Paludarium 3.0: Designing the new “canopy”

Thinking back on Paludarium 1.0 and Paludarium 2.0 I cannot stop wondering why on earth I ever thought that introducing 230VAC on top of a paludarium was a good idea. Powe failure would cause the canopy to “condensate up” and cause huge issues when the power came back. This and a hundred extra issues. So now is the time to set things right in version 3.0. The hood on top used to be a very “smart” lighting (and more) system I called “the Canopy”. Now it is time for a drastic new approach: Canopy 3.0!

Minimalistic design

The new Canopy will have as little as possible electronics inside. All stuff need to be driven through either pipes or wires, and all of the pumps and electronics can sit

somewhere under the paludarium in the socket it sits on. That on its own is something new for me, one is easily fooled into the idea of the “aquarium” where everything if often placed into the hood. Not any more! The new canopy is going to be simple, minimalistic… And completely transparent!

Lighting in the new Canopy

The new Canopy will hold LED lighting of course. In the previous designs LED lights have proven to be very effective, efficient and very good to control (remember the lightning thunderstorms??). This time I ordered high “cooling towers” that will house LEDs on one side, and a cable coming out of the top.

The LEDs will either be 10W white and 3x1W RGB LEDs, or maybe these new 10W RGBW LEDs I’ve just received. Anyway the LEDs and their “cooling towers” look like this:

These “LED cooling tower” heatsinks will be used to cool down the lighting system. They will rise above the new transparent Canopy.

Example of a 10W LED chip. This is a warm white version, but they are also available in cold white and even natural white (between warm and cold).

From these led towers I’ll run cables that connect into the Canopy itself using these very cool and shiny “Aviation plug”. This way I can easily place and remove (and alter 😉 the led lighting by just unplugging it and removing the entire cooling tower from the Canopy:

Aviation plug. Waterproof plugs that will look very cool with the acrylic design of the Canopy v3.0.

FANs blowing

In order to blow some air through the system there are two fans projected. One fan will blow air into the cube, the other will suck the air out again. Because the entire Canopy 3.0 is transparent, I love the fact they produce transparent fans:

Transparent fans sit on top of the transparent Canopy 3.0.

So how do I get the air in and out of the actual cube underneath? The trick sits in the rain system discussed next.

The rain system

Everyone I know builds their rain system using a pump and nozzles to spray water. Anyone who ever looked at rain will come to the conclusion that nozzles never ever provide for realistic rain. So for me it was back to the drawing board; I wanted realistic rain this time, not some nozzle spraying water.

So far I figured out I’d need the ceiling to be full of tiny little holes for the rain to fall from. Pump water on top of the ceiling and presto!… Not. When you try this you’ll find that the rain isn’t actually rain, but rather a series of cat piss streams falling from the ceiling. So… Back to the drawing board part two.

Next I figured to have two plates sitting on top of each other; the top plate should have smaller holes than the bottom plate, and the holes should not be “over” each other. The result? As water is pumped onto the top plate, the small holes will piss down on the bottom plate. As the holes in the bottom plate are larger, they will drain more water than the top plate can provide. Result? Well… Hopefully an intermittent stream of water aka rain drops. So far all academic, I have yet to put it to the test! One of the good things: Having a ceiling full of tiny holes will enable the fans to blow their air through (at least when it is not raining 😉 ).

What the Canopy 3.0 design should look like

The Canopy 3.0 will be made almost entirely out of acrylic or plexiglass. This will make everything transparent. It should look very cool, but at the same time there will be NO room to hide any dirty details 🙂

I made a sketch of what the new Canopy 3.0 should look like:

Draft design of the Canopy 3.0, full acrylic, fully transparent. The rain system remains to be tested (Click for a larger version)

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