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DIY Calcium Reactor Peristaltic Pump Prototype - $50


TheClark
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Why A Peristaltic Pump?

    This is covered in great detail on the internet.  In summary:
    
        ○ More reliable consistent flow
    
    
    Read more about the official MasterFlex Calcium Reactor thread here.   They are spendy, 200-400 dollars.  And they are awesome.
    
    (hint, if you can spare the reef $$, stop reading this and go get one!)
    
   http://www.reefcentral.com/forums/showthread.php?t=2368618


For me personally?  I needed to babysit some SPS.  I knew that my CR flow would dip and sometimes clog.  Rather than risk someone else's coral I decided to step up the game a little.  

Check out my flow before and after:

BEFORE

g9iYRzx.png

 

AFTER:

 

Yf956Vq.png

 


    Why A DIY Peristaltic Pump?

    The primary reason is simply to save money.
    
    By saving money, you might be able to have a spare on hand.  
    
    For me, I try to have 2 of anything critical because reef stores are not open 24/7 and Amazon cannot ship fast enough to save your coral if things go wrong.
    


    
Building One - Parts

    Pump and Motor - $30

 

pumpandmotor.jpg

        The pump and motor itself.  Search ebay for 'large peristaltic' and you will find this one:
        
       https://www.ebay.com/sch/i.html?_from=R40&_trksid=p2380057.m570.l1312.R1.TR4.TRC0.A0.H0.XLarge+peri.TRS1&_nkw=large+peristaltic&_sacat=0
        
        Pumps come and go.  It is nice to have one with:
        
            § At least two rollers (anti siphon)
            § Stainless steel bearings (not a plastic, noisy pump)
    
        This setup requires a brushed DC 12v motor so that it can be PWM controlled.  A better setup would be a stepper motor based motor and controller.  Future?
    
    
    Motor Speed Controller - $11
    
        You want a PWM speed controller.  This controls the speed so the flow can be dialed in.
        
       https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00DVGGWC0/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o00_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1
    
       PWM controller.jpg
        

          Note:  There are tons of cool options here.  Web controlled, LED speed display etc.  I did find though that certain PWMs cause the motor to overheat so you may need to experiment if deviating from this one.


        
    Power Supply  - $6.50
    
        12volt 2 amp power supply with a wiring adapter.  

 

 

     Here is one on amazon:
        
       https://www.amazon.com/Adapter-Switching-100-240V-Connector-Security/dp/B06XPF9NPL/ref=sr_1_14?ie=UTF8&qid=1507776121&sr=8-14&keywords=12V+2A+Power+Supply
        powersupply.jpg
        It is better to find one that is UL Listed.  Once you are past the power supply though, everything is low voltage.

 

        The wiring adapter is key (the green thing in the pic).  It makes taking power from the adapter simple, just turning a couple of screws.
        


    Wire - Free to $16
    
        If you have any kind of wire laying around that is 16 gauge or bigger, feel free to repurpose it.
        
        Some wiring connectors such as 2 spade connectors can be soldered onto the back of the motor or possibly crimp
        
    
Building One - Assembly
    
    
    Wiring
    
        The wiring is very basic and covered with the PWM controller documentation.
        
        Basically the power goes from the power adapter, to the PWM controller, to the motor.
        
        Everything is labelled, it is super easy.

IFPb3VI.png
        
        The hardest part is attaching the wires to the motor.  You can use a variety of methods, but a crimp on spade connector can work.
        
        Be sure to use the right gauge wire.   I used 16 gauge because I had some from other projects.  It's nice to use 2 different colors, pick one such as red for positive, black for ground and be consistent.
        
        
    Boxing
    
        There are allot of options.  Mine is stuffed into a double gang electrical box ($2).
        
        I just drilled some holes and routed wires. 
        
        
        288563F9-D0AD-44C7-A572-AD153720EA54.thu
    
    

Here is the inside

 

67306AD0-D26A-4532-A469-88B2A9F27246.thu
    
    
        

For more details etc check out this thread:

 

The results are detailed in another thread:

 


Special Considerations:

 

  • Tubing wears out and fails, you need to place the pump in a location such that if this happens, water will drain into the tank instead of onto the floor!
  • Ideally monitor the flow with the APEX flow monitoring kit 1/4" adapter.  That way when the tubing goes you can quickly replace it.
  • Sound!  This is a pretty quiet pump, but it is not as quiet as an MJ sitting underwater in the sump.  So keep that in mind...
  • Super Important:  Don't turn down the pump so low that it does not run smoothly.  That will overheat the motor as it is basically starting up from stopped several times per second.  The pump should run smooth with no visible lurching...

 

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  • TheClark changed the title to DIY Calcium Reactor Peristaltic Pump Prototype - $50

Oh snap! Glad you did this! I had this pump saved in my eBay favs for future experiments.

 

looking at the pump head...any chance you think 2 could be linked together for a stenner style dual head auto water change pump? You don't have any pics of the head removed? As you were mentioning, changing to a stepper would be cool too, would be interested to see the input shaft/pump head interface.

 

keep on DIYing Jeremy!

 

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9 hours ago, Blue Z Reef said:

Oh snap! Glad you did this! I had this pump saved in my eBay favs for future experiments.

 

looking at the pump head...any chance you think 2 could be linked together for a stenner style dual head auto water change pump? You don't have any pics of the head removed? As you were mentioning, changing to a stepper would be cool too, would be interested to see the input shaft/pump head interface.

 

keep on DIYing Jeremy!

 

That would be amazing!  If you could track down the parts, I bet you could stack the heads.  

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Hey Jeremy looking at this project you picked up I see a potentiometer in which I assume adjusts the speed of the motor? whats the range of mL per Minute on that? I'm thinking on my new build of tacking on a peristaltic pump to use for when I drip acclimate, was looking at the Milwaukee one but having a variable speed might prove more efficient. Nice work by the way!

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28 minutes ago, Exodus said:

Hey Jeremy looking at this project you picked up I see a potentiometer in which I assume adjusts the speed of the motor? whats the range of mL per Minute on that? I'm thinking on my new build of tacking on a peristaltic pump to use for when I drip acclimate, was looking at the Milwaukee one but having a variable speed might prove more efficient. Nice work by the way!

Hi Exodus,

I used a PWM controller.  It has a potentiometer, but that varies the PWM frequency rather than directly interfacing with the motor.  They work well on brushed DC motors if you don't turn them down too far.  Sounds like a cool drip acclimate project, just be sure to get a much smaller peristaltic head.  One of those 10 dollar ones should work great and they have a much lower flow.  This one won't go much lower than 80 mls / minute I don't think without burning up the motor.

Post back if you get her hooked up!

 

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  • 2 weeks later...

Update:

Had my first peristaltic tubing rupture. 

Totally normal for persistaltic pumps, but I did not expect this only 15 days in. 

Replacement tubing took about 15 minutes to install, back up and running.

Will report back how long this tubing lasts.  In the mean time, I am going to find some masterflex tubing.  It is reportedly much thicker and will last longer.  

On a high note:

  • APEX alerted me flow had dropped.
  • Pump was mounted over sump, so the drips went back into the tank.

 

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23 minutes ago, TheClark said:

Update:

Had my first peristaltic tubing rupture. 

Totally normal for persistaltic pumps, but I did not expect this only 15 days in. 

Replacement tubing took about 15 minutes to install, back up and running.

Will report back how long this tubing lasts.  In the mean time, I am going to find some masterflex tubing.  It is reportedly much thicker and will last longer.  

On a high note:

  • APEX alerted me flow had dropped.
  • Pump was mounted over sump, so the drips went back into the tank.

 

Thanks for the update!  This has always been the one drawback that concerns me with any peristaltic pump setup having used them for many years in a research setting.  Glad you had the monitoring in place and the physical arrangement to mitigate the fallout!  Keep us posted on the master flex tubing - still interested in experimenting but I don't (currently) have flow monitoring capacity so need something more reliable than 15 days!

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28 minutes ago, albertareef said:

Thanks for the update!  This has always been the one drawback that concerns me with any peristaltic pump setup having used them for many years in a research setting.  Glad you had the monitoring in place and the physical arrangement to mitigate the fallout!  Keep us posted on the master flex tubing - still interested in experimenting but I don't (currently) have flow monitoring capacity so need something more reliable than 15 days!

Yes, this is super disappointing.  After going through the pump head and thinking about it, I am not sure that this motor could handle the thicker tubing at a lower flow without burning up.  Might be back to the drawing board!

 

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18 minutes ago, TheClark said:

Looks like LS17 is the correct master flex tubing for this pump (3/8 od). I found a chunk of tygon 3/8s od for 20 bucks.  Should be allot tougher than the silicone tubing that came with the pump.  Will post back...

 

Should be interesting.  I would worry that the tygon may start to compress/distort and not maintain even flow but will be will be curious to see.

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33 minutes ago, albertareef said:

Should be interesting.  I would worry that the tygon may start to compress/distort and not maintain even flow but will be will be curious to see.

I'll be all over that metric with the flow meter!

Its gotta be better than my previous MJ based flow :fingerscrossed:

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I am calling this experiment a bust!  I had another motor burn up in the middle of the night.  No CR flow for several hours.

The peristlatic pump itself is great, the motor is junk... So I am gonna go on the hunt for a better motor and repeat this experiment down the road.  For now I am back to my noisy plastic peristaltic, which ironically has been rock solid but quite loud!

 

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2 hours ago, TheClark said:

I am calling this experiment a bust!  I had another motor burn up in the middle of the night.  No CR flow for several hours.

The peristlatic pump itself is great, the motor is junk... So I am gonna go on the hunt for a better motor and repeat this experiment down the road.  For now I am back to my noisy plastic peristaltic, which ironically has been rock solid but quite loud!

 

Bummer Jeremy.  Guess I will have to live with my siphon feed for a while longer.  Was working fine 'til my CO2 unexpectedly ran out... can't really blame that on flow control though.  Keep us posted if you find a good alternative.

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Just now, albertareef said:

Bummer Jeremy.  Guess I will have to live with my siphon feed for a while longer.  Was working fine 'til my CO2 unexpectedly ran out... can't really blame that on flow control though.  Keep us posted if you find a good alternative.

Thanks!  I am going to mess with a stepper motor, wifi controller, and better tubing for the next prototype.  Will post back!

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  • 1 month later...

The dream is still alive!

I swapped out pumps six weeks ago and it has been going strong!

4nZx90m.png

 

Ao1WJ8L.png

The only downside is noise.  These things make some noise, but they are rock solid.

This pump uses Tygon tubing. 

I also use these pumps for topoff and ATO from the garage.  Those ones have been in service for at least a couple of years with not tubing breaks.

Speaking of the garage, since this pump is noisy, I moved the pump to the garage.  I just ran tubing all the way to the garage and back (about 30' horizontal, 8' vertical).  It pumps with 0 issue and now the noise is in a better place.  The calcium reactor was not moved, it is still right under the tank.  Kind of a nice bonus of peristaltic.

 

So, this is basically the exact build as described at the beginning of this thread, but use this pump instead:

Ebay 29 bucks,

https://www.ebay.com/i/161666772861?chn=ps

Or amazon, with prime, 33 bucks

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01DER02OE/ref=oh_aui_search_detailpage?ie=UTF8&psc=1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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