Building a 6 inch PVC aeroponics tube system
This is a larger variation on the Irish / Webby tube system found elsewhere in the FAQ. 6 inch tubes allow for more root space and larger plants.
Basically, I am showing how to build the root chambers, rez, and feeder lines for your system. Depending on what is available in your area, pick your own misters and pump to match. No one builds them all exactly the same.
Every system will vary to suit your own needs and space but here are the basic materials
for this particular one:
6 inch PVC pipe (With this five-tube system, you also use 4 lengths of 1 inch PVC as feeder / pressure lines)
6 inch couplings, and 1 inch" couplings, along with elbows and endcaps as needed.
Large reservoir - the larger the better for stability and maintenance.
Pump - output and size to be determined by what misters you choose.
Support for tubes (I used sawhorses)
The usual array of handy tools, but youll need a hole saw to match the neptots you choose.
Main 6 inch pvc pipes
I am using schedule 40 6 inch diameter PVC pipe. You can get this at large plumbing suppliers. Just ask around at Home Depot type places, if they dont have it, they will know who does. As for cost, it varies. In Canada it was anywhere from $5 to $9 per foot. Schedule 80 is too thick and expensive.
I am also using 3.5 inch netpots, spaced 6 inches apart, therefore you will need a 3.5 inch holesaw. 3 inch or 3.5 inch pots are ideal. The mass of your roots will be in the tubes, so dont worry about the pots being too small (They are just anchors really).
Your 6 inch tubes will be joined by rubber couplers with hose clamps. You can find these where you buy your PVC along with rubber end fittings to close the tubes off. *See last pic
At the end of one of your tubes (or set or tubes) you will need a drain of some kind. I just made a 1 inch hole and inserted a pvc plug. This will drain into the rez. (Here is looking down)
You also see a hole in between the netpots. This is for your sprayline. I use one sprayer in between each two pots, this seems to work just fine as they put out a 360 degree spray.
The sprayline is held in place by grommets or rubber corks with holes drilled through them. You can find something that will work in the plumbing section, or stores that sell beer/wine brewing equipment (a huge selection of rubber corks and stoppers) Choose your sprayline, misters and plugs before you begin drilling holes!
The tubes will eventually be supported on sawhorses with the drainage end ultimately sitting right on the resevoir. Be sure that the far end of the system is higher than the rez end so that your liquid will drain back to the rez easily. There is a 2 inch height difference in this system. You dont need much. These stands are easy enough to make, you will notice also that there are cutouts for both the 6 inch tubes, and the 4, 1 inch PVC tubes that run along between them to feed the spraylines.
Since each of my tube sections is 15 feet (3, 5 foot sections joined) I needed the same amount in 1 inch PVC.
1 inch Feeder tubes
I used PVC couplings to join them on two sections and then got fancy and used a valve to join the last section. This way I can shut off water to the last section if I am not using it (like when vegging out mother plants or doing a smaller crop, you can also conveniently shut off a section if something needs repairing).
At the end (not the rez end) the feeder tubes are capped. Oh, and USE TEFLON TAPE, PEOPLE!! Or some kind of sealant - you dont want to get it all together and find out that you have leaks!
Along the 1 inch PVC feeder tube, I have drilled (and tapped to match the threads of my sprayer assembly) holes to mount the spray lines. One hole per sprayer (Youll know what size holes to drill once you decide on the type of sprayer you wish to use).
Here is the big funky rez. A 300 litre / 80 gallon monster. This rez is actually a dock float - they are built to withstand great pressures and will not fail on you.
It has 5 holes drilled in it that fit the drain spigots of the tubes. You will need to drill an access hole for nutrient access and the intake line of your pump.
You can also see the business end of the feeder tubes, they are all joined together in one common pipe that leads to the output of the pump, which will soon be sitting on the floor beside the rez.
A pressure gauge helps you figure out what youre running at and lets you know if there is some kind of problem.
Here is the drain spigot on the tube I was talking about - it just fits into the rez. It is just a 3 inch bit of 1 inch PVC - some kind of connector I found. Use whats at hand.
The rez end, with the 1 inch pvc joined together with various elbows and fittings. The pump is ready to be installed.
Here is the inline filter that sits between the pump and the rest of the feeder lines. Filters are essential to prevent mister clogs.
Here is a long view so that you can see how the big tubes and the feeder lines lie beside each other and how the spray lines are hooked up.
Look inside! - You can see the sprayer coming in between the netpot holes.
Here is another full shot of the whole thing. Notice that the ends of the 6 inch tubes are capped and they are joined by those black couplers and hose clamps. You can buy those wherever you get your PVC.
Next step: fill it with netpots, rocks, water in the rez and then clones.