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View Full Version : New to the forum but know my way around everything Aquatronica Related.


robbyG
05-06-2016, 12:10 AM
Hi guys

I was asked to Join the forum to help with any problems or questions people may have about the Aquatronica controller systems.

A little background.

First of all I do not work for Aquatronica neither do I get paid by them or anything else. I am an Electronic and software Engineer for a large company and hence I got very interested in controllers from the days of the first units and various pH testers came on the market.

I have owned SW aquariums for 36 Years, but got seriously involved around 30 years ago when magazines started to appear and articles by guys like Julian Sprung and Delbeek started to give me real insight.

My Brother also got involved in SW Aquariums at the same time as me and he ended up building a installation and servicing business in the Caribbean. He dealt mainly with large hotels and Dived and collected most of the Stock and imported others from Miami that were needed to make the Tanks look spectacular. Unfortunately what was known back then only scratches the surface of what is known today, so things like RODI water were considered a luxury item of questionable value and generally we used Tap water mixed with De-chlorination tablets to top off the tanks.
While we could just gather natural SW for water changes the build up of other chemicals was unknown to us as was the need for Ca and Mg and we were always puzzled as to why the Tanks always seemed to fail after 18-24 months.

I have owned and setup several brands of controllers over the years, including the Reefkeeper, ELOS, Apex and of course Aquatronica.

My current setup is a 90 Gallon Oceanic Bowfront tank. With a 30 gallon Sump and a (Full Aquatronica LED system, Touch controller, 3 Plugbars, SMS module, 6 Float switches, 2x Leak Detectors, Two Temp Probes, Aquatronica Dosing Pump, pH, ORP, Salinity, Oxygen Probes) I also use a Reeflo Dart Pump and Echotech MP40s and Korallin 1502 Calc Reactor, along with a Sulphur Denitrator and Phosban reactors. ASM G3 Skimmer and Ozotech Ozone Generator and round out the equipment with a Chiller. And lastly a Honda EU3000si Generator modified to kick in during power outages.

I am highly into automation of aquarium systems but like anything else it does have it's limitations. When my Tank was at the height of beauty and growth I had lots of SPS corals and softies and at least 12 fish that had all been doing well for 6+ years, My in sump DSB and Cheato was keeping thing under control and all my Tank required was Glass cleaning and a monthly service Job on the Probes and detritus removal.

Then as what happens to almost every tank owner at some point happened to me. The guy who had every form of redundancy and alerts was struck by disaster because my system lacked a "Stupidity Sensor" and so from the least expected place I got hit.

I had a cleaning lady over and I had noticed some Ants running on the Kitchen counter so I asked her to check out where they were coming from and spray the location. I came home 10 hours later and found the house had a distinct odor of pesticide. I opened up some windows and took a casual look at my tank and noticed everything was well. The next day I took up the spray can to put it away and noticed that the can was almost empty, but I still thought nothing of it until that night when my 4 year old Powder Blue Tang Died. At this point I started to connect the dots but everything else looked fine so I still figured that it must just have been that the Powder Blue was overly sensitive to the spray.

The next day I saw the cleaning Lady and asked her what happened and she said that she had decided to spray out the whole house:cry: Panic set in, I had no idea she had moved from the kitchen to the rest of the house with the spray. Well I flicked the Tank lights on and noticed some corals looking bad and several fish missing. I had to go to work, so I packed in all my carbon and hoped for the best. By time I got home it was a complete disaster, the only thing alive was a 6 line wrasse. My 4 year old Mandarin fish was belly up, my 8 year old Flame angel and bi-color dead. Yellow and Hippo dead, A pair of Clown fish that I had for 6 years and that spawned monthly Dead. All Corals bleaching or turning to jelly. It was a disaster scene!

Anyway I cleaned out the Tank and literally wept as I pulled out fist sized corals that had grown from Frags and Fish that each had names. After about 3 months I restocked the tank with 4 fish but lost interest in it completely. For 2 1/2 Years the Tank kept on running, sometimes I wished the fish would just die so I would have a reason to pack it all in but the Aquatronica controller and all the Automation and redundancy systems I had in place just kept the thing running smoothly. I did no water changes, sometime the Algae on the front Glass was so thick that you could see nothing inside but I had no hair Algae or Red Slime Algae, so I would just drop in some pellet food every other day and try not to remember.

Then about 3 years ago my Wife said to me that she was fed up and it was time to scrap the Tank or fix it back to the way it was. I opted for scraping it, but every time I looked at my new Bicolor and my Hippo and yellow Tang and Clown fish I just could not do it, so I decided it was time to rebuild and I went to work cleaning, fixing and changing out old parts, monitoring AlK, Ca and Mg again along with Nitrates and phosphates. In several months I had water parameters starting to look pretty good.

It's been a couple of more years and at this point I have upgraded my Lights and my controller to the Aquatronica Touch. I have added in a Sulfur DeNitrator because I want to have my cake and eat it to. The fish count is reaching the Max and corals are doing good, so I am happy again. Now I just wish Aquatronica would come out with that Probe for Stupidity detection so that incidents like the one I suffered never happen again.

Anyway guys if you have any questions about Aquatronica equipment let me know. I have spent many many hours learning most things about the new system and I was one of the first to own the old one.

RobbyG

trilinearmipmap
05-06-2016, 12:55 AM
OK my question is if I went for the cheap Aquatronic controller ACQ115 without any web interface, and I don't have a PC (Mac person) and I don't want to emulate Windows on a Mac, how well can I program/control this thing just using the controller input itself?

robbyG
05-06-2016, 01:32 AM
OK my question is if I went for the cheap Aquatronic controller ACQ115 without any web interface, and I don't have a PC (Mac person) and I don't want to emulate Windows on a Mac, how well can I program/control this thing just using the controller input itself?

You can program it very easily. It's a lot easier than the Apex because it's all menu driven.

1) You pick a Input device from the menu for example a float switch for High Tank Level.

Inside that Float switch you can create programs for it. Not code programs, but you make associations that act like code.

So you tell it if the float switch = High (and then hit Next)

This gives you the options of what to do if the float switch is High.


So you can select the Plug for the return Pump and tell it that you want it to turn off.

You can set how long after the float switch goes high before the Return Pump switches off. In case you have a wave maker in your tank.

You can set a time out if you want to so that if the water remains high for over a certain amount of time the Pump must stay off for a certain amount of time even if the switch has gone back to normal

The Reason for that is that lets say you have something big blocking your overflow, you don't want the pump to go off and then when just enough water trickles past the block 3 seconds later the pump starts again. That would have your pump oscillating on and off every 3 seconds. So you set a minimum Off time of 30 seconds or a minute or whatever you want.

You can also set a time that is the maximum time the switch can be low or high before the unit locks the Plug Off. You then have to manually go in and reset the timeout. This is great in cases where real damage can occur unless someone with knowledge inspects the problem before turning back on the device. For example flooding your floors. It is also great for pressurized ATO systems. You can make sure the solenoid only runs for a certain amount of time. For example if you know the Max time to top off is 40 seconds, you can set it that if the ATO is running for 60 seconds then something must be wrong so lock it down.

You also have XYZ programs that work on multiple parameters.

For example on my Tank the ATO will only come on if the water in the sump is low and the salinity is higher than 1.023 If these conditions are not met I get an alarm and an SMS message on my phone.

With the older controller the SMS can be used to get all the readings from your tank and the Web module works fine on the older controller, you can view the controller status and change settings. The only thing that does not work is the email because it cannot handle SSL security.

The new touch controller can do SSL.

robbyG
05-06-2016, 04:35 AM
I just realized I might not have answered your primary question.
Yes everything can be done from the ACQ115 control unit. As a matter of fact I never created any of my programs from anything but the control unit.

I like to be able to see and hear what is happening as soon as I finish a program and also I want to test and make sure it works and does not have any conflicts with other programs.

With the ACQ115 you can buy the USB module and plug it into a Laptop and that makes everything available via the PC when you run the aquatronica windows PC software for the ACQ115. (I mean everything!)

You can also buy the Ethernet module and monitor everything including getting really nice looking graphs of your data and see your current status.

If you have an iPhone or iPad you might want to look at Aquamonitor.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X1ORdRqucVA

He is porting it over to the Touch controller, but the current version works great with the ACQ115 on any iPhone or iPad. so long as you have the Ethernet module and are wired to your home network

You cannot program the ACQ115 via Ethernet like you can with the ACQ140 (touch) but you can turn plugs On or Off or set them to Auto from anywhere in the world.

Rob

mrhasan
05-06-2016, 05:57 AM
The sequence function of ACQ115 does need a PC and cannot be programmed via controller but I have never been able to determine what this is for anyways. So probably won't be a big deal.

Man you have been in this hobby longer than I my age haha. Sorry to hear about your prior experience with your old fishes; I guess that is just part of the hobby.

robbyG
05-07-2016, 12:41 AM
The sequence function of ACQ115 does need a PC and cannot be programmed via controller but I have never been able to determine what this is for anyways. So probably won't be a big deal.

Man you have been in this hobby longer than I my age haha. Sorry to hear about your prior experience with your old fishes; I guess that is just part of the hobby.


Your right, and if I remember correctly so does the email. Unfortunately that became useless a few years after they released the module as all email went SSL. Your right about loses being part of the Hobby, that's why I try not to put anything in my Tank that I am not at least 90% sure that it is going to survive. Unfortunately what stings the most is when you have dotted all the I's and crossed all the T's and then Murphy comes in and shows you who the boss is.

The Sequence programs are great, it's the only way you can setup an automatic water changing systems.

On a Smaller scale it's great for setting up fish feeding sequences.

1) Main Pump Off
2) Power Heads Off
*) You can now Add the food by hand
4) Wait 4 minutes
5) Turn Powerheads back on "Stir up any food that may have settled"
6) wait 1 min
7) turn powerheads back off
8) Wait 2 minutes (let fish pick up remaining food)
9) Turn on Powerhead
10) Turn on main Pump.

Rob

mrhasan
05-19-2016, 07:14 AM
Hey Rob,

I experienced a very weird thing with the controller today and wanted to share to see whether you have any input (I have already sent it off to the support to see what they got to say about it).

So while trying to access the controller via IP today, I couldn't get into it. When I walked up to the controller, it wasn't waking up but everything was running fine. So I rebooted the whole system and it showed a blackout of 18hrs 54mins. The controller itself has been dead for that long but the powerbar has been working on backup program. The apartment didn't get any power outage. The powerbar and the controller is connected to the same outlet and the powerbar kept on working all these time but the head unit was dead for that long.

Very weird. Kinda freaked out and trying to come up with a reason as in why this happened.

https://farm8.staticflickr.com/7082/26831968340_26570437fe_z.jpg

robbyG
05-19-2016, 02:37 PM
I had that issue once about a month after I got my controller. I had the display set to power save mode and locked. I am not sure but after that I just left the display on and unlocked and it has not happened again in 11 months. I did report it to AQT as I think it has something to do with the power saving mode for the display.

New firmware should be out in 10 days, that I hope fixes the problem.
Although I now prefer to keep the screen on 24/7 so it's non issue for me.

Other possibility if you were not using the screen saver mode is that you might have had a voltage sag that locked up the unit. I am not sure if your area is prone to that, if so I suggest either a small UPS just for the controller adapter or you could buy a Fridge Guard for a few bucks.

Rob

mrhasan
05-20-2016, 01:27 AM
I had that issue once about a month after I got my controller. I had the display set to power save mode and locked. I am not sure but after that I just left the display on and unlocked and it has not happened again in 11 months. I did report it to AQT as I think it has something to do with the power saving mode for the display.

New firmware should be out in 10 days, that I hope fixes the problem.
Although I now prefer to keep the screen on 24/7 so it's non issue for me.

Other possibility if you were not using the screen saver mode is that you might have had a voltage sag that locked up the unit. I am not sure if your area is prone to that, if so I suggest either a small UPS just for the controller adapter or you could buy a Fridge Guard for a few bucks.

Rob

That makes sense. Thanks :)

Can't keep the screen on since it is outside the cabinet and in my bedroom. Hopefully they resolve this issue in the next update.

robbyG
05-20-2016, 01:45 AM
Yes I hope they do. I know Eric is going to interzoo, so maybe you should drop him an email and remind him of the problem. In the meantime it may be best to get a black cloth and cover the display at night. If it was my tank I would feel more comfortable doing that than rolling the dice that the unit might get locked up with your heater or chiller going. Remember the intelligent power bars cannot overcome that kind of thing (as of now :biggrin:).

Rob

mrhasan
05-20-2016, 01:47 AM
Yes I hope they do. I know Eric is going to interzoo, so maybe you should drop him an email and remind him of the problem. In the meantime it may be best to get a black cloth and cover the display at night. If it was my tank I would feel more comfortable doing that than rolling the dice that the unit might get locked up with your heater or chiller going. Remember the intelligent power bars cannot overcome that kind of thing (as of now :biggrin:).

Rob

But even if the head unit fails, the power bar keeps on running based on the programs right?

I tried getting in touch with Eric but he is probably off to interzoo already; haven't heard back from him for the last couple of emails.

robbyG
05-20-2016, 01:53 AM
Only for Timers / Complex timers and manual commands.
Anything else needs the controller to read the value and tell the powerbar what to do. So Temp, Level, pH etc. all need the controller to tell the powerbar to shut on or off a plug.

mrhasan
05-20-2016, 01:54 AM
Only for Timers / Complex timers and manual commands.
Anything else needs the controller to read the value and tell the powerbar what to do. So Temp, Level, pH etc. all need the controller to tell the powerbar to shut on or off a plug.

So any program associated with sensors won't work? That is scary!

robbyG
05-20-2016, 02:13 AM
Yes it is, and it amazes me that with another brand of controller they take lockups so lightly, they just say oh unplug it and plug it back in. IMO anytime a controller locks up its a big big problem that needs fixing. Luckily this problem seems to be associated with a trivial feature that most people will not use. I know your one of those owners with a tank in the bedroom, so it is a problem for you but I think a dark cloth will tide you over until they release the update. After mine happened I looked at the ORP reading every time I passed the Tank. ORP is one value that is always fluctuating a little so I knew all was well with the Tank when I saw it move up or down one. BTW when mine locked the Clock for some reason kept the correct time. So dont watch the clock!

After a month or two after the incident I started to feel comfortable and have now gotten that good feeling that its very stable so long as the screen saver is off. Honestly I don't know how owners of the other brand deal with their issue. I guess they check there tanks via the web several times a day. I check my tank twice, once in the morning and the second time when I get home from work. I almost never remote in unless an SMS alert message comes to me.

Saturdays are my maintenance day. That's when the 2 part is refilled and all the skimmer cleaning etc goes on. A few water tests and that's it for the week.

mrhasan
05-20-2016, 04:13 AM
Yes it is, and it amazes me that with another brand of controller they take lockups so lightly, they just say oh unplug it and plug it back in. IMO anytime a controller locks up its a big big problem that needs fixing. Luckily this problem seems to be associated with a trivial feature that most people will not use. I know your one of those owners with a tank in the bedroom, so it is a problem for you but I think a dark cloth will tide you over until they release the update. After mine happened I looked at the ORP reading every time I passed the Tank. ORP is one value that is always fluctuating a little so I knew all was well with the Tank when I saw it move up or down one. BTW when mine locked the Clock for some reason kept the correct time. So dont watch the clock!

After a month or two after the incident I started to feel comfortable and have now gotten that good feeling that its very stable so long as the screen saver is off. Honestly I don't know how owners of the other brand deal with their issue. I guess they check there tanks via the web several times a day. I check my tank twice, once in the morning and the second time when I get home from work. I almost never remote in unless an SMS alert message comes to me.

Saturdays are my maintenance day. That's when the 2 part is refilled and all the skimmer cleaning etc goes on. A few water tests and that's it for the week.

Thanks for the heads up. I have started keeping mine on with the lowest brightness setting. Hopefully this will not be of any issue on the long run since this is an LCD. It should will just work as a night light haha.

Same maintenance schedule for me too. Saturdays are 5 gallon water change and cleaning skimmer cup. Every three or four months, I do a more vigorous cleaning and calibrate the probes.

intarsiabox
06-20-2016, 04:36 AM
Thanks for the heads up. I have started keeping mine on with the lowest brightness setting. Hopefully this will not be of any issue on the long run since this is an LCD. It should will just work as a night light haha.

Same maintenance schedule for me too. Saturdays are 5 gallon water change and cleaning skimmer cup. Every three or four months, I do a more vigorous cleaning and calibrate the probes.

So did the new firmware fix the screen problem?

mrhasan
06-20-2016, 05:51 AM
So did the new firmware fix the screen problem?

No way to tell unless it happens again. It was a known but very infrequent issue. They have supposedly addressed it in the new firmware but like I said, there is no way to test it. The controller has been running well since.

intarsiabox
06-20-2016, 05:57 AM
No way to tell unless it happens again. It was a known but very infrequent issue. They have supposedly addressed it in the new firmware but like I said, there is no way to test it. The controller has been running well since.

Thanks for the reply. I guess if it's not a repeatable problem that's a good thing.

mrhasan
06-20-2016, 06:01 AM
Thanks for the reply. I guess if it's not a repeatable problem that's a good thing.

You are welcome. And it sure is. Every controller has its issues and I would say aqutronica is no different. All comes down to your personal preference and what works for you.

intarsiabox
06-20-2016, 06:08 AM
You are welcome. And it sure is. Every controller has its issues and I would say aqutronica is no different. All comes down to your personal preference and what works for you.

For sure they all do but what's important is if a company admits the issue and does she me thing to correct it. Looks like Aquatronica does this. I had a Reefkeeper Elite a few years ago and while it worked fine the Interface was pretty awful and difficult to use. The new touch screen and easy app based controllers that have been coming out recently have me thinking of trying one again.