DIY: Cheap Auto top-off No electricity required!

Discussion in 'Anything DIY Related' started by Matt, 26 Sep 2008.

  1. Matt

    Matt MASA Contributor

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    Trust me to find cool stuff like this now that I no longer have a tank! :ninja:

    This is a really clever ATO (auto top up) that was made by a member of ultimatereef.net and best of all doesn't require any electricity so it won't fail :)

    Info taken from this post: http://www.ultimatereef.net/forums/showthread.php?t=254985

    "Construction

    First of all, you need a food safe container with a "snap-on" lid. The largest I could find was a 4 litre container, but you may be able to get bigger.

    I then drilled a hole on one side to take a 22mm 90 degree tank connector from B&Q. This was siliconed in place to ensure a water tight seal (VERY important!).

    I then measured the distance from the connector to the surface of the water in the sump and cut a piece of 22mm plastic pipe. This pipe is inserted into the 22mm tank connector. The pipe is sufficiently tight fit to be waterproof, so is not glued into place. This means that the pipe can be removed and shortened if needed.

    Before you use it, you need to make sure that air cannot enter the container by any route other than the end of the pipe. Otherwise the water will just leak into the tank.

    [​IMG]

    How to use


    The container is then filled with RO water. By placing my finger on the end of the pipe and carefully lowering it into the sump I can ensure that the pipe is below the surface of the water before removing my finger. The container rests on the edge of the sump. When the water level drops, enter enters the container and water fills the sump!

    [​IMG]

    Parts list

    Parts required:
    • Container - £5.99
    • Tank connector - £1.80
    • 22mm pipe - already had a short piece, but about £4 for a 2 metre length
    • Silicone sealant - already had this, but would cost about £5 for aquarium safe sealant.
    Total cost:ca. £8 to £17


    Improvements


    A valve on the pipe would mean that I wouldn't need to place my finger on the end of the pipe, but have not had time to find a suitable plastic 22mm valve yet. A valve would also mean that I wouldn't have to wait until the container is empty before I refilled it!

    You could also connect multiple containers together by using tank connectors between them. This would increase the water holding capacity.
     
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  3. Warr7207

    Warr7207

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    Clever idea ;)
     
  4. Mekaeel

    Mekaeel Moderator MASA Contributor

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    Amazing, so simple,yet so effective! Thanks for sharing :)
     
  5. mandarinman

    mandarinman

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    Absolutely stunning. This could be used for dosing too,im sure
     
  6. ziyaadb

    ziyaadb

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    brilliant idea.
     
  7. Andreas

    Andreas

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    So simple.Nice idea.Thanks for sharing Matt:)
     
  8. jacquesb

    jacquesb Retired Moderator

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    Thanks Matt for finding this gem for us. Only a few questions though -
    I presume that this works when the water level in the sump drops BELOW the end of the pipe, right? So air would enter the bottom end of the 22mm pipe? This air would end up as a bubble, travelling upwards into the pipe, and the to top of the 90-degree bend, right? And possibly this air-bubble would then even enter the container.....
    So, if this is all possibly true, what stops this "auto-top" from not just continuing dumping water into the sump? Even if the water level in the sump then "closes" the pipe exit hole (after the water level in the sump has risen to the same level again)....

    I am sorry about these questions - but with my mind feeling a bit "sleepy" at the moment, I cannot see exactly how this would work correctly as a "AUTO" topup unit?

    Can someone please explain the physics of this to me? Even if the explanation seems simple enough......
    My physics brain does not want to "kick in" at the moment....
     
  9. dv8

    dv8

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    as i understand it, gravity is pulling down on the water, the container is rigid thus causing a vacume above the water( why it was stated as important for air tight seel in the desine) when the water level in the sump go's below the pipe ,air is allowed into the container. the air and the water would "change places" ,air and water passing eachother in the pipe, up until such time as the sump level is back to its propper level. then air (from atmosphere) can no longer get into the vacume

    yes yes, technicaly its not a vacume as there is already air in there , but i'm sure you know what i mean

    an idea i have been thinking about is a drum, would also have to be rigid, with a similer piece of pipe fastened into the screw on lid. then just a bracket to hold the drum upside down and vwala! as manderin man said you could easily use it for doseing too.:thumbup:
     
  10. dv8

    dv8

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    had another look at the dezines and also the origional thread matt mentioned. seems some guys had more consern about the salt water mixing with the RO than with the fact that it works. also found some other ideas further on in the same thread.

    Really cheap auto top up device! - Page 4 - UltimateReef.com

    here they sugest useing a ping pong ball as a valve, or just useing thiner pipe thus less contact btween salt water and RO water. i think i'll do both, the vacume system and the pingpong ball, so wen sump level is low, ping pong ball is unseated from the pipe and air allowed in, wen sump water is high enough, ball will be against the pipe and separateing the two waters.

    thanks for starting this matt, DIY is great and cost efective:thumbup: as soon as i get a working model i'll be back with pic's. now to go look for a ping pong ball and 30mm pipe for a guide to keep it in line with the 20mm pipe
     
  11. Dohn

    Dohn MASA Contributor

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    i wanted to try something similar using one of those big water bottles that stand inside offices with styrofoam cups. i just couldnt work out a stand that would hold it upright out of the way.

    This is a very clever idea. one could put a ball valve on the outlet and have an inlet with a ball valve to. when you want to fill it up you just close the outlet valve and open the inlet valve, top the tank up and then close the inlet valve and open the outlet valve again.

    Would letting algae grow in this container remove the need for using RO water???
     
  12. dv8

    dv8

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    those bottles work on exacly the same theory, they would be perfect:)
     
  13. goodisor

    goodisor

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    Couldnt you also use the same system as found in the cistern of the toilet,just hook up its inlet to the big bottle and your sump becomes the cistern?
     
  14. dv8

    dv8

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    you mean a mechanical float switch, guess that could work, as long as its all plastic, i think the newer 1's mite be, but the 1's I've had to fix at home have lots of copper. i think origionaly it was the simplicity and low cost of the desine. I'm perhaps over engineering here. the basic plan was gr8. some miner tweeks perhaps. but it works as it is hey.

    thanks again matt.:cute:
     
  15. Barlan

    Barlan

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    Hi all

    i know this is an old post, but i am in the process of looking at ATU's, and this method looks really interesting.

    Has anyone tried the ball valve option http://www.ultimatereef.net/forums/showthread.php?t=254985&page=4 ? or similar? what about the same concept as the water dispensers in offices? or any other variations? (personally, i am more comfortable with the ball valve method because its physically blocking the water outlet, but i'm open to ideas)

    and most importantly, has anyone had any problems requiring tweaks?

    much appreciated thanks :)
     
  16. erratiC

    erratiC

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    I know Marco is selling an ATU that is similar to this idea but obviously looks a hell of a lot better and costs a bit more... maybe consider giving him a call and asking him about it.
     
  17. Barlan

    Barlan

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    Cool, will do, thanks.
     
  18. Express Reef

    Express Reef

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  19. jclaas

    jclaas

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    @TheWaterboy please post the ATU you have available, similar in design as above shown.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: 26 Nov 2015
  20. ScottK

    ScottK

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    I use a system very similar to this and it works very well. The fact that it's mechanical means very little can go wrong.
     
  21. TheWaterboy

    TheWaterboy Sponsor

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    we have the exact item of both options shown
     
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