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View Full Version : Which controller - Apex, Reef Keeper or Reef Angel


byee
01-10-2014, 09:00 PM
I've been tinkering with various DIY controllers and I just don't have the time or patience with the DIY process.

I've decided to buy a commercially available product.

Here my list of initial requirements

> network based - wire or wifi
> smartphone accessible - view and update status
> email notifications
> web based interface
> display historical pH and temperature patterns
> pH monitoring for reactors or doser
> PWM for LED lighting - multichannel for sump and canopy
> ATO
> leak detection
> temperature control
> firmware updatability to keep it current
> LCD display at aquarium
> option to add webcam

I also have TELUS internet.............just need to put this out there. Reading the forums, there are issues with Apex and TELUS internal with ports being block.

For the people who have switched from one manufacturer to another, I'd like to hear why you switched and your experience with each controller - pros and cons. Why did you change?

For the people who have only used one controller, I'd like to hear what your thoughts are with your existing controller - the pros and cons. If $$$$ is not an issue, which controller would you buy based on your personal experience.

Thank you!

sphelps
01-10-2014, 09:30 PM
Out of the three controllers listed pretty sure APEX is only one that will come close to doing everything on the list and even then I'm pretty sure you'll have take a DIY approach to things like the PWM LED control and leak detector, not saying it can't be done, just not sure they have plug and play modules is all.

While profilux isn't on your list they do have plug and play modules for everything listed although the PWM module can require a bit of work depending on the drivers used.

MinPhase
01-10-2014, 09:35 PM
I have an Apex. I've read that it is superior to the Reef Keeper. The apex is infinitely expandable and you can add modules for everything. It's also programmable which lets you set up elaborate programs to do whatever you want.

Mine does everything on your list including web cam and I can access the web interface from a computer or control from my phone app.

The Telus connectivity won't cause any problem. Just don't use port 80 if they do in fact block it. The trouble arises when you try to connect through other routers but even then, as long as you are careful about the details in the set up you won't have a problem.

You'll need to buy a network bridge if your apex is not near your router as it does not have built in wifi. You can get a bridge from any shop for $60.

MinPhase
01-10-2014, 09:37 PM
Out of the three controllers listed pretty sure APEX is only one that will come close to doing everything on the list and even then I'm pretty sure you'll have take a DIY approach to things like the PWM LED control and leak detector, not saying it can't be done, just not sure they have plug and play modules is all.



While profilux isn't on your list they do have plug and play modules for everything listed although the PWM module can require a bit of work depending on the drivers used.


Apex has plug and play leak detection capabilities.

lastlight
01-10-2014, 10:25 PM
i just got my apex lite working... on telus too. i love it so far and i was shocked to hear it's being dropped from the apex lineup.

http://blog.aquanerd.com/2014/01/neptune-systems-discontinues-apex-lite-controller.html

hopefully the lite version will work with fusion. not sure why they axed it. you can still buy them and perhaps they'll even drop in price.

Jakegr
01-10-2014, 10:47 PM
I'm a Profilux user... If I could do it again I would go with an Apex. Apex's are a fraction of the price of a Profilux, have the same functionality (and more), and seem to be a lot more user friendly (and Apple friendly!). Plus, Apex keeps coming out with new and highly practical add on's. Recently the Kessil dimmer, and automatic feeder. It is also rumored they will have Apex controllable pumps soon.

Don't get my wrong... my Profilux has worked very well for me over the last few years. But it does kind of suck seeing the Apex get all sorts of new add ons while Profilux has stayed mostly the same, especially given the price I paid for the latter. It hasn't helped that I have never once completed a problem-free firmware update for Profilux... I always need to perform the "emergency update procedure", which is a lot more complicated than plug in and update. The Mitras is the same way unfortunately.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk (http://tapatalk.com/m?id=1)

NickC
01-10-2014, 10:49 PM
I use the reef angel and love it. Best controller out there on the market imo.
The programming is tricky at first(if you know how to build webpages then it is easy. Very similiar to html). The conteoller can do anything you program it to so the options for what you can do are endless.

Sent from my SGH-I257M using Tapatalk

byee
01-11-2014, 01:02 AM
I'm a Profilux user... If I could do it again I would go with an Apex. Apex's are a fraction of the price of a Profilux, have the same functionality (and more), and seem to be a lot more user friendly (and Apple friendly!). Plus, Apex keeps coming out with new and highly practical add on's. Recently the Kessil dimmer, and automatic feeder. It is also rumored they will have Apex controllable pumps soon.

Don't get my wrong... my Profilux has worked very well for me over the last few years. But it does kind of suck seeing the Apex get all sorts of new add ons while Profilux has stayed mostly the same, especially given the price I paid for the latter. It hasn't helped that I have never once completed a problem-free firmware update for Profilux... I always need to perform the "emergency update procedure", which is a lot more complicated than plug in and update. The Mitras is the same way unfortunately.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk (http://tapatalk.com/m?id=1)


I made a consciences decision to exclude the Profilux simply because of the costs involved. The controller will simply be managing my 45g cube I'm in the process of setting up.

I purchased a Kessil 360we for my setup as the main light and built a DIY LED for the sump.



I use the reef angel and love it. Best controller out there on the market imo.
The programming is tricky at first(if you know how to build webpages then it is easy. Very similiar to html). The conteoller can do anything you program it to so the options for what you can do are endless.

Sent from my SGH-I257M using Tapatalk


NickC,

I'm sitting on the fence with the Arduino Mega2560 ReefAngel controller. Unfortunately, you can not build your own shields to add to the RA. For example, Atlas scientific makes a pH shield for $28 which only requires 5 wires to connect to the Arudino. If you want to add another pH probe, you'll need to buy the pH probe expansion fro $110. Same applies to the PWM dimming circuit, etc.

I would have definitely considered it I can build/add my own shields.

neoh
01-11-2014, 02:43 AM
I've got a reefkeeper, and I would trade it for an Apex any day of the week. ;)

spit.fire
01-11-2014, 03:08 AM
imo the apex is the only controller that will do all that, have a good price point and is user friendly

the only one thing that will be tricky to do is the pwm dimming as the apex only has analogue dimming

the only solution to this that ive found is there are analogue to pwm converters on the market through a couple of the online "diy" led stores that are capable of running 4 channels

as far as the leak detection apex has 2 models of a leak detection probe although it is quite easy to diy one using a io breakout box (someone on here made a probe with a couple nails and a paper towel)

also the io breakout box will double as a means to make your own ato

the programming for the apex is quite simple as well, after skimming over the manual i pretty much figured out how to do anything i want with it.

the reefkeeper controller i find is useless for anything other than temperature control and turning lights on and off

Rice Reef
01-11-2014, 04:01 AM
Where is the poll?

byee
01-11-2014, 04:39 AM
imo the apex is the only controller that will do all that, have a good price point and is user friendly

the only one thing that will be tricky to do is the pwm dimming as the apex only has analogue dimming

the only solution to this that ive found is there are analogue to pwm converters on the market through a couple of the online "diy" led stores that are capable of running 4 channels

as far as the leak detection apex has 2 models of a leak detection probe although it is quite easy to diy one using a io breakout box (someone on here made a probe with a couple nails and a paper towel)

also the io breakout box will double as a means to make your own ato

the programming for the apex is quite simple as well, after skimming over the manual i pretty much figured out how to do anything i want with it.

the reefkeeper controller i find is useless for anything other than temperature control and turning lights on and off

spit.fire,

I think it was Vancouver Reefer who used a nail and paper napkin as a leak detector.

I also heard the you can make your own breakout box an easy DIY project without having the need to buy one.

spit.fire
01-11-2014, 04:54 AM
spit.fire,

I think it was Vancouver Reefer who used a nail and paper napkin as a leak detector.

I also heard the you can make your own breakout box an easy DIY project without having the need to buy one.
It is actually quite simple to build, and personally i like the diy boxes more as you can put headphone jack plugs on it instead of the factory screw terminals

only hard part about making one from scratch is getting the cable as its basically an old school printer cable that i cant seem to find anywhere other than online stores

if you want an actual apex one i can sell you one for cheap(er than retail)

craigwmiller
01-11-2014, 05:45 AM
I have a significant ReefKeeper install, and the only thing from your list I think missing is the "update status" portion of the mobile app (at least for android, I haven't looked at an Apple version of the app)... The mobile apps I use are read-only.

I haven't found anything that it doesn't do for me (for remote changes, I remote desktop from my phone to a dedicated reef-computer at home for the full experience, so a full mobile app currently isn't a priority for me).

I'm running 7 power bars, 2 high power remote relays, 2 PH probes, 2 temperature sensors, 4 float sensors, leak detection. I have (but haven't used) the lighting controller and pump controllers.


You can often find ReefKeeper equipment on selloff from many people that are bailing to go Apex, and you can get a killer deal (like I have 3 times, and have a sweet system now :wink: )

trilinearmipmap
01-11-2014, 06:47 PM
I have had an Apex running my main reef tank for several years. I am happy with it. There are a few issues (difficulty doing updates, etc) but overall it is good. I have found the customer service to be excellent. Last night I spent an hour and a half getting the update to work, although part of that is I am running Macs and the controller is nowhere near the router and I had some cable problems. So overall this is a great controller but be prepared to put some effort into making it work.

I have have a Reefkeeper lite running my FW plant tank. I am very unhappy with it. The interface is difficult to use. But the worst thing is, during the warranty period, one of the outputs from the power bar stopped working, after a ballast from the cf lights burned out. I contacted Digital Aquatics and they advised me that probably, the failure of the power bar was due to damage from the ballast burning out. Despite the fact that the unit was under warranty, it was not covered. As we all know, cf ballasts burn out every few years and need to be replaced. So whether or not the ballast burning out damaged the controller (if it did, the controller is no good if a burning out ballast is enough to damage it, and if it did not, I deserved free warranty repair), in my view, this controller is not fit for its purpose. If anyone wants a cheap controller let me know.

I tried to save a few bucks by going with the Reefkeeper and I learned my lesson.

Reef Supplies
01-11-2014, 08:07 PM
I may have a biased opinion but Neptune has the best controllers on the market.

Why? Simple

- Best support in the industry. Ask anyone who has dealt with them for simple support or warranty

- Rock solid...Hardly any returns. We sell truck loads (no thats not an exaggeration) and I think I send back something like 2 probes, one display and a lite base unit (client error) in 2 years.

- Easy to operate.

- The MOST upgradable by far. They have modules for everything you can possibly need.

- Availability. There are many Canadian dealers selling Neptune, 2 of which are platinum dealers. Us being one of them.

Neptune all the way!

Ray

byee
01-11-2014, 08:45 PM
I have had an Apex running my main reef tank for several years. I am happy with it. There are a few issues (difficulty doing updates, etc) but overall it is good. I have found the customer service to be excellent. Last night I spent an hour and a half getting the update to work, although part of that is I am running Macs and the controller is nowhere near the router and I had some cable problems. So overall this is a great controller but be prepared to put some effort into making it work.

I have have a Reefkeeper lite running my FW plant tank. I am very unhappy with it. The interface is difficult to use. But the worst thing is, during the warranty period, one of the outputs from the power bar stopped working, after a ballast from the cf lights burned out. I contacted Digital Aquatics and they advised me that probably, the failure of the power bar was due to damage from the ballast burning out. Despite the fact that the unit was under warranty, it was not covered. As we all know, cf ballasts burn out every few years and need to be replaced. So whether or not the ballast burning out damaged the controller (if it did, the controller is no good if a burning out ballast is enough to damage it, and if it did not, I deserved free warranty repair), in my view, this controller is not fit for its purpose. If anyone wants a cheap controller let me know.

I tried to save a few bucks by going with the Reefkeeper and I learned my lesson.

That SUCKS! A failed ballast does not cause a powerbar to fail.

Reading other articles from other forums, this is a very common approach RK takes to avoid sending warranty replacements to its customers to help minimize costs.



I may have a biased opinion but Neptune has the best controllers on the market.

Why? Simple

- Best support in the industry. Ask anyone who has dealt with them for simple support or warranty

- Rock solid...Hardly any returns. We sell truck loads (no thats not an exaggeration) and I think I send back something like 2 probes, one display and a lite base unit (client error) in 2 years.

- Easy to operate.

- The MOST upgradable by far. They have modules for everything you can possibly need.

- Availability. There are many Canadian dealers selling Neptune, 2 of which are platinum dealers. Us being one of them.

Neptune all the way!

Ray

Ray,

After talking with you this am, you had me convinced. Just need to get my mind around spending $525 on a controller.

Is JL the other platinum dealer?

Thanks!