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I bought an Apex - Anyone else use one? What cool things do you do with yours?

Discussion in 'General Plant Topics' started by Whiskey, Oct 26, 2014.

  1. Whiskey

    Whiskey Member

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    Totally frivolous, definitely not required to maintain a healthy tank, but I'm excited none the less. I passed an important certification, and got this to reward myself for all my hard work. I have an old aquacontroler now, but it is not well supported anymore, I can't get the full version of the software for it, and I want the ability to Email or Text if something is going wrong with the tank and the Apex can do that and Aquanotes lite can't.

    I also would really like to get some dimable LED lighting over my tank to further fine tune the light level. Right now I have the reflectors on with 100 par (which is more than I really want because CO2 level has to be pretty high at that light level) or I can pop them off and I end up with 30 PAR and my Repens suffers at the bottom. This Apex will provide me with the ability to use dimable LED lighting that my current one doesn't have.

    I also look forward to having checks and balances like keeping the light low if the PH doesn't come down.

    They have a great online service which allows me to monitor my tank from anywhere as well as moduals like leak detection, and auto feeders that will kill the pumps during the feeding cycle. I can also monitor and graph power usage. I'm a techno geek so I just love this stuff.

    Is anyone else out there using one? What kind of cool things did you do with yours?

    I would love to do an auto topoff with it, but I don't have a sump so I would need something that is visually appealing. Has anyone out there created an autotopoff for your Apex?

    Let's hope UPS moves quick! I'm already getting impatient :D
    Whiskey
     
  2. Bala de Plata

    Bala de Plata Subscriber

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    I bought an Apex - Anyone else use one? What cool things do you do with yours?

    Congrats, I am almost going on a full year with an Apex and will likely not go without one again. There are a few quirks here and there but the Neptune Forum has a wealth of information and some very supportive members. Albeit most info is tilted to salt, but everything is adaptable to our uses.

    The Apex Fusion interface is very useful and user friendly, but I also use the iOS app as it has some more functionality to it I prefer at times.

    Once your up and going, check out reeftronics.net

    You can find real time info via my apex under the same username I have here. You can also see all my programming for all outlets etc.

    Best advice I could give you though, read the "comprehensive user guide" SEVERAL times. About every question you have can be addressed there. And I will offer help anytime as well.

    Picture of my sump area with apex


    [​IMG]
     
  3. gsjmia

    gsjmia Lifetime Members
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    As you said, the Apex is a luxury, but it is really nice.

    At first, it seems like its just a glorified timer. But if you have an imagination, you can do a lot of things. Aside from the obvious (lights, c02, etc):

    I use it to auto water change about 15% every day-I have had about a 2 months and so far its really working out good-needed the break out box to connect to 3 water level switches in the sump.

    I bought dimmable t5HO ballast and can dim my TeK light fixture. I stoppled using it but after seeing Gerry's tanks I may start again.

    It has a nice phone app, and I use my Android phone as a remote control-nice to turn off the cO2, pump the sump dry and then shut the pump off when doing a full WC (every other week now to clean glass and trim mostly).

    My tank is near my kitchen sink, I found some inexpensive 5V leak detectors and put one under the kitchen sink so if the sink or garbage disposal starts to leak it will send me an email. I plan to put others around the sump.

    It can send you an email for any number of conditions you want to program, e.g., if the temp goes below a certain level. If you want to go nuts, you could have it email if, for example, the PH were not below a certain level during the photo period to let you know your co2 is empty.

    I first used it as a co2 controller but the results were worse than if I just let the co2 run constantly.

    I also use it to control my vortech-2X a day, it goes from 50% to 100% for 15 min (once after lights off to help degass) to stir up the tank so the filters can grab the mulm, particles, etc-filters get dirtier quickly which is good-its keeping the tank cleaner.

    With the graphing feature, you can see if your Co2 is coming on early enough.

    Be careful with the Triacs (1,2,3,5, 6 and 7) vs the relay outlets (4 and 8) if you have low voltage devices being controlled (if a low voltage device, e.g., dosing pump, is in a Triac it may not turn off-it should be in a relay outlet).

    There is a good forum on the Apex/Neptune support site-tons of info for programming, etc--mostly for salt water but many of the concepts are the same.
     
  4. Bala de Plata

    Bala de Plata Subscriber

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    Good info above ^

    I too bought Advance Mark 7 dimming T5 ballasts controlled via 0-10v Apex outlets. Also have a 0-10v dimming module for LEDs and using a Tunze variable speed pump with ramp profiles. For a break out box I just used a $5 12vlt relay block. With that I use a couple cheap floats from amazon and a aqua lifter pump for top off. Amazon sells some cheap water leak defectors as said above and they work great. Other program/profiles are PM 2 module with conductivity probe, BRS dosers x3 (Mac,mic,excl), added EB4 for additional solid state relay outlets for lower voltage items (solenoid, dosers), dual ph probes (tank ph, modified ph/co2 probe), if ph does not reach a set point before lights on or falls below set point during lights on I get an alarm and the lights are fail safe'd off so as not to cause light/co2 issues/fluctuations, if conductivity spikes beyond a set point alarm is set (stuck doser or other issue), leak detect all pumps fail safe off. Modified Belkin 12v battery backup powers Apex and netgear wifi adapter power monitoring during power outage (router is on separate back up). Also have Tunze pump wired in to the battery backup fail safe to OSC on and off.

    Jealous of the auto water change, that is a mod for my next house.
     
  5. Whiskey

    Whiskey Member

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    It looks like reeftronics.net is down right now, but I did check it out last night, and that looks like a really awesome setup you have there! I'm particularly interested in your dosing setup because that's something I'd like to do myself. Are those just dosing pumps that plug into the DC8? What models did you use? It looks like Apex has a really amazing doser they are coming out with but the price is quite high at over $300, I'm curious if there is a better option.

    I notice you have the conductivity probe hooked up, do you track that value closely? If so what does it tell you?

    Thank you,
    Whiskey
     
  6. Whiskey

    Whiskey Member

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    That is really good to know about the triacs,.. I think my DC8 had a simalar issue, but the main problem was that the Triacs were low power, and the relays were high power. Eventually one of my Triacs actually failed, I have one outlet that is like a ghost outlet on my DC8 now. It will just turn on and off randomly for no reason even when the Controller is set to manual and hold it off. I have it taped off now.

    Could you point me in the direction of the 5V leak detectors? I'd really like to add that feature,.. and,.. another feature you mentioned I want is the Dimable ballast!!!! I didn't know those were so readily available. Could you let me know what one you bought that works with the 1-10V control? That will actually solve a couple problems for me!

    Your water change feature sounds really cool too, but I think I'll need a sump to do something like that. I'm hoping that there is a small water level switch out there somewhere that doesn't look too bad in the aquarium so I can implement a topoff and water change feature one day.

    Thank you!
    Whiskey

    - - - Updated - - -

    That is really good to know about the triacs,.. I think my DC8 had a simalar issue, but the main problem was that the Triacs were low power, and the relays were high power. Eventually one of my Triacs actually failed, I have one outlet that is like a ghost outlet on my DC8 now. It will just turn on and off randomly for no reason even when the Controller is set to manual and hold it off. I have it taped off now.

    Could you point me in the direction of the 5V leak detectors? I'd really like to add that feature,.. and,.. another feature you mentioned I want is the Dimable ballast!!!! I didn't know those were so readily available. Could you let me know what one you bought that works with the 1-10V control? That will actually solve a couple problems for me!

    Your water change feature sounds really cool too, but I think I'll need a sump to do something like that. I'm hoping that there is a small water level switch out there somewhere that doesn't look too bad in the aquarium so I can implement a topoff and water change feature one day.

    Thank you!
    Whiskey
     
  7. gsjmia

    gsjmia Lifetime Members
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    Dimmable Ballast 0-10v control: http://www.robertsonww.com/products/product_results.php?searchtype=key&catid=-1&product_num=psv239t5ivcd&x=83&y=23

    Here is a really good How-to for the Apex side out of a regular Cat-5 cable. There are two extra control wires on the ballast and when you apply DC voltage to them, the fixture will dim. You can use a 9v battery to test if its working. Will come on 100% until the voltage is applied and it will then dim. In this How-to, use the info to isolate the correct pair of Cat-5 wires from your Apex to your ballast control wires. It seems easy (assuming you have a good working knowledge of electricity/electronics) but its really confusing. I couldn't get mine to work, checked the wiring 100 times and for some reason I tried connecting the voltage in reverse polarity and it started working. http://www.reefs.com/blog/2012/12/13/diy-guidedimming-diy-led-lights-with-neptune-systems-apex-controller/

    Leak Sensor-there is a 5v and a 12v, make sure you get SKU 2800 which is 5v. http://www.homesecuritystore.com/george-risk-industries-2800

    To use Float Switches (and leak detector) you will need the break out box. They are easy to make if you google, but I just bought one for 30. I use Digital Aquatic switches because they are submersible. Remember these are low voltage only. http://premiumaquatics.com/products/reef-keeper-single-float-switch-kit.html

    My auto water changer requires sump, two float switches, Rain Bird type solenoid for the fill solenoid, a small pump connected to a drain or outside for the water removal and a means to remove chlorine/chloromine. I bought a 3 stage carbon block filter (8 gph), costs $40 to replace filters and lasts 6 months changing 15 gallons per day. 2 hours before co2 comes on, Apex turns pump on and it pumps sump down to about an inch above where sump starts to suck air, then float switch turns off. Then Apex turns on Rain Bird solenoid which puts water to carbon block and it runs until float switch 2 signals that the sump is full. I added 3rd float switch for if sump is going to overflow (like when solenoid stuck on because of that Triac thing), it turns on the drain pump. I guess you could do without sump if you don't mind float switches in tank.

    Before you do all of this, just get it to control your lights first, then when that is working, add your co2, when that is working you can branch out. The programming is simple yet can be very confusing, but the Apex forum will help in that area.
     
  8. fablau

    fablau rotalabutterfly.com
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    Got one too, the Jr., and bought an extra 4-outlets to drive everything I have. It is the coolest thing I ever had for my aquarium, and in my opinion the ability to keep track of PH and temperature for the past 7 days is the best feature. No more "guessing" or keep track manually of Ph drops, variations, etc.

    As a computer programmer myself, this was a "must to have" thing, and you can easily program it in a way to control everything you want... the last Summer I could control my tank from Italy, during vacation, and with a webcam keep an eye on everything in realtime, from 13.000 miles distance from home, with my iPhone! A fan connected to an outlet allowed me to cool down water temperature whenever temperature was too high.... 3 leak detectors gave me peace of mind, in case something could have gone wrong with the overflow during my 4-weeks vacation (nothing happened though!)

    You can really do everything you can think of! I would recommend it to anyone can afford it, well worth the money, a invaluable piece of hardware and software made specifically for all of us. You will never regret it, and will ask yourself: "How in the hell, I didn't get it before!?"
     
  9. Whiskey

    Whiskey Member

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    Fantastic tip on the dimmable balast! I found one by that company that works with my bulbs at Amazon for about $50!!! That will solve so many problems for me. Awesome about the leak sensors too, I will use them for sure.

    The float switches will be a little further down the road, but thanks for the great information!

    Your right,.. I'll start simple first - but I like to have a vision of where I'm going before I set out. It helps me to plan the project.

    Thank you!
    Whiskey
     
  10. Whiskey

    Whiskey Member

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    I know what you mean! I felt that way when I first got my Jr for the 180G reef tank I used to have. Now I'm just as excited again for the Apex,.. it looks like 10 years have made these things WAY more powerful :)

    Whiskey

    - - - Updated - - -

    I know what you mean! I felt that way when I first got my Jr for the 180G reef tank I used to have. Now I'm just as excited again for the Apex,.. it looks like 10 years have made these things WAY more powerful :)

    Whiskey
     
  11. Tom Barr

    Tom Barr Founder
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    FYI, If you set the automated water change up correctly, there should never be a leak ever.......unless the tank or sump itself breaks/cracks.
     
  12. bsantucci

    bsantucci Member

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    Do any of you have an Eheim filter plugged into the triacs? I thought that would be fine in there, but mine is apparently low voltage and won't turn off using the switches. I think I need to be an EB4 to get more relayed outlets.
     
  13. Whiskey

    Whiskey Member

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    Thank you for the tip on the dimable ballast! This thing is awesome!

    As far as the leak detector goes, do you have any external power connected to this? Or do you just wire it straight into the breakout box? I ask because I got a couple and I'm having trouble getting repeatable readings from it.

    Thank you!
    Whiskey

    - - - Updated - - -

    Thank you for the tip on the dimable ballast! This thing is awesome!

    As far as the leak detector goes, do you have any external power connected to this? Or do you just wire it straight into the breakout box? I ask because I got a couple and I'm having trouble getting repeatable readings from it.

    Thank you!
    Whiskey
     
  14. Whiskey

    Whiskey Member

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    Never mind. I did some voltage readings on my BOB and found that switches 1 and 2 had 3.5V across them, but the rest was only 2V. When I switched the leak detector to input 1 and the door sensor to another open input the leak sensor started working much better.

    Now I have the lights dimming when the hood opens (My girlfriend is going to love this, she hates being blinded by the bright lights), and a light coming on when I open the cabnet along with the leak sensor.

    Apperently there is another way you are supposed to setup the leak sensor using a relay and a 5-24V source according to the MFG for the best results. It's cheap to do, I may end up doing that eventually, but for now I'm happy with this.

    Whiskey
     
  15. gsjmia

    gsjmia Lifetime Members
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    I think the other sku for the leak detector (in my original post) has 4 wires, 2 for the switch and two for the power source. The switch is rated at 5v and my apex only reads about 3v, but it works fine. If you are going to try to hook two switches on the same apex input, use in parallel. I only have one now and its under my kitchen sink-I hate those sneaky garbage disposal, etc. leaks that ruin the cabinet.

    Did you set up the email/texting alarm?
     
  16. gsjmia

    gsjmia Lifetime Members
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    I just remembered I had the same uncertainty with "repeatable" results, I found that sometime it just takes longer for it to detect water and then reset when the water is gone (maybe the lower 3v makes it slower to respond). I cut off the little 1/16" feet on the bottom so it is more sensitive and I made an acrylic stand for it so that it is sure to sit 90 degrees from the surface (and not tilted over)-or you could fasten to a vertical surface. Mine work fine, even with 2 on the same in put in parallel.
     
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