• Welcome to our site! Electro Tech is an online community (with over 170,000 members) who enjoy talking about and building electronic circuits, projects and gadgets. To participate you need to register. Registration is free. Click here to register now.

Aquarium Controller

Not open for further replies.


New Member
Hey all:)

I am a reef hobbiest and am rebuilding a 65 gallon saltwater tank. There are several controllers on the market that use X-10 to control lights, pumps, gadgets, and these controllers also monitor various parameters, simulate lunar cycles, storm conditions and many other things.

These controllers also cost several hundred $$$.

I figured I could just start building my own, but have come to two realizations:
1) the costs can add up from the different components/parts
2) this stuff is a lot of fun

To sum up, I can see why they are expensive.

Anyway...the pupose of this post...

I started out with a BASIC STAMP 2 and a RamPack B clock, from solutions cubed. Just interfacing to set and read time has already used up 33% of the stamps resources.

Once I interface an LCD screen, some other LED's, a few buttons and calculate solar, lunar and storm simulations to control lights and pumps, I wont have any space to interface monitoring any parameters (temp, pH, OPR, etc), or iclude other bells and whistles.

What advice I am looking for is where to go to expand on program memory and I/O pins.

Can I program some additional stamps as a slave to a master chip? This option could get costly and bulky, but allows each stamp to be specialized.

Should I look for a different chip, which should I look for next to expand program memory and I/O pins?

Just looking around the board, I can see most members are above and beyond the BASIC Stamp series, but I can work only with BASIC. I do not know C or anything less human (such as assembly). What do you all recommend as the next step?

Secondly, how do I put all of this together? I found a neat looking case that resembles a typewriter at www.digi-key.com. I would like to use that. But, how do I create a final product board? Mount the board to the cabinet, install buttons and such?

As you can see, I am just starting and am incorporating one feature at a time, so these questions are for down the road for the most part, but I would like to be able to set realistic goals.



New Member
Pak Series

Have a look here for some add on chips that will work with your stamp, and programable in basic. I use the PAK VC pwm controller with my Stamp/Atom/Oopic all of the time and it turns one microcontroller pin into 8 hardware based pwm outputs and is pretty simple to program. They also have a bunch more io and math chips available too. Some of them are a wee bit pricey but 8 hwpm pins that are easily controllable are hard to come by.




New Member
:) Rescyou: Thanks, I had actually ben to Pak's website before and looked at their chips, those are contenders for I/O. My bigger problem is the lack of program space.

Even with variable space, I can add some RAM to work with, but the program space I suspect will be the bigger problem.

For example, I have currenly the BS2 interfaced with the PocketWatchB for retrieving time and determining the sunrise, sunset and length of day and I am at 40% of program space :( - this may be do to having to work around Positive Integer Math - never done that before...neat stuff. I have not interfaced with a screen or even buttons yet, much less any of the other features I'd like to see in the end.

I am also coming to the realization how much space those serial commands take up :? must be the sacrifice for only taking 1 pin for communication.

So I guess the first thing I need help deciding is do I use two or three of these Stamps and dedicate them to various tasks, with one being the master. There are Stamps with larger program space, but they have to be separate programs of the same size limitation. Atleast with several stamps, I have the added benifit of additional pins for future use.

Any other suggestions?


New Member
You might want to consider another micro. I've had good luck with the BasicAtom24 Pro and it runs about $30.00. It is faster, and has a lot of hardware based in/out functions and can hold a larger program. It is also pin for pin compatible with the Basic Stamps and the programming language is near identical.

Not open for further replies.

Latest threads

EE World Online Articles