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63 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi Everyone!

We're in the middle of building out the first Orinoco Large Format Vivarium (LFV), and we promised updates as we went. So, we put together this thread to show engineering ideas as we started work. For this thread, we'll cover the circulation system, the fog system, and the light canopy.

Circulation System

The circulation system is one of the most important features of any terrarium/vivarium. We chose a dual 3" waterproof fans as the correct amount of air exchange, and developed a way to integrate the fog generation system, as requested by our customer. What we wanted was a system that would direct air towards the front of the terrarium, as well as evenly distribute the fog throughout the terrarium. We also wanted a bleed air capability that would enable forced fresh air exchange. The design we came up with is shown in the picture below. It uses printed nylon parts, as well as fabricated composite panels, extrusions, and other pieces.

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Fog System

Our customer wanted a fog system to raise humidity, as well as aesthetics. So, we accomplished some research and devised a system that delivers copious fog capability. Although relatively simple, a few key considerations were that we wanted the reservoir to not only support the ultrasonic fog generators, but the mist system as well. So, we had to design special holes that were water jet cut, as well as strain reliefs to plug them up while in use. Another important feature was the ability to fill the system both while it is running, as well as to not have to remove a lid with a bunch of equipment mounted to it during the fill operation.

Table Rectangle Gas Automotive exterior Auto part

Light Canopy

Development of the light canopy is probably the most important aspect of a good terrarium design. Key functions include: transmissivity of the light (as much clear space as possible) for light to penetrate through, several types of light, i.e., distributed "bank" lighting, as well as spot lights, adjustability of the light patterns, ability to grow plants, support of the glass top, ventilation holes, location of the forward and rear mist head locations, and others.

The below pictures show the designed system, which includes an 8020 framework. The immediate perspective view of the light canopy gives an overall glimpse at the complexity of the system.

Perspective View
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View Looking Up

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This view looking up shows a lot of detail associated with the light canopy design. At the top, which is the forward edge of the glass, you seen mounting stand offs that are intended to replace the old glass "braces" and eliminate the light distortion and cleaning hassle that comes with them. Right below the mounting standoffs are the spot lights. They can be rotated on two axis, and allow the hobbyist to focus light at the bottom of the vivarium where he/she wants it. This enables one to grow plants at every level of the enclosed space, as well as highlight a prized specimen. The ventilation ports use black powder coated stainless steel to minimize light reflection, as well as transparency. One will also notice that there are two rows of misting nozzles. The forward row has its own mist pump, and cycles less often than the back. This enables the hobbyist to locate orchids (that have blossoms that hate being wet) up front and away from daily mist/rain routines. The rear row of mist heads cycles more frequently and keeps the background/hardscape moist.

View Looking Down

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In this view, it can be noticed that the banked/distributed light panels can be moved forward and back to adjust their relative position. But, it should also be noted that they can be adjusted side to side as well. So, even though they represent a cluster, ability to adjust the cluster finely is available.

View Looking Back

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Although the previous views show the complexity of the light canopy system, this view looking back shows its simplicity. Important things to notice: Distance between the lights and the glass top of the vivarium. The stainless steel standoffs act as spacers and keep air circulating well. The spot lights can be rotated on two axis. But, they can also be moved laterally, which gives even more flexibility in lighting. Indeed, more than 4 spot lights can be used if desired.

Lastly, we should comment on the lights being specified. So far, our customer has opted for using In Situ bank/distributed lights. But, he could have just as easily opted for modified Radion (Freshwater) lights. We also specified Arcadia's Jungle Dawn spot lights because of their "in use" demonstrated capability. However, some people might have chosen Kessil or other high intensity spot lights.

We're looking forward to the next installment of our design discussion, as well as posting pictures of the actual build in days/weeks to come.

Bill/In Situ

52 Posts
We haven't figured out production pricing yet. But, we will soon. We will have a stand and cabinetry available for sure...
Cool, Ill be anxiously keeping an eye out. Also, is it safe to assume that since there is no discount on the forum for the Alto that there wont be any for the Orinoco? Or will we get a pleasant surprise? :)

63 Posts
Discussion Starter · #13 · · Business
Hi Everyone - We promised pictures of the build once it was up and going. Here are a few. There is also a video on our Youtube channel....

In Situ's Youtube channel

The Light Canopy is designed to use both "bank" LED arrays, as well as spot lights. The bank lights provide uniform lighting throughout the terrarium, as well as provide enough PAR to plants at higher elevation in the terrarium. The spot lights are intended to provide energy to plants that are on the floor of the terrarium, and can be aimed towards particular species if desired.

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The Circulation System and Fog System integrate with each other through the duct. There's a damper at the fog input to prevent back flow of terrarium air when the fog unit is not in operation.

Hood Bicycle tire Crankset Bicycle part Automotive tire

We wanted to create the most clear light transmission space as we could to ensure even lighting, as well as make the top glass completely replaceable and easy to clean. When we ship, the glass is packed vertically so as to prevent breakage.

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To us, the circulation system is one of the main components of the terrarium. 3D printing enables low volume production of this crucial component.

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There are a surprising number of electrical systems that need attending to, as well as management of the cables that make them work. The Apex is the most versatile, capable, and production worthy controller we have found, and it does it's job perfectly.

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We think the Orinoco raises the bar and starts to approach the "In Situ" capability we aspire to.
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