Aquarium water exchanger

If you want happy fish you’re going to need to do regular aquarium maintenance. Part of this is exchanging a portion of the tank’s water on a regular basis. [Bill Porter] came up with a water exchanger that means less manual labor, but makes the process just a bit more complicated.

So, what he would do before is fill a few buckets from the aquarium and dump them down the toilet. Then mix up a few buckets of salt water and add them back to the aquarium. This meant carrying several trips worth of heavy, dripping buckets through the house. What he has now is a gravity fed system into the orange bucket with a bilge pump to evacuate the old water from that bucket into the kitchen sink. The bilge can then be used to circulate water through the aquarium and the bucket, while filling with a hose from the kitchen sink and mixing in salt and chemicals. Less trips, no drips, but you’ve got to know what you’re doing with all of those valves.

We love seeing aquarium hacks like [Bill’s], or cooling the tank lights while heating the water, or just a fancy lighting setup in general. So if you’ve got some of your own, don’t forget to send in a tip about them.

Quick, cheap, and simple vacuum tweezers

[Ken] found that using traditional tweezers is a good way to lose tiny surface mount parts and so set out to make his own vacuum tweezers (PDF). He already had a small aquarium pump that he used as a bubbler for etching circuit boards. After opening up the case he found it was possible to connect tubing to the input of the pump to use as the source for the vacuum. The business end of the device is a syringe which he already had for applying oil in tight spaces. A file took off the sharp tip, and a small hole lined with a bit of soft tubing serves as a valve. Put the needle tip in place and plug the hole with your finger to pick it up. Works like a charm and will go well with our next feature, building your own reflow skillet.

We like [Ken’s] work. We just looked in on his copper clad enclosures yesterday.

Halloween props: puking pirate

With everyone’s favorite free-candy holiday approaching, [Slouriesr] set to work building a vomiting ghoul for his Halloween display. He’s calling it a puking pirate and it centers around a pump and some simple plumbing fixtures.

First, the vomit receptacle was made by adding a sink drain with a pop-up stopper to the bottom of a kitty litter bucket. The drain slows the evacuation of liquid into a five gallon bucket below. In that bucket you’ll find a float switch pump used to keep water off of a pool cover. As the bucket fills up the pump turns on and empties the water through a hose ending at the ghoul’s mouth. The result is a 20-second puke cycle sure to delight the trick-or-treaters. Sure, there’s a lot of work to be done to get this guy looking the part, but what a great idea!

Help keep us in the holiday spirit by sending the details on your latest prop build.

Laser cut pumps

As the video above shows, [Zach Hoeken] is continuing to improve on his peristaltic pump design. The moving parts in peristaltic pumps never contact the fluid being moved. Instead, they interact with the outside of the tubing that’s carrying the liquid. In [Zach]’s design, multiple skate bearings roll across the outside of the silicon tubing, squeezing the liquid through. You can get a better idea of how this works by watching the first video. The newer version appears to be pumping much better. We’re not sure if that’s because of faster motors or from switching to two bearings instead of three. This definitely looks like a good choice if you’re planning on building your own cocktail robot. You can find the plans on Thingiverse.