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dliguori25 05-08-2013 05:19 PM

Product idea needing input
 
Hello
I'm new to the forum and a novice turtle and koi keeper. I've had a very small pond for a couple years and bought an aquarium about 6 months ago so I could keep more koi and turtles.

I ended up with a nice setup but because I used a pair of 24" metal halide/T5 combo fixtures (4 cords each) I ended up with a ton of cords and a need for quite a few timers. I wanted to shut my fans off an hour or two after the metal halides shut off, the T5 UVB bulbs a couple hours after that, daylight T5's even later in the evening, night lights, etc. So I ended up using 3 different timed power strips to have just four timers and I still had to make a lot of tradeoffs (see picture of my "power center" in the gallery... once I upload it).

Long story short I'm not happy with power strips with just two timers max or the clutter of a ton of individual timers plugged into a standard power strip.
I happen to do product development and want to make a "wemo by belkin" style of power strip with all 8 to 12 outlets being independently controlled and programmed by smartphone. You could monitor your outlets remotely and over-ride a timer when it's time for water changes or had an emergency need to shut off or turn on an outlet.

The problem is that after I sell it to a petstore and they market up 100% it's a $150 to $200 power strip. Granted it would be the last power strip you have to buy and would replace a lot of smaller items that add up in price, but I'm curious if I'm alone in my displeasure with the options for powering and timing my aquarium equipment? If you're like me, what is it worth to you to solve those hassles?

Thanks for reading this long post and I look forward to hearing everyone's thoughts!

dliguori25 05-12-2013 10:36 PM

Re: Product idea needing input
 
Bump

nate2005 05-13-2013 10:06 PM

Re: Product idea needing input
 
I have two basic freshwater setups. Personally, I would not be interested in something like this since I don't have much of a need and simple timers could operate my lights for me.

I can see the appeal of it given your situation. I've heard of lights etc being operated through wifi via apps and I've seen that some hoods have programmable timers. Sounds like a customizable set up that combines these.

I like the idea of each outlet in the strip being independently controlled and I could see some people being interested in that(even beyond the aquarium world). I'm not sure if I see much of a need to be able to remote control for an aquarium.

those are my thoughts

majerah1 05-14-2013 10:47 AM

Re: Product idea needing input
 
I would but the price is a bit too high for me. I would need about three of them, if not four. It is a good idea, but would be better if you can get the price down some.

OspreyPrey 05-15-2013 01:43 AM

Re: Product idea needing input
 
How experienced are you with prototyping? I have a few ideas but would like to know where your experience level stands...

nate2005 05-15-2013 01:18 PM

Re: Product idea needing input
 
I just got this in an email ad. You might want to check it out. Its the closest I've heard of to what you want to build. Your price pt would be well below these.
Apex Jr Controller - Neptune Systems - Bulk Reef Supply

dliguori25 05-19-2013 03:41 PM

Re: Product idea needing input
 
Thanks for the replies everyone! Very good feedback!

To answer the questions: I've been a machinist since I was a teenager growing up in my grandpa's tool room and working as an apprentice (we made plastic injection molds and all manner of industrial equipment for our family pen company) and when the company sold and he passed away I took over the machine shop and have made a few specialty products for the R/C, boat, eyecare, and ski/wakeboard industries (limited to what I could do in my free time). Basically I invent in my free time which as some of you inventors out there know is a hit and miss thing and a great idea doesn't always translate to a great selling product; but I've learned some valuable lessons and I'm relatively young at 35 so there's hope for me yet! I only have two patents so far but I have plenty of room on the my wall. I love to hop things up so I'm always looking at products that I'm disappointed in and wondering how I would make them better. I have been using CAD/CAM for the past 6 or 7 years and try to make it to manufacturing trade shows every few years so as to know what kind of CNC's and other great technology is coming out. I pride myself on thinking outside the box and I'd say me weak areas are electrical engineering. However, I'm fortunate to have good connections to a couple great programmers and electrical engineers.

Nate - Thanks for the link! I think I saw those on the Drfosters in the new product section a week or two back. I like that it has temp probes - I was hoping that if an initial product worked well that I'd like to add some ports for peripheral equipment like level monitors, overflow alarms, temp probes etc but I figured first things first.

dliguori25 05-19-2013 03:55 PM

Re: Product idea needing input
 
Scratch that - that's not the same one I saw. The one on Drfosters was in the $600 range. The one in your link is much more reasonable and actually looks a lot better than the $600 item. Hmmm well this makes me take pause because that's actually looks like a pretty good product aside from being only 4 outlets. Well, I might have to buy one and I'll let you know how it works! Thanks again for the link!

OspreyPrey 05-19-2013 08:59 PM

Re: Product idea needing input
 
My suggestion is that you get an Arduino and an Electronic Components Starter pack or a similar kit. This video will explain more but basically, this will be the controller of the project.

An Introduction to the Arduino - YouTube

Arduino's are great because the software is open-source and free! So as you gain experience with them you can switch from the standard Arduino Uno ($25-$35) to something smaller like the Mini ($10-$15) to just the ATMega328 micro-controller chip with the Arduino boot loader($4-$5).

These website are great resources for when you are looking for components and other cool stuff.
Adafruit - Great for starters/hobbyists/prototyping
SparkFun - Great for starters/hobbyists/prototyping
DigiKey - Great for production oriented products as it is easiest to shop there if you know exactly how much of what products you need.
Alibaba - This site contains mostly products sourced from asian manufacturers. You can get a TON of product for literally pennies on the dollar. I once saved 1000% on 5M of LED strip tape. They also have a store called AliExpress that is worth checking out. Perfect if you are only looking for a hand-full of certain items for a one-time purchase.


This guy, humanHardDrive, puts out great videos that will help fill in the gaps of what you already know and what you have yet to learn.

humanHardDrive - YouTube

Have fun figuring out exactly how you want the whole project to work! Second do seeing it work, that's my favorite part. When controlling power to the outlet, look into relays since they can switch power on and off to higher voltage devices such as a T5-HO or MH.

Right now I am working on a timer for my Current USA Satellite Freshwater LED. I love it, but the only downside is that it does not have a internal timer. I was thinking about spending the extra $40.00 for the Current USA Satellite Freshwater LED + but I would have had to send infrared commands to it in order to dim and change the color of the LED's. With the base model, all I have to do is have the dimmer in-line, set the time and let it run a 24 hr cycle. When I get it up and running, I'll post a tutorial.

dliguori25 06-01-2013 01:49 AM

Re: Product idea needing input
 
Osprey - thanks so much for the links and the input! I'm going to start experimenting with some of those component starter packs. Very cool and should be a great way to learn more!


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