jump to navigation

WATER LEVEL INDICATOR – AQUAPONICS quest for a useful one September 13, 2018

Posted by rik94566 in adafruit, aquaponic automation, aquaponics, Balcony Garden, DIY aquaponics, Instructables, internet of farming, IoT aquaponics, rik kretzinger, rik94566, sensor, Uncategorized.
Tags: , , ,
add a comment


Up to this point I have wanted to have a simple, but effective water level indicator sensor for the water level in the Balcony Garden fish tank component of the build – that works!

Aquaponic Sensor Set for Balcony Garden  — see section on ultrasonic sensor

I spent a lot of time working with and trying to stabilize a ultrasonic solution.

First off these sensors are not waterproof ( the waterproof version is around $85.00 US  Waterproof version).  The non-waterproof versions run around $5.00 US.  So this would seem the best way to go and work to make it work by using some waterproofing strategies.  Hard to do when working in an aquaponic environment.

Ultrasonic Sensor – Amazon

Next they are very hard to mount in a way that they can be useful to determining water level in a tank.  There are a lot of instructables talking about this aspect for these sensors and even more youtube articles, but most if not all are just demos and breadboard applications.  No real useful solutions that really can be implemented in a scalable way.

Final issue is that I have yet to be able to stabilize these sensors and have wasted a lot of time trying to get them to be reliable in a usable way.

SOLUTION – find a better method or be able to purchase one that actually gets the job done in a simple and affordable and scalable way.


Ultra-sonic sensor - instructable


Arduino IDE running on RPi using 5″ HDMI 800 X 480 display March 30, 2017

Posted by rik94566 in 800 X 480 display, adafruit, agponics.com, arduino, DIY aquaponics, Instructables, IoT aquaponics, Raspberry PI, rik kretzinger, rik94566, Uncategorized.
Tags: , , , ,
add a comment

Since the problem with using a 5″ HDMI display was worked with the Raspberry Pi.  A new problem developed that needed to be addressed.  Running Arduino IDE on Raspberry Pi using the 5″ HDMI display at 800 X 480 resolution.  The problem is that the Arduino IDE bleeds off the edges of the display (see picture below).  The issue is that the Arduino IDE cannot be moved around to get access to the menu options.  So there is no way to check libraries or setting to insure sketches are being up-loaded correctly.  No new sketches can be opened either.  Major pain.

IDE issue800X480


After some research and a little time solving the Raspberry Pi – Jessie with Pixel display issue I found a solution that resolves this issue as well.

I wrote an Instructable to document what is needed, so check it out if this is a issue for you.

Window size issue with Arduino IDE and RPi

Here are the results:

arduino size change


aquaponic BIO-REACTOR – part of a Balcony Unit design just published on INSTRUCTABLES May 31, 2015

Posted by rik94566 in Uncategorized.
add a comment

Just published on INSTRUCTABLES the section on BIO-REACTOR build for the Balcony Unit.  AdditionAL sections will be published now to document the building of a Balcony Unit.  So stay tuned as more content will be generated in support of releasing the Balcony Unit as a open source project for all to view – share – build!



Here is a preview of the INSTRUCTABLE:
Picture of Aquaponic BIO-REACTOR - part of a Balcony Unit design

aquaponic BIO-REACTOR – Balcony Unit

aquaponic BIO-REACTOR is a component of a lager aquaponic Balcony Unit System ( see in pictures above). This instructable is to document the build of the BIO-REACTOR and is referenced in the assembly directions for putting together the Balcony Unit. This provides a comprehensive guide to parts and materials used in the construction of the BIO-REACTOR. You can find individual items of the build at www.rik94566.wordpress.com if you do not want to spend the time to gather all the parts on your own or have extra materials left over from the build.


DIY BIO-REACTOR – converts toxic fish waste to non-toxic plant fertilizer using moving bed media (big system component not found in any small systems).


Three basic rules in aquaponics are as follows:

1:1 RELATIONSHIP — between fish tank volume and grow bed volume.

NUMBER OF FISH (stocking density) — The general rule of thumb for a home, media-based aquaponics system is one pound (500g) of fish for every five to ten gallons (20 to 40 liters) of fish tank water.

FEEDING FISH – only feed fish the amount of food they can eat in 5 minutes.

The BIO-REACTOR is needed because most if not all small systems and owners of these systems break all three of these rules. Breaking these rules causes systems to fail or never reach a balance. The BIO-REACTOR builds a buffer into the system so when the above rules are not followed the Balcony Unit can still work without major system issues that new auqapons (people new to aquaponics) are unaware of or know how to correct.

NO POSTS IN A LONG TIME — March 10, 2015

Posted by rik94566 in Uncategorized.
add a comment

Well this is a true statement.  Many things have taken place since Maker Faire in 2014 and now.  Some good and some not so good.  But now is the time to get back to blogging about all the developments of importance in regards to aquaponic automation and systems in my world.

The really good news was that during Maker Faire – Keith Hammonds an editor with Make Magazine approached me with an idea about doing a article on automated aquaponic system build using only items that could be constructed with parts and materials purchase at local big box stores.

I got very excited about this idea and possible project.  As in all things execution on ideas is what make the world go round.  I developed the concept and started on the execution of the concept.  Then some of the not so good things played out and I had to scale down my time commitment to aquaponics and could not deliver the project before years end of 2014.

Well the build is now on track and details will be in the next post that will take place just after this one.

Automated Aquaponics for Business or Pleasure: A Scalable Approach May 14, 2014

Posted by rik94566 in Uncategorized.
add a comment

GREAT NEWS – this just was published – Thank You Marco Schwartz January 31, 2014

Posted by rik94566 in Uncategorized.
add a comment

Here is a great blog post regrading the biggest problem with IoT –

This is good news as it can be done with a uno arduino and gives basic functionality and seems to be very straight forward solution.  I will be working with it this weekend.

Hats of to Marco and his efforts in this area.  This in my mind is a huge step forward in automation for hackers like me.

Hello folks ! I am Marco Schwartz from Open Home Automation, and I wanted to share with you the latest article I published on the blog. 

In this article, I took home automation outside of the house, to the garden to be more precise. I designed a wireless temperature & humidity sensor, based on Arduino, that connects to the web-based service Carriots, and can measure temperature & humidity directly into the ground.

With this project, you’ll be able to monitor your garden remotely, and even tell the project to send you an email if one measurement coming from your project gets out of range! Want to know more ? Simply read the full article on the blog:

Wireless Gardening with Arduino & the CC3000 WiFi chip

Also, I noticed that you are more and more to get the paperback copy of my book, Home Automation with Arduino. For those of you who received this version of the book, I’d like to hear from you, to know if you were satisfied with what you received from Amazon. Please let me know by replying directly to this email !

That’s all for today folks! Thanks a lot for all the support and the encouragement emails that I receive everyday, and of course you can follow us on Facebook and Twitter

Marco Schwartz
Open Home Automation

Slide Switch – making it work for my need April 7, 2013

Posted by rik94566 in agponics.com, aquaponic automation, aquaponics, aquaponics electronics, arduino, DIY aquaponics, Uncategorized.
Tags: , , , , , ,
add a comment

First question is what is a “SLIDE SWITCH”?  Well they are very common.  Never thought I would need to know how they worked and how I was going to connected them up.  As it turns out I have two projects now that require them.  So now is the time to work out how to connect them up.

Here is what one looks like.  They are found in many electronic devices.

Slide Switch - blog2

Yet again in electronics you need to know what it is that you want.  There is not just on size fits all when it comes to “SLIDE SWITCHES”.  I thought this was going to be easy to get connected up.

Here are just a few of the options I had and decisions I had to make on such a small part.

SPDT – Single pole double throw

DPDT – Double pole double throw

SPST – Single pole single throw

SPDT Sub-mini

Heavy Duty Slide Switch

DPDT Right-Angle PCB Mount

These are just the options at Radio Shack.  Do an internet search and the options are endless (seems like).

To solve my problem I made a trip to Radio Shack and made a purchase to get started.

6-pack slide switch

Once I got them home I had to deal with picking between the option of 2-3-4-6 prongs to work with.  To solve this issue pulled out my multimeter and tested my options.

The end result I was after is to be able to  switch between external power and arduino power (parasite power) for my sensors.  The reason for this is some times I want to run external power, but when I am only testing a few sensors I just want to keep things simple and run off  arduino power.

The end result was use a DPDT Slide Switch. This required to use the 6 prong switch.

NASA Standard – good enough for me March 7, 2013

Posted by rik94566 in agponics.com, DIY aquaponics, indoor aquaponics, Rj45 connector, Standards, Uncategorized.
Tags: , , , ,
add a comment

I was reading through my blog feeds and ran on to this item:




I have been interested in establishing standards in all the things that I work on because when I start to scale I will need to have documented processes in place that will allow for building SOP (Standard Operation Procedures).  An aquaponics business is no different than other well established industries.  So now I have one for all my wire connections that are well documented and well established.

LAST CLEAN-UP ITEM — now the model is clean and water tight February 7, 2013

Posted by rik94566 in Uncategorized.
Tags: ,
add a comment

I was not  happy with the edges on the curved part of my model, so more research on how to clean the curve up>

smooth-1-edge lines

As it turns out Sketch-Up has a “SMOOTHING” feature to make this task a snap.  Cool tool, just needed to figure out how it worked.


THINGS IN COMMON — 3D Printing and Aquaponics January 28, 2013

Posted by rik94566 in aquaponics, DIY aquaponics, Rj45 connector, Uncategorized.
Tags: , , ,
add a comment

Well as it turns out 3D printing and aquaponics do have something in common.

They both need to be water -tight!

rj-45 jack

Now that I have a Sketch-up model I wanted to get it printed.

I figured out that I have basically 3 options to get this done.

Option One –Buy a 3D printer. I did some research on this and know what I want am ready to go, until I ran the idea by my wife!  The unit I wanted costs in the $700.00 range.  As on all my projects and ventures my wife has final say so on all things financial.  This one did not get approved.  Not to say that it won’t happen in the future, but just not right now.

Option Two – Use one of the current leaders in the on-line printing services business.  The two leaders that I know of are Shapeways and Ponoko.  The other choice here is to go to a TechShop and have them print my model for me.

Option Three – Find someone with a 3d printer and have them make a print for me.  I would of course pay them for this service.

Well option one is a no go situation for the present time.  Option three will not work,  as I do not know anyone well enough to inquire about having them make a print for me.

So Option Two it is.

The TechShop choice is much harder for me as I would have to show up at one of their locations in the bay area with file in hand and then get all signed in to talk with someone about how the whole process works within  their structure.  Way to much work for a little part.

So I went with Shapways and Ponoko.  I signed up and was ready to go, almost…. Well as in all things technical there is a file incompatibility problem with using Sketch-Up and 3D printing together.  I now needed to convert my model to a .STL  format.  I did my research and got a free version of a product that claimed the conversion was easy to do.  I did the conversion and loaded my model up to be priced and approved.

Well again I hit an issue.  As it happens my model is not “Water-tight” and has to many holes and the model is to small to print on either of the services.  I could see no holes in my model and did not understand how to fix this problem.  As in all things internet I started on my quest to accomplish my goal of getting a model printed.  Now I found myself researching and learning how to make a model water-tight.  It is a fun adventure and learned a lot that will be very useful in future designs with Sketch-up