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Author Topic: Indoor vertical farming of Crops and Fish  (Read 5337 times)

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The wavelengths are already there. A coloured plastic "gel" only filters out some wavelengths and allows the others to pass. They don't magically increase the intensity of parts of the spectrum, they just decrease the intensity of the colours you don't want to see.

A "white" LED is putting out a combination of colours to make your eyes think it's seeing white light. Some work by actually making UV and using that to make a chemical coating fluoresce "white". Others work by using actual R, G, and B LEDs all emitting together to make "white" light as perceived by the eye.

So putting coloured filters between the white LED and your plants will only decrease the total light available and won't actually intensify any particular colour.



I agree, use white leds and you will not miss the frequency you need, white light is a mix of all frequencies as in sun light, intensity is another matter, closer the equator the higher the UV!!!!  do we need higher UV? that I can't answer, need someone who is high in biology. :)

I think it is a question of reaction to different frequencies "light being a mixture of frequencies", careful, maybe a plant is OU ??? one of those----don't dive in too deep problems O0

regards

Mike 8)


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It is more efficient to use Red & Royal Blue as these are very close to all a plant uses, White only wastes energy in the rest of the spectrum, with filters you are throwing away energy in unused wavelengths.

The pros have worked all this out for us Scientifically with plant spectrum plots.
   

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You know, in a broad and cursory way I agree with TinMan and certainly see the thinking.
White is a combinations of all colours.
Not necessarily. White _sunlight_ or light from incandescent filaments is a combination of all colors. But the human visual system can be fooled into "seeing" white light from a combination of spectrally pure R, G and B colors only. White LEDs do not necessarily emit "white", that is, a continuous spectrum from 400 to 700 nanometers. As I said before, they could be R, G and B, emitting narrow bands at those colors at the right intensity. Or they could be UV, making a fluorescent coating glow at wavelengths that cause the visual system to see "white".
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I will educate myself on the construction of different LED's.
See, a red LED with low forward voltage and high lumens, could, to my thinking become a blue LED, or at least magenta, by using blue plastic in its construction.
You can do that but you will only be decreasing the light power, as some is inevitably lost in the filter. You cannot increase the light power at a given wavelength by filtering out other wavelengths, and no colored gel filter is a "perfect notch filter" because it will also attenuate the bandpass wavelengths somewhat too.
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But, reds use the least power, greens most and all others traditionally sit between.
Why not make 1 efficient diode and then stick different coloured plastic over the material for colour variations ?


Why not make a R, G and B diode and use different combinations of intensity driving, to synthesize any visual color you want? But just like the case of using filters, you may not be getting the _actual wavelengths_ of light that you need, no matter what the result looks like. And as before, filters only attenuate, they do not amplify or enhance what is already there.
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Thanks Luc for the highly interesting insights into the project experience  O0


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Take a strong magnifying glass and look closely at your monitor screen, at the white areas of this page. Do you see any "white" LED areas in there? Do you see a mix of "all" colors? Or do you see R, G and B only? 


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This is part 2 continued details on the hydroponic system I was working with.

It was found that adding some river (pebble size) stones (not crushed stone) on the bottom of the fish tank gave a positive result which would mimic a more natural environment.
The kind of fish used in the tank system are called Tilapia.  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tilapia  see 1st picture.  They are generally a fresh water fish that can live in shallow water and in cramped environments. However, they favor water above 21 °C (70 °F) to normally function. These fish are favored because they are robust, growth fast in the right temperature environment and makes a tasty fish Taco or meal.
Also added to a tank is one bottom feeder fish known as a Pleco which is a kind of Cat fish, 2nd picture. This fish helps to keep the surfaces of the tank and bottom clean as it feeds on these surfaces. It also needs the water temperature to be in the same range as the Tilapia.
One thing to note is, the Tilapia have fine teeth and would consider eating other fish that are smaller then them including their own. So you have to keep them sorted in close to the same size per tank. The Pleco is quite large when full grown so the Tilapia don't bother them.

When I first started helping (beginning of November) the nights were starting to get cooler and they asked if I could come up with ideas to help maintain the water temperature as eventually even the 500 watt heating element added to each tank to maintain the water temperature wouldn't be able to keep up with the coldest months still to come of December and January. Obviously coming from a cold winter climate country like Canada Insulation was what came to mind. What I decided to use was cans of expansion spray foam. I carefully sprayed a thin layer directly on the surface of the outside tank filling the cavities between the steel cage of the tank.
I was also asked if I could finish the exterior of the tanks so it could look more like a marketable product. So at the same time I was doing the foam insulation I thought of using exterior house siding sheets which I cut to fit and screwed to the steel cage. The 3rd picture below is the finished product.
The other thing I though of was (at night) to use a swimming pool heat blanket (see 4th picture) to cover the surface of the water since that's where most of the heat escapes. I custom cut the blankets to fit and would roll them in a tube to get it inside the tank and unroll it on the surface of the water. The same technique was used to remove them.  It didn't seem to bother the fish as long as the water was aerated with bubbler air pumps. However, if the power to the air pumps would have a possibility to be cut off the fish could suffocate with lack of oxygen in the water. So one must be careful and ideally have a backup system or use a rigid foam cover that would be held above the surface of the water leaving an airspace which the fish could use to get air if the air pump was to fail. This would help but continuous aeration of water is one of the most important things for fish health. Keep this in mind as later I will share some ideas I have had to drastically reduce the power consumption these aeration pumps use and also ideas to keep the water warm all while generating electricity with just one 250 watt solar panel per tank to truly make these system energy efficient so they can easily operate off grid and truly give you a sustainable living.

Will continue to share

Luc
« Last Edit: 2015-08-21, 15:54:25 by gotoluc »
   
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Ah Mr. TK
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Take a strong magnifying glass and look closely at your monitor screen, at the white areas of this page. Do you see any "white" LED areas in there? Do you see a mix of "all" colors? Or do you see R, G and B only?  
Yes, all understood and thanks for the explanations. The usual is a mix in intensity of R, G & B no matter the colour that the eye sees in combination.
However, this monitor is a 15" Dell CRT, perhaps one of the last still chugging along  ;)

Luc,
I really do like the house siding idea in a light brown. Looks like a wooden, natural surround, rather than a space age high tech solution.
Such winter thinking is important indeed. My own thoughts are for any system to use solar as much as possible. It beggars belief that people consider solar of no use in winter months. While indeed power will be down due to daylight hours and intensity...it's still all highly practical. If a system needs 25W and you have a 100W panel out there, you'll likely still get the needed power delivery no matter the month. In summer, the extra wattage can run a cooling fan, soldering iron, extra motors, charge extra batts etc. Location will factor...lucky here in those regards being in Oklahoma.


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LED driving.
A focus here has been on driving LED's brightly, for the least input.
While it has been noted about 'fooling the eye' and that is quite likely completely correct, methods should be tried with actual plant growing to prove it out.
As such, i'll be doing a control and a test, of DC and whatever test circuit ends up being seemingly most efficient.

Over last winter, my system was DC, USB input into simple resistors and 17 LED's. White were also used, to see the plants for one thing, but also to check for leaf discolouration, blotchings, diseases and such.
http://www.overunityresearch.com/index.php?topic=2780.0

Along those lines, initial experiments have been toward running simply and effectively from low voltages.
Likely, the end test system will be 5V again, it being a standard much like 12V, but also because it will form a direct comparison with known results from last year.
2 methods have been tried so far.
Both use a panel of 5x red, 5x blue and 5 x white LED's. Variable resistors are fitted that will balance output.
The first pic below is of a SWES wireless electricity setup, where the output lights the 15 via a ferrite inductor as pick up. 1.35V, 50mA.
The second pic is of a blocking oscillator, 0.02uF '203' ceramic cap and 3K tank, 120/120 windings on ferrite, 3V CR2032 coin cell at 12mA.

Both need work, both are infancy ideas. The wireless method appeals, to be able to swap out, alter or replace whole sections of lights on a larger system, without any wiring being needed. It's also my own IP, so no problems with copyrighted methods, Patents and such.




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If someone would like to buy 2 of either style of the below LED Grow lights to send to a Joule Thief Guru so one can be moded and the other kept original so we can see how much power can be saved and still be able to grow a plant hopefully at the rate as the non moded one, that would be of great service.

Box light: http://www.ebay.com/itm/300W-LED-Grow-Light-Hydroponic-Plant-Veg-Flower-Full-Spectrum-Panel-Lamp-/301507617587?hash=item4633412333
 or: http://www.ebay.com/itm/MarsHydro-300W-LED-Grow-Light-Full-Spectrum-Panel-Indoor-Medical-Plant-Veg-Bloom-/171620287365

Strip light: http://www.ebay.com/itm/Waterproof-81w-LED-Grow-Light-Strip-Red-Blue-Bar-Hydroponic-Indoor-Plant-Lamp-/301663638915?

Please post or PM me if you are ready to do this.

Thanks

Luc
   

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I'd love to do that testing here.   :D


Meanwhile... here's a surface-brightness comparison between one of these high-efficiency LEDs that I've been testing, and an A19, 60 Watt equivalent, 800 lumen LED desklamp bulb, 2700K color temperature. I held the 3000K color temperature MXA8-PW30-0000 LED right up against the surface of the A19 bulb, powered the LED with 95 mA (about 3.15VDC) and stopped the camera right down so that the LED was just barely overexposed. The exposure is ISO200, 1/1000 sec, f/36.  The high efficiency LED is _much_ brighter than an equal area on the surface of the A19 bulb.


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Luc
I will absolutely be able to aquire sample bulbs from the manufacturers ,however there is a learning curve atm
Getting the best bulbs for the job at hand will take some discußsions with vendors as well as some discussion with R +D
departments ,these bulbs are evolving daily.

Might take s few more days ?

It HSS been mentioned that cannibus growers are on the cutting edge of this tech
It has just been made legal in my area of north east ,I will be meeting with some growers
There too.
@Tinsel
The for the offer ,will surely keep you posted
Amazing difference in the output there !!!

Chet K
   
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Chet, you got a foreign character on your keyboard ?
Would that be - ßulbs ? lol

Over here, i've now got a test circuit of high lumens and good current usage, so intend to pick anything that's growing and stick it in a pot to see if it dies   >:-)
5V USB input, 63mA used via blocking oscillator.
Frequency is 5Khz.
Compares to 400mA with last years system for about the same brightness and LED count.
 


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Cherryman at OU http://overunity.com/15976/high-efficiency-led-for-joule-thief-etc/msg459536/#msg459536 has posted a link to a cheaper price light. So if anyone can buy 2 of these for the price of one I was suggesting I'm sure it would be good enough for TK to make some tests.

http://www.aliexpress.com/store/product/2pcs-lot-E27-E40-80W-640Red-160Blue-Hydroponics-Plant-Lighting-85-265V-LED-Grow-Light-free/835980_1699470283.html

No offers yet and hopefully the drop in price will help get a sponsor.

Luc
   
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This is part 3 continuation of the explanation of the operation of the hydroponic fish tank system.

The below first image is a closeup to show a filter system hey had added (before my arrival) to prevent algae from taking over the fish tanks. The canister part below the filter cannot be see in the picture but it extends another foot and a half below what you can see. This filter system was a real pain as the foam filters inside the canister part needed to be cleaned every 3 days or so.  The only way to clean it was to take the hoses out of the tank and open the canister and wash down the filter foam stack one by one. Even more of a pain was the filter intake hose which would get blocked within 24 hours with the same gook the foam filters had. However, when the hoses were blocked it would restrict or stop the filters water flow which was the main problem with this system. So I came up with the valve system wich you can see in the picture where I would connect a water hose and use the city water pressure to quickly flush out the debris in both intake and output hoses. This really saved a lot of time as I found the filter cleaning could now be done once a week as the main problem was the gook accumulation in the intake hose.
Now when you think about it, his gook was basically the fish poop, which should be the fertilizer for the plants but I was basically thrown out, which got me thinking, this is ridiculous, there must be a better solution. It was obvious to me that the top 3 feet x 4 feet Plant growing surface area (see 2nd picture) was way too small to consume the fish excrement with it's 4 times per day 20 minute watering schedule. So it was clear to me we were using at most 20% of the fish fertilizer and discarding the rest.
This got me thinking, if we did use all the fish excrements, would that eliminate the need of a filter system which was the cause of most of the maintenance of the system.
I pondered on all this for some time, looked at some youtube videos of other systems for ideas as my goal was to find a way to eliminate the filter system and use only the plant beds as filter. So there was going to be some drastic changes to the system which I'll explain in part 4.

Thanks for you interest

Luc
   
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This is part 4 of the hydroponic fish tank expansion.
Sorry for taking so much time to write about this past experience and experiments. Writing is not one of my good skills with my 2 finger typing and Dyslexia, makes it quite the chore to say the least. So I need to spread it over some time to get it done.
Now you know why I've always made videos, where in one minute I can share what it would take me 3 hours to write.

So back to the Aquaponic expansion. The idea was to use all the fish fertilizer and to filter the water at the same time so we could eliminate the external filter altogether. So the way I approached it was to build separate planting beds as I knew we could feed much more plants if we used what the filter was wasting.
I decided that these new planting beds would not use the normal Aquaponic ceramic beads (pic 1) used previously. I wanted to make my own multilayer filter which would mimic more what we find in nature. Most everyone knows sand makes a great filter. So that's part of what I used.

I found some strong fiberglass bins (pic 2) that were 2 feet x 3 feet and drilled two 3/4 inch drain holes in each bottom and epoxied a short piece of 1 inch pvc pipe to keep the drain water path straight. I built some wood stands (pic 3) to support the bins leveled. I placed a section of 1/4 inch wire mesh (pic 4) to cover the bin bottom holes so the 1 inch thick layer of naturally washed river pebbles (pic 5 and 6) would not fall in the drain holes. The pebbles are used to trap the 2 inches thick layer of sand that goes over top of the stone which will be used for filtration. I then placed a heavy duty landscape fabric over top of the sand layer and taped the edges of the fabric to the walls of the bins. I did this because I didn't want the earth worms (to be introduce to the soil layer) to work their way in the sand layer which would change the filtration characteristics over time. I wanted them to stay in the natural organic soil layer which was the coarse filter part of the bin and filled the top part (about 6 inches thick) of the bin where the plants would be growing. I also didn't want the plant root system to penetrate the sand filter layer for the same reasons.
There are many reasons I introduced the earth worms to the natural soil. From the research I did, it was clear that much of the fish excrement could not be consumed directly by plants. So it became very clear (to me) if I wanted to keep the natural earth scrubbed, mixed and cleaned the earth worm would maybe be an important part for the complete fish excrement to be consumed to keep the soil healthy and clean. In exchange the worm excrement (aka earth) may be a more complete diet for the plants and mimic what naturally happens in nature. So a kind of Eco system. Of coarse this was all experimental and I had no idea if it would work in the real world.
The other idea I had was to irrigate the planter bins by using 2 inch pvc pipe cut open and install them on each sides of the bins (pic 7) so to have full access of the planting surface and to easily clean the ducts since this was the other main problem with closed pipe which eventually block themselves with fish gook. Having opened U shaped pipes one could easily run a paint brush in them to quickly scrub the duct walls and the drilled openings "pic 8" which have 4 holes per bin, one on each corner of the bin to equally distribute the water but also work its way through the long path of the sand for best filtration and exit out the center drain holes. The water ducts were precisely tuned (drilled hole openings) so to evenly distribute the incoming pumped water. The position of the ducts and drain holes is part of the design to keep most of the water away from the plants not to flood them, it mostly rushes through the earth on the bin edges to the bottom sand for filtration. A lot of thought has been put into this and not just taken from someone or somewhere on the net. Good chances the system is unique as most every part of it was my own ideas to solve the previous system issues. That's the way I am, I see a problem and the gears start working to solve it. Prior to this I had no Aquaponic system experience or knowledge before volunteering at this place. I'm not saying I have knowledge in this field because that would be a lie, I'm just sharing what I've come up with while there. This system needs more time and testing which I did not do as I left a few days after I completed it and I no longer can do it as it's in a different part of the world then my home town of Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.

Next post I'll talk about the pump system and show pics of the result of growth.

Stay tuned for more

Luc
« Last Edit: 2015-08-25, 20:06:35 by gotoluc »
   
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I liked the logic of your filter system problems...remove the filter system lol
The worms don't need to be powered either, on their sort of sushi diet.


I've got the 'Mini-1' finished and ready for the apple trees, if they germinate. 6 seeds are in a pot on the windowsill at the moment, The idea was daft in a way, in that I could have simply picked something from the back garden, like grass for example ! But, the apple had been in a bag and had become wrinkled. Was throwing it out when the idea struck to try and grow the seeds.
Tomatoes would have been a much better idea perhaps, as they germinate fast and grow fast, but at 5ft tall would be difficult to manage. Cress ? sure, except that grows in darkness anyway. The trees on the other hand, grow much slower and may allow a better evaluation of indoor growing over winter. They can also be planted outdoors next spring.

The Mini-1 is the circuit above, 15x LED's, 63mA draw, pulsed via blocking oscillator at 5kHz.
Right now there is an offer in our Walmart for USB fans at $1.16
They have a swan neck fitting that is superb for this, allowing the height and angle to be adjusted readily of the LED's.
If a plant grows higher, another swan neck can go on top (glue, clamp attached etc) to increase the height. And, another panel can be fitted to the side of the first, to extend the light output and number of LED's, without the whole lot falling sideways.
This stands at 8" (120mm tall) with swan neck in a mid height position.




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Update and forehead slap from over here.

Deciding that the apple tree seeds were unlikely to sprout on the windowsill, I moved the tray into the bedroom and set the light system going.
Now, several days later, i've realised that not all the weeds and such in the tray are weeds and such !
Over on the right, having been growing for a couple of weeks by now, is an apple tree sapling.
Talk about 'not seeing the wood for the trees' huh
Images online seem to correlate this sapling to an apple tree  ???

Now on their 3rd day, the weeds and the apple tree are motoring along fine. This is the pulsed system, so is very much on test.

A revised LED cluster is being built. As can be seen in the pics, the original appears to throw out quite the prominent amount of blue light...which of course may be beneficial, but i'd like a better red balance.
As such, this new one has 4 white LEDs at the corners, 4 blue LEDs inside those and 10 red LED's between and within those.




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A week onward from the start of this pulsed LED trial and the results are nothing short of phenomenal, in my opinion.
Check out the size of the tree !
That leaf on the right is nearly touching the LED's. It grows in phases by the looks of it, raising the leaves, then dropping them to near level again. The drop seems to happen after watering. 27MHz has been used a couple of times, but not daily.
A couple of the weeds started to grow a bit too well and fell over (lol). It's difficult to tell, but one that is at the front of the pic has now started to regrow back upwards. Those will be removed in any case...but an interesting aside, is that the one on the very left, furthest from any light has simply stayed just as it was, paused.

The room gets no natural light at all. We have JM brand insulation over the window, chiefly for winter, but also very useful in this test scenario. Again, no chemicals at all, soil is out of the backyard, rainwater for the watering.



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Looking good slider!...thanks for the updates

Luc
   
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Thanks Luc :)

Must just mention that 'Pseudo Nym' over on YouTube commented, on an unrelated video, with some good points.
He mentioned the need for controls of different methods, just reds, just blues etc and to use the 27MHz consistently. I will be trying some varying methods, but the aim has simply been to try out the pulsing with the much lower power usage...there being plants here that will need to be kept going over winter as it approaches. Even got 3 cactus plants growing now and no way would they survive.
As to the 27Mhz - a solar powered version was tried, same circuit but always running during daylight and was sat in the middle of some outdoor plants. They grew away from the circuit over a month or so, not liking the constant output. So it seems that a couple of times per week is just fine...they can be over treated as well as under treated.  
 


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Quick update.
All weeds removed and the 2nd bank of LED's is now in operation, on the same USB input supply.
It uses 70mA, so 63+70 = 133mA, still 1/3rd of the power usage of the original DC system of last winter.
Easy to plug in a USB splitter lead and there's no drop in output when doing so, which was good to see.

Some interesting observations.
This apple tree likes blue better than red. Or blue/white better than red. On this new board, there is a variable pot, to adjust the balance of the reds against the blues and whites. The additional board has been running for the last couple of days and slowly, the tree has moved over to the original bank set of LEDs. By last night, the tree was definitely right over toward that bank, all leaves pointing over to it. So, I turned up the blue/white mix, which lowers the red output and by this morning, a great looking return to a balanced foliage has been seen.

Pic below of how it looks now.


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Looking good 8) Slider!

I like the pot idea to balance between colors.

Thanks for sharing

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Works very well Luc :)
Reds normally 'take over' any LED matrix as you know, so always need to be balanced for other colours. This way is convenient and simple. Just have to keep the LEDs paralleled with their same colour wherever they are on the PCB.




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