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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hey all,

In building a "high end" enclosure for my panther chameleon, I have been researching controllers.....and they are lacking....severely.


Please educate me if I am missing anything but our options are....

1) Ecozone (VERY pricy)
2) Various REEF controllers (also pricy and not specifically designed for our use)
3) Individual controllers per unit (separate lighting timer, pump timer, thermoterer, etc).



Due to this issue, I have been looking into designing a more useful vivarium controller that is more of a "mid-market" price point. Currently things like the ECOZONE are awesome, but the price is just absurd imho (and probably partly due to the complete lack of competition).



Long story short, I have been working with a friend recently in possibly designing a mid-level vivarium controller for use in frog, chameleon, and other vivaria...

I would like your feedback on features, price points, and the like that would interest you.

Currently, I am working with the following considerations:
-Temp/humidity probes
-Multiple (4?) power outlets
-INDIVIDUALLY programmable dimmable timers (to the 1 second) for EACH outlet.
-Water/humidity proof casing

Other considerations:
-Wifi?
-LCD/LED screen?
-Remote control / Internet controls

I am looking at 2 initial models, "basic" (price point) and "everything" (performance)


QUESTIONS FOR THE HOBBYISTS THAT WOULD USE VIVARIUM CONTROLLERS:

1) What do you consider to be *NECESSARY* features (ie things the "basic" model MUST have)?

2) How important is a DISPLAY on the unit? Is a visual showing of current temp/humidity(/time?) really worthwhile for everyday use? I realize the benefit of a screen when PROGRAMMING the unit, however this aside, is there really any benefit to it?

3) Do you need to CHANGE the programming often? (I am assuming it would be, roughly, a set once and forget it kind of thing).

3a) Does it matter to you HOW you program it? (If you have to use your computer, use LEDs/buttons on the device itself, use an LCD on the device, etc). ***This can affect the final cost substantially and is why I ask in conjunction with question 3. If a drop in price is worth a tiny headache in programming since you only do it once as I am assuming, it seems to be worth the price drop.

4) HOW MANY outlets do you typically need for *ONE* enclosure? I am currently assuming 1 water, 1 power. I realize chameleon enclosures in specific tend to have 2 lights; do most of you need 3 outlets?

5) What price point would be reasonable for a "basic" or "everything" model? I am currently aiming/hoping for roughly $139 and $199....are these still too high to warrant their use?

6) 1 vivarium controller per enclosure is my current design. Is this foolish? I am looking at high-end large-scale vivs that would need to be individually controlled, but that is simply what I work with. Those of you with LARGE frog or chameleon (or w/e) rooms....do you have any desire for a master controller or somesuch? What controls (consistent factors) do you have among your tanks (generally, I would guess sunrise/sunset/humidity/etc would be mostly the same, at least on a per-species level). What factors are DIFFERENT / unique to each individual tank that would not/should not be controlled by a master controller? How beneficial is the modular ability to add additional temp/humidity probes?

7) How important is a built-in DIMMING function / timer ? To me, this is essential...but perhaps it is not necessary for a "basic" model?

8) Would it be plausible to require a 24/7 always on PC connection for the unit to work properly? Or would such a requirement be a "deal breaker"? One consideration currently is to have the entire unit controlled and programmed by the PC, but this would require a PC that is always on and always connected to the unit to receive/analyze the data.

9) Are there any SPECS in particular that are of high importance? If so, please tell me the spec and WHY it is of importance. Minimum voltage/amperage requirements, types of dimming signals, etc etc.

10) For those who do have experience with other vivarium controllers (ESPECIALLY reef-controllers or high-end viv controllers such as the Ecozone) can you tell me the best and (more importantly) WORST features of these controllers? What are they doing wrong or simply not doing that they SHOULD be doing?


Thanks for the input all!


Please direct any private questions or comments to me via PM or email me at [email protected], but I would appreciate all comments openly on this thread
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
I hate that I can't edit....

As per other forums, users have suggested considerations for dimmable/programmable HEATING as well as lighting (and possible cooling or humidity).
 

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Digital aquatics make a herp one. I also saw another one, but I think it's just for controlling multiple UTH or flexwatt.
 

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pwm controll for dimming would be essential. also would need alot more than 4 controlled outlets. i would consider 8 to be a bare minimum. that is what my digital aquatics one has. i feel temp sensor and humidistat to be vital. needs to handle about 2000 watts to handle my lighting on my big tank. would also like to control mister and fogger depending on humidity and controll over exhaust and circ fans would be good. just as a heads up my viv now is using 11 outlets and im sure that number will go up over time. i was considering a herp keeper but they are from digital aquatics and i havent been thrilled with my reefkeeper over the years which is why i now have a neptune apex for my new reef to come. hope you get going on this it would be nice to have more entries in the market.
 

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Judy, most controllers have alarms, can send emails alerts etc. When I had my reef tank up, I had my controller setup to be able to access remotely and receive email alerts.
 

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An important feature imo would be expandibility. The ability to increase features through module upgrades would be absolutely paramount for the keeper to make the transition to hobbiest to even breeder. One controller per viv would ultimately drive me away as a consumer, but if you had some sort of expansion module that would allow a link to the inital controller, at a fraction of the controller cost,that would be worth some consideration.

As for pc connectivity, I see great advantages to remote accessibility/connectivity. I currently utilize an automation system intended for commercial manufacturing and I can access it via internet through a java web page. I imagine if you were so inclined to produce a phone app where you can check all of your data in real time, it might ease some minds while vacationing, herp keepers and cham keepers alike and add that "piece of mind" value to your product.

PM me if you would like additional input/ideas, I have some backround in electrical engineering.

Thanks
TN


Sent from my SAMSUNG-SGH-I997 using Tapatalk
 

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An arduino based unit - something one can source locally (or mostly) and build at home (dip components not smt) open source and expandable so users can adjust to suit their own needs...

I'll post in DIY when I've got the schematics finished up by the weekend... :) but I'll need a bit of help with the programming...
 

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It would need some form of display and having it hooked up to a computer all the time isn't a favorable thing to me, I love the features of the exozone but it's drawback is that its not expandable past 4 controllers. Also do some research on good RH/temp probes they are expensive and can kill your price point temp only is a lot cheaper. I'm interested to see where you go with this because I want a universal controller but all the ones out there have things I don't like, price isn't my concern.

Len
 
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