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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
A few weeks ago I ran across a thread on here that was talking about variation in the habitats of frogs, rather than the clockwork schedules and tasks most perform in their keeping. I was trying to think of how more variations could be created within enclosures, without creating a TON of extra work for the keeper. Being a reefkeeper, I remembered that some aquarists use controllers to provide various changes in their tanks (light intensity, wave action, temperature, etc.) to make it more natural. You can log in climate and weather information (overcast, storm, etc.) and the controller does various things to help create that.

Anyway, I tried to get ahold of some folks familiar with the equipment and controllers used for this, and asked how applicable they would be for simulating rainforest type conditions (lighting, misting, etc.). For those interested, here is the response I received from one person:

I have a series of PLCs that I no longer need that will do what you want perfectly. The events you are primarily trying to control are timed events I think. See this link for more info on these devices
CPU226
EM235 A14/AQ1 X 12 Bit
EM 231 AI1 4 X Thermocouple

PLCs

The CPU can do any and all timed events misting, lighting...

The 235 is an analog input device, it can monitor the output of most any device and create a change. For instance, if you are monitoring RH and your frog box (dunno what its called) drops below 92% RH the input signal from the meter changes, that causes the 235 to send a signal to the CPU turning on a mister. When RH hits 100% it shuts off. (just an example).

The 231 is for very precise temp control (you'll need to supply the heaters and what-not).

There is a 4000 word (thats 4000 16 bit instructions) you could store in the CPUs memory, I would think that the amount of data to emulate a rainforest could be much smaller than 4000 words (as far as emulating weather and yearly patterns are concerned).

The software is included and is not diffucult to learn, its windows driven. You will not be writing any machine code or having to learn a whole language just to run it.

The 226 connects to your PC and you use the drop and drag devices to build your program. Once done you click a button, the PC complies your program, and sends it to the PLC. At this point (assuming your done everything correctly) the PLC can be unplugged from the CPU and connected to your devices that control your frogs and you can relax. There will be some learning curve of course, but there is also a CD that has the full instruction set and examples.


I don't plan on actually obtaining or setting something like this up, but thought that I would transfer the information and possibilities for those who might be. If anyone is serious about it, let me know and I can pass the contact information on.
 

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O ok, now I see. A cool thing to do is give some air circulation inside the viv to give the feel of a breeze every now and then. I dont think that kind of thing would cause too much of a problem to a keeper. Especially if its only everynow and then. But a timer would be great. Another is dimming the lights for afternoon rains every so often or when you mist. Might not make any difference at all, but may help simulate seasons.
 
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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
That's exactly it, Ryan. You can simulate heavy, light, and variable breezes. You can dim and intensify the lighting to simulate clear skies, overcast, etc. You can do frequent misting, nighttime rains, etc. or even cut back on misting and intensify lighting to replicate a dry season. You can program everything to work in conjuction and together with each other and whatnot. To be honest, I understand the basic principles...but the details tend to go right over my head. However, the great thing is that you enter all the data and everything in at the beginning, and the controller does the rest--you could easily simulate an entire year's worth of conditions from any given area, assuming you could find decent data.

A couple members have contacted me about it, though...so maybe we'll hear more from those who understand it more as to how it all works out.
 
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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
The above controller has been sold, so please hold all the PM's about contact info. Thanks!

My original point of this thread was to hopefully start a discussion about the validity and possibilities of using this type of technology in vivariums, so hopefully we can keep it going along those lines...

For those interested in learning a bit more about it, here is a link to a related forum on a reefkeeping board: http://reefcentral.com/forums/forumdisp ... 5&x=13&y=4
 

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Thanks for posting this. I have a couple of questions. First, what does PLC stand for? Second, do you know if this system can incorporate a random number generator and can you set variable cut on and cut off thresholds? The system I've been hoping to build would use a random number generator and cut points that change according to the calendar date to set probabilities for an event to occur and randomness within that probability. In other words, suppose the system I mimic has a 70% probability of rain between 1 and 4 pm on May 23. On that date, I would set a cut point of 0.7 for that time range and generate a random number between 0 and 1. If the number generated is less than or equal to 0.7, the rain system is switched on. The actual program would obviously be a bit more complex but that's the general idea. The only way I know to do this is to write a custom program but I know nothing about the hardware needed to translate the program output into automated device events. Given that limitation, I'm always interested in systems that provide advanced even programming.
 
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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
PLC programmable logic circuit.

Don't the x-10 people (you know those annoying popups camera ads of yester-year?) make something similiar that you could just hook up to a computer to program however?


-Tad
 
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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
To be honest, Brent...I don't know enough about the software and various controllers to even begin to answer if it's possible, but I don't see why it wouldn't be. Check the link in my post right above yours--it's to a forum on a reefkeeping board where guys who really know about this stuff have been discussing coming up with their own customized versions. I would suggest posting a question over there (you'll have to register) and I think they could give you the dirt (fantastic idea, BTW).

Tad604, I'm pretty sure it's all based on the X-10 software as it has to be run from a computer (that's why the bold font above talks about the various commands that can be entered).
 

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The doc says that it has floating point math capabilities... so yes, I suppose, it can generate random numbers... or simply have a formula that use the timer value... or if you can get the seconds in decimal... simply take the last digit...


SB
 
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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Sounds like an interesting Idea for a programming project... If I can ever quit my p/t job thats another project I'll have to look into.


-Tad
 

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Thanks for the feedback everyone. I did poke around on the forum and it looks really good. Since I'm a long way from being ready to actually do this project, I'll probably wait to start asking questions when I am. This stuff might be old fashioned by then!
 

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Seeing if anyone has attempted this. I am designing a frog room and would like to use an automated system.
 

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I'm planning to create an automated system for my vivarium. I'm just starting with vivarium so don't expect it so soon. I will order the glass next month and the start making it. When everythink will be ready to start up, I will start on the controller.

I plan to you Atmel ATmega168 microcontroler together with ENC28J60 Ethernet controller. This way, I will be able to connect my controller to ethernet and check status of my vivarium over the internet. I don't know what are the capabilities of web server, but I might also set configuration through the web interface. I also plan on creating graphs for temperature and humidity. I hope web server supports PHP or at least Perl.

The controller has 9 digital IO and 6 analog IO. I'm still searching for the information if it supports I2C busses. It it does, then we have unlimited digital outputs. I'm not sure, how digital outputs work(probably only 1 or 0), but I think I will only use the to power the relays. Analog IO's will be used for simulations of weather, fan speed regulations since then can put out anything from 0V to 5V.

I will create a thread here, when I will start my project and all source code of the program will be avaible. I estimate the price of the controller around 100€. I think that's quite cheap.

lp, Matej
 

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Being from a Computer and Electrical Engineering background I'm a big fan of PIC chips. They're programmable on your PC then you just plug them into whatever circuit you have. They're capable of running fairly complex programs, so I know they could do everything that's been discussed here and a lot more. They're maybe 30-40$ for the mid-range ones that have 16 I/O lines. That would probably be enough for all but a huge viv. I have never been interested in automating everything (lights are on timers, that's it though), but if I were that's how I'd go about it. If anyone is interested in trying this I'll be more than happy to help you out as far as wiring and programming (it's been about 3 years but I have a TON of experience with these).
 

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Yeah I've seen the Atmel ones, but I don't believe I've actually written directly on them. You can use assembler, but there are PIC compilers out there (all free as far as I know) that let you write in C.
 

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As much as I am interested in Vivarium Controllers ... I'm a bit more interested in Greenhouse controllers that can be applied to a frogroom.

I'd love to have it set up so that if it's a little too warm in the frogroom, but cool outside, the fan/vent from outside turns on. If it's warm in the frogroom, and warm outside, the AC would kick on.

That kind of thing.

s
 

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Scott: that could be done with the controller I have in mind. It's just a couple lines of code in C:)

My controller will turn on ventilators when it will be too cold and turn off lights if too warm.

lp, Matej
 
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