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A Look Into Longhair's Laboratory


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I'll be adding pic's over the weekend, please be patient



This is the system I developed years ago for hydroponic growing. It incorporates a couple different methods, ebb&grow and bubbleponics, into one easy to use system. It’s pretty easy to build (if you have skills!) you can cut a few corners and buy an Ebb&Grow System, Big Daddy’s Buckets, or any of the others and save a few steps. You’d still need to re-make the controller with a new one and do the air and PVC drain/fill but it would give you a slight head start. I think the shopping list and layout are the hardest tasks, and hopefully I’ll have those hurdles covered here! So let’s get started.



Tools Needed:


Tape Measure, Sharpie Marker, Drill, Saw to make jigs and cut PVC, something to cut tubing (good scissors, razor knife, I use tin snips),

1/4" drill bit, 1/2” drill bit, 3/4” hole saw, 1-5/8” hole saw





Buckets/Barrel and Tubing:


the buckets and barrel can be purchased at most grow shops. I do know a wholesaler in Detroit but they don’t like small orders. If your making a few systems at one time I’ll provide you with their contact info. The tubing comes from a variety of places. Some from grow shop, some from Lowe’s and some from Home Depot. It takes a trip to all 3 to get everything, although you may be able to have a lot of the items delivered, put on will-call or shipped.


1 - 57 Gallon (black) Bulkhead Drum(reservoir)


1 - 6 Gallon (black) Bucket(controller)


1 - Lid (black)(for control bucket)

*note* I like to have a few extra to cover any un-used sites


Up to 20 - 5 Gallon (black) Buckets(grow sites)


15’+2’ per site - 1/2” Flexible (black) Agro Grade Tubing*grow shop


4’+2’ per site - 1/4” Flexible (black) Argo Grade Rubber Tubing * “MisterSprinkler” or "Toro" are best (sorry, no link)


25’ roll 1/2” Black Landscape/Sprinkler TubingAKA “funny pipe” * home depot or lowe’s

**note**don’t get the striped soaker hose


1 per air stone - 1/4” straight tubing coupling


1 - 1/4” tubing elbow(vacuum break)


1 per site - 1/2” tubing straight coupling


1 - 1/2” tubing plug link is an example. Available at HD,L or GShops or lust fold end and zip-tie


1 per site 10” Grow Pots**or build your own, more info later**



PVC: *home depot or lowe’s


1 or 2 - 1”x 10’ PVC schedule 40


1 per site - 1x3/4”x1” Tee


1 - 1” elbow


1 - 1” coupling


? - 1” Tees. Caps or Elbows according to desired layout


1 small can PVC cement**DO NOT USE (PURPLE) PRIMER**



Home Depot exclusive item:

*note* Home Depot puts their landscape sprinkler items away as seasonal. Lowe’s on the other hand keeps that section well stocked all year. I once overheard a manager tell a trainee that they are aware their store services A LOT of legal growers who depend on these items being available! If Lowe’s had the timers I liked H.D. wouldn’t even be mentioned here because of their seasonal availability.


2 - 15 amp outdoor timers



Lowe’s exclusive item:


1 - 1-11/16” OD x 1-3/16”ID Rubber Grommet. (In specially hardware drawer. P/N#881263)


?- aztek 100%pvc 1x2 lumber(needed for tents to rise above framing poles)available@Lowe’s






Misc. items:


Dozen? 8” zip ties


Dozen? 4” zip ties


1 per site - 3/4” threaded X 1/2” tubing adapter (also available straight if needed)


1 per site - 1/2”IDx 3/4”OD hydro farm rubber grommets


1 hydro farm float valve with 1/2” tubing inlet(similar to link, needs 1/2”barb inlet)



Teflon Tape





1 - 160 GPH pump

1 - 250 GPH pump





Air stones:


1 - “V8 can” style air stone


1 per site - 4” disc stones





This takes some figuring, depending on how many grow sites/air stones you have. Let’s explore! The air stones are rated for 3.2-7.2 l/min. I like A LOT of air so I always figure at the highest tolerance and I count reservoir stone as 2. These calculations are for the minimum stones that should be hooked up to a Pump, you can nearly double the minimum and it will still work.


AP 20 delivers 28 l/m / 7 = 4-2= 2 site min.

AP 40 delivers 47l/m / 7= 6.7-2= 5 site min.

AP 60 delivers 108l/m / 7= 15.5-2= 12 site min.

AP100 delivers 150l/m / 7=21.4-2= 19 site min.





O.K. Now let’s go over the layout. This system can be used in any space. It’s all up to you. I prefer a circular layout but for a smaller system or a tight fit, straight is fine.



A simple straight layout example would be in a small 4x8 tent w/8 sites setting the control bucket and reservoir outside the tent and running the feed lines right up the center.



Pic coming soon



This example is an 8x12 room with 12 sites. The floor was built up slightly so the control bucket will be in the room






Here’s another design (using Lucas Method) that feeds bloom and grow simultaneously



Pic coming soon



Making the Grow Sites:


I like to make a jig to hold the buckets steady. It makes drilling SO much easier. Also, we want a professional looking job where the buckets all look exactly the same. a jig helps! This one I made from scraps around the house. Nothing fancy but does the job.




The bucket fits between the straight 2x2’s and in the cradle (round cut out) with the angle pieces keeping the bucket from rolling or sliding around




Just a couple simple jigs that can replace a set of hands and really step up production



The other jig I make is a drill template. Its simply a 1x2 cut the height of the bucket from the reinforced rim to the bottom . I drill the 3/4” hole in one end and the 1/4" hole in the other. that’s right, it’s a stick with two holes!



For the 3/4” hole position figure 3/8" for the grommet and a little for the thickness of the bottom. Usually works out to 7/8 or 1” up to center of hole. I’ve seen buckets that were more or less. You can see on a bucket where the bottom is if you look closely at the patterns of the plastic on the outside then add a little for safety. For the 1/4” hole I make it the same measurement up from the other end.



Now a word about drill bits. Any type will work. Paddle bits being the worst choice. I prefer a “hole saw” for my grommet drilling and any larger holes . They make a much cleaner hole in plastic than a conventional bit. Less burrs means no sanding to get the little pieces off. Also, I always test that the holes are all the correct size and my layout jig is correct on an extra bucket or lid. Better safe than sorry.


The 1-5/8” hole saw (needed for control bucket) can be purchased at Kitt’s Industrial, Harbor Freight or online. Neither home depot or lowes has this size.


O.K. now that were ready let’s put this thing together. I always start with getting all the buckets, controller and reservoir pre-made and ready to go. that’s why I started with the jigs!



5 gallon Grow Sites


To get started I cut all the 3/4”grommet holes first then go back and drill the 1/4” air line hole. It doesn’t matter where you drill the holes, in line with handle, centered, or wherever it lands in the jig, but on my jobs they HAVE to be the same. I center the bucket in the jig using the handle and make sure the warning sticker is on the same side. Center the drill guide on top and drill away! This goes quickly, especially if someone is helping you swap the buckets out.


For the 1/4”air hole I usually make the hole 2”-3” away from the grommet hole. Close, but not too close to block any flow in or out of the grow sites. I use the drill jig to help eyeball the spacing.



Grommets and Air/Feed Lines


Now for the grommets!! These are a P.I.T.A. I’ve done it several dozen times and make it look easy.. Everyone else struggles. The last person who helped me make a dozen finished 1.5 to my 10. He gets the 1/2 credit for trying!! It is REALLY hard on your fingers and hands and takes practice to be quick. Just take your time and medicate heavily, you’ll make it through! A little spit can help but too much and your fingers get slippery. Also, these need to be properly seated, meaning the bucket needs to be in groove all the way around. INSIDE AND OUT.




**TIP** take the grommeted buckets close to their final resting place NOW before moving on. From here

on out they won’t stack/nest together anymore so you’ll end up making a bunch of trips!


For the air lines I only use the landscape tubing. Its thicker and more rubbery than any I’ve seen at the growshops. we need the good stuff because I don’t use a grommet for the air supply. The tubing seats and seals as long as the hole is nice and tight. Believe me, if you think the 1/2” grommets were tough. You ain’t seen nutin’ yet!! To get it in the hole I first cut a 2’ piece for each site. Then cut a sharp angle on one end, pull through the hole 3” or so and cut the end square again. Good scissors or even tin-snips make this step easy!



Feed Lines


I like to be able to move plants a little to make room for spraying, cloning, whatever. Especially in a confined area. You can use the straight tubing couplings in the list or elbows if you want. Doesn’t’ really matter. It’s up to your space and what you want.


Insert the coupling into the grommet till you can see the end inside then attach 2’ of the flex ½” tubing. I wait till final assembly to zip-tie the tubing together so the natural curve of the tubing can be steered where I need it to end up for final connections. You can install the air stones now, they can be adjusted to the curve later




6 gallon controller bucket


The control bucket is pretty simple build except for the 1-3/16”I.D. grommet. You will hate that part. So we’ll start out easy. First you’ll need a 3/4” hole in the lid for the drain pump hose. Now a 3/8” hole for the cord. This hole should be just below where the lid snaps on, then cut a slit from top of rim to the hole. A razor knife or snips work well for this. We’ll need to get the pump cord in there during final assembly.




For the float valve, position the hole opposite the cord hole. drill a 1/2” hole just below the lip on rim as high as I can and still get the nut on. If you make it a little too high you’ll have to cut the plastic away to get the nut on the back of the valve and that isn’t fun. Speaking of fun!! Let’s tackle that feed/drain hole.




To get started we need a tailpiece to connect later to the 1”PVC feed/drain line. Cut a 6” piece of PVC and bevel the end all the way to the center on a 45 degree angle. An electric sander works wonders for this, otherwise you’ll be filing for awhile!




The placement of the feed drain hole should be just over a 1/4” up from INSIDE the bucket. Again, the right hole saw makes this step easier. With your 1-5/8” hole drilled. install the grommet and the 6” tail piece we pre-made, beveled end into bucket. You need the PVC to stick inside the bucket 1-1/2” to 2” as to install an elbow and static level control pipe. More on that later.



57 gallon Reservoir


This one’s easy. Throw away the bulkhead clamp. You won’t need it. The lid fits snugly. I knock out the 1 ” plug in lid to fit a cord thru and drill a 3/8” hole in the other plug for an air line. Next I drill 2 holes a couple inches down from the top, about 3”or 4” apart for the drain/fill lines. It’s coming together!




PVC Fill/Drain Manifold


For the pictured example I did a straight manifold but this can be customized to fit ANYWHERE. If your doing a large system with multiple pots. I like to loop the manifolds together using elbows and tees. It’s really up to you. The only problem with larger systems is un-level floors. An inch or so difference isn’t so bad but I’ve seen 5 and 6 inch differences in basements. That would have some plants starving while others are causing a flood. I usually go around and shim up the pots to be level in a basement with PVC lumber or extra lids, but that can get expensive with huge differences in levelness. If your dealing with this situation I’d suggest a framed floor using treated lumber and 3/4” T&G Plywood to level things out.


The first step is to place the sites evenly spaced in the space. Now set the Tee’s where you would like them to go. I usually cut 8” pieces for the “paired up Tee’s so start by placing the Tee’s 6” apart centered between buckets. Now measure the distance between the longer spans. They should be roughly the same. Pick the average and let’s get cutting. First you need to know how much to add for the pipe that goes in the fittings. It’s always the size if the pipe. You need to add 2 inches to each measurement to allow for this.




Your paired Tee’s are 6” apart? you need an 8” piece to connect. The paired Tee’s are 22” apart? You need 24” to connect.





This glue stinks!! I like the “Low VOC” like the link provided but the smell can be bad. Also, the glue sets up quickly so be quick with adjustments. It also makes a mess. You want it to ooze out for a perfect bond. Use a piece of cardboard to keep floor clean and a rag handy to clean up messes. Also, paint both pieces, inside any fitting and the outside of any pipe being glued


I start by gluing the paired Tees first and just eye them to be opposite. When gluing the connecting pipes use a flat level surface (floor) to “square” them up. Add cap to the end if needed. While the glue is out, glue the coupling to the outside tailpiece on controller and place where it’s going to stay. Now is a good time to screw the threaded adaptors in place. If you don’t use Teflon tape is will leak a little for a few days. It WILL quit. I promise.








Now place the completed manifold in space, measure to controller, add 2”, cut and glue pipe in place





Main Air Feed


This is easy. Use lg. zip-ties to secure the 1/2” rigid landscape tubing all along the PVC using the same fittings to make a perfect match. Cap the end if needed and run the other end out and up to your AP Pump. If your using a AP60/100 you’ll need a couple layers of tape to make the hose fit. Use elbows for any sharp turns.


**NOTE** any air pump MUST be placed above the height of the reservoir. If the air pump ever quit it could start a siphon and drain the system making a mess and a hazard. That goes for timers, ballasts and power strips too. SAFTEY FIRST! waist high, you won’t die.






Reservoir and controller


Take a 7’ piece of 1/2”flex tubing and run one end thru one of the holes in reservoir and connect to the large (250GPH) pump. Use small zip-tie to make extra secure.. Feed the hose in till pump rests on the bottom with no kinks or bends. Connect other end to float valve. Inside the reservoir a vacuum break needs to be installed. This is done with the 1/4” elbow inserted into the side of the 1/2” tubing up where in comes in the side. I aim it towards the side , cuts down on noise. Now use a 3’ piece of 1/2” flex and run it thru the lid and attach to the smaller pump (160GPH). Use a small zip-tie on the pump. The other end is inserted onto the reservoir 3-4 inches. Use a large zip-tie as a stop to keep the tube from ever coming out.


For the reservoir air stone use a 6’ piece of 1/4” tubing run thru the small hole in the drum lid and connect to the large cylinder air stone. I close the lid then raise the stone by pulling out tubing. When it’s about a foot from the bottom I use a large zip-tie to keep the stone elevated. Two reasons for this. 1, if the stone got in front of the pump it would break the suction and the pump wouldn’t work. 2, with the stone raised there will be more air pressure delivered to the stone with a lot more bubbles. If you need to adjust later , raise stone higher to increase pressure. But if you followed my recommendations 1’up is perfect



Grow Sites


The feed/drain tube is easily connected. Like I mentioned before. Use the curve of the pipe to place and connect the buckets.

The air lines are connected with straight 1/4” couplings into the side of the main line. They sell a piercing tool. I just use a nail to make a hole then push the coupling in and connect to each 1/4” supply line. Use the curve again, connect and use a small zip-tie to hold the two lines together keeping things neat.




Static Level Control Pipe


To set these levels we need to flood the system. Put a 1” elbow onto fill line. NO GLUE here. This will be removed to drain the system. Next you’ll need to fill the reservoir and nute the water. I use DynaGro Bloom and D.G. Mag/Pro but that will be for another thread. I use an amended Lucas Method. In this system 1000ppm is your target level. When ready, put the empty grow pots in the sites and plug in the reservoir pump. The water will be coming thru the float valve into the control bucket and in a few moments will begin to fill the sites. Your watching till the water level touches the bottom of the grow pots then unplug the pump. This is your static height. Measure from surface of water to the top of the elbow, add 1” and cut a piece of pipe to fit. This level is for later grow and flower. Cut another piece a few inches higher, half way up to the fill level of float valve. This one will be used for small plants until roots can get down to the water level. After a week or two you can switch out to the lower one.



Timer Settings


I hate digital timers. They haven’t been able to prove themselves reliable, plus their a pain to set. Use my timers and never look back! I set both timers for 15 minutes every 3 hours meaning push in the exact pin for 3, 6, 9, 12 am, and 3, 6, 9, 12 pm all the way around. ON BOTH TIMERS. Now turn one timer so it will come on in a couple pins time. Plug the control pump into this one and write OUT (controller bucket pump) on the cover and plug into power strip. Next turn the next timer face till it’s touching the pin about to go on. Mark this one IN (reservoir pump) and plug in. that’s it. No need to have set to correct time. When in doubt turn IN timer till its about to go on and out to turn on in a half hour or so giving the pots a little time to “marinate” before emptying and re-starting the cycle again.


**NOTE** when first running or after nutrient change. You need to flood and drain the system once to fill the sites to their static level then re-fill and adjust nutes in reservoir. ALSO, wait to change to the shorter static fill pipe till your reservoir needs a top-off. Change to shorter pipe and turn on the drain pump till new static level overflow is returned to the reservoir. Then re-fill reservoir, if needed, and nute as normal.


**NOTE**whenever you mess with a timer or use the override switch, make sure everything is back to working order. This system is simple to run but not idiot proof!!


**NOTE** I drain and re-fill my reservoir every couple months although I’ve gone a year before just replacing the water, adjusting pH and bringing ppm to 1000. To drain simply remove the elbow in the controller bucket, un-plug the hose going to the float valve, attach that to a hose going to a drain, then turn on both pumps using the over-ride switch on timers.



Making your own Grow Pots

This is easy as long as you have access to the proper tools. You’ll need a jig saw to make the pattern jig and a router to cut out the hole. I use 2 gallon buckets for the pots and a lid with the correct size hole to bring it all together.

You can also make the veg area with 2gal sites that nest with 2gal grow pot. Won’t work for bloom. By then the roots will have the bubbles escaping thru the sides instead of thru the rocks. I call it “burping” and it makes a mess everywhere.

2gal grow sites are made the same as the 5gal system. The only difference is a 5gal bucket can be used for the control. Also, set the flood/float valve to a height that’s at least 1.5” down from the top of the 2gal grow sites. The grow pots are just 2gal buckets with lots of 3/8” holes drilled in the bottom.


First you’ll need a pattern. I cut mine from 3/4” plywood. Make the outside diameter to fit snuggly inside a 5gal lid. The inside hole should fit the 2gal pots well but not too tight. You want to be able to remove the pots easily.


Pic coming soon


To cut the holes in the lids I use a 1/2” pattern bit with a top mounted ball bearing guide bushing and a router. This makes a huge mess. Lots of little curly pieces of plastic are produced. A garage or even outdoors is best. Trust me!




Pic coming soon

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How long b4 the pics of that 12 site system are up?? This system WORKS.. I've seen and have this system... Longhairbri is a great guy.. He has donated half his system and I donated the other half to my blind friend who grows.. Longhairbri is one of the most compassionate people I know.. He is definately an ASSET to the community!! Thanks for all you do that the community knows about and thanks for all you do that they dont know about!!


p.s. this is my first attempt at hydro. everyone has told me stay away. don't do hydro.. this system is sooo easy I've had ZERO problems so far.. I just sit back and watch.. How nice is that!

Edited by bigbudsnewbie
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How long b4 the pics of that 12 site system are up?? This system WORKS.. I've seen and have this system... Longhairbri is a great guy.. He has donated half his system and I donated the other half to my blind friend who grows.. Longhairbri is one of the most compassionate people I know.. He is definately an ASSET to the community!! Thanks for all you do that the community knows about and thanks for all you do that they dont know about!!


p.s. this is my first attempt at hydro. everyone has told me stay away. don't do hydro.. this system is sooo easy I've had ZERO problems so far.. I just sit back and watch.. How nice is that!


Sup dude! Took me until now to figure out who you are.


How awesome is that though? Teaching the blind to grow better medicine!


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The key here is do the job RIGHT. Halfassed construction equals halfass operation. I know some would not have gone through trouble to make a simple template to hold the grow buckets for drilling. How many problems did LHB avoid just by drilling a proper hole?


Everything shows 'thinking things through' with a little overthinking. This is way better than little or no thought in to your plans. Overthinking in this realm is maybe important - you are dealing with new law, LEO/rippers, you are spending $$$ for a long term investment - so overthinking of EXACTLY why you want to do this, how bad do you want it to work, and staying out of prison or having your stuff forfeit - is smart.


I worked things out on paper, I saw other operations and gauged my own success from others. If Shuette passes a bill to ban clubs or associations - I have no idea how the newbies will cope when all the mentors go back underground.



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Very nice Bri got this page booked marked and a pic is worth a thousand words... Yep thank you for taking the time to put this up.

Hey was thinking when you said the rubber gromets where a pain to install, what about thru-hull fittings like for boats ? I've had to drill alot of holes in boats and install fittings for a/c pumps and such where ya can't and don't want any leaks and was just wondering if those would be easier to install. Cost a heck of alot more thats for sure..

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Hey, I am wondering why you choose to have your air lines enter the bucket beneath the water level? Is there a reason for this, other than keeping everything nice and neat? I think of it as just another spot to potentially leak, although I do not doubt your skills in leak-proofing a dwc bucket...lol. I just built a 12 plant system using six 10 gallon totes, that is a recirculating dwc with a top drip, and I hate my air hoses coming in at the top of the tubs. By the way, thanks for putting all this on here. Big help to see other people DIY systems.


Here's a pic of my system, before the top drip was added, the reservoir is outside the room, all the totes are lined together and back to the reservoir where the pump for the top feed system is located.


I wanted to add that this isn't like the under current systems, it is top watered for 15 minutes every 3 hours, from the reservoir, and gravity does the rest to even things back out.



Edited by engineered_excellence
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neatness counts! lol

the landscape tubing I suggest is very thick and makes a water tight seal in a 1/4" hole. FOREVER.


On how this system actually functions, for some reason it took me a second, but I think I got it. Please let me know if this is correct.


The larger pump in the reservoir kicks on first and flows through the float valve into the controller bucket. This begins to fill up the control bucket, which in turn fills the plant sites. After a delay, the smaller pump in the control bucket comes on and starts to pump water back into the reservoir. This is where I have a question... Which normally happens first, the small pump kicks on, or the float valve tops out and cuts off flow from the reservoir? or which is preferred? or does it even matter? I would imagine that during the 15 minute pumping cycle, the float valve goes on and off a few times.


Ok, so both pumps are on now, and both are set to run for 15 minutes, the larger pump came on first, so it goes off first, and the smaller pump is still on and pumping back into the reservoir. Does this smaller pump end up completely emptying the control bucket? Due to the static level pipe in the control bucket, the plant sites will only go down so far, but does the control bucket usually get emptied? Or what happens if the small pump goes off too soon, and the water flowing back from the plant sites over flows the control bucket? What is to prevent this from happening? having enough lag time between pumps?

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great question!!


first, the large pump comes on filling the system thru the float valve. there is a 1/4" elbow stuck into that piece of tubing to act as a vacuum break and pressure release. when the control is full and the pump is still on the pressure is released via the elbow.


second, I like a little time to "marinade" the buckets. so I have the 15 min window their flooded.


third, the little pump goes on draining the system and completly empting the control bucket. this pump runs dry for awhile each cycle. had 0 problems in 3 years on 3 systems



the float valve is set 2" below the top of the buckets preventing any overfolw

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