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Customer Check-In

Um…sadly…I’m having a fight with the camera mount I put together.  This is impeding my willingness to take pictures.  Then the pump stopped working which happily this story ends with me able to fix the pump.  So…the pressure was too much to actually take a picture of the plants.  Silly.

What’s Going on with the Pump?

Although the plants look like they are getting nutrients, I’m concerned I haven’t been hearing the water pump through the system…is the pump really turning on / off?

Good better best I will install a flow meter within the path of the water like DIY hacking did on their post.  I just ordered Adafruit’s flow meter.  I did my irrational order before thoroughly checking out if it would work.  I purchased from Adafruit because I value what the company stands for and the amount of knowledge Adafruit shares with the community.

While the plants haven’t shriveled up and died, I haven’t hear the pleasant gurgle of water.  Is the pump working?  To figure this out, I’m taking the following steps:

  • Look at the log file.  Does the log file show recent records that the pump was turned on and off?  What time period is the pump supposed to be on? 
    • The log file (sheet 03102017_1245) DOES show the pump is turning on/off as expected.  The log file records the pump turning on every 15 minutes and staying on for one minute.  The pump should have turned on four times an hour at 3, 18, 33, and 48 minutes past the hour.
  • Stand by the Leaf Spa when the pump is supposed to be on.  Did I hear the relay switch?  Did I hear the pleasant gurgle of water?
    • NOPE.
  • Check if the pump works by plugging it into a power source not connected to the relay.
    • YEP.
I am left to believe the relay switch is no longer working for the pump.
Why Isn’t the Relay Switch Working?
I pop open the wall socket mount and …
Simpson DOHthere are drips of water inside… DRAT… I had placed the relay box at a location where water from a leak in the plumbing could hit the relay box.  A few drops entered through the wall sockets.  Now I’m concerned because of safety.  Some of the relay connections have a small amount of rust on them.
It turns out, the relay being used for the pump stopped working.  I rewired the relays, hooked the box back up.  

ChallengesBringOpportunitesNow the pump, LED, CO2 relays are working.

Changing the Nutrients

Now that the pump is back working, I decided to change the nutrients.  As I do this, I am thinking through how the Leaf Spa system can make it (no 🙂 ) dirt simple.

Right now:

  • I  drain as much of the nutrients that are in the Coleman into a bucket then dispose of the nutrients:
Good better best I am practicing sustainability.  In the future, I will explore using organic fertilizers.  For now, I mix chemicals.  One step at a time.  
  • Clean out the bucket and mix fresh nutrients using my most awesome pH/EC meter to measure in the Jack’s Hydro nutes I use.  I target an EC of around 3 mS/cm and a pH of around 6.1.
Good better bestI will evolve the pH and EC circuit / probe solution I did with the Ladybug Blue Lite and Ladybug Shield (there are previous posts on these projects) to measure and then automate the injection of the nutrients as well as pH UP/DOWN as needed.
  • Get the freshly mixed nutrients into the Coleman.  This time around I tried using this siphon:


and siphon the water from the bucket into the Coleman through one of the net pot pipes (where the plants are).  Sadly, this didn’t work.  Still, I like the idea of not having to lift the lid off the coleman….

Good better best Need to figure out a better way to get the nutrients (or in the future water) from the bucket into the coleman using a pump.

Thinking about the relay – on the one hand, WHOA – how stupid of me to put the box so close to where water could go through the plugs!  On the other hand, it is one more day that gave me the opportunity to learn and solidify my knowledge about wiring relay boxes :-).