Some time ago I found a video about Hydroponic systems again, this time it was about small-scale "for window" installations of horizontal sets of pipes, with a tank, regulator and pump system. This got me thinking about space and my balcony, and I started researching into Horizontal systems, rather than vertical.
There's a few out there, most are really rudimentary (plastic bottles) or rather large scale, but I didn't find much documenting if they work or not, and how well they work and not. So I set a budget, and started to plan the project proper.
First my idea was to use a single, 2m tall, 100mm diameter PVC pipe, and drill holes into it, inserting small pots for the plants. After checking the basic math that told me that I'd have approximately 160 litres of volume in such a pipe, along with how much work I'd have to be doing to cut the holes, I went another route.
A bit more expensive route, with Y-shaped 75mm pipes ( and 45mm outliers) of gray PVC. I bought nine of those, and a 1m long 75mm pipe, to go with that, I got a barrel (60 litres) and a lid.
For the water flow, I went with a very simple pentry-pump for boats/freshwater tanks (7.5 litres/minute, 12Volt, 2 ampere, meaning around 24watt).
Filling: I used a mix of Leca ( for the main pipe) and Perlite (for the small outliers). From the beginning I was going to use coconut shreds, but I couldn't find any locally, so Leca it was.
Note here, that the Leca I got I had to rinse quite a few times in order to get the dust off. Much of it was quite messy, and would have killed my little pump in no-time. I'm still not sure how long that pump will live, but that is something for the future to tell.
In the bottom of the pipe, I cut a few openings in order to let water flow through. It turns out that these were not wide enough in practice, and when I turned on the pump, water would fill the pipe up to the middle, and overflow. This was solved by taking the whole thing apart, pulling it up and drilling holes into the bottom pipe to let more water through. Not a fun thing, and no pictures were taken then, as I was already getting very wet.
The water flow turned out to be too much anyhow (7.5 litres/minute is a lot, it turns out) so instead of driving it at 12V, I'm running it at 5-7 volts of power, causing a much more manageable water flow. Also, it turns out that the layer of perlite I was using for the small pipes flowed down into the main pipe, expanded in the water, and made water throughput low enough that I had water running everywhere when I was pumping full speed.
Right now, the hose from the bottom to the top is fastened with rubber-bands and tape, I figure something more long term may be needed. I also added a cloth filter to the top to avoid too much junk to fall in there.
Currently, the system is running on a timer to stimulate ebb/flow control, but I have yet to figure out how to do it, so right now its 2 hours on, 1 off during the day, and 15 minutes on/ 2 off during the night. If this turns out to be wrong, well, shan't be too hard to fix.
Now? My seedlings aren't quite done yet, so I have a hard time planting anything in this, until then, I'll have to see how this goes. The plan is to use easy herbs/salad this year, and maybe strawberries in the future.
Oh. And I need to get PH Measurements as well. yey.