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Pny's waterfall algae scrubber build

Discussion in 'Algae Scrubber DIY' started by Pny, Jan 31, 2017.

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  1. Pny

    Pny Member

    Crossposting this from the reef2reef forum to reach out to the algae scrubber gurus on this site...
    Pny's waterfall algae scrubber build

    ATS Description
    I've been trying out a DIY "SURF"-style algae scrubber for more than a year, but its nutrient export doesnt keep up with my feeding, so I want to give the algae scrubbing method a "last chance"... Now I've started making myself a quality waterfall style ATS. Instead of just buying a COTS product, I wanted to make my own small footprint scrubber and replicate many features found in other ATS designs, and maybe add one or two myself...

    Scrubber features
    I'm trying to incoperate the following features into my ATS... (Most are from the Turbo ATS).
    • Compact design, about 35 x 14.5 x 30 cm (LxWxH), including LED heatsink
    • ~100 square inch screen, equals L8 size
    • Low voltage, 24V power supply for safety
    • Coast to coast algae screen to maximize screen length
    • Red and violet lights with individual color channel dimming
    • Side viewing window to enable easy view of growth
    • Removable false bottom to prevent the algae growth to block the drains
    • Multiple drain design for safe and silent operation with drain tuning
    • Additional emergency drain to prevent flooding
    • Light blocker around the slot to keep the flow out area clear of algae
    • Slot pipe brackets that fixates the slot in a straight down pointing direction, ensuring that the flow stays as even as possible on both sides of the screen.
    • Large flow capacity
    • Tight fit around the light fixtures and a light blocking lid to prevent algae to grow everywhere in the sump area
    I will not try to do a removable growth chamber, instead I will focus on making it easy to remove the entire unit from the sump area.

    Coast to coast screen
    As most ATS designs I go with the Darice brand plastic canvas #7 count mesh screen. The algae screen will go from one end of the box to the other, ie "coast to coast".

    The ATS will use a mix of 660-670 nm red and 420 nm hyper violet LED. The screen will be lit from both sides by a grand total of 48 red LEDs and 18 violet LED's mounted on two 300 x 200 mm aluminum heatsinks.

    The LEDs will be powered by a 24V Meanwell waterproof powersupply and be driven by a number of Meanwell LDD-700L constant current circuits mounted on a PCB I designed a few years ago.

    Lightning are very importing so I decided to go for named quality LEDs:
    Luxeon LED, 2.2 V, 700 mA, LXM3-PD01-0300, BIN Code W
    Steves LED Hyper violet 3.0, 3.7 V, 700mA

    Two potentiometers will control the red and violet color dimming. An Arduino controller will perform potentiometer reading and output PWM signals. Also, it would be a nice feature to let the controller display the intensity percentage value for each of the two control channels. The Arduino controller will be powered from a 24V to 12V DC/DC converter.

    I could not get hold of heatsinks in the size I needed, therefore my 300 x 200 mm heatsink consists of 3 pcs mounted together. Additional aluminum profiles mounted as a frame around the perimeter of the heatsinks will ensure the spacing between the LEDs and a prismatic diffuser screen. The diffuser screen helps to produce an even light on the algae screen.

    Growth chamber
    The ATS will have a classic fixed growth chamber made from clear acryllic sheets and have a viewing window on one short end. I will have to keep the growth chamber

    design simple, since my tools for working with acryllic is very limited.

    Slot pipe
    To be decided... I have not decided if I should use a standard slot pipe or try to minimize height requirement by building a my own square pipe with integrated light blockers.

    False bottom
    The exact design of the false bottom is to be defined...

    ATS System Plumbing
    The ATS will initially be fed by its own water pump. In the future I might connect it to the manyfold on my return pump, but I'm not sure I can spare the amount of flow the ATS need so I might as well keep it on its own pump. The water from my return plumbing is not really an option either, since its already used to feed my skimmer and Rollermat mechanical filer.

    Build process
    Sourcing materials from the internet takes a a lot of time, but the delivery times give me the opportunity to think more about the design... So far, I've sourced about 2/3 of the materials, I've cut some of the acrylics and glued the heatsinks together. Now I'm Waiting for LEDs and some more aluminum profiles.

    Sourced so far:
    • PVC pipe/fittings, 25 mm and 32 mm
    • Prismatic diffuser screen, 2 pcs 300 x 210 mm
    • Plastic Canvas Screen, Darice #7 mesh
    • Black and transparent acrylic sheets
    • Aluminum heatsink, 6 pcs 200 x 100 x 18mm
    • LED power supply 24V/10A 240W, MeanWell HLG-240H-24A
    • DIY LED drivers, 700 mA
    • Red LED's 660-670 nm, Philips Luxeon ES Deep Red 3W
    • Violet LEDs, Steves LED Hyper violet 3.0
    • Arduino controller, display and potentiometers for PWM dimming.
    • Aluminum profiles for light fixtures

    Not sourced yet:
    • Arduino power supply (24V to 12V converter)
    • Power supply contacts
    • More PVC fittings for drains
    • Water pump



    Above: Light fixtures waiting for LED...


    Above: DIY LED Drivers


    Above: LED drivers wired for power and PWM input.


    Above: Trying out a growth chamber, (protecting plastic makes them look pink).

    Lets hope the remaining parts will arrive soon, so I can continue my build...
    Turbo likes this.
  2. Turbo

    Turbo Does not really look like Johnny Carson Staff Member Site Owner Multiple Units! Customer

    Always good builds by @Pny!!!
  3. TbyZ

    TbyZ Member

    Hi Pny
    looks like you've given this a lot of thought.

    A couple of questions-
    1. what excatly is meant by a coast to coast screen?

    2. The ratio I use to determine how many LEDs to use is 0.67 to 1 LED per 4 square inches of screen, each side.
    Your ratio will be 1.32 LEDs per 4 square inches each side. How did you decide this?
    I ask because I would be worried this would be too much light.
  4. Pny

    Pny Member

    Thanks for your input!

    I've seen the "coast to coast" expression for a overflow that extends the whole side of an aquarium. I used the same expression for my screen since it will extend the whole growth chamber length. I simply do that by having light fixtures that covers the whole side and making the screen a little longer than the slot in the slot pipe, (the screen will extend about 1/2 inch beyond the slot at each end).

    I copied the amount of LED's used in the "Turbo ATS"... He has 6 deep red LEDs on each side of his L2. Quadruple that to get 24 per side for a L8 ATS which equals the amount I will use. I will implement a dimmer so I can always turn down the intensity to the exact amount of light i want.
  5. Pny

    Pny Member

    LED's received and glued... Also started wiring them. My own solder equipment couldn't manage to heat the stars so I had to go to the electronics lab there I work and use some "real" solder equipment... :)

    I've decided to go with a standard slot pipe instead of a more fancy solution. 1/2-1 inch less height isn't worth the extra job...

    I've also decided to skip the dimming knobs on the unit. It will be to difficult to make them waterproof. Dimming will be performed over a Bluetooth interface instead... Much easier to seal the unit that way. If I want knobs I just put together another cheap Arduino + Bluetooth combo that can talk wireless with the scrubber.

    Turbo likes this.
  6. Pny

    Pny Member

    LEDs all soldered and glued, and the growth box is taking form...

    The LED lights are all soldered and glued. Next step is to add the aluminum profiles at each long side that will house the drivers and control electronics.


    Above: Algae scrubber LED lights


    Above: Growth box with side viewing window.


    Above: PVC union with hexagonal nut holds the slot pipe in place.


    Above: One of the drains and two emergency drains.
  7. Pny

    Pny Member

    Still waiting... Just can't wait to get my hands on the electronics and finish this project...


    Above: Mesh screen, slot pipe and rings...
  8. trivodi

    trivodi Member

    looks quite nice, good job
  9. Pny

    Pny Member

    Not ready, but at least some progress...

    The LED lights are now functional and almost ready... "slave side" light only need some additional paint, the "controller side" light needs the controller and an additional voltage converter fitted. I forgot I had to convert the 24V supply to a lower voltage for the controller, so I will have to squeeze in a small voltage converter somewhere. In addition the algae growing box needs some work on the sides and lid.

    Above: "slave side" light.

    Above: "controller side" light with LCD and light intensity knobs.

    Above: LCD with hyper violet (HV) LED and red LED percentage values.
    Last edited: Jul 24, 2017
    Turbo likes this.

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