Aquarium water exchanger built from Keurig parts

We keep seeing commercials for those Keurig coffee makers that use a plastic pod of grounds to brew just one cup of coffee. We’re pretty sure this is a fad, and absolutely sure that the extra packaging created by brewing with this method is a waste. But to each his own. [Danman1453] has two of the devices. One he bought, the other is a warranty replacement. He decided to scrap the malfunctioning unit and see if he could put it to good use. What he ended up with is the aquarium pumping system you see above.

It is conceived as tidier way to swap out the water in the fish tank. He had been using tubing to siphon the water, but found he almost always made a mess. This system uses an air pump to prime the water pump by pressurizing the tank which forces water into the lines. Once the water pump is primed he switches over to that for the rest of the work. He used an old metal tool box as an enclosure, using the cover to mount the push-buttons which route power to various components when pressed. Many of the parts were transplants from the coffee maker, but even if you sourced all of the components new this wouldn’t cost too much to put together.

Comments

  1. Actually, it’s not always a waste. I manage a small industrial test lab, and we often have customers come in for testing. We often times make a whole pot of coffee for someone who drinks only a cup. If another person wants decaf, that could be two pots.

    I’ve been considering springing for a Keurig or similar setup (we’ll expense it under “machine maintenance”….;^) for this very reason. It’d reduce our overall waste and make things more convenient.

    Now, if you’re a more-than-once-a-week coffee drinker or in an office of coffee drinkers, yeah, it’s a major waste. Expensive as hell, too, in those situations.

    • Erik Johnson says:

      I like them, too. I re-use the cups until the flavor has diminished beyond my taste. If you align the puncture right you can keep swapping flavors.

      But true, I would like to see them use just filter packets (like a ravioli) instead of the plastic cups w/ the filter inside. But that could get messy.

    • kaidenshi says:

      At my part time job as a bench tester, the occasional Keurig comes across my bench. I’m a casual coffee drinker so I got a B140 commercial unit on my employee discount (about 90% off retail; I love my job!) and used it about once a week or so. One day I realized I’d been letting it sit unused for three weeks, so I took it to my full time job in a government office, where it gets used daily by the eight of us in my division. It’s definitely less wasteful than that horrid Bunn restaurant class unit in the break room.

  2. poisomike87 says:

    it is perfect if you get the adapter so you can use your own coffee. just use that instead of the cups and save lots of money.

  3. Alex S says:

    Neat, I used to hate switching out water when I had a tank.
    I’d be a little nervous about the power supply and all the electronics being next to those plastic zip tied pipes carrying water if it was mine though. I think an ideal solution would be to have the electronics kept in a watertight compartment above the pipes so if they start to leak there’s no chance of them getting wet.

  4. tantris says:

    once you primed the pump by pressurizing the tank, you might as well continue using a siphon (maybe with a solenoid if you feel fancy).

  5. charliex says:

    Keurig < Bosch

  6. andres ortiz says:

    i picked up one of those broken keurigs. leaky solenoid valve really mucks things up, time consuming fix, but they make you send back the little k-cup holder, and new ones are about 25$ :(

  7. hexmonkey says:

    Surplus pumps that look like the ones in the project are available from Skycraft: http://www.skycraftsurplus.com/otherpumps.aspx

  8. ScottInNH says:

    The disposable pods are a crime against nature – as is all the throwaway plastic we use.

    BUT – what’s worse? The plastic waste, or the impact of conventional coffee plantations? Not just the clearing of the land, but the petro-based inputs, lack of biological diversity and lost habitat, wasted water, soil erosion, etc.

    If on average 50% of coffee pots are dumped down the drain, and you had a system that negated that waste, would that NOT lessen the impact of coffee plantations?

    I think the disposable coffee pods win this argument. But if you want to lessen your footprint more (and still drink coffee) then there is always the refillable K-cups (which I routinely use for tea).

  9. cutandpaste says:

    Everyone here hates it when I suggest something off-the-shelf, but:

    The Python water-change system is fantastic. It uses a Venturi (powered by tap water pressure) to suck water out of the tank, and a flip of a valve refills the tank.

    With an ounce of skill, it’s very close to completely mess-free — and that mess (if any) is all located in the sink, where messes happen anyway.

    As an additional bonus you get to preserve a cool, hard-to-find metal toolbox for such arcane purposes as -gasp- housing tools. :)

    [Yeah, I know: It's too simple. It doesn't involve a few tens-of-dollars worth of random plumbing tubing and connectors from Home Depot, a used coffee machine of unknown worth, and some switches that presumably were bought for the purpose. I mean: Valves, Venturis, and municipal water are just too -easy-, even if the end result is cheaper and better and faster.]

    • cutandpaste says:

      (Oh. And I write this having also done my share of big freshwater changes, where the siphon is so slow that a shop vac with a drain line takes its place, and refilling happens using a 3/4″ garden hose, as well as the traditional siphon-and-bucket technique. The Python kit, again, wins in simplicity and cost and effectiveness.)

    • danman1453 says:

      Uh… cant do that. Not even close. ‘All’ tap water needs treated before being added to a fish tank. On a well probably not so much. Atleast filtered. All the water I add to my tank is treated and filtered. Not all fish can handle a shop-vac water change.

      Also, I am not dumping fish water down my kitchen or bathroom sink. Its either the toilet or in the house plants. Where the nitrogen can do some good. Thanks though.

      • cutandpaste says:

        The only time I had a problem with tap water in an aquarium was when I never changed the water in a salt water tank, but just topped it off to compensate for evaporation. A buildup of phosphorus happened over the course of a few years, which produced a bloom of life-killing red “algae” (which is really bacteria). It never recovered.

        For my freshwater tanks, taking water out and replacing it with tapwater has always worked fine. The local municipality provides excellent water with just a bit of chlorine, and the chlorine has never had any noticeable effect on my filter’s ability to process ammonia (which would’ve otherwise spiked).

        I had problems with well water. Without treatment and filtration, it was too hard for my fish and had way too much iron in it, which fueled algae blooms. A few thousand dollars worth of gear took care of the hardness and got rid of much of the iron, but used chlorine bleach as part of its process — which goes back to square 1.

        So, YMMV, but living in a city with good water == tap water FTW, IMHO.

    • danman1453 says:

      And how would an off the shelf complete solution be considered a hack? Thats kinda silly.

  10. NSXtech says:

    I appreciate the reuse factor,but it is a lot of overkill. I have a aquarium cleaner that uses a waterbed filler/siphon. First I draw down the proper amount of water, then I place my thermometer under the discharge, adjust the tempature to my tank preference and switch to fill mode to refill my tank with the correct tempture water. I bought mine as a kit, but with a little time the parts could be sourced inexpensively.

    http://www.pythonproducts.com/aqprod.html

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