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DIY RDWC/Undercurrent Design Help

Discussion in 'Grow Room Design & Setup' started by NS775, Jan 8, 2011.


    NS775 Member

    So i'm switching my setup from Aero/NFT to a RDWC-Undercurrent type setup to reduce complexity & maintenance tasks. I've got my buckets (9, in 3 rows of 3) & they've been drilled & fitted with 1" PVC bulkheads, but not connected to each other and this is where I needed a little design advice.

    Originally I had planned on having the 1/4Hp sump/utility style pump dumping into the 1st bucket in each row of 3. #1 dumps into #2, #2 dumps into #3 & #3 has a return line that runs back to the reservoir (ie. a serial setup).

    Being relatively new to DWC i was wondering how much of a concern is port blockage? Is this a valid concern or does it typically not happen? Would I be better off having the pump run into a manifold so each bucket has its own in-port, and each has its own out-port dumping to a larger return tube?

    My concern w the first setup (buckets connected in a serial arrangement) is that if one of the ports got blocked there could be a potential overflow situation, where in the 2nd setup (buckets connected in parallel) if 1 bucket had blockage, its input would be split amongst the other buckets therefor giving more tolerance to blockage. Anyone have any experience with this?

    Looking at the undercurrent systems got me thinking about this. The UC setup looks pretty tollerant due to the large diameter pipe size & the way that the pump is "pulling" instead of "pushing".

    NS775 Member

    I guess that does kinda sound fowl now that I think about it... Can anyone help me out with my blockage? Can you tell me about your worst case of blockage? Metamucil is not the answer I was looking for.

    Shankapotomus Member

    I was watching this thread myself as I am in the exact same situation however I have 20 buckets.
    Running higher temps for CO2 as well as checking these things is a major pain in the ass.
    So far I have a 1/2 Hp submersible and just picked up a 1/2 Transfer pump.I also have a couple big reservoirs as well. All kinds of hose and fittings.I am just baffled on how I should start.
    My thinking is the sump to pump in fresh/cooler nutes while the transfer will be used to pull the old out.
    I have had several ideas,however would like some input from others on what works.
    The idea I like best so far but is pricey is to go with 4 and 5 way Garden hose manifolds with the little shut off valves on each of the ports.
    I was thinking the output could hit the first manifold( A 5-Way),then branch to 5 4-ways going to each of the 20 buckets. I would do the same for the return line.
    Thought out 1 thing::idea:
    Must keep all hoses and splits uniform as flow might be different.
    To correct for this possibility I had opted for the attached shut off valves that come on some of the manifolds. I feel I could "Dial In"
    any deficiency in flow between any and all feeds.
    These could also be used to cut off flow while changing buckets.
    Come on, there has to be some stoners out there who have monkey'd with this stuff who has some good input.


    ExDex1x1 Active Member

    Simplest solution is an overflow tube on each bucket. Just drill a 2nd set of lines through another 2-3" above your regular line (preferably clear tubing so you can see when water is flowing through to let you know when a clog appears).

    The other solution is to get some wire baskets like the ones they put over sprinkler heads and put those over your in/outs. Should prevent roots from getting sucked into the lines.

    Shankapotomus Member

    Never really considered sucking in roots. I have a heavy duty Alita pond aerator with 2, 10 valve manifolds which feed into each bucket. I am sure with enough suction I could get some roots to clog up my ports. I see all these pictures of everyone's root balls and unlike the rest, Mine are very tight almost like a basket ball. I really put out the bubbles out of a 6" round air stone. So much so that if I left the lid off my bucket, a fine mist would fly and out water the area around.
    Anyway thanks for the heads up as I now have sumptin else to consider.

    Mattysville Member

    i'm working on designing a similar system as well. i'm going to have 3 separate systems with 4 buckets each to maintain a perpetual cycle within my plant limits. i'll also have another one used only for vegging plants and a homemade aerocloner. i've been playing with an idea to prevent clogs on the return lines that i figured out when brewing beer. when brewing beer i used grains to make my malt instead of concentrated malt sugars as most homebrewers do. to get the mash heated correctly i built a system out of a 5 gallon rubbermaid water cooler (gatorade cooler) with a screen suspended about an inch above the bottom of the bucket for the grain to sit on. when it was time to drain the mash to the pot for boiling hops you just opened the valve on the bottom and the hot water darined out with no grains and no clogs. doing something similar on a RDWC would probably work out very nicely. i used a small micron metal mesh screen cut out to the size and shape of the bucket and held it up using bolts with a nut on either side of the screen to make a table that sat on the the bottom of the bucket. the roots would sit on the screen and the return line fittings can be placed below the screen preventing clogs.

    BendBrewer Well-Known Member

    A False Bottom for your Dro Buckets? I like it. I wonder if a Bazooka Screen type device would work. Just run it from one bulk head to the next.

    JordanTheGreat Well-Known Member

    i'm pretty sure that the guys at cch20 made the undercurrent with the 2" pipes and the fairly low powered pumps to create a more gentle, easy, high volume flow that wouldn't so much as suck the roots into the pipe where they clog it...it just kinda flows through. this guy on thcf**mer(opt1c420), pulls out root balls that clearly show the place where the roots grow into the pipes apparently with no ill effects

    sneakyheatsig Member

    I thought about doing something similar to this myself; the way I had it was a plastic shelf, heavily drilled and sealed to the walls of the grow chamber with silicone; so kinda like a modded waterfarm. I decided against it though because the majority of the nutes would circulate right under the shelf and negate the whole point of the system. That's a problem that would apply to your method as well, though not as much. Definitely worth bearing in mind that any "shelf" you put in will reduce turbulence in the upper grow chamber to some degree even if it is made out of a wire screen. Having said that, less turbulence in the root zone (while maintaining decent flow) might actually be a good thing since some people make a lot of noise over beating the roots up too much. Heath Robinson for one, who reckons against air stones in the grow chamber.

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