Aquasmart by Limulus – English Version
Per leggere la versione italiana cliccate qua: AQUASMART BY LIMULUS
I love electronics. When I begun the Aquarium hobby I thought how to automate it using a dedicated computer. Some time ago I tried Aquarium Controller of Aquatronica (you can read my opinion about it, but only in italian for now), last year I known Roberto Buti at Bologna Zoomark, and I was impressed of his system, Aquasmart. I can assure you that everything you want to do… it’s possible, as you can see continuing reading.
Roberto created Aquasmart for himself and his aquarium, and after, pressed by his friends, has chosen to sell it to everybody, nice job and well done!!!
In the picture above you can see my mounted system, by passing over with mouse you can get out cover.
So I have ordered Aquasmart system: Base module, Power module 8I, Terminal module, GSM module, Vertical level sensor and temperature probe, pH probe adapter and pH probe, Redox probe adapter and Redox probe, Conductivity probe adapter and Conductivity probe, Ethernet module, Tunz adapter, Led module and white led.
I’m using this system from quite one year, so I think to be able to speak about it and to do some critics to the system.
I love especially two things of Aquasmart: his limitless expansions and continuous development during this year. The functionalities and system ergonomics are mostly improved this year due to aquarium keepers requests and ideas.
The main module constitutes the heart of system and the place where connecting all other modules you buy for it. Technically speaking to it’s composed from 16 bit processor and its firmware .
In order to configure the system it’s necessary to connect his computer to the base module, to manage system and calibrate probes, to configure all modules, to save diagrams of probes. You could think to dedicate a small PC in order to hold system under control and in this way you’ll have many more options than (that offer from) terminal module.
I’ve met someone that have connected limulus to his PC and this to LCD touch screen embedded in the wall near aquarium for example.
As Aquasmart was developed, interaction with computer is necessary in order to use system at his best and you haven’t more costs because serial cable is supplied with base module.
It’s possible to buy terminal module, and in my humble opinion it’s very important to do it, to see aquarium informations and to have a minimal control of it.
It’s impossible from terminal module to configure gsm module, and to see receptions and to configure DALI system.
It’s possible to connect the system to the computer through USB adapter, modules Wi-Fi and Ethernet, beyond to seriale cable RS232.
The module has 6/8 analogic inputs for probes, one input for terminal module or for GSM module (only one input so if you use both, it exist a second input on gsm module for terminal module), 8 digital inputs for level sensors and/or alarms, a bus DALI (you can connect until 63 accessories to it) and one RS232 input.
To use the system you must connect base module to power module, available in many configurations for many countries, Italy, Germany, United Kingdom.
The base module is suitable to be mounted on a DIN bar for easy positioning, inside of electrical switchboard, solution I have adopted thanks to Maurizio, and so I’ve a practical, cleaned, extremely comfortable and compact positioning, as you can see in the first picture.
The module comes supplied with PC program Aquasmart (whose upgrade can be download from www.limulus.it after recording), with RS232 connection cable, with local power source transformer and the installation handbook.
I have chosen to pilot my system with the power module AS045 8I, power unit of 8 Italian inputs. The power unit isn’t so compact, but it’s extremely comfortable. I’ve chosen this because I’m not able to do DIY solutions with electrical switchs, and so there are no wirings to carry out.
It’s possible to connect to the system two power modules for a maximum of 16 plugs. Although this can be one strong limitation to the system, we must consider that we can add the module AS004 POWER that allows to add 16 plugs from switchboard, and that it can have, if I don’t do a mistake, until 73 inputs driven by DALI system. From technical point of view the plugs are driven by static devices of last generation, therefore inside it there aren’t neither contacts neither relè for no usury. The power unit has a device of emergency through protection fuse and have a thermal protection emergency inner (I’ve read this thing into handbook, but I have not taken apart the power unit). The module is sold complete of electrical cable, DALI cable and installation handbook.
DALI BUS SYSTEM
DALI (acronym to Digital Addressable Lighting Interface) is a communication system developed for management of lighting systems. Through connection from two cables, without polarization (therefore not is possibility to connect them badly, goes well however) the system links base module with all the other compatible devices. All devices are linked in parallel therefore they are all connect together. With this protocol you can control until 64 devices, identified by a number (from 1 to 63), all numbers from 50 to 63 are reserves for Limulus modules.
Every device is identified by only one number so it’s possible to give minimum and maximum value and the time between minimum and maximum (fade Time). In this way it’s possible to manage the movement in very complex way through tunze module or inverter module, or parameters of lunar light, and so on.
The system seems not so easy to drive at a first glance, especially if we avoid to read the handbook, but it’s work well and it’s very expandible.
The Terminal module is not supplied with base system and it’s not necessary to use the system and unfortunately it can’t replace computer completely.
Nevertheless it’s terribly useful and honestly I can’t think to a computerized system of this type without a terminal module.
The only alternative would be to dedicate one pc, even laptop, for complete management of the system. In effects I would like this idea very much, but in this way we need to spend so much money and the system will be so cumbersome.
Therefore terminal module remains a necessary choice for deep use of the system.
The module is equipped of a graphical display and of 5 push-buttons, 4 directional arrows and an enter key, as it can be seen in the photo.
The logic of the terminal module is based on pages visualization, to move within you must select the page using arrows. With pressure of the vertical arrows you go to next and previous page, and with horizontal arrows you jump to 10 pages to 10 pages.
Using terminal module it’s very comfortable for being able to stop the pumps in case of fishes feeding, in order to look at the values measurements made from probes in only one page (see pictures), in order to hold under control the amount of hours of uses of the several lights, for being able to control moon module, in practical it’s possible to control (even if not to manage as said over) all the system and almost any add-on equipment (for what I have been able to try).
The display is always visible but to the pressure of a key you can light on backlight to see display even in the dark, obviously you can adjust the backlight time. I like this solution because you see always the screen but without lighting it.
The module is equipped of two RJ11 inputs, one for every side of device so you’re able to connect module in your ideal place. The module has packed with instructions handbook and velcro biadhesive.
Beyond this module version that I have, exists some module to be applied to the panels of aquarium forniture, replacing to the classic box with a worked alluminum carter, moreover module is available in more colorations to meet requirements and choices of everyone, Those are two faces of the same medal but emphasize versatility and customer attention of Aquasmart system.
THE TUNZE ADAPTER AND THE MOVEMENT
The most used pumps in aquarium, I’m sure about it at least in Italy, are the Tunze Stream, above all in their version electronic and my aquarium does not make exception.
Therefore one of the things that more interested me of the Limulus system was the possibility to control my pumps (2 stream 6100) through the Tunz adapter without having to use dedicated Tunze multicontroller.
This would have allowed to me, beyond to a greater streams customization, to feed fishes by means of pressure of one only push-button in the terminal module. In this way you can stop pumps without having to open furniture under aquarium and to search the multicontroller.
The differences between two systems are many. Tunze Multicontroller 7095 has no memory back-up battery, so every function starts from zero when you light on the system, like moon phase, like pumps management hours. With Tunz adapter everything is controlled and managed from main unit, with back up battery 🙂 .
Tunz adapter can manage until 4 electronic pumps like Tunze multicontroller, you can manage the movement in a very complex way through configuration menù called STREAM MANAGEMENT within Aquasmart, this also if you connect AC pumps with inverter module.
The first option is about hours of pumps use, and you can find a flag to activate pumps in the night with minimal speed.
The second option is about “the sea turbulence” (I don’t know how to translate it), when inside a chosen interval, the pumps will be set to their maximum power, also on random interval.
Then we must choose the main side of movement, like tides, left or right or whatsoever, and how many hours for every tide, and we must set minimum and maximum power for every group.
Till now adapter has always worked very well without evidencing any problem, and I must to repeat myself, to be able to manage pumps directly from Aquasmart display is a great comfort not only for many options you have.
The adapter is connected to DALI bus of base module and is powered from one of 4 pumps to which it’s linked, like main module the adapter has a practical support for DIN bar, as you can see from the picture I have installed it into the switchboard, neighbor to led module for moon light and over base module.
The module is sold with DALI cable and installation handbook.
My set up is:
Hours of movement: 10.00 to 22,00
Tide time = 21600 sec ugual to 6 hours (60sec. x 60min. x 6hours)
Wave Max = 20 sec
Wave Min = 20 sec
Hours of movement:
Hours of movement: 11.00 to 20,30
Interval: 10800 sec ugual to 3 (60sec. x 60min. x 3ore)
duration time = 20 sec
While DALI configuration for my pumps is the follow:
The Led module is an other of those modules that do not change your life but that render easier.
When I bought my first serious lighting system I dreamed to have a moon light. This to help fishes to give them nocturnal reference and therefore to avoid jumping outside the tank and to recreate natural setting by having moon phases.
Coming back to my aquarium keeper history, after lighting system with moon light incorporated, I acquired Tunze multicontroller 7095 that has one white led and the ability to manage it as moon light. I have found it too weak for my tank, and also if we had “full moon” the brightness was weak, moreover in case of energy lack every setting had reset and we had to begin with full moon.
With led module this doesn’t happen, we must only set up the day of the moon phase of our choice, I have set up the same of reality (It doesn’t matter but I liked so) and system will be taken care of all the other things.
The system is very easy, and the led is very powerful so I can see the difference between different moon phases.
I’ve chosen from Limulus a white led, but you can choose also blue led, and module can pilot until 4… I think to use 4 only if you’ve a very big tank or if you want to create a very particular effect.
The management of module is made through DALI options, in which you can set minimal and maximum power. The module creates moon phases for every night between this values.
The module is sold with DALI cable, with local power source and the installation handbook. Also this module is equipped with connection for DIN bar and you can see it near my Tunz adapter.
GSM Module is probably the more useful accessory after base module, because it’s the only help in case of electric power lack, that is the greater enemy for our aquarium because of oxygen consumption from his living inhabitants, above all for a Reef Aquarium full of fish and corals.
Gsm module has a lithium recharge battery in equipment, so it can (ehm… it must) inform to us when there will be electrical power lack with a repeated message 3 times, every 15 minutes, and when the electrical power lack is ended. I think this is the best option we have if we have a power off, if we know what is happening we can take rid of problem by calling friends or relatives to control our aquarium, sometimes the fault happens as soon as we close house door.
Beyond this it’s possible to ask for (or to receive) information on tank status.
If you want to know tank status, you must send one sms to module and write “query” and limulus will answer you in this way:
Time: 14:56 Tank 8,09 ph Redox 297 mv Reactor 0,00 ph Temp. 25,4 C Temp. aux 25,4 C Conduc. 57,1 mS No alarm active
Where we can read time, tank measured values by our probes and if there are active alarms, and in case it proposes us to eliminate them, I have only one pH probes as you can see.
It’s moreover possible to ask to Aquasmart to send us sms everyday at whatever time we choose, very useful during holiday. We must only set our mobile number and gsm modules will be send us until 4 sms every day. We can also be alerted if some value goes outside our prefixed range, as can be to high temperature and so on.
The module haven’t any status leds, so if you watch it it’s impossibile to see if it’s working and how it’s working, as we can’t check battery status, cover range, and money credit. Moreover we can’t interact with it by terminal module, we need our personal computer to do it. I think in the near future Roberto will take rid of them by giving us a new firmware. Until that day we can ask limulus to send us one sms everyday, as Roberto told us to do inside installation handbook.
To fully interact with GSM module we need a computer, so we can set our preferences, where pressing a key we can verify battery status, coverage and money credit.
I haven’t had any problem using this module. I have to report that to insert SIM into module it isn’t so easy, because we must put inside the module.
Module GSM is connected to base unit through a cable ending with RJ11, that we must link in a base unit where normally there is terminal module. So into the GSM module we find 2 RJ11 doors, one for base unit and one for terminal module at the opposite side.
The module is sold complete of connection cable and installation handbook, obviously the SIM is not comprised.
Aquasmart was born as natural partner of computer, as it result the connect cable (serial cable rs-232) is included into the box. The Aquasmart system is based on our tank, every task has to be assigned to one specified equipment, because everything was developed in this way.
For example, the system has assigned 6 power plugs for lighting purpose, we had to connect our power cord (I have 2, one for blu t5 and one for 6 white t5) and to define inside configuration menù where we have connected them, so we can set up our system to choose our photoperiods. In main screen we can also see how many hours of use for every lamp we have, perfect for choosing the right moment to change them.
The main screen is developed to give us many informations. To the right we can see tank values, but we can’t delete values where we haven’t probes, and to the left we can see informations about power outputs. By clicking on button under every value we access to his graph. With last firmware the terminal module can store values and display them when we connect to pc, because onto terminal module we can’t see graphs.It’s possibile to set up probes and set every other aspect of configuration.
We can connect aquasmart to our computer by ethernet module too. Major advantage is the possibility to link the system to wi-fi access point and all the possibilities that in this way are open to us. I’m waiting to insert one access point into the sump, yet not in the water :-), and until then I can’t try to use it.
On the contrary, I’ve used it normally as ethernet adapter, and I don’t find any trouble, but without wi-fi I think it’s quite useless.
I’m sure the system will grow more and more, because Roberto loves aquasmart and his job, and he continues to release new modules over and over.But I turn my head and I think what else he can develop… there is almost everything!
Speaking about system, other than modules I’ve, normally the people is attracted to inverter module. With it you can regulate the speed of recycle pumps but you don’t require particular pumps, you can use your classic pumps. Sometimes you may have some problems on pH probes, if you have inverter module too, but the problem is related probably to a bad shield of pumps.
Moreover you can buy two metering pumps in a box, useful for many and many supplements.
THE PROBES AND PROBES ADAPTERS
The probes are connected to system by adapters (in the image you see my three own adapters). The adapter is forever, but you need to change probes at various time depending of your probes (limulus has various probes on his catalogue, plastic, glass and refillable), and to their maintenance.
The probes had to be connected by BNC connectors into their adapters, but temperature probes and level sensors have RJ11 connectors.
The temperature probe is glass one, but isn’t submergible. Roberto is developing a submergible version that I had in test directly from him, and I think it will be sold in a very short time.
Integration into system is amazing, you have to define one temperature interval where Aquasmart does not apply any correction. And you have to define a minimal and maximum level, when maximum level is reached Aquasmart actives the eventual cooling system, tangential impeller or chiller or whatsoever, while to the minimum level actives heater. If the probe measures maximum danger level, it can light off the lights, but in any case it actives the alarm sound and, if present, module GSM send us a SMS of danger.
Unfortunately I have noticed that the temperature probe is quote a dancer, and jumps from two values from time to time, so it is possible to read consecutively 25,7° and then 26,0° and this is sure a problem for one corrected management of the heater and of the eventual cooler. I believe that all depends on the sensibility of the same probe that may read with too many precision the temperature value on tank. To bypass the problem, I think it’s enough to set up a greater delta of 0,3°, as an example 0,5° in order to avoid attack-detaches.
The level sensor is a floater one, in the photo you can see it before the insertion into tank. The construction of support is fabulous. The cable slides inside and floater is screwed onto auction. In the upper side through plastic screws it is possible to lock it to the glass to prevent some every accidental movement. Truly well done. In about one year of use I have not had any type of problem neither of block.
The software that manages it allows to choose the interval within which the system works, as an example in order to program the only nocturnal restoration in case of use of Kalkwasser (limestone water) and to set up the maximum time of operation of the fill pump in order avoiding problems of excessive filling of sump, in any case it give us an alarm and it sends us one sms if something goes wrong.
Limulus moreover is ready to set up with RO equipment, to automate the filling of RO tank, by setting the time to, or by setting two level sensors.
Limulus supplies three types of pH probes, one in plastic and two in glass, one of which is refillable.
I have the probe pH in plastic, therefore I think that those in glass are same optimal, but that guarantee operation, if well cleaned, almost infinite.
The Aquasmart system previews the management of two pH probes at the same time, in fact the panel of the PC program, in the terminal modul and in the sms alert show us always the pH value of the tank and pH value of calcium reactor. I use a single probe and I hold it into sump, also because my calcium reactor hasn’t pH probe and therefore I do my calibration in manual way, otherwise through the program you could setting up the correct pH value inside reactor. The use of pH probe into the tank instead it’s useful to continuous monitoring of aquarium state and monitoring carbonates concentration, as you know if pH decreases in his minimum value there is the possibility that KH is low too.I’ve used it for nearly one year and I have not found any problem, the probe answers well to the variations of the tank, the value is absolutely credible, and the difference of reading value under calibration is not too much high after 3 months of continuous use.I open a parenthesis for the calibration system made through computer, that I think it’s amazing, and from a few week it’s possibile to calibration with terminal module without having to connect the computer to Limulus (feature that I have not still tried).
In order to set up probes, you need two pH solutions, I would prefer to use, because I’ve reef tank, solution to pH 7 and one to pH 9. You had to enter inside calibration menù and to put the probe into solution to greater pH, then you had to wait for stabilized value and to set the reference value, in this case 9. A small arrow will show us the reading state, if in strong increase or fort decrease, if in increase or decrease or if stable. Only when the software shows us the stability of the value is possible to press the push-button of acceptance of the measure, in this way it’s impossibile to have wrong calibration. We can also think to automatic calibration… Obviously we have to repeat all for the solution to pH low.
Limulus supplies calibration solutions of pH 9 and of pH 4.
Aquasmart supplies three types of redox probes, one in plastic, one in glass and one in glass refillable, of costs and quality increasing. Also I have here chosen to take that one in plastic.
The probe works well, it’s easy to calibrate and in very little time. I’ve used for quite one year and I’ve not had any problem, I have not seen neither decreases neither sensitive alterations in the measures, and I seem to be consistent with the state of health of my tank.
The measurement of redox into our aquarium is very important because it is probably the only physical chemical parameter that condenses into only one number the state of health of our aquarium. Yuo have to consider optimals values near or upper to 400. Using therefore redox probe together to GSM module (or ethernet module) it’s possible to view from far away if aquarium is healthy or not. When I spend my holiday away from home this is the only way to watch my tank, isn’t perfect but it’s a very important.
The measurement of redox is fundamental for the eventual administration of O3 Ozone, in how much it can be used like control in order to activate or deactivate the administration in case of value is too much high.
Limulus supplies 475 mV solution of calibration.
My last calibration, some days ago, with 1 year old probe, and after 3 months of use from last calibration, has given back a value to me of 473 mV, when the calibration solution is of 475 mV, I think a very impressive value.
The conductivity probe is very particular one. All three chemistries probes (pH, Redox and Conductivity) work by measuring a potential difference in water, after having put a small amount (infinitesimal) into the water. The most critical measurement is surely the conductivity, because the measurement of current is more difficult by his larger amount.
The Aquasmart probe, in my experience has not made exceptions.
Although the calibration procedure has seemed of optimal level, being one calibration to two points. Before you need a measurement in free air with dry probe to set the 0 of system, and then a measurement in the 53mS solution, but it is unfortunately not been easy to make it to work in ideal way, maybe for calibration problems, because the zero were not even read in optimal way, maybe for the famous problems of measurement of currents in tank, or a mix between. The conductivity probe has been that one that has demanded a greater number of calibrations, also once to the month, and that for many reasons may change his reading value, as for example the presence of a very small snail into the probe.
Therefore I think the use of a refractometer, is, by me, highly advised if not to say absolutely indispensable.
Limulus supplies 53mS solution of calibration for the calibration of the conductivity probe to use into saltwater.
As I have had way to tell many times, in my very personal opinion an integrated management system of the aquarium is a necessity when we have a tank of a certain level, to monitor, to manage, to set up whichever things we need. Other Solutions exists but often are less practical and sure more difficult to personalize and to set up.
Anyway, using such a computerized system is a true joy, and the applications that can be implemented are useful, comfortable and in some cases, as GSM module, is our only anchor of salvation in order to know the state of the tank also when nobody is at home to watch our aquarium.
The Aquasmart system has revealed a valid allied in this, allowing me to manage all the users of my tank, they are very complex believe to me, without particular problems, and indeed with the bonus of management of Tunze module, GSM and moon light, that they are becomes by now a real drug for me.
I must moreover emphasize the extreme gentility and attention to the customer of Roberto that always has been demonstrated available to whichever day and to whichever hour, is for technical explanations that in order to remove the troubles I did when I did not succeed to set up system as I wanted.
The only found problem, like evidenced in the text, has been that one of the temperature values, than in some moments it has been too much approximate for my tastes, although easy solved by increasing offset.
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If you find some error on my english (and I know to have many), please feel free to report to me 🙂