The Birth of a new paludarium – Palu2022

Yes, I am back! Ok, ok, I can hear you saying: “Yeah we are in 2023 and you are building a 2022 model”. Well true, but these things take a LONG way before they actually see the light of day, especially given the nature of the paludarium projects I run. Every single time there is more pipes, more sensors, more lights, more stuff. This project was started over a year ago…

WHY? Well, welcome to the age of Zoom and Teams calls

I have come to the realization that things will not change much after the pandemic. Especially in the world of IT where I am still part of (#IworkForDell !) the movement back to how things were are slow or maybe even absent. Where I used to be on a plane like once a week I am now cooked up in my house doing online calls. Also, it doesn’t help that I do have a room where I can work, but it is in the “Mancave” and it has NO outside windows. Yuck!!

So what to do?

Simple, you build the biggest & baddest paludarium down there I have ever built. For some people it may not be much, but this new thing is going to be 140x65x110cm with 30cm of water inside, a true “jungle floor” (bring on the poison dart frogs!), loads of electronics and software and once again (since the 2012-2014 build) connected to tap water and sewer. Big for my standards. And… Big on automation!

Where this tale starts: Actually, at IKEA.

Read more

Like many projects, this project started after a lot of pre planning at IKEA. I once built a paludarium in 2012 using kitchen cabinets, and I decided to take that route once more. One problem: I don’t want to waste any centimeter of height of the setup, as the ceiling height is minimal (only 205 cm) so I did not want to “waste” precious centimeters using standard 80cm high kitchen cabinets. At the same time I wanted to have enough depth in the setup, so a minimum of 60cm depth. And what do you think??? IKEA actually sells cabinets which are only 60cm high, 60cm wide and 60 cm deep (for the Dutch site, look here):

Ikea Metod kitchen cabinet with Ringhult white front: the perfect 60x60x60 building block

So far so good. I could use two of these to build a paludarium which is 120cm wide and 60cm deep. Now I had gotten hold of one of these very cool led panels that are RGB-CCT (OR Red, Green, Blue, ColdWhite and WarmWhite all into one). How awesome would it be to use those for “the blue sky”, additional lighting, night sky glow?

But if you think about it, a 120cm paludarium would not fit a 120cm led tile. So I came up with a new idea: Why not put the two 60cm cabinets apart slightly to form a base for a 130 or 140cm paludarium? And so the plan got finalized: By inserting three IKEA Ringhult “drawer fronts” of 60x20cm abusing those as spacers / shelves I would be able to build a 140cm wide setup! I just added another two “Ringhult doors” of 140x40cm and sawed those to a proper depth of 65cm to act as the top (I know that in the world of paludariums depth is very important; so every centimeter I can add… I will! As the cabinet is around 61cm deep, an overhang of 2 cm front and rear should be acceptable adding up to 65cm). I won’t be using kitchen cabinet standard “feet” but instead I’ll use a set of 44x44mm wooden beams underneath the entire setup so the forces of the immense weight would run neatly from top straight to the concrete floor.

With that, the idea for the cabinet was complete, and it was off to IKEA!

Step one of MANY: Go to IKEA and purchase all parts for a cabinet.

First part of the cabinet assembly

Once the required things were all accounted for, the construction of the cabinet could begin! First I built the two cabinets separately, then I joined them using the Ikea drawer fronts (which double really well as shelves 😉 ). After that, I added the wooden beams underneath in order to get the construction off of the floor, yet firmly in contact with it without wasting too much height (there is a shortage in of that in the mancave 😉 ):

Assembling the cabinet: Two 60cm high kitchen cabinets from IKEA, connected through some “60×20 Ringhult doors” and a wooden beam construction to evenly deposit the weight onto the concrete floor.

After the base construct turned out to be really firm, all that was left was to finish off the build. Adding the two front doors, adding the top. Ikea does sell a 140x60cm “Ringhult door” but I wanted to use every centimeter of depth I could find. So instead I bought two 140x40cm doors, sawed both to size to form a base of 140x65cm in total. Wires and hoses will simply run behind a small clearance between wall and top plate so I did not need to make any crevices for those:

Finishing off the build of the cabinet. Two kitchen cabinets 60x6060cm in size, with some space to form the base for a 140x65cm paludarium. Looks neat, relatively immune to water, quick to assemble.

Next steps

Up next: A gazillion things! Designing the actual glass paludarium, where do I drill holes, how many. How will I run the water household, what about a renewed version of the Artemis controller (yes- I know it shares names with a “slightly” bigger project 😉 ). What about the heating, moisturization, rain… Lots of things to “Scribble down” in the near future. Stay tuned for more!

I tend to write down these design details in scribbly format, just jolting down details and things that I might need to consider at a later stage. Here you see the idea to space two cabinets by 20cm wide “doors”.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *