Mark's veg/clone cabinet and home for randy males

Marcus_in_the_Darkus

Well-known member
I thought it might be useful to share with the MNS family this veg/clone cabinet I'm building. :)

In order to maximize the utility of my 4'x4' 600W COB personal rec grow setup, I decided to build a small cabinet in which I could germinate and propagate seedlings, root clones and keep a few selected mothers. I also wanted the ability to separately flower a male or two during each grow to collect pollen and make F2s. I designed the cabinet around three 64W 4’ T8 fluorescent fixtures I had lying around and a 2'x2' flood table that I bought. I planned to do a flood/ebb setup for up to 14 five-inch square containers, and I found a good quality 10-gal Rubbermaid Roughneck tub in dark blue to use as the reservoir. I added space for additional plants, seedlings and clones to either side of the main space. I'm growing in coco coir, transplanting into coco hempy buckets for flowering.

A major design objective is energy efficiency because I'm going to run it mostly on an 18-24 hour light cycle, and it will operate in a cold, unheated New England basement half the year, where supplemental heat is needed and electricity is expensive. Particular attention was paid to the ventilation system, which is designed with air intakes at the top of the grow spaces, adjacent to the light ballasts. Ventilation air will exhaust via Arduino-driven 120 mm computer fan down low on the opposite wall, to maximize cross flow and draw air warmed by the lights drawn over the plants. I really want to avoid or minimize supplemental heat, so the cabinet is constructed of 1/2" foil covered rigid insulation board over 2x2 and 1x3 pine framing. I took care to seal up all seams with aluminum foil tape and to filter the exhaust from the flower chamber to avoid spreading pollen around. I know it's risky working with males in close proximity to my flower tent, but I don't plan to let them drop pollen in the cabinet, rather I'll let them develop their pollen sacks then trim the branches and remove the ripening pollen sacks to another area where the pollen can be safely collected.

So here are a few pictures.

I started framing the floor, back wall and ceiling by cutting 2x2 framing lumber to length with a chop saw, gluing and clamping.

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Here I have framed up the back wall, floor and ceiling using wood screws and brackets.




Here, I have framed up the cabinet, and clad the floor, ceiling and back wall in 1/2" foil-faced rigid insulation board. The floor insulation is caulked to the framing with RTV for an air and watertight seal. I kept the shiny side facing in. I used 1x3 pine as cleats for the ceiling of the flowering chamber / floor of the germination area, and for the front pillars. The Kreg pocket hole jig helped make that easy. I've installed the T8 fluoros, and am using the proto cabinet just in time to propagate some clones I took from some Strawberry Cough plants. My first attempt at cloning and success was achieved!




Next, I sheathed the side walls and sealed up all exterior seams with aluminum foil HVAC tape. I framed the support structure for the flood table from 1x3 pine, and I've temporarily attached the ceiling of the flowering chamber, and trial fit the interior side wall of the flowering chamber.




I've also gotten rid of the shitty Chinese fluoro lights I bought at Wal-Mart years ago because two of them kept turning themselves off. My Angel's Breathe seedlings needed more and better light. I replaced the crappy fluoros with two 4' shoplight LED fixtures for 80 W in the main veg/clone area, with another 35 W of 2' LED shoplights in the flower chamber. So I have about 10 W/sf in the main area, with grow areas at three different distances to the light, and about 15 W/sf in the flower chamber. That's about half the energy intensity as my flower tent but it should be enough. They sure look brighter than the fluoros and at about half the wattage. I think they'll suffice.




That's all for now. I'll post more later.

Thanks for stopping by.
 
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Byorn

Active member
Hey Greetings mate!

nice cabinet you are building there, love those all in one grow spaces. :cool: its nice to see a plan come together :cool:

That trick worked well for me pulling intake from above and exhaust from below, that is what i did last winter with good results. i could raise temp almost 4 degrees Celsius above ambient, while in the normal setup the temps where the same as ambient. Beats a heater all the time!

can you pull warmth out of the house into your basement or is it all insulated from each other? i imagine it could get very cold there in the winter times.

Very nice clamping tool man. Never seen it before.

keep those pics coming :D front row seat :cool:

Good day man!
 

Marcus_in_the_Darkus

Well-known member
Here are a few more pictures that I took tonight.

This is the left exterior of the cabinet, showing two air intakes for the main cabinet (upper) and flower chamber (lower). I used black PVC elbows as light baffles. I painted the cabinet exterior flat black, so it matches my tent (gotta grow with style, brother!). Knowing any horizontal surface would soon be covered with nute bottles, etc., and not having much faith in the longevity of flat black paint on foil, I covered the top of the cabinet with contact vinyl and used some nifty matt black foil tape I found on Amazon to put the finishing touch on it.




Here's the finished flower chamber, all sealed up with foil tape and with the exhaust filter in place. I also used contact vinyl to protect the floor of the surface above the flower chamber. This will be a good location for clones and germinating seedlings as the surface is slightly warm from the LEDs below.




This picture is from the other side of the interior wall of the flower chamber.
I boxed in the filter area so I can easily fit a small fan there if needed. I painted everything below the level of the flood table flat black to reduce the amount of reflected light that can pass through the air filter and get into the flower chamber.



Finally, here's a view of the right side of the cabinet, and you can see the air exhaust opening. I have yet to fit a fan but that's next.




So the next task in this project will be to fit a cover to the front panel. Three covers, actually. I want to use either 1/2" or 1" rigid foam board because it's light and easy to work with. I thought a lot about how to fasten the front panels to the cabinet so they'll be secure, airtight and easy to remove and replace. Then the idea dawned on me. I'll let you know what my idea is when I post my next update. Which will probably take a while, as I'm busy and able to just leave the cover off for now, since basement temperatures are perfect for growing right now.
 

Marcus_in_the_Darkus

Well-known member
That trick worked well for me pulling intake from above and exhaust from below, that is what i did last winter with good results. i could raise temp almost 4 degrees Celsius above ambient, while in the normal setup the temps where the same as ambient. Beats a heater all the time!
Hey Byorn, I'm glad to hear a similar setup worked for you. Nice to have real-world data too! That's exactly the kind of information I'm looking for...thanks! Ambient can get to 48F in the basement in winter, and I was running 1500 W of electric heat in my tent in winter at an estimated duty cycle of around 60+ percent in cold months.


can you pull warmth out of the house into your basement or is it all insulated from each other? i imagine it could get very cold there in the winter times.
The part of my basement where I grow has baseboard fuel oil heat but the zone valve needs to be replaced. Last winter it was off, and I used about 1200W of supplemental electric heat in my grow tent. The basement is also connected to an unheated garage via a stairwell and louvered door, so it gets cold in there. I just checked my cost to heat with electric ($65.58/MBtu @$0.22/kWh) vs. fuel oil ($17.08/MBtu @$1.99/gal) and damn, I'm getting that baseboard heat fixed soon, even though I hate to buy and burn fuel oil!

Also, regarding your comment about pulling heat from the house, the thing most people are completely unaware of is the amount of total energy (electric+thermal) their house uses to support their grow in cold weather. Unless your house or your grow area has a heat recovery unit (HRU), if you vent your grow space to the outside, you induce infiltration of cold outside air into your house, which needs to be heated. While this added heat load can can be handled by your home's heating system, it still uses energy. The amount of energy required depends on two things:
  1. ΔT between your grow temperature and outside air temperature
  • The ventilation rate.

It's enlightening to consider an example. In my case, I have a 190 cfm blower for my 4x4 tent, 600 W COBs, and I want to keep my tent at 75 °F when it's 35 °F outside, so ΔT=40 °F. Using this online HVAC calculator, and solving for Q, my heat loss will be 2400 W! That's 4x the amount of electric energy consumed (and thermal energy produced) by my lights!

So you can see where I want to go here. The best way to reduce overall energy consumption in winter is to minimize ventilation airflow rate and maximize heat recovery, either with an HRU or by simply using a "Y" fitting and a damper to redirect some of the tent exhaust back into the basement. This is ultimately where I want to go with my Arduino endeavours.

PS - I got the clamping tool at McMaster-Carr.
 

Marcus_in_the_Darkus

Well-known member
Now that the colder weather has arrived, I was motivated to get this project wrapped up. Here's a picture of the completed cabinet all shut up. The three doors are made from 1" thick, foil-faced rigid foam insulation board. The door handles are made from the same and hot glued on. The exterior got a quick coat of flat black. You can see the air intakes up high next to the LED lamps. The air exhaust is on the far side at the bottom.




The next picture shows the inside of the cabinet, the flood table and its reservoir, the exhaust fan, and a utility area currently being used to germinate and propagate some MNS seedlings.




This picture shows the cabinet opened up for access to clones, seedlings and seed plants while the chamber for randy males is sealed up and light tight. I have two male Angel's breathe plants in there making me some pollen. I had to lop the upper 2/3 of them off to get them to fit but they're doing fine.




The next picture shows how I sealed the doors to get a reasonably good air- and light-tight fit. I used foam rubber weatherstripping around the exterior of the door frame. On the inside of the door panels, I used "D" section foam weatherstripping slightly larger than the weatherstripping on the door frame. I was originally thinking about using rare-earth magnets to hold the doors in place but I ended up using velcro, which was a lot easier to do.




Finally, here's my indoor grow setup in its entirety.




Last remaining task is to get the fan speed controlled by arduino in response to temp/humidity. Right now it's just running at a constant speed.
 

Broseidon

Member
Looks very nice man.

One thing I might critique:
I don't know about your experience but in mine, I have the T5 lamps as close to my seedlings and clones as possible. But at least while they are in the humidity dome, that is, well as far away as the dome is.

I have a 400W MH veg light and bury the stems way deep every time I transplant.
Yet my plants are still always a bit lanky and stretchy.

I attribute this to the T5 lights being too far away when the seedlings/clones are just establishing their roots. Thus making them stretch and thus having that lanky/stretchy look to them throughout their life (or until I top/train them to make them bush out).

So what I am trying in the future and what I would possibly suggest to you too is to find a way to get the T5s closer to the plants when they are very young.

I just had a run where I had to keep 3 seedlings outside of a humidity dome altogether, simply because I didn't have space in mine anymore. And they made it just fine.

So my next try will be to leave the humidity dome off and put the lights as close to the plants as possible from the moment they break through the soil.
Hoping for less of a stretch.


But it looks super neat and organized. if you could see how dirty and chaotic I keep my grow space, all the tools strewn around everywhere, watering hose just crammed in the corner etc. etc. xD
Really inspirational. I also like the venting out the old chimney. Although they would tear you a new bumhole for doing that where I live.
 

WalterW

New member
Really nice build you have done here.
Will definitely do something in the next week or two, going to be pretty epic.

Thanks for this, will definitely take some pointers from this when I get my build on.
 
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