Category Archives: lighting

Video: The first real Thunderstorm

After running some tests, today for the first time there was an actual thunderstorm in the paludarium!

How the paludarium figures there should be a thunderstorm

I could have made the weather inside the paludarium choosen by random, but that wouldn’t have been any fun. Instead, the paludarium fetches live data from the La Selva Biological station in Costa Rica.

Using a 1,5 day delay this meteorological data is “replayed” inside the paludarium. Why 1,5 day? Well, one day to Read more »

The stuff Paludariums are made of

People are often confused what things are all in the paludarium, what they are called and what they do. In this blog post I’ll explain the different components (sub projects if you will) that make up the paludarium today.

A quick overview

In order to get the paludarium working as it works today, I had to run several different projects and put them all together. First I’ll quickly list all the different components:

  1. The Cabinet – The custom-built cabinets that hold the paludarium;
  2. The Paludarium – The glass structure that holds water and air (the paludarium is a closed construction);
  3. The Land part – The part above water. Filled with tropical plants, and for now no animals here;
  4. The Aquatic part – The front underwater part of the paludarium, where the fish live;
  5. The Sump – The rear underwater part. Any excess water from the Aquatic part is dumped here, and the plants living on the background panel get their water from here (and return it there too);
  6. The Waterworks – The board in the cabinet that holds all the plumbing (water valves etc);
  7. The Canopy – The intelligent armature sitting on top of the paludarium;
  8. PaluPi – A standard Raspberry Pi with an RS232 level converter that sits inside the Canopy and handles all the “smart thinking”;
  9. Apollo units – Named after the god of light, there are around 12 of these units inside the Canopy, each handling up to 4 leds, halogens, TLs or fans;
  10. Neptune module – Still under development, this unit controls all pumps, valves etc in the Waterworks;

Quite a list right? Everything in this list had to be tuned Read more »

Work in Progress: Getting the RaspBerry Pi to talk to the Canopy

In my previous post I managed to program the chips in the Canopy. Now I can adjust the code inside the Canopy where needed. Next thing to get working is to allow the Raspberry Pi to talk to the chips inside the Canopy.

Raspberry Pi, Atmel AVR and serial communications

Luckily the Raspberry Pi has a serial port, because the AVR controllers I used have one too, and they use this serial port to get commands from whoever is controlling the bus… Which should be the Raspberry Pi.

Problem is that the Raspberry Pi does not have a true RS232 serial port: the signals are there (on the GPIO headers), but they have 0-3.3V levels Read more »

Work in progress: Programming the Canopy

As I get closer to actually filling the paludarium with water, plants and eventually animals, I need to put a lot of focus on the electronics. The lighting armature on top, or as I like to call it, the Canopy is fully electronic. Without electronics the lights won’t even go on… High time to put some work into the Canopy to upgrade this piece of hardware to version 2.0.

First things first: Getting the code compiling again

Inside the Canopy I have 12 Atmel AVR controllers (ATtiny2013′s). These tiny controllers have been programmed in three flavors: LED, HALOGEN and FAN units. You guessed it, each type of controller has its own code. Luckily I programmed a single code, and when compiling this code I can tell the code which type it is supposed to compile. These little AVR controllers are programmed in C:


#include “main.h”
#include “serial.h”
#include “timer.h” Read more »

How to choose aquatic lighting: A test!

I have heard a LOT of different stories on aquatic lighting types and plant growth. From horror stories on blue light boosting algae growth to people buying the most expensive “Amazone”-type fluorescent lighting tubes for horrifying prizes. I did not want to join into all of these made-up or heard-of “facts”, and I decided to do my own testing! In this blog I will post what I did, and most important… the outcome of my test.

Read more »

Lighting of the Paludarium 2.0

Paludarium 2.0 is going to utilize the same lighting system as the current (1.0) version. Because I am often asked about this technology, I decided to translate my original post (see Verlichting van het paludarium (in Dutch) and post it here.

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