OK, first off, I cannot take credit for this design. I found it on another forum and basically copied the design I saw there, aside from size and a couple of adjustments to accommodate my idea. Nevertheless I'm not a member of said forum, so I wanted to show off my homemade 60-site ez-cloner, which cost me less than a third of what the name-brand unit does.
I had a gift card left over from christmas for 25 bucks, for the Home Depot. Promptly went and grabbed a 54-gallon tote with lid. Also, I needed to grab 3, 1/2" cpvc tees, as those were the only fittings I didn't happen to have on hand. All told, 21 bucks with tax.
Off to the hydro store. I needed a pump-
It's the same exact pump I use to power my drip system. being that my drip setup is 24 plant sites, I saw no reason why it would do any less good with 20 sprayers- a fact to which my hydro store buddy agreed.
I also needed sprayers. Seeing as that they sell ez-clone machines at my hydro shop, it stood to reason they would have the replacements- which is exactly what I got, the ez-clone replacement heads. They retail for $1.50! Fortunately I'm a loyal customer, and my price of $.75 reflected that
360 degree coverage with no moving parts, gotta love that.
I also got factory 2" neoprene inserts and 2" net pots. The net pots are to afford the neoprene insert a lip on which to rest without danger of falling into the cloner. The neoprene inserts retail at $.82, I paid $.32. The 2" net pots are $.20 each, I didn't haggle over those
I gathered my cordless drill, tape measure, sawzall, a pen and some cpvc glue. A 2" holesaw is a must- to attempt this any other way would be futile.
First thing I needed to do was to get high
So much easier to concentrate when baked. Next, I needed to lay out the location of the 60 net pots.
It took a good half-hour to lay everything out symmetrically and make them fit. I have to admit I didn't start my day planning on a 60-site cloner, but the selection of rubbermaids at the Depot was slim, and I didn't want a really small one, or a clear one, so I took what I could get. Add to that I love to make things big, and I end up with a beast. Also, for my garden, I am going to need 48 plants (2 per pot, going to try small plants next go-round) and with 60 it gives me a comfortable margin for error, and the ability to be picky with the clones I use.
Now that it's all laid out, it's time to drill. LOTS of holes. Be aware that should you attempt this, the holesaw will grab the plastic and try to twist the drill right out of your hand as soon as it bites- my wrist is good and sore from it.
Smoke break time after I tweaked my wrist like the third time already.
Got smarter about how I held the drill, and managed the rest with nearly no problems at all.
Now, you should notice that the lid is actually upside-down on the tote. Simply put, there is no "seal" with it right-side up. It actually has a gap around the edge that would mean incredible leakage. However, it so happens that the lid drops in, upside-down, and fits beautifully. No leaks!
Alas, I didn't get so lucky with the tote itself. The handles have vents/drains molded into them that will be profound leakers unless covered. I plan to use the old standby, duct tape, to seal these holes.
Alright, finished with the lid. Now it's time to make my sprayer manifold.
With pump located and lid in place, with a net pot for reference, I measured the riser piece that will come up from the pump after coming up with an arbitrary distance to keep the manifold below the bottom of the net pots. I chose four inches. There was little method to the choice- I know the roots are going to hang, but they won't be in there so long as to be creating great masses of root structure. 4" seemed adequate, and since nothing is glued together it is easy work to lower the entire manifold should the need arise.
Next, build the manifold itself. All of my measurements were, again, arbitrary. My only goal was to encompass as much area with spray as possible.
Not only do I have complete perimeter coverage, but the two branches in the middle really increase the volume.
Just a closeup of a few of the holes drilled in the manifold to accept the sprayers. The drill bit I used was the exact size as the sprayer ends; I actually had to wobble the bit a little in order to get the sprayers to screw into the pipe (they are threaded.)
Now you'll notice that the pump attaches to the manifold at one end. The pump isn't exactly a solid mount, if you know what I mean. Suction-cup bases are meant to secure it in place, but not rigidly. Hence, the weight of the manifold alone causes it to fall to the bottom of the tote. I didn't want anything to be permanently attached for ease of later cleaning, so I had to devise a method of putting "legs" on it. I pondered just turning a couple of tees downward, and capping the legs, but I didn't have the tees, and I didn't want anyplace for water to be able to sit and stagnate- and two pieces of pipe pointing down with no way to circulate the water spelled nasties to me.
So, I got creative, and took a couple of pieces and cut legs, with notches on one end with which to rest the manifold and support the end opposite the pump. I tried my smallest holesaw to try and cut actual arcs, but it was too large and the radius too great to work. I ended up taking the sawzall and cutting a 'V' in one end of each.
Here is the only place I used any glue at all- to secure the legs to the manifold itself.
Since the pipe I used was CPVC, I had to use CPVC cement. It is much different than PVC cement, and one won't work with the other. PVC is typically white or gray, while CPVC is typically yellowish in color. Just a heads-up to anyone who wants to try this.
I needed to let the glue set up, so it was time to eat dinner and smoke a bowl.
Time to finish. The glue had set up, but the joint is rather sketchy and I'm going to need to come up with a long-term solution. Nevertheless it held, so now the whole assembly can be placed in the tote.
Alright! The hard parts are all done now. Time to put the net pots and neoprene inserts where they need to be.
Nothing left but to test it! I put about 15 gallons of tap water and a little bleach in it, and fired it up!
And we are in business! I have noticed that it does leak a little around a few of the net pots.
I'm going to have to assume they are directly in the line of fire from a sprayer, and there's not much I can do about it. I could use some clear silicone caulk to anchor the net pots in place, but I would rather let a little water build up on top of the lid rather than either using silicone itself, or securing the net pots permanently. Also I noticed an occasional spray around the edge where the lid sits inside the tub itself, but I am assuming that with time the lid will reshape slightly enough to conform and I won't have that issue. And if it ends up being a permanent problem, again it's time for the duct tape
I'm going to let it run all night where it sits, right next to the sump crock
In case it begins to leak catastrophically, it can leak itself right into the sump.
And wouldn't ya know it, mama is looking a little bushy tonight, too... could be mom is going to be getting a trim soon