3Dponics

I used this tutorial. Unfortunately the discussion forums on the website have gone pretty stale, meaning more trial and error in terms of best methods for printing. Additionally, the website doesn’t really talk about the science of growing the plants themselves, so I have an alarming amount of weed growing websites in my history – that community simply has the best info on small scale hydroponics.

First, I had to print the 5 basic parts (4 drip nozzles, 1 silencer, and 1 conduit). The silencer miraculously worked out on my first try, but the other pieces were a bit more complicated to optimize. There were no instructions on orientation for the nozzles, so I left them oriented with the wide part touching the bed first (and a brim for adhesion) and waited to see what would happen. I didn’t think the overhang of the threadings would be a big deal.

So I was wrong and obviously I needed to reprint the pieces. I tried with the narrow part touching the plate and the default Creality supports to support the overhangs (touching the buildplate) where the funnel widens. In this configuration, the support made the piece use twice as much material, but also take twice as much time.

The second configuration I tried was with the nozzle lying horizontally – with a wider brim just for fun – on the buildplate like so (Starship Enterprise vibes):

A comparison of the results is below. Starship enterprise is on the left. The piece printed with the massive cylindrical support has slightly sharper threading and smoother edges. However, I needed to print three more and I didn’t think such minor differences warranted the extra filament and time.

The conduit was the most frustrating part. I tried so many different configurations with rafts, brims, supports which I could detail here, but I won’t waste your time. Once I found a good configuration, I couldn’t get it to operate properly (lots of bubbling, no suction actually sending the water upwards) and ended up using a different version of the piece. For schadenfreude purposes, here are the various fails along the way, including me refusing to give up on hot glue to seal some air leaks:

Here is the best version of the original conduit along with the support and adhesion settings I used. Keep in mind that even after perfecting the piece, it lacked proper functionality.

Next was the fun and crafty let’s-use-scissors-irresponsibly part. I bisected four empty 2L soda bottles to hold the growth medium, like so:

After cutting, I used a tape measure to mark 4 equally spaced spots along the top of the bottle, which I then hole-punched. I originally was going to have 4 connecting lines, but decided that was excessive. I used a total of 6 zip ties between each tier.

I did not have the recommended bamboo rod as a support structure, so I decided to make it in a way that it could hang from a hook (or, in my case, some vestigial curtain rods). I turned a grocery bag into plarn and braided it into a rope. I secured the end of each rope with zip ties to prevent unraveling. . which I attached with zip ties. Of course. Zip ties are king.

I chose coconut coir as my growth medium, but unfortunately couldn’t find any at local gardening stores. As luck would have it, coconut coir is commonly used in reptile enclosures, so I was able to get some for cheap at Petsmart. When I oroginally filled the bottles, I covered the nozzles and poured the dry medium in.

When I added water, I realized this was a mistake. The coir just floated on top of all of the water and the drainage was terrible. So the second time around, I put small rocks in the bottom, and then I premoistened the coir before scooping it into the bottle. I then cut the tubing and used ZIP TIES to secure the silencer above the first tier and powered that baby on. Here it is doing its thing:

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