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  1. #1
    Wrigglers
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Location
    Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
    Posts
    299

    Tank Automation, Apex Controller

    Hello Forum.

    I recently came across the Apex Neptune controller (https://www.neptunesystems.com) and installed it 6weeks ago on my 6ft planted discus tank. Key functional requirements were:-
    1. Automated water changes;
    2. LED lighting control with sunrise and sunset;
    3. Accurate pH monitoring and CO2 dosing control;
    4. Accurate water temp monitoring and control;
    5. Automatic fish feeding with pump stop to prevent food dispersion;
    6. Audible alarms for abnormal conditions (for pH, temp, water level etc);
    7. Email notification of alarms and events;
    8. Planned maintenance regime and event tracker;
    9. Internet access to the tank controller for monitoring

    I donít represent Apex but I have to say Iím pretty impressed with their gear and how this controller handles these functions. Their systems are designed more for marine applications, but suitable for freshwater. One thing Iím particularly impressed with is the tight pH and temperature control which keeps the tank environment consistent. Thereís other add ons such as video streaming, leak detection and expansion modules etc you can see all this on their website. A downside of course with having probes in the tank is that it makes look more 'industrial'. A problem somewhat solved with sumps etc, that's a future endeavour for me. Iíve also been quite impressed with the support and documentation. For a product that occupies a fair niche, its info is comprehensive as were as an active forum where you get can assistance and ideas.

    Automatic water changes are handled with solenoid valves that drain to storm water and fill from a rainwater tank. Water changes are programmed for twice a week starting at 7pm when Iím around (just in case). Water level control comes from float switches that indicate LowLow, Low, High and HighHigh states. Redundancy is built in by having a timing function to ensure the solenoids close even if thereís an issue getting float switch state change. During the water change, the primary pump is turned off to prevent water splash.

    Lighting control is via an analog 0-10V signal from the Apex controller to a LED driver (Meanwell LPF-60D) which is powered from the Apex Energy Board. Sunrise is initiated late morning for an hour to 100% light intensity which remains for the day and initiates sunset at 7pm before turning off at 8pm. The Apex controller can handle up to 4 analog outputs with module add-ons if required.
    pH monitoring is via a lab grade probe which is calibrated before use. pH dosing is via a CO2 solenoid valve connected to a BOC lease tank. Control parameters can be whatever you like and warnings as well as alarms are customised within bands so that radical dips in pH, say, will generate immediate audible alarms and email notification.

    Temp monitoring is pretty straight forward. The control element of temperature is the turning on and off of the 300W heater. The heater thermostat is set 2deg higher than the upper threshold being monitored and controlled by the Apex unit. This just ensures the tank doesnít overheat. The reason for having the heater hanging off the controller is more about the accuracy of the probe monitoring. I have found you can maintain the average tank temperature within 1.5deg continuously.

    Fish feeding is by an Apex auto feeder that connects to the controller. The feederís function is not far from what you get with an Eheim equivalent and the Apex is far nosier when it operates. It does have a food holder that extends out before it rotates. The holder has a foam seal that is intended to keep the food fresh. What I liked about the Apex feeder is the ability to add other smarts such as turning off the main pump with a 3min delay whenever it operates to allow the food to drop in a localised area of tank. This was important to me because the tank is planted and granules scatter everywhere.

    The planned maintenance piece is just a log and database for useful info concerning the tank so when I make changes I log that info and have access to it wherever I am.

    I almost forgot to mention thereís an APEX app for android and apple devices. It gives to a cut down version of the functionality you get from the main dashboard if you really need to play with the tank from the comfort of your lounge. I havenít had a need to use the app but I use the APEX Fusion dashboard interface all the time.

    Anyway, this write-up is just a show and tell. I have been very inspired by some of the control DIYs on this forum, particularly with Arduino controllers, but when you look at the user interface, the development thatís gone into the Apex gear as well as the speed-to-use (i.e. having the functionality I described above within a day), I was willing to shell out for it.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails 20150815_172403.jpg   20150815_172908.jpg   20150815_172836.jpg   20150717_173651.jpg   20150815_172802.jpg  


  2. #2
    Wrigglers
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Location
    Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
    Posts
    299
    More data.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Dashboard.jpg   Graphs.jpg   Schematic.jpg  

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