Thursday, July 15, 2010
I really like the AutoPot concept, however, I thought I could build my own system and make it more flexible than what they are marketing.
To begin the process I needed to purchase an additional smart valve, and that turned out to be the most difficult part of the process. Finally, I located a dealer in Texas who would sell just the valve. I purchased the valve for $19.95 and he said UPS shipping would be $11.00. I said "What, the thing only weights a few ounces and the post office would charge practically nothing to ship it." This person, Dave, said "Yeah you are right. The post office is not far from here, I can bring it there." To keep it short, he did, and the charge was four dollars and change. How many hydro dealers do you know who would do that? Dave, you are a true southern gentleman!
My plan was to use an old green plastic drawer that I found in the basement as a tray, and cut a cover from particle board to fit a large pot to grow tomatoes, cucumbers or eggplant.
Next, to make the design more flexible, I cut two more covers so that the same tray can also be used for six four inch pots, or two six inch pots. To complete the system I use a five gallon bucket from Lowe's for a reservoir, or I can simply use a T fitting to feed the system from either of my two existing reservoirs. And, as you can see in the bottom photo the whole system nests nicely for storage.
Other than the smart valve, and the three dollars I spent for particle, board the entire system cost me nothing. All of the pots and paint were already on hand, and if they were not, their value is negligible.
If the AutoPot folks decide to steal my ideas, hopefully, they will toss a few bucks my way to compensate me for spending the afternoon improving their product.
If you are interested in experimenting with building your own AutoPot system and would like to just purchase the valve, call 512-444-2100 and ask for Dave.
Other than the valve you just need a shallow tray about 4" deep, some pots, and your imagination.