Testing the Aerolife True HPA AA (Air Atomized) System -First run in the
Hydroponics / Aeroponics forums; Hi guys, most of you who know me know that I have taken a huge interest in true high pressure ...
Testing the Aerolife True HPA AA (Air Atomized) System -First run
Hi guys, most of you who know me know that I have taken a huge interest in true high pressure aeroponics, and also passing on all of the debunked knowledge I have gained along the way. It seems 99% of the public and commercial interests in the sector are a bit off base in understanding how to properly use this type of growing method and what is important. It is surrounded by all sorts of myths and half-truths, conspiracies, and failed attempts- leaving most interested people alot poorer and bitter to the idea of ever trying it again. I have been extremely lucky in having good mentors help me seperate the BS from good info, and have had help from people who are really masters on the subject, even more so than what I can tell about the Aero company that claims to work with NASA (Bio-Controls). In my search for answers in this hobby, I am always watching the new companies and their claims, but so far it's all mostly BS based on my understanding of the underlying principles that actually produce good results. Companies like the Tree-frog are trying to make a quick buck off unknowing victims, and I can't really tell if they know how off the mark they are and don't care, or if they really just don't know how to do this properly, and are just as ignorant as the people who end up spending a thousand bucks on their systems. (No insults intended to anyone who has bought a unit from them). I also have spent a pretty penny on some other failed systems until I found out how to do this right, and since then, built my own setup from scratch as it seems there is no commercial ready made solution that would work properly according to my current level of enlightenment on the subject.
There is one company that stood out from the rest in the past- and that was the company from England who made the Atomix. Unfortunately they sold for over $5k and didn't stay in business very long with those prices. The system used siphon fed air atomized (AA) nozzles, along with a silent air compressor. It was only about a 3x3 footprint, and not many of us could or would have spent that kind of dough even though it really could turn out amazing results. Even worse yet, most of the end users didn't have a good understanding of how to use the system, and so only a very few ever got their money's worth out of it. I much enjoyed reading those people's grow journals and taking note of what was important from their experiences however.
As I like to research about my hobby, I also like to stay on top of any commercial innovations in the field. A while back I stumbled upon a system called the "Aerolife" but discounted it because I was focused on going the hydraulic route at that time, and they were using compressed air nozzles to atomize the nutrient solution. AA aero has some advantages over the traditional hydraulic systems in that there is an extra dimension of control and the air pushing the nutrient solution helps it to penetrate the root mass more thoroughly and also introduces a burts of fresh o2 with each feeding. A single AA nozzle can likely do the work of quite a few hydraulic nozzles. The drawbacks are that it is generally quite expensive and complicated. If this system really works the way I hope- it will actually be simpler than hydraulic, and priced similarly when it's all said and done. I also saw a few of the pictures at the time on the Aerolife site and the compressor shown looked alot like an airbrush compressor which made me think the nozzles and rest of the kit were probably not up to par. I stumbled across the site again recently and on deeper investigtion decided to email them an enquiry for more information. I was surprised to get a reply from the owner who explained the compressor was not part of the kit, but just something he was trying at the time. He also explained he'd been in the business of design and manufacturing AA nozzles for commercial purposes for many years- mainly for dust control. He also enjoys gardening and decided to custom design and produce some of his own nozzles specifically for the purpose of growing plants. That was a very different picture than what I had originally imagined, and I actually think these may be the only nozzles produced specifically for aeroponics, besides perhaps the ones in the Atomix, but even those may have just been borrowed from another purpose and had the right properties to work in their system. These nozzles are designed to work with very low flow rates and are siphon fed, making them optimal for what we are looking for to grow plants. There are also gravity fed nozzles and hydraulically pressurized nozzles in terms of the 3 types of AA nozzles. Generally the hydraulically pressurized variety give the most control, but they are also the most complicated because they require an accumulator tank and all the other gear you need to run a hydraulic HPA rig like the one I built last year. If the Aerolife nozzles perform well, they will be a thing of beauty because they are so simple, all you need to do is drop the siphon tube into your nutes, and connect up a 30ish psi compressed air line, add a timer and solenoid. You could use the compressor in your garage and call it a day, but there are obvious noise issues. They do sell silent air compressors for the dental field, and that is likely a good choice, although they are not cheap (300-1000 bucks or even more) or another possibility is to take an old working compressor off a refrigerator and retrofit it to pump air instead of freon (practically free if you have an old fridge sitting around). The compressors in the Aerolife pictures were silent types made for airbrushing, although they are fairly inexpensive, they aren't made to come on every minute 24 hours a day and won't likely last very long under these circumstances. The other issue I had with this is I believe the compressor literally just came on and powered the nozzles directly every misting, rather than storing pressurized air in a collector and precisely turning the flow on and off via a solenoid- which would offer alot more control over the mist pressures and timings.
Anyway, I decided it this was the only system currently on the market possibly capable of producing decent results, and since it was only about 20% of the price the Atomix used to sell for, I decided to give it a go and see what it can do. The kit arrived last week and I am now ready to put it together and document my experiences with it. I will likely use my craftsman air compressor for the first week or so, it has only a 3 gallon air tank and will probably come on quite a bit. Once I am assured the system is capable of growing plants decently, I will find a proper air compressor solution. I plan to borrow a solenoid from my hydraulic setup and use the timer Hammer21 pointed me to on Ebay (which I also still need to review). I really hope to get some decent results, and if so we can all learn from the experience. I hope you guys all follow along with me and we can learn together if this is a viable system, and also how to get the best results with it if so. I am really excited at the possibilities! I hope everyone subs up and interacts with me on this new venture. I hope with everyone's input and ideas we can make the best of this and finally have a decent commercial HPA system that has all the benefits and also doesn't cost an incredible amount of money... More to follow soon!
Last edited by Trichy Bastard; 04-08-2012 at 05:12 PM.
That sounds like a bit of a "BS claim" right there buddy. No offense, but you said to get 50 micron droplets you'd have to run at even less PSI then your HPA setup, and lets be honest, PSI is what's actually going to "push" anything into a root mass. Nor would i want to force anything into the root masses we know true HPA can grow, that'll be too harsh. I've said it before and i stand by it, if you can't see through it, you're not threading any mist droplets through it.
Originally Posted by Trichy Bastard
$1000 for what sounds like a very incomplete HPAA system seems exactly like an incredible amount. Have fun, ill watch the results, if you'll post pics, but do you honestly think spending a grand to go from HPA to HPAA is worth it? Sounds like you built a space shuttle, and now dropped a grand on some whip cream and a cherry to put on top. Not hating, prove me wrong, show me it's worth the upgrade, and i'll be the happiest to know.
Originally Posted by Trichy Bastard
The compressed air penetrates everything in the chamber so the mist gets everywhere..theres nowhere to hide
If you grow THIS, like regular old true HPA done right did, you're not blowing anything through it, and if you do, you cut it up to get inside. Sorry, but a full bowl is a full bowl IMO. As i said, PSI is going to do the pushing, and less will do less.
Last edited by DIYer; 04-07-2012 at 09:05 PM.
From what i can find, a youngster with perfect vision may be able to see gaps/droplets down to 40 microns, the ideal droplet range is 5-80 microns. The pic you posted is from an AA setup.
Here`s a pressure fed AA nozzle, 1 second pulse with 36psi air, 20psi water pressure. The throw distance is 6-8ft.
1 second mist.jpg
Last edited by Atomizer; 04-07-2012 at 09:35 PM.
Regardless of what the human eye can actually see through, it pretty obvious a massively layered dynamic root structure like in the picture, that you're not threading even a needle through before you hit root mass, can no longer be penetrated once it reaches a certain size. That size being achievable with HPA, why spend more to accomplish the same thing? And even when that root mass in the picture could still be penetrated by mist droplets, the PSI propelling those perfect 50 micron droplets is what made the penetrating possible, not air riding along side said droplet. I could see going AA to get less mist out per the minimum .3 sec burst, if you we're for some inexplicable reason stuck in a small root chamber, but able to drop $160 per nozzle .. no i take it back i still don't see the point, lol ..but again, prove me wrong TB.
lol... I see you're point DIYer, but I also aim to prove you wrong as you said... Bear with me for a little while and watch and we'll see. I didn't specifically get involved with this system to upgrade my current system's capabilities as much as I got interested and really wanted to enjoy the new method as a hobby, and am truly hoping this system will prove to be a good commercial setup for once for all those who want to get into High Pressure aero but perhaps don't have the time or skills to homebrew a system. It should be plainly clear by now the ride is much more important to me than the destination... ;P
I dont think you understand the principle of coverage versus flowrate. A bigger root chamber will need more nozzles for full coverage, that increases the total flowrate and you`d need to reduce the mist pulse duration to make up for it.
8:1 is a conservative estimate, AA`s put out a helluva lot of mist even at low air pressures. The mist plume in post #5 is from a single AA nozzle, its a good 6ft long and 3ft high, you`d need a fair few hydraulics to cover the same area with that density of mist
Last edited by Atomizer; 04-08-2012 at 11:31 AM.
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