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I thought I might start a build thread for my 6 - bucket Upswell RDWC system. I have already built one and seems to be working fine but I'm going to build another for a Bloom tent. I'll start slowly adding pictures of the build as it progresses and list all the parts. I made a couple of drawings to give everyone an idea and theory of the system:
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So the theory is the water/nutrients will be pumped into the bottom of each the buckets using 1/2 ID tubing, get pushed up to the exit port on the upper opposite side of the bucket, and gravity flow back to the reservoir through a 3/4" ID tubing.

I've ordered and received all of the parts but I'm currently getting the area in my basement ready so I haven't started the build yet.
 
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all the parts I need for my six bucket system:
37G Rubbermade tote reservoir - homedepot
another tote for topping off the res (haven't figured out this yet, I don't use on in my current setup)
six five gallon buckets - homedepot
six 6" net pots - amazon
eight 3/4" bulkhead tub outlet National garden wholesale connectors - amazon
two 3/4" elbow fittings - amazon
four 3/4" tee fittings - amazon

six 1/2" bulkhead tub outlet National garden wholesale connectors - amazon
six bulkhead screens that fir into the tub outlets - amazon
six 1/2" tee fittings - amazon
one 1/2" straight fitting - amazon
25' hydrofarm 3/4" Inside Diameter tubing - amazon
25' hydrofarm 1/2" Inside Diameter tubing - amazon
one 1/2" float valve - amazon
nylon plumbing tape - amazon

ecoPlus eco396 submersible pump - amazon
(air pump assumes only two stone in the res, may need to increase this to 6 stones one in each bucket)
active aqua 7.8L per minute two port air pump - amazon
two large cylinder air stones - amazon
1/4" tubing - amazon

That's just about it

I'll be assembling the buckets first...

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The bucket:
the 1/2" inlet connector hole will be drilled using an 1-1/4" hole saw 1 1/2" to the center of the hole above the bottom edge of the bucket. the hole is then deburred, nilon tape wrapped around the threads, one rubber washer on the inside, push the connector through the hole from inside the bucket, one washer on the out side, then crank down the nut.

I then do the same thing on the opposite side with the 3/4 connector but this connector will be 7 1/2" from the bottom to the center of the hole.

I then plug the connector ends, fill with water and see if they leak...
IMG_20170525_211457.jpg


I line up the holes with the handle so that I know the two connectors will be directly opposite from each other. I hang the string just so I can line the hole up with the handle.
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added the Tees and elbows

The 3/4" elbows and tees need to be as close to the bucket as possible. the two end buckets get the elbows, the four other buckets get the Tees.

The 1/2 tees can be any length away from the bucket. the length will determine how far apart the bucket will be from the center feed. In my case, I wanted them as close as possible. All six buckets get Tees, you'll see why once I start interconnecting the buckets.
IMG_20170530_214439.jpg
IMG_20170530_214511.jpg
IMG_20170530_214454.jpg
 
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attaching the buckets to each other and adding a drain valve to easily drain the buckets for cleaning.
I have not attached the bucket system to the reservoir yet.

I cut five 1/2" feed tubes at 11.5" so that the buckets would have a 12" on center distance to the opposite side bucket. This makes the buckets on one side 24" on center.

NOTE: this tubing does not go on easily, causes blisters. to make it go a little easier, I used a heat gun and heated up the tubing end a bit.

IMG_20170531_215607.jpg
IMG_20170531_215627.jpg


I then put a 1/2" line out the back to a valve, the length doesn't matter, cut to convenience. This will be used as a drain to empty buckets.
IMG_20170531_215701.jpg



then I cut four 3/4" drain tubes at 23.25".
IMG_20170531_215719.jpg

IMG_20170531_222517.jpg
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Next step is attaching the buckets to the reservoir...
 
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cutting the holes in the res and mounting the connectors.
first mark the spots where you want the 3/4" returns to come into the res. The only thing you need to be mindful of is the height of the return ports. I made them 1/2" lower than the bucket exit ports so the water would not back up in the buckets. I cut the 3/4" exit ports in the buckets at a height of 7.5" off the floor, so I'm cutting the res return ports to be 7" off the floor.
then same as the buckets, de-burr the hole and install the 3/4" return ports in the Res.

I then cut a 7/8" hole for the feed port feed through grommet. I want to make this a bit higher than the exit ports so when the pump shuts off, there will be no back flow from the buckets. I made this hole 10" above the floor. I then inserted the rubber grommet and then pushed a 1/2" tee through the grommet. The 1/2" tubing from the pump will attach to the feed through.


IMG_20170601_221108.jpg

marking the holes locations
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return ports installed


IMG_20170601_223324.jpg

grommet installed

IMG_20170601_223419.jpg

the Tee pushed though the grommet, I used a tee because I didn't have a straight-thru fitting };-)

IMG_20170601_223434.jpg

what it looks like inside the res...

Next will be installing the res buy cutting holes in my tent and attaching the tubing to the buckets
 
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with my first system, I have had an issue I need to resolve with this design. The issue is that some of the roots end up getting sucked into the exit ports. This has happened to me twice now. When this happens, the water backs up in the bucket and eventually overflows. The first time the buckets actually overflowed in the tent but fortunately I had my tent pan set up so nothing escaped the tent. The seconds time I caught it before it had overflowed. I am now trying a port screen fitting in the exit ports to see if that prevents the roots from going in there.

so far, this is the only flaw I've seen with this type of RDWC design. I may have to come up with an emergency overflow port if the port screens don't work.

I am about to water test the bloom system as I'm getting closer to needing the bloom tent, 3.5 weeks into veg at this point.
 

Papa

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Staff member
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2,487
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i'm sorry that i didn't see your thread earlier.
you've correctly identified the weak point of the system.
most of us who have run into it have ended up doing several things to resolve the issue.
for next time:
1. increase the size of your return port in each bucket to 1".
2. put two return ports in each bucket.
3. run a larger diameter pipe (3" or 4" PVC or ABS) down the middle of your buckets sloped towards your reservoir. drill holes in the top of this and only use shorter lengths of that 1" hose from the buckets into the larger pipe. when roots get into the hoses, they'll be easy to clean out.

are you going to run it live or sterile?
 
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i'm sorry that i didn't see your thread earlier.
you've correctly identified the weak point of the system.
most of us who have run into it have ended up doing several things to resolve the issue.
for next time:
1. increase the size of your return port in each bucket to 1".
2. put two return ports in each bucket.
3. run a larger diameter pipe (3" or 4" PVC or ABS) down the middle of your buckets sloped towards your reservoir. drill holes in the top of this and only use shorter lengths of that 1" hose from the buckets into the larger pipe. when roots get into the hoses, they'll be easy to clean out.

are you going to run it live or sterile?
wow, those are all great ideas.
what do you mean "Live or Sterile"?
 

Papa

Moderator
Staff member
Supporter
2,487
163
also, it looks like your the water level in your buckets is low. depends on the depth of those baskets tho.

live or sterile, are you going to use beneficial bacteria (live) or H2O2, bleach, or a product to kill organisms in your water (sterile).

are you chilling the water? how have your roots looked in the past? pics?
 
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also, it looks like your the water level in your buckets is low. depends on the depth of those baskets tho.

live or sterile, are you going to use beneficial bacteria (live) or H2O2, bleach, or a product to kill organisms in your water (sterile).

are you chilling the water? how have your roots looked in the past? pics?
oh, now I know what you mean. My first grow started in February so the water temps were fairly cold, so I added a 150w fish tank heater in the res to bring the temps between 64 and 68. with those temps, I really wasn't worried about root rot and everything worked out fine to harvest. I did use Hydroguard a couple of times just in case.

This cycle, the temps are up around 75 and I'm getting concerned to I've added hydroguard earlier and tried lowering the temps using two 1-liter bottles of ice at night when the lights go out. so far the roots look nice and white. I would like to buy a couple of water chillers but I just can't afford $300 to $500 each yet.

so the short answer is LIVE using Hydroguard, chilling with frozen water bottles.
no pics of the roots.

in regards to water depth, using the 3/4 return port, the water actually rises about an inch above the top of the port (to my surprise) which puts the water level exactly touching the 8" net pot. I really wanted about an inch of air gap between the bottom of the net pot and top of the water, that's why I positioned the exit port where it is. I did create a small air gap by cutting 2" foam insulation "donut" spacers that sat between the net pot and the top of the bucket.
I don't know why I think I need a 1" air gap, I read it somewhere but there seems to be some disagreements about it in the forums ***shrug***
 
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h4ppyf4rmer we are thinkin alike I am doing a DIY 12 COB light and a DIY RDWC for my next grow I will be doing an under current RDWC system tho. It will be a 6 site system using under current design such as this one
I do like the undercurrent design, it's more of a water pull versus a water push system. I didn't know about this design before I started my designing... one thing I worry a little about the UC system is the distribution of nutrients moving up the buckets, it's probably fine though.
 
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It's a closed loop system and the water level is adjustable with air stones in each of the buckets turning the water over plus water changes should keep the nutrient levels consistent. I am sooo done with soil and I can put this system together for less than $350.00 with 4 gal square buckets and a 37 gal reservoir. and it's re-useable.
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