Micro Growing with Mr. Sparkle *2018*

Time to start up my 2018 Micro Grow Journal.

Background
I’m Mr. Sparkle, been growing off and on for coming up a decade now :astonished. Started when a friend asked me to look after some bagseeds he started in his window before a move to a new house. Made a light for them and have been growing ever since.

One feat or obscurity that i think is interesting is that i have only ever consumed that which i have either grown or been given, i have never bought.

Another oddity is unlike most growers i have consistently gone smaller in time not bigger. I started off in some what large 4x8 custom built cabinets running T8 floros, then closets, then smaller purpose built cabinets. Eventually working my way through a lot of spaces to where i am today which is the smallest ive been. I only grow for my own consumption and goals breeding, and progression.

Needless to say that makes me an odd duck in this world. This hobby is all fun whether building a space, growing, or consuming the end product.

Grow Style
Im a micro grower, with most of my spaces being under 1sqft now. I grow micro sea of green style and train and prune when necessary. Currently i grow in coco coir with synthetic nutrients (maxi series) for ease, if homemade fabric pots. But i’ve done pretty much everything but pure hydro and all have their points, and bonus’s.

As of the last year i have been growing only Autoflowers as they have shown their worth to me. I use to run photo-periods only with separate veg chambers, mothers, and clones. Now its just Auto seeds, i will still run some photo periods if they interest, but i am on an auto fix for now.

Goal
To progress my own skill an knowledge, share what i can, and keep open eyes and mind to new ideas.

Setups
First is my only remaining PC case and it is called “Bogan”. Its a Corsair 330R that runs at around 65watts. Its lit up currently with 4 Bridgelux Vero18 running at 350mA each mounted to CPU heatsinks.

Edit: now its running 4x14w dismantled Philips Screw in led light bulbs, two 2700k and two 5000k, mounted to the same style heatsinks as Vero’s were on, it now runs at around 48-52w total depending on how you measure it

It is arduino controlled, which takes care of lights, fan speeds if i want, temp and humidity display, and automatic watering using a conductive soil sensor and small micro water pump, with some manual controls. This allows me to go up to two weeks without intervention. Also its ventilated by a 120mm noctua fan pulling through a custom made carbon filter that magnetically attaches, and a 40mm fan for inside air circulation.

It is consistently going through upgrades or changes and i have rebuilt it more than a couple times.

My running format for it is 8x500ml fabric pots at max, and can yield close to 1gram/watt in it if doing a yield run, but im typically running different seeds or breeding.

This is Bucket 2.0, its a 5gal/19Liter bucket, my first bucket i ran 3 cycles in it before i scraped it and started this.

Still under construction but It is lit up by 36 watts of dismantled Philips Led screw in light bulbs, using two 2700k and two 5000k bulbs. They are mounted to old GPU heat sinks and mounted in the lid . Edit: I also added an extra 13w of light on the side using the same lights for the lid. Difference is i am running only one ballast in parallel per two cobs, thus dropping the current in half which increasing led efficiency. It is also arduino controlled, but more basic with just light control, and soon too be built automatic watering system with a 2gal reservoir “smaller bucket”. It is ventilated by one 92mm Noctua fan and will be running a carbon filter when done.

The mini bucket, this is purely for fun and a laugh. Its an old 1gal protein container that is lit up by two types of cheap amazon 2835 led strip lighting. It is ventilated by a 40mm fan with 2/3rds of the exhaust blocked because it is too powerful :laughing:, and is wick watered from a 1.9L dollar store container. It runs just under 10 watts and cost around $5 to make. Only thing i need to do for it is find some better wicks for it that wont rot.

I recently finished up everything i had going in all my spaces and started work on refreshes, upgrades, and new builds, thus is why the lack of plants at the moment.

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Edit* Horrible start, read a couple posts below for details. I am just removing photo’s that would clutter the thread.

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Looks great as always! Another quality thread for me to follow along with.

I’ll be very interested to see the performance of the 2835 based lighting, I still have those pcb boards that I need to put 2835 Leds onto.

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well those 2835 strip lighting are not that efficient far from it actually, not that the led chips can’t be, its just they way they are constructed. Unless your making your own boards and circuits then you can build them how you want.

The reason why they are bad is that they are running blocks of 3 chips in series followed by either a 68 ohm or 100 ohm resistor in the two examples i have. So lets accurately assume that the led’s have a forward voltage of 3.0-3.4v each. Being that they would be blue chips as all white leds are just blue chips with a phosphor coating. The leds would then consume 9-10.2V total per block, leaving 1.8-3V to be taken up by the resistor in a 12V circuit. So that resistor is consuming 0.03-0.13watts each depending.

So say in my case with my 2 meters and 20w of strip lighting, i have 40 resistors in there. So just the resistors are consuming between 1.2-5.2w of energy out of that 20w. That’s a lot of waste 6-26% to be specific. Now there are ways to make them more efficient such as reducing circuit voltage to as close as the forward voltage for the 3 leds thus reducing how much the resistor needs to take up.

Also something i wont get into too much is some people have done light degradation tests on some of the older cheap 5050 style stuff and say they estimate a 70% luminosity output which is what all “lifespan” estimates are based off after only 2200hr. That’s two cycles for me on 18/6, so not very promising, but that’s also the older cheap stuff.

Its the price to pay with the cheap strip lighting that is made to be able to run between 10.5-14v and is easy to cut and mount. I fully know the issues with them obviously but its cheap side lighting that can easily be replaced and mounted when the time comes.

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Pretty cool stuff there Mr. Sparkle. I started my first ever grow in a space bucket with cfl lighting. Of course after that I had to go and make things much more complicated. I like the way you disassembled your led lights as the take up much less room now. I may have to do some more tinkering and start a new bucket brigade…

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@Mr.Sparkle lazy boy is in reclined position waiting for your updates… I’m excited to learn a little about breeding autos and am so glad you and your knowledge are on OG!

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Just don’t have much on the go right now as far as plants. I typically do updates to my threads tuesdays and weekends usually, as it’s good for progression photos, other updates happen randomly.

As for the breeding of auto’s really it’s no different than photoperiods, just picking the plants you like best and crossing them, but crossing feminized autos is where it gets tricky, just have to have some fore planning and run the ones your reversing a couple weeks ahead.

I might just start a bunch of the Dark Devil F1’s to weed through and save the pollen for a second group. Was gonna run the “think different x darkdevil” cross i made to make f2’s of it but the two plants i started of it are not doing that great for whatever reason. I also only have a couple seeds left as it was a cross i only made a couple seeds of as i didn’t think i would like the outcome, but i did.

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I haven’t checked the plants in awhile, but saw a lot of bad signs on everything today when i had the chance to look at them. Well i now know why the plants were not happy, apparently i was running my water a full point higher pH wise.

I don’t remember when i filled the res last or if its been that way from the start. I also checked the run off of the mini bucket, it was very high ppm wise due to the previous evaporation rate issue, so i obviously didn’t flush it enough.

Have to say this has been my worst start in a very long time if not ever :laughing: haha it’s so bad, what a start to a thread haha.

Well guess im starting some new seeds today. Also tossed two of the plants and if the mini bucket plant recovers great if not it gets tossed and replaced as well, which i may do anyways.

So smooth, i will probably delete some of the pictures up above just to keep things linear photo’s wise.

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It happens to the best of us, don’t let it get to ya lol.

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Trust me it doesn’t as there are always more seeds, plus better to happen now than later. Also has allowed me to work out some kinks or time to fine tune a few more things.

It’s actually positive when i think about it.

As for seeds, i dropped 9 seeds tonight.
1 Think Different x Dark Devil
6 Dark Devil F1’s
1 (Think Different x Dark Devil) x Cream Mandarine

The plan is out of the 6 dark devils i’ll select on or two to be reversed, along side the TDxDD. Once they are going say 2 weeks form now i’ll start my remaining two TDxDD seeds which will eventually be pollinated by the first if it goes well. The Dark Devils i will start a second batch, maybe using the bucket initially while making some selections that will be pollinated by those first Dark Devils making some F2’s seeds. The last seed will be backup for the mini grow.

Oh and the reversing will be done with colloidal silver. There is probably already a how too on here for those who don’t know how, but i need to make a new batch so i’ll take some pictures and dedicate a post to it.

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Some changes are in the works.

First here are the plants

The pc case, all the seeds except one dark devil are in coco, and most just popped their shells today, so lets call this day 0, also the other plant has recovered and is looking really healthy. It is happy with the proper pH feed water.

The mini bucket plant i plucked a few damaged leaves from but currently i am just letting it run and its still partially recovering from that pH mishap. Im gonna make a new mini bucket when the time comes and i have another container, as there are a few things i want to change. The first is the lighting after doing some calculation im wasting probably a good 20-25% at least in just resistor load, so i need too either reduce the input voltage or i may swap out the lighting for a dismantled screw in led bulb.

As for current and future changes.

The bucket i pulled out all that side strip lighting due to the efficiency of it. As like the mini bucket i figured i was wasting at least 25% in just resistor load inherent in those strips. What i did though was add 4 of the dismantled 8w Philips bulbs i had on hand to the sides, two 2700k and two 5000k. Whats different about them though is i am running 2 of the cobs in parallel per ballast. This drops each cob’s current in half and also increasing the efficiency in the process. Reason i did this was one i had a busted ballast for one of the lights so this allowed me to utilize the cob of that light. But second and the main point was i wanted to run a lesser amount of light for the sides as i just wanted supplemental lighting not lighting at the same level as the lid. Worked out to be an extra 13w of power use which is a 30% efficiency increase over stock. Bonus is it now runs at 49w total, is brighter, and about 12.5% more efficient power wise.

As for the PC case im probably going do a light update on it. Currently i have 4 vero18’s running at 350mA each off some meanwell drivers “apc-35-700”, but the issue is those ballasts in this setup i figure i am running under 80% efficiency wasting a good 13w of energy in ballast loss. So even though they are very nice chips and to back up my assertations on screw in led bulbs that i have discuss on other forums. I will probably try and run three dismantled 14w led screw ins bulbs which will be mounted to cpu heatsinks. So around 45w total instead of my current 65-67w, light output should be a little less, but im making up for it in efficiency, and if i feel i need more light i’ll add another light.

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Extremely entertaining Mr. Sparkle, and educational as well. Thank you!

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Thought i should share.

Broke down some newer (2017-2018) 14w Philips screw in bulbs today. They are a cheap option for those who need a small DIY option for making some small space lights.

First one i slightly damaged in trying to figure out how to break down these new versions, but they break down super easy and quick once you know the tricks so here are some pics of the process and what you need.

All you need is a pait of pliers, razor knife, a putty knife or alternate thin flexible tool, #1 philips bit, and your bulbs.

Run the putty knife in between the dome and base and run it around the perimeter to break the silicone adhesive, and just pop the dome off.

Take your knife and pry off the end nipple/nail/plug, if you don’t do this you will most likely rip the load resistor and wire out on the next step.

Take your pliers and pry off the threaded cap.

Use your philips bit to remove the screws, make sure to keep the screws as you can use them for mounting the board to alternate heat sinks later.

Go back to pliers and break off the plastic lip around the bulb, and then bend down the aluminum lip so it is out of the way of the next step.

With that aluminum lip pealed back use your knife to get under the board to cut the adhesive bond and work your way around the light. It will be hard to start but once your under it becomes easy really quick.

Pull off the board and pull out hte ballast if it didn’t already come out when pulling out the board, and your done.

At this stage you can clean up the board, and either unsolder the center connector as it will not allow you to mount the board flat to a heatsink, or just drill a hole in your heatsink of choice big enough to fit the connector, which will allow you to run wires in from the back side. Once mounted to a heatsink, you just wire it up with some new extension wires soldered on the dc side of the ballast. So remove those prongs and wire in some new wire which will be soldered or connected to the board. The other side gets wired up to your ac voltage circuit, the resistor going to your load side and the the wire going to the neutral.

Caution: No one needs to get zapped at least or potentially killed at worse so make sure to cover and exposed wire parts in heat shrink, and insure the back side of the ballast is isolated from anything that can conduct electricity “aka metal”.

But there you have a small cheap SMD led board to use how you see fit. I will be mounting mine to some cpu heatsinks and swapping them into my PC case to show what can be done with these. So expect some more pictures to come.

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A new inside shot of the bucket with the 4 side lights instead of the strip leds, and the pluming for the watering system which still needs a few cuts and such, which with a test fit right now i noticed that i will probably have to run longer water spouts to place the water right at the center of the pots. Plus side is i would like to make some new spouts for my pc case, as the ones i have in there are too short, and these should work great there just have to make 3 more.

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So glad you showed us how to do this!!!

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Will do a update later today on the plants, noticed a ph swing issue last night so they should be happy again today.

Mounted those 14w SMD boards to some cpu heat sinks, and wired and mounted them up in my pc case.

I was redoing some wattage testing of the old setup but i noticed that my PC case was only running at Half power “WTF”. Turns out when i did a refresh 3 months ago and swapped the vero 18’s over to this case, i wired them in parallel thinking they were running off the same 700ma drivers i was using on the other case. Well i forgot that the ones that were mounted on this case were actually 350ma higher volt versions that i was running cobs in series with. So the case was running at half wattage for 3 months and i didnt even notice. Rewired them for a day or two and some tests, but still removed them for now.

The old setup ran at around 65 watts all total using a cheap plug in power meter, this new setup runs at 53w from that power meter, or right at 48w from multimeter values.

It’s still a downgrade from a lumens to watt ratio even with the inefficient ballasts, but i want to see and show what can be done with these cheap screw in leds bulbs, even if they are used in a dismantled form. As its a cheap easily sourced effective option in comparison.

Example the 4 vero 18’s and two ballast of my previous setup cost around $90usd with shipping. Four of these 14w Philips Screw-in led bulbs cost around $25 and were picked up locally at a big box store. Though they will be putting out less light in total, if end yield is the same in regards to lumens/watt consumed, it would take me between 8 to 10 cycles or 1.5-1.75 years to just break even as far as the original cost goes vs the added electricity cost of the slightly less efficient bulbs.

It will be interesting to see how it turns out.

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I love taking something cheap and repurposing it to beat the price of a commercial product. I’ve been using the ecosmart bulbs from Home Depot. Very easy to disassemble.

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that weird flat bulb i posted earlier is performing very poorly in my cardboard grow box - i think due to the diffuser and also being ~12 inches or more from the plants. i will need some of these

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Day 3 with the PC case, seedling are all starting to go, and the back plant is a bit droopy, as my feed water the pH some how went back up to around 7.

So made some new mix and will be keeping some aside in glass jar for testing and whats in the reservoirs to see if my slightly different pH adjuster is at fault, or if its something else i’m introducing or caused by the new system being able to drain back to the reservoir.

The mini bucket is even looking worse, but shit happens. I should have it worked out in the next week what the issue is.

The other bucket is pretty much ready to go but i’ll be waiting till after Christmas to start that up. I just have to make the watering control circuitry and program that up as it will be slightly different that my previous systems. Need to still make longer watering spouts for both the bucket and PC case, and i also order some new auto genetics to play with today. Should be a good start to the new year.

Oh and the new lighting in the PC case is making it run at 48w off my DMM readings, or 53watts off my cheap power meter that may be a little off with lower wattage readings.

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I’m curious what you are using for the a/c terminal blocks on your bucket wiring. I’m in the process of rebuilding my bucket and using the led bulbs instead of the cfl’s I had been using. I also ordered a arduino kit to start learning what I can do with that stuff. TIA…

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