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Advanced - Hydroponic system construction

How do I build my own aero-cloner with misters?

  Materials List:

1 opaque plastic tub
1 Rio 800 water powerhead
10 foot length PVC, 1/2-inch
8 slip-coupling PVC elbows (90 degree turns)
1 slip-coupling / threaded PVC T-adapter
1 threaded hose nozzle

8 180 degree jet sprayers (part 111B)
4 PVC to poly-tube adapters
2 feet flexible hose
1 roll 1/2-inch black poly-tubing
1 can white spray paint or coating


 

Every component to make this aeroponic tub is available at your local Home dePot,Wal-Mart, and aquarium store. You could probably get it all from the dePot, but they don't have the greatest selection of tubs.

You can use a different pump and skip the aquarium store, but the Rio is a good choice @ 211 gph. It comes with a ball valve to control the flow and the 800 uses a ceramic impeller so it won't degrade in saltwater.

The only problematic component in this design is the grade of misters easily available. A few different configurations were tried, and the barbed misters screwed into semi-flexible poly-tubing seemed to give the best results. All of these components are located near the plumbing and PVC in a section for sprinklers and drip irrigation, the brand is "DIG Corporation." If easily available, you can use better misters from a grow store.


 

Cut the PVC to necessary lengths. The most important factor is the height of the assembly, so don't cut it too short. You can always lower it afterwards. The 8 elbows connect the sides, and the T is inserted opposite the pump. The T-adapter has one threaded connection for the hose nozzle.

After completing the PVC work, the next step is making the spraybars. These are the black tubes that hold the misters, it is a somewhat stiff poly tubing sold for use with the emitters. This is where your clogs will happen so be prepared-- have extra misters on hand and you can even build two extra spray bars that you can swap in while you clean the others.


 

The spraybar starts with a PVC to Poly tube adapter (sold with all the other DIG accessories) and a length of the tubing. Next make very small guide holes for the misters to go into the tubing. It is very important for the holes to be small, it should be difficult to push the emitter into the tube. If the fit is not secure, the emitter will not spray. You may have to make a few spraybars before you get it right.

Your worst enemy will be clogs. Either you can replace the mister or the entire spraybar. This is the biggest disadvantage of aeroponics, but running distilled water for cloning will keep clogs to a minimum. If you clean it out it between cloning sessions it should hardly clog at all.


 

After you get the spraybars right, install them in the system and turn it on. You should get fountains of small droplets splashing up, not really a mist from these emitters, but it is still a very good cloning environment.

All thats left after that is to finish the top. Sold near the spray paint is a white rubber coating that lasts much better. This takes at least two or three coats for a good reflective surface. Be sure and drill the holes first or you will ruin the finish. Also cut a notch for the power cord so the top closes completely.

To hold the clones in you can use pieces of tubing, pre-split down the middle. You can easily remove these tubes and the clone without damaging the root system. They need to be transplanted quickly when they root or they will become accustomed to the aeroponics and have a more difficult time leaving. If transplanting into soil or soilless mix you can even move them as soon as they show bumps, around 5 days, and they will root with no transplant shock in around a week.


 

The quality of water that you put in the tub has a direct relationship to how fast the cuts will root. The best water to start with is either distilled or reverse-osmosis. They should both be between 0 and 20 parts per million and between 6.5 and 7.0 pH. Using tap water will clog the emitters much more quickly with mineral deposits. No rooting hormone is needed.

Some people report good results by using a watering schedule of 1/2 hour on, 1/2 hour off, but leaving the pump on constantly has always produced quick rooting as well. The water is super-saturated with oxygen from the constant splashing and spraying. If the ambient temperature isn't high enough, a necessary piece of equipment is an aquarium heater set at 78 degrees.

I hope you find this tub and aeroponic rooting method to be the simplest and most effective technique around. You simply fill the tub with clean water, take a cut, and drop it in. 7 days later you have roots-- no chemicals, no rockwool, no mess.