Block Diagram
All of a sudden it feels like it has been a long time since I did anything with an Arduino. I almost feel guilty about that idea since Arduino is really what launched me into hobby electronics to start with, so to help me sleep better at night I have taken on a new project. As you can see from the title I plan on creating an automatic reef controller for an aquarium. A friend of mine at work is pretty big into aquariums and reefs, and he asked me if it was possible to put together a control system for a 16 gallon nano reef aquarium (a side project of his own). He mentioned that you can purchase one of these setups commercially “link“, but of course you will pay upwards to $400 bucks. After a little discussion and a cursory look at the cost of sensors we decided that it could be cost effective to build a custom controller to meet his requirements.

Those requirements are:

1. System shall be able to measure pH levels at regular intervals.
2. System shall be able to measure water levels at regular intervals.
3. System shall be able to measure water temperature at regular intervals.
4. System shall support up to 9 electrical outlets.
5. System shall provide the same protection found in modern protected plug outlets.
6. System shall be network enabled for access via the internet.
7. System shall be capable of controlling a water pump system for auto top off.
8. System shall be capable of controlling a fan when the temperature is to high.
9. System shall be capable of controlling a heater when the temperature is to low.
10. System shall be capable of controlling three independent lights.
11. System shall be capable of being configured by a web interface.
12. System shall be enclosed in a mountable case.
13. System shall cost less than $200 to design and assemble.

This is without a doubt the most complex project I have taken on to date. I will have to learn as we go, but overall this seems like it will be a great project and I hope to learn a lot. In the coming months you can expect that I will be writing or creating videos on how I plan to tackle each portion of this project. If you have any suggestions or inputs regarding this project feel free to leave a comment below or send me an email.

To give you an idea of what we are looking to put together, I have put together an initial system block diagram of each of the components that we will need in our system.

Here are some links to components that we initially identified:

I expect to produce multiple blog entries throughout the design process. You can find out more information at the K4 Reef Controller project page.