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 Post subject: Underground Hydroponics and Aquaponics
PostPosted: Mon Jan 07, 2008 2:47 am 
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I've been doing a lot of research for my work on my upcoming Permaculture Lab, an underground quonset intended to connect to my hub via 1600mm pipe tunnel.

I didn't want to jump into it without doing a thorough evaluation of the best way to lay it out and design it - but it's still percolating. I am trying to figure out how to do it in the cheapest fashion, which in my experience often turns out to be the best fashion, in the end.

The hydroponics I am relatively confident are a go and can be maintained in tough conditions with low energy inputs. Some information I derived from books by James De Korne, other ideas from books probably originally intended for dope growers but which can be adapted to survivalist gardening underground. One example is the new full-spectrum solar flourescents that use a fraction of the energy required to light a garden compared to the megawatt halogen lights that dope farmers require. I have also been looking into dirt cheap methods of building light pipes to actually reflect sunlight into the underground.

The aquaponics, raising freshwater marine fauna underground, is a bit trickier because of how little research work has been made public about this kind of setup. Luckily, I discovered something similar nearby and had a chance to examine it.

One of my neighbors on the mountain runs a fish pool in a recessed open blockhouse with a nylon sunscreen for a ceiling. He has been harvesting more fish in a single 2000 gallon pool than he and his family of five (3 adults-2 children) can eat in any given three month period and has been giving fish away.

Tilapia, silver perch and other common breeds of aquaculture fish can apparently be fed on scraps, from floating vegetation, worm beds and fly traps. It doesn't take much to keep'em healthy as long as the pump keeps the water clean.

He has also had mixed results with freshwater lobsters and shrimp. These are more labor intensive during their growth cycle and demand stabler water temperature.

One important feature of any underground operation I have discovered (besides lighting) is the circulation and storage of solar heat to transmit down to the pool. In arctic conditions, large water tanks are used to store solar heat internally ... the question is, how do you get the sun's heat down through 3+ meters to heat the tanks?

I think I have found a way it can be done for beans. If you build solar collectors for a sealed circulating system using the radiators you have ripped off old refrigerators and mounted topside, you can heat water to nearly boiling. Then you have to pump this in a circle through the earth down to the lab and bring colder water back up.

All it takes is mylar foil (space blankets) mounted on some surface behind the radiators, connected to metal pipe inlets. The pump should probably be belowground, powered by whatever energy source you're using (solar, wind, manual, etc.) and it should run at intervals to allow the water in the pipes aboveground to heat up.

This works in very cold exterior conditions with the worst problem, of course, being the water freezing in the pipes and bursting them. There might be a way to ameliorate this problem using antifreeze solutions.

Anyhow, hope this assists before you drop $1000.00 on those solar heating systems that greenhouse suppliers sell on the internet. Radiators ripped off old fridges work as good according to many sources on the internet and cost nothing.

I've discovered a ton of information about this kind of setup but I still have a lot to learn before I proceed. I specifically do not want to start work on a floor layout plan that later turns out to be a big mistake. I recently considered using geodesic dome frame instead of the quonset construction because the circular shape seems custom designed for an underground pool. It's still just an idea, however.


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 07, 2008 3:18 am 
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Wow can we please see pictures of your bunker. Bunkers are underground hydroponics would be expensive and quite the luxury. If I have the money and time to build a bunker I will right now I'm just gonna have to settle with a cabin on top of a hill at the back of a swamp. I might dig it out and make a bunker under it later. For now my cabin is a go. Bunker in same location in the future.

I did a brief amount of research on hydroponics throughout the summer and seems the way to go. Automating the system would take the chore out of it and give you have a couple large bags of sprout seeds you could live for a long time. Of course on the scale your looking at you could grow a wide variety of vegetables.

The only concern is from what I understand your wanting to build a underground hydroponics room attached to your bunker room via 1.6m diameter pipe? (How much is the pipe). Anyways but then you want to get direct sunlight on it seems like direct sunlight would waste the underground part and would be secptable to radiation. But I think a Rad system would work in terms of getting the heat down there. Electric heating may work if interested in placing either solar panels or a windmill topside

I'll have hydroponics in some sorta system no matter what I do. I saw a design for a living room PVC made Hydroponics system in either and old Mother Earth News or Harrowsmith magazine although I do not have the magazine here I will try to replicate the system sometime over the winter/spring.


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 07, 2008 3:19 am 
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Seen that setup in Korea and AZ, paint them black, gives better heat transfer from the sun, and it does make water boil.


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 Post subject: Re: Underground Hydroponics and Aquaponics
PostPosted: Mon Jan 07, 2008 3:28 am 
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Vault-Co wrote:
The hydroponics I am relatively confident are a go and can be maintained in tough conditions with low energy inputs. Some information I derived from books by James De Korne, other ideas from books probably originally intended for dope growers but which can be adapted to survivalist gardening underground. One example is the new full-spectrum solar flourescents that use a fraction of the energy required to light a garden compared to the megawatt halogen lights that dope farmers require. I have also been looking into dirt cheap methods of building light pipes to actually reflect sunlight into the underground.



How did fiber optics stack up? Not sure how much energy transmission there would be. The old sailing ships used a shaped crystal or prism typed glass to bring light below decks. Surplus tank periscopes may be a cheap option.

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PostPosted: Mon Jan 07, 2008 3:31 am 
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Some links on diy Hydroponics.
Now if anyone has the formulas for I guess what do they call if. Plant growing food. I think it's sugar and something please post it.

http://www.hydroponicsonline.com/11plantJPG.htm
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iQ8CTso1e-M


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 Post subject: Re: Underground Hydroponics and Aquaponics
PostPosted: Mon Jan 07, 2008 3:57 am 
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Gozguyse5 wrote:
Vault-Co wrote:
The hydroponics I am relatively confident are a go and can be maintained in tough conditions with low energy inputs. Some information I derived from books by James De Korne, other ideas from books probably originally intended for dope growers but which can be adapted to survivalist gardening underground. One example is the new full-spectrum solar flourescents that use a fraction of the energy required to light a garden compared to the megawatt halogen lights that dope farmers require. I have also been looking into dirt cheap methods of building light pipes to actually reflect sunlight into the underground.



How did fiber optics stack up? Not sure how much energy transmission there would be. The old sailing ships used a shaped crystal or prism typed glass to bring light below decks. Surplus tank periscopes may be a cheap option.


All that stuff is so dear it is ridiculous when you are talking about at least 10-20 of these light pipes. Fibre optic 1.5" is still ridiculously expensive and what you can get doesn't transmit enough light to be worth the trouble or the money.

I did an experiment last summer when I was building my water chimney. Before I installed the chimney I put a 4" PVC pipe in the roof which had the inside lined with space blanket foil and both end capped with opaque glass I cut from some plexiglass I found in the dumpster. This created a viable ceiling light (pretty good illumination) down through about 1 meter of earth.

This experiment was not conclusive but since it only cost me $2.50 (spray adhesive for inside of pipe to hold foil) it was a hint to an easier way to do light piping.

I got the idea from seeing a $300.00 bathroom fixture that piped light down through a whirlybird at Bunnings - and thought after seeing what it consisted of (took it out of box in store) "I could build one of these for next to nothing."

Of course, you'd have to have some way of protecting the end exposed topside and a way of capping/closing it in the interior. (Light is good, except if it's the thermal flash of a nuclear weapon going off somewhere)


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 07, 2008 4:21 am 
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Tom Swift wrote:
Wow can we please see pictures of your bunker. Bunkers are underground hydroponics would be expensive and quite the luxury. If I have the money and time to build a bunker I will right now I'm just gonna have to settle with a cabin on top of a hill at the back of a swamp. I might dig it out and make a bunker under it later. For now my cabin is a go. Bunker in same location in the future.


Pictures of most of the "Hive" are available off my website if you click on the links from "Research and Development." Only about 40% of what I intend to build before 2010. The big planner map is in the "Sparkgap" link.

Tom Swift wrote:
I did a brief amount of research on hydroponics throughout the summer and seems the way to go. Automating the system would take the chore out of it and give you have a couple large bags of sprout seeds you could live for a long time. Of course on the scale your looking at you could grow a wide variety of vegetables.


I bought a dedicated AVR controller off http://www.futurlec.com along with some of their sensors intending to use this as to run the permaculture lab in all facets as an automated process, including waterpump, lights, nutrient circulator pump, temp/hum monitoring, etc. This is a pretty big cheap embedded device (equivalent to an XT PC in 1989, really) and you can hook up a lot of stuff to it. I'm not boosting Futurlec, mind you, it's just they sell it cheaper than anywhere else on the Internet. I've already bought stuff from them that is working excellently. If you find a cheaper AVR programmable PC please let me know, this one is down to $19.00 now (w/128K ram, uses freeware C compiler, supports 12C serial lines!) Considering I paid $225 for my RABBIT 2000 board in 2003 this is pretty cheap to say the least. Also you can get Ethernet chip for $19.00 now and monitor your setup from anywhere on RJ485 or telephone wire cable.

Tom Swift wrote:
The only concern is from what I understand your wanting to build a underground hydroponics room attached to your bunker room via 1.6m diameter pipe? (How much is the pipe). Anyways but then you want to get direct sunlight on it seems like direct sunlight would waste the underground part and would be secptable to radiation. But I think a Rad system would work in terms of getting the heat down there. Electric heating may work if interested in placing either solar panels or a windmill topside


I bought a big supply of 1.6m pipes of corrugated steel back in 2005 from a scrap metal dealer and basically use this to link up any new addition to the shelter system underground. Every time I add a new component to the shelter complex, I leave at least one connecting join in the form of a tunnel or a hatch which I bury in sand until it is ready to join up with the new part. Kind of an open source shelter complex.

Every single electric heater system I have looked at has been sold for peacetime greenhouses with unlimited electricity. Most of these heaters would drain my battery storage in no time with 6KVa+ draws. You'd be better off heating water with methanol cans rather than require this much juice to keep it warm.

I have done nearly every single system so far with microamps! You should have seen the difference when I replaced my automobile lamps in the shelter for lighting with LED bars! I went from 2 days on battery power to 2 weeks deep cycle on a single battery! Then I have been replacing my big fat auto 12volt fans with larger sized computer fans which provide twice the air volume with 20% the electricity! Pretty amazing difference. When the blast shelter was first completed I turned on lights and fans and then locked it up. By following afternoon batteries were dead. Since then with all the alternatives installed, the batteries are still going strong at 40% after closing the shelter for 9 days! This is with no inputs from solar or wind.

All 12v pumps, wherever possible that the volume can be tiny (and still get the job done) I am using micropumps I got from places like BGMicro on the net. The local hydroponics pump sold here in Australia for $49.99 was sucking 2 amps at 12 volts!!! Not for survivalists, definitely. I'd be out of electricity and dead in the water with no air conditioning or filtration within one day if I used the conventional stuff I got from auto stores initially. That's why a lot of hydroponics advice you get from books is actually targeted at dope dealers who have these huge budgets for electricity and supplies and you have to look at far more modest systems to be able to plan for long term sustainability. Who wants a $1200.00 grow light system intended for marijuana that drains your battery in fifteen minutes during a crisis?

Tom Swift wrote:
I'll have hydroponics in some sorta system no matter what I do. I saw a design for a living room PVC made Hydroponics system in either and old Mother Earth News or Harrowsmith magazine although I do not have the magazine here I will try to replicate the system sometime over the winter/spring.


I have been a little worried lately about PVC getting into my veges, but it is advocated everywhere as cheap trough racks for hydroponics. Anybody that knows more about this please upload info. I was hoping I could get some ceramic coated troughs for long term use, like bathtubs with ceramic coating inside or similar. Be a shame to survive fallout and then get cancer from PVC seepage into food supply.


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