getting white particulate matter on the plants. Opened up the Ice Box radiator and it was COMPLETELY caked with minerals!! I wish I took a picture but it was an absolute mess, couldn't believe any air at all was passing over it. So I cleaned everything out and switched to RO water for the fogger and it works fine. So yes you can use RO water. No mineral build up and no white stuff on the plants making you think you have aphids/mealy bugs.

Have installed a RO system at my water supply around the corner so no more buying water and now have all I need to refill the humidity/fogger tank. It goes through about 12 gallons a week or so keeping the daytime humidity at 70-75% and is off all night and the box stays around 70% on its own.

I've had one episode of rot on Paph Mount Toro (philippinense x stonei) that occurred after I tried dropping the temp in the box down to 55F to give them a cold shock around christmas. Was able to save it with aggressive cutting of rotting leaves and physan, didn't spread to any other plants. Leaves started going red which left me baffled for a little while until I realized to was getting cold in the box (automated system I sometimes forget what its set to and had set it up a long while before that to do the cold shock). Shortly after the colour change I started seeing the rot. Thanks to John M for some help on that one.

System is now up and running on 600w from the extended spectrum MH with no problems and great growth so no I don't think the light is too strong or overkill with proper humidity and great air flow. Plants aren't showing signs of stress from the light, have the strap leaf paphs taking the brightest spots and the little guys grabbing some shade under the bigger leaves and off to the sides. Edit: as the light has been going strong for over a year now its efficiency has probably dropped considerably and the now 600w might be more like 400w from a brand new bulb, will have to look into replacing it soon I think.

Energy efficiency: I cannot provide any numbers but feel the water cooled system is a nice way to avoid the terrible drying effect of air conditioners. I have read some random internet posts that water cooling is quite efficient. The water chiller does not work very hard keeping the water down at 55F but it does have to have a pump running water through it 24/7.

Automatic watering: abandoned completely. If I go away I have orchid sitters come and water and I monitor the system remotely through the Ecozone that now has its own IP addy for remote access. If anyone wants to have a look at the online system fire me a PM.

Couple other casualties along the way: Paph. Chiu Hua Dancer (sanderianum 'Henry’ x gigantifolium 'Dark Warrior’), Paph Armeni White (armeniacum x delenatii) and a Paph delenatii. All just generally failed to thrive, didn't have a good explanation for why, roots seemed pretty good. Was really sad to loose the Chiu Hua Dancer.

Pics next
 

ioperate

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Dec 2015 Mount Toro showing cold stress:


2015 Christmas Cattelya Percivaliana


Feb 2016


May 2016


June 2016 Parishii almost exactly one year after last bloom starting to spike


June 2016 Micranthum starting to spike


June 2016 Greenhouse


July 12, 2016 Micranthum


July 2016 Venustum starting to spike


July 2016 Greenhouse


Parishii and micranthum



 

ioperate

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A few other thoughts

One change I'm thinking of making to the system is to vent the light separately from the greenhouse.

In its current form the heat from the light warms the greenhouse and every 10 minutes or so the cooling system has to fire up to remove that heat. When the ice box pump fires up and the temp starts to drop, the dew point changes and the humidity then drops causing the fogger to fire up. Once the temp is back to where it is set at the process starts over again.

So I'm thinking of trying to vent the light through the tube separately with its own little fan on all the time the light is on to keep the system from working quite as hard.


Parishii seed pod from last years bloom. Anyone that can properly germinate chids from seed want this to give it a try? Is it even still good? I can guarantee its a selfing of the parishii in the above pics originally from John M.


Thanks for looking :clap: Always appreciate the comments and suggestions of the excellent community over here!
 

JAB

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Awesome name even though Hoth would be more appropriate for where you are ;)
Nice setup, but I have not seen anyone ask the million dollar question(s)....
How much did this little project cost you, and what are your monthly operating costs?

Thanks brother!
 

ioperate

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Awesome name even though Hoth would be more appropriate for where you are ;)
Nice setup, but I have not seen anyone ask the million dollar question(s)....
How much did this little project cost you, and what are your monthly operating costs?

Thanks brother!

Never really added it up before, some of the pieces I had sitting around from other projects. Rough conversions to canadian dollars:

Greenhouse shell - $430
Digital ballast - $250
Bulb - $100
Dust Shroom filter $150
Cool tube reflector $270
Fogger - $150
Ice box - $200
eheim 750gph pumps x2 = $250
JBJ artica chiller - $800
Ecozone brain - $500
Can fan - $200
misc. hardware - $200

So about $3500 canadian for the setup as a rough estimate if you bought it all brand new.

Monthly operating costs of the unit running are probably ~$50 monthly in power for the light running 12 on/12 off, can fan, ecozone computer and water pump to the chiller always on, fogger and pump to the ice box on as needed. Unrelated ~20 gallons of RO water weekly. Now have an RO system and make it myself but before was paying $1/gallon so $80/month in water costs.
 

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