We Are Renewable DIY.....
Renewable DIY is a couple of guys on a mission to get people everywhere into renewable energy. We came up with the idea of creating kits and projects for the average person interested in generating their own renewable energy. The concept was to create a series of smaller renewable energy projects in which you could mix and match as components to customize a system that is completely suited to your needs. The current project actually started from an earlier, much larger aquaponics project. We developed this one to fill the needs of someone with limited space. We wanted to make Aquaponics accessible to you even if you don't have a lot of space to set aside. It all fits in one small box and it's simple to set up. Just unpack, push the two sides of the frame into each other and you are ready to place your bins. Then fill with you choice of grow media and you're ready to put your fish in and plant you vegetables! That’s how the prototype in this picture was born.
If you would rather look at pictures, zoom to the bottom at this point.
So What is Aquaponics Anyway?
Good question. It's a combination of Hydroponics and Aquaculture. Basically, the system combines a fish tank and a grow bed to produce a natural, easy to maintain source of food. Think about it - you can grow your fish and vegetables in a very small area with minimal effort. The plus is that you know exactly where your food is coming from.
Here’s a quick overview of how the Aquaponics system works and why ours is a little better than your average system (for a more detailed explanation please visit this link).
1. You have fish living in fish tanks or pens. The fish eat the food you provide them and produce waste which raises the amount of ammonia in the water.
2. Beneficial bacteria convert the ammonia into nutrients like nitrates.
3. The water is pumped to the grow beds where the plants absorb the nutrients and clean the water for the fish.
So that’s it. Pretty simple huh? So what are the benefits to all this if that’s all there is to it?
Well, here’s the thing. You don’t use any fertilizers on the plants, and the plants tend to grow many times bigger than your average garden plant. Because all the water in the system is recirculated, it tends to use about 10% the amount of water that soil based systems use. What, no soil? How does that work?
We use what we call grow medium which is just a fancy word for what the roots are growing into. In this case we chose pea gravel, which is economical and easy to find. The grow medium is what allows us to saturate the roots with nutrients while using the least amount of water necessary. It also provides the structure for the plants to take hold and grow as they would in soil.
While gravity will get your water back down to the fish tank after the plants extract the nutrients, you will need to get the water back up to the grow bed. This is typically done through the use of a pump running on electrical power. Timers are also employed to regulate flood/drain cycles in the growbeds. Some ebb/flow systems can even run without timers. This system is sort of a hybrid where I tried to balance the water flow so that you can run it in either mode with greater flexibility in what you can grow in the beds.
Depending on the type of fish you stock, when they are ready you can harvest them as well. You have a complete meal at hand and know exactly where everything came from. We have designed this system to pretty much run on its own. It is automated to the point that all you have to do is top off the fish feed and let nature handle the rest!
Have you seen the prices for organic vegetables at your local supermarket recently? Instead of emptying your wallet each time you fill your grocery basket, consider this fun and economical alternative. You will have fresh food growing right in your home with minimal effort and at a much lower cost.
You also get the air cleansing benefits of green plants in your home, not to mention the fragrant smells of your favorite herbs filling your kitchen or living room. The sound of a gentle waterfall in the background and the vibrant colors and activity of the fish create a true cornucopia for your senses. It's hard to find a simple system that provides all of these benefits in such a small amount of space.
So what’s the funding for? Looks like you have it covered...
Another good question. We have built the prototype which currently resides in my living room. We want to spread the news of how you can grow food to feed yourself and your family to as many people as we can. This can provide you with the freedom and independence that comes with growing your own food.
Your funding will help us create a second system that we will use to produce an instructional video CD and e-book similar to our solar panel project.
We plan to incorporate everything we learned from building the solar panel project and large scale aquaponics system into this system.
So that’s the deal, we get to spread the word about aquaponics while you benefit from the videos and kits we generate.
Although this system can run unattended, we are planning to create a control box which will further facilitate the system operation. If we hit a funding level of $3500 we will be able to work on the "Ponic Minder" basic which is a control box that will have the ability to control two outlets indipendently. It will include two weatherized outlets controlled by two digital timers so that you can have better control of your pump cycles and grow light. The unit would be available through our website at a reduced price to everyone who funded this project.
If we hit this mark it would enable us to begin design work on a more sophisticated control box. This control box would be comprised of a unit into which you would plug the pump, water level monitors, PH and/or O2 sensors, temperature sensor, and so forth. This unit would then be connected to your PC or laptop through a wireless connection, thereby allowing you to monitor your system, set feeding and pump times, as well as set alarms through a GUI (graphical user interface). Everything would be point and click. It would even be possible to run the system if you were away by connecting to your local PC or laptop over the Internet. Range on the wireless would be about 50’.
The source code will be available to you so that you could add additional functionality as needed. We also have plans to add a software module that would allow you to track metrics such as water temperature, PH and O2 over time so that you can directly see what changes you make to the system do for its efficiency. This unit would also be available through our website at a reduced price to everyone who funded this project.
System Specifications: (reward systems)
* Fish Tank - 24.5" x 16.3" x 13.25” deep, holds about 16.5 gallons of water and can support around 6 pounds of fish easily depending on type of fish
* Grow Beds – (2) 16.75" x 12" x 7” deep, holds about 1 cubic foot of grow medium
* Grow Light Fixture Bar – Allows you to hang timed grow lights to maximize your plant growth even in low sunlight conditions
* Water Pump System – Water pump system moving 70 GPH (flow rate adjustable)
* Aerator - Air pump and aeration stone including tubing and backflow valve
* Nutrient Distribution Plumbing – Tubing system allows you to spread the nutrients evenly over your grow bed and controls flood and drain cycles through balance tubes and j siphons.
Select reward systems will also have the following features:
* Fish Feeder – timed automatic fish feeder that lets you adjust when and how much your fish eat (included in the Full Auto kits)
* Heater - thermostatically controlled fish tank heater to keep your fish at the optimal production temperature
* Pump Timer - plug in outlet timer to give you greater control of the flood drain cycles in your grow beds
Risks and challenges
The first unit is built and tested, so there won't be any challenges in getting the system to work (yes, I did eat the cilantro already LOL).
The challenges that could arise would be in getting the parts necessary to complete the rewards on the scheduled dates and shipping. Knowing this, I have found local suppliers for all the parts except the grow lights. Having local suppliers will make it a lot easier to hit all the dates. The grow lights will take one week lead time, so the risk in not making that deadline is small.
In order to keep shipping on schedule I have Stamps.com. I can do all the packaging and postage right in my home office and have the post office pick it all up right here.
I have also set up something of a small machine shop and assembly line in my garage in order to turn out the stated quantities in short order.
Taking all these into account I should be ready to get the rewards out in a timely fashion should the project get funded.
- (30 days)