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DIY UC 27 gal tough box

Discussion in 'DIY Farms' started by j wizzle, Aug 4, 2011.

  1. hey guys, im going to give you all an extensive and clear how to on building your own UC. there are some things that are needed, others are optional, its really up to you and your needs. ANYONE with a brain and able body can build this system in a day. NO LEAKS guaranteed if you follow the instructions below

    please dont reply until i say im done, might be 3-4 posts before im finished. thanks

    buy your tools and tough boxes from home depot. buy all pvc stuff from lowe's

    lets start with the tools: (prices from home depot) $64 total

    strap wrench - $10
    2" pipe cutter - $30
    16 in. tounge & groove pliers - $24
    Flat head screw driver - YOU HAVE ONE
    Drill - you SHOULD have one (every man needs a drill)

    hole saws/drill bits: $38 ($47 with options)

    2 1/4" hole saw - $9
    1 1/8 forstner bit - $14
    7/16 hole saw mandrel - $15

    5/8 forstner bit - $9 (optional for drain)
  2. bucket list (not that bucket list)

    now its time to build your buckets...i use 27 gallon tough boxes, used them for over 1 1/2 years without any leaks/problems

    part list per bucket: $34 total ($41 with optional drain)

    27 gallon tough box - $13

    2" PVC parts: $21

    WHITE PVC - $7 total
    1 - Tee - $2.45
    2 - Slip/Slip Elbow - $2 each $4 total

    BLACK PVC - $14 including o-rings
    2 - Female trap adapter - $2.35 each $5 total(USE THE BLACK PVC, easier to screw together)
    2 - Male threaded adapter - $2.35 each $5 total (BLACK PVC)
    1 - PVC screen - $2 (located in black PVC section)

    2 - 0621 O-ring (brasscraft brand, 2 o-rings per pack) $.69 each $2 total (located near faucets)

    optional 1/2" drain -

    1/2" white PVC: $7

    1 - male threaded/slip adapter $1
    1 - ball valve threaded - $5
    1 - o-ring pack 5/8" ID 1/8" wall $1 (ill get the proper number tomorrow and edit this)
    27 gal tough box.jpg
  3. building our bucket

    now lets build our buckets....

    there is a lip on the bottom of the buckets, all measurements are taken from this lip...NOT THE BOTTOM OF THE BUCKETS.

    first you need to take just your holesaw mandrel ONLY...NO HOLE SAW ATTACHED YET.... drill holes in the middle of the long end of the bucket 3" from the lip.

    now that you have you pilot holes, insert the 2 1/4" hole saw onto the mandrel and with the drill IN REVERSE, drill out your holes for the main line. again this is 3" from the lip on the bottom of the bucket.

    take a fresh razor blade and debur the holes with the blade flush with the sidewalls of the buckets. DO NOT try to run the blade on the inside of the hole itself or you may gouge the hole and get leaks. its not that critical to have it completely smooth. DONT SAND it, just pull off the extra plastic with you fingers and use the blade for a final pass

    now that the holes are drilled, you will take your BLACK PVC MALE ADAPTER and put 1 0681 O-ring onto the adapter. screw this into the INSIDE of the bucket nice & tight so the o-ring is pushed up against wall of the bucket. now use the strap wrench to get it snug. KEEP THE STRAP WRENCH ON THE MALE ADAPTER FOR THE NEXT STEP

    with the threaded part of the male adapter sticking out of the bucket, put the other o-ring on and screw on the BLACK FEMALE TRAP ADAPTER. tighten it enough so that the o-rings are compressed against the bucket wall, but not being pushed out the sides.



    if you are going to add the drain, you will need your 5/8 holesaw/forstners bit.

    drill a hole on the short side (or whatever is best for you) of the bucket 1 1/2" from the lip. same deal, just run the drill in reverse. debur the holes. put the o-ring on the male adapter, screw it into the inside of the bucket so the o-ring is compressed. now add the o-ring on the other exterior of the bucket and screw on your ball valve. drain is done

    now its time to test each bucket...DO NOT SKIP THIS STEP, YOU DON'T WANT LEAKS!!!!!

    you need to cut a 4" long piece of 2" PVC pipe and put a plug in the end. insert your plug into the INTERIOR of the 2" black male PVC adapter and fill up with water. if its leaking, you will need to tighten/loosen the fittings.

    i use the 2" rubber drain plugs that have the hose clamps, they work great. you can see them in the picture below. its the one on the left. not the coupling
  4. res/epicenter

    now its time to build your res/epicenter...

    total part list: $30

    tough box - $13

    2" PVC parts: $12

    2 - female apapters - $5
    2 - male adapters - $5
    2- 0681 O-ring packs - $2

    1" white PVC parts: $5

    1 - male adapter - $1
    1- female adapter - $1
    1 - 0538 o-ring pack - $1
    1- Tee - $1
    2 - 90 degree elbow - $1

    same as above, but instead of drilling your 2 1/4" holes on the long sides of the buckets, you will now drill on the SHORT sides of the buckets. so repeat the male/female adapter connections as shown above. still 3" from the lip in the middle of the short side.

    now you are going to add the holes for your return on the LONG side of the bucket. from the TOP of the bucket, measure 2 1/2" down and drill a 1 1/8" hole.

    male adapter goes through the interior with an o-ring. add the female and o-ring to the extrior.

    you will need to cut 3 5" long pieces of 1" PVC pipe. attach all 3 to the Tee and put elbows on both straight ends and insert this into the male adapter on the inside of the bucket
  5. connect the buckets

    total part list: $32

    2" white PVC: $19

    4- 90 degree elbows - $2 each $8 total
    1 - Tee - $2.45
    1 - slip/slip coupling - $2
    1 - 2" to 1" reducer - $2

    1" white PVC - $8

    2 - male adapters - $1 each $2 total (might change depending on pump inlet/outlet) i always make sure i have 1" pipe going into the pump and coming out. might need a 3/4" to 1" male adapter (most common)
    1 - slip/slip ball valve - $5
    1 - 90 degree elbow - $1

    red hot PVC glue - $5

    2" no hub coupling - 1 per bucket - $5 each (optional)

    now that all our buckets (res/epicenter included) have PASSED the leak test, we can begin to hook them up.

    there are 2 ways to hook them up, you can run a straight PVC pipe from each bucket.... or you can do it my way and use a NO HUB COUPLING. the no hub coupling allows for you to cut off a bucket and make adjustments while you have the plants in the bucket if something does go wrong. you can ALWAYS ADD THESE LATER. its very simple, but ill explain that later...

    so you setup your bucket layout, spacing is entirely dependent on you, im not even going to suggest anything, it depends on your lights, space and room setup. going to have to think on your own for this one, but i will offer advice if you need it, just ask...

    now you have your res on top and your buckets in rows like any UC. start from the epicenter and work your way down.

    you need to use PVC glue on all these connections. i use red hot, its the blue glue, medium stength. put a nice layer on BOTH connections for a secure seal. let them sit for an hour, then its safe for water. but i like to let it sit for 24 hours just for a clear mind so i know the chemicals arent going to get into my water/nute solution

    elbows off each end of the res/epicenter. hook up the rows of buckets and put elbows at the end of each row to the middle of the system. they will connect into the Tee and the perpendicular side of the Tee will go to your pump.

    to hook the pump up to the 2" pipe, you will need to use the 2" to 1" reducer, followed by a 6" long piece of 1" PVC, then your 1" slip/slip ball valve.

    now you need to prep your pump. use hose tape for both male adapters, make sure both ends have 1" inlet/outlets. you can use a reducer if needed, but both ends MUST be 1". i have a 3/4" to 1" male adapter on one of my UCs and 1" on the other. entirely dependant on the pumps inlet/outlet

    you can add a filter before the pump if you want, should be easy enough to figure out what you need now that youre an expert in
  6. tee bracket

    you can either add the interior Tee filter or not, its up to you. i LOVE it. creates 2 circles in each bucket= NO DEAD SPOTS and prevents roots from cloggin the system

    i included these parts in the bucket list, so im not going to add the cost here, just the parts

    2" white PVC:

    1 - tee
    2 - elbows
    3 - 4" long pieces of pipe

    1 - black PVC drain insert

    just insert the drain into the Tee, then put the elbows on. NO GLUE NEEDED!!

    now insert your bracket into the EXIT of each bucket. NONE IN THE RES/EPICENTER....
  7. tops

    we are almost done

    i didnt do a cost analysis on this simply because there are 30 options, everything depends on the netpots, tools you need to buy

    i use 6" net pots, and 4" holes mainly because i can fit 8 4" holes into my veg setup. tops of my netpots stick out, no biggie.

    this is all up to you, any configuration, and size holes. drill holes for your airlines as well.

    heres my setup. your going to use a hole saw no matter what.....DRILL ON THE BOTTOM side of the top. make a pilot hole, put on the hole saw and again drill IN REVERSE. debur to whatever extent you want. remember, its possible to cut yourself if you put your arms in the buckets so thats on you....

    run your airlines, hook up your airstones and grow some dank my friends. hope this helps. if you need more pics of ANYTHING, let me know and i will make it happen
  8. final are the total costs of just the buckets. you can add your pumps.

    tools: $100-$120

    each bucket - 27/34/41 x 5 for a UC 4 - $135/$170/$205
    bucket options are (no tee/ with tee/ with tee and drain)

    bucket connections - $32
    2" PVC - $15
    1" PVC - $10

    net pots - $20
    airlines - $10

    grand total w/o pumps or tools is $200-$280

    compared to a UC4 XXL 13 at around 1200-1300...that leaves you with a grand for your pumps and airstones...
  9. Bomb bomb bomb diggity diy ... very nice bro..+rep
  10. tjble


    Thanks for the tutorial, I'm in the process of building a 6 site system with the same totes. Going with 3 inch pvc for the flow system. How do you like that pump you are using as compared to mag-pump or eco plus?
  11. GanjaAL


    Very nice brother. I am doing something simalar but going with 6 plants total with 40" centers and 4k worth of lighting. Going to see what I get. Best wishes on this grow brother and thanks for the in depth tutorial! Rock on brother!
  12. great info!
    I have a few questions....
    The water level is controled by the water level in epicenter? Or?

    I may be a bit slow but what is the drain for? it looks like u have a tee with drain below fitting?

    Thanks for you time in advance!
  13. sorry i neglected this thread a bit. it went like 2 weeks without a reply so i stopped checking it.

    the pump is FANTASTIC. i absolutely love it. its pulls the water nicely and i never have problems. no leaks, nothing like that. just make sure your water levels are good and you wont have any problems. its been running strong for well over 18 months.

    i didnt see female/male adapters for 3" PVC fittings or i probably would have done the same. i tried uniseals but they leak if you move them at all

    you will love it. thanks

    exactly.. water is a self leveler so i just fill up the epicenter. you can make something with a huge res if you want and this system could theoretically go an entire run without you ever touching anything.

    the drains in the Tees are so the roots dont clog the system and to help prevent anything getting into the pump. no problems so far, ive been doing it this way for 18 months.

    you can take away the tee brackets and the drain if you wanted to. but roots get huge in these systems and start to clog the 2" PVC. so thats why i added the tee and the drain. the roots have to travel another 6-8" to get to the bucket connectors
  14. I have 8 of those pumps, there used for a top feed tube grow. I thought about doing something like this. I cant what strain you growing? My choice came down to numbers, and I can fit 15 in 1 6'' PVC. So 75 site in a 3'x10' area. Cant wait to see how you do good luck. Are you planning on vegging? If so I would not veg for more then 5-7 days.

  15. this isnt a grow show....just a tutorial on how to build the buckets. i dont need any help growing, im doing killer with this system.

    i have a thread in the og raskal section that you can check out. i rock 1 plant per bucket, i veg for a long time.

    im not trying to rock 75 plants in a 3x10 area, i follow medical laws at all times. this is why i love this system. 1 600w, 1 plant, 1 lb without co2....its working well enough
  16. Good looking system. I built a DIY UC using 18 gal totes. Interesting choice of yours using 27 gal and turning them horizontal. Do you find an advantage to that?

    Nice idea about the Tees and drain. Do you find this reduces space in the bucket though? Or is that why you went with 27 gal?

    Instead of uniseals I used 2" bulkhead fittings. So far no worries but I wonder why more don't use them? Did you consider them? ANy drawbacks you can see there?

    I didn't actually glue my system together. Teflon tape on threaded fittings and slip for the rest. I'm surprised it doesn't leak. Makes cleaning and moving a lot easier.

    I use 6" netpots as well. That way I can use a holesaw on the lids. Fits the rest of my system too. I'm glad to see someone else using them as most UC builds use bigger netpots. Can you see any advantages to usign larger netpots? I hope not as these are simple. Thanks.

    PRODUCT Guest

    how much did you save rather than buying athe real system?

  18. the 18 gal buckets are made with weaker plastic and will bow out when they have enough water in them. i keep my buckets together on the short side because the water has less distance to travel and the Tee bracket creates a vortex that keeps the water circulating without any dead spots.

    i think larger netpots would allow the root mass to get bigger, but im not too concerned with that. my roots are huge.

    i didnt go with bulkhead fittings because of the cost and i think its alot easier to find male/female adapters and o-rings.

    and the tees reduce the space in the buckets but its nothing major. my roots dont completely fill up the entire buckets like they do on the UC system.

    i probably saved 30-40% and my system is better. it wont leak and i can move it all over the place...try doing that with a

    i think the buckets are a much higher quality, i think the connections are 100 times better. i see no reason to buy a UC when you can build your own custom setup for your needs at a fraction of the cost. the airstones are cheap that come with the UC.

    if you cant fabricate your own stuff, i would certainly buy a UC. ive advised friends to get UCs and they did and they were satisfied, but i would rather build my own.
  19. great tutorial!!
  20. Does anyone know of any pumps with a 4" inlet or outlet? Or something similar?