Controller?

ejohnson

New member
I've been involved in SW since 1998 with various lower light corals over the years. Last October I upgraded to a 150 g. Currently I have the following:

30 g sump/refug
Mazarra LEDs and T5HO
RO/DI
Skimmer and heaters
4 Hydor powerheads with SmartWave

mixed corals and few fish

My question is, do I need a controller? It seems that currently I only need it for temp, ph, the T5 lights and maybe ATO (as the LEDs are already on controllers). I hope to move into more SPS at the FFM, so maybe I might need to get involved in some dosing, etc.

Are the controllers really that great?

Thanks for your help.
 

BubbaBoBobBrain

New member
Absolutely. I have 2 reefkeepers and imo they are the best purchase you will ever make. They make your job a little bit easier and they have a memory in case the power goes out so you dont have to reset all your timers and whatnot. Definitely worth having
 

swannyson7

New member
By no means is it a necessity, but they provide great peace of mind, particularly if you travel. A controller can be set up to email/text whenever parameters get out of whack, a power outtage occurs, water levels fluctuate beyond a set point, etc. They also add redundancy to minimize the impact of equipment failure and allow you to turn off/on pieces of equipment from anywhere in the world if there is an issue. I was on the fence for a couple years about getting one, but now that I have one, I couldn't live without it.

Just a couple examples of how they can save your tank...
1. If your heater thermostat fails and the heater sticks in the ON position, the controller will cut the power preventing your temp from getting too high. If it fails in the off position, it can send you a text letting you know that the temp dropped too much.
2. If your overflow clogs and the DT level rises (activating a float switch in the overflow) it can automatically cut off your return pump preventing a flood or return pump burnout and send you a text.
3. If your ATO reservoir runs dry (activating a float switch in the reservoir) it can cut off your ATO pump, preventing pump burnout and send you a text.
4. If you spring a leak somewhere in your plumbing or have a crack in the tank, a controller can send you a text to let you know that a water sensor was triggered.

There's a million other scenarios where it can save your tank and equipment as well as damage to your home if set up with all the bells and whistles. IMO, definitely worth the money in the long run. My apex has already saved my butt a couple times when I was on vacation. Problems only seem to happen when you're away from home...
 

Tautog

New member
I've been on the fence about getting one too. Just not sure which. RK or Apex. Anyone have experience with both? Pros, cons. Don't mean to hijack, but I'm in the same boat.
 

ejohnson

New member
I've been on the fence about getting one too. Just not sure which. RK or Apex. Anyone have experience with both? Pros, cons. Don't mean to hijack, but I'm in the same boat.

Good question. I'm leaning toward the RK Lite, but would love to hear from the controller experts!
 

swannyson7

New member
I'm by no means a controller expert, but If I were deciding between a RKE & an Apex, I'd take the Apex hands down. As for a battle between a RKL and Apex Jr, I'd opt for the Apex Jr, based solely on my poor experience with Digital Aquatics. My apex came with a pH probe and temp probe and is net ready out of the box. The RKE head unit is quite a bit cheaper, but once you buy a pH probe and net module, you're at the same price mark.

Prior to my Apex, I had an RKL and was very dissapointed in the documentation, customer service and the poor user friendliness (Primarily in updating firmware) of the unit in comparison the the Apex. I also find the programming language of the Apex (although similiar to RK controllers) to be more natural and intuitive. When I had an issue with my RKL, it was 3 weeks after purchasing from Marine Depot and DA told me that my warranty wouldn't cover service on the display unit, so I would either have to purchase a new one or pay to have it fixed. The reason they gave me was because the manufacture date was outside of the warranty period. It didn't matter to them that I had just purchased the unit (and had receipts to prove it) after it sat on a shelf for nearly a year. Based on the poor customer service, it's no wonder why Marine Depot has them sitting on the shelf for so long...
 

ejohnson

New member
Arduino is fun but really challenging. Huge learning curve to even get started!!!

My two sons are in IT/Software Engineering and they said that Arduino is easy to program in C, but I don't play those games...I like the sounds of the user friendly systems!
 

my2girls

Premium Member
Yes controllers are all that. They are nice toys with a purpose as Scott mentioned.

I've had both DA Reefkeeper and Neptune AC Jr. and Neptune wins hand down, forever, period, end of story. The Reefkeeper was buggy and I couldn't trust it so thats when I made the switch. Soon I'll be getting the Apex Jr. so I can get email alerts even though I don't travel much.
 

ejohnson

New member
OK, I'll continue to read about them. That Neptune does sound pretty cool with the Iphone tie-in. How about my blackberry, can I control it with that?
 

BubbaBoBobBrain

New member
There is only 2 issues I have ever had with my reefkeeper lite but they might be from me needing to update my firmware.

1) When I put it in feed mode it is supposed to kill the powerheads for 15 minutes and then turn them on but for some reason they dont turn back on and I have to reset it.

2) When I have my powerheads set on the wavemaker setting there is 1 powerhead that just doesnt seem to turn off, even when the lite on the powerstrip says its off.
 

eddiesylas

Premium Member
From what I have read +1 to Neptune Apex. Best quality and most function for the money. And the Jr. is even affordable (you know, for a luxury). But look it up of course.
 

89Foxbody

New member
I have a RKE and I have had a couple minor issues, the main one being that the status indicators on the PC4 stop working after a while. So when I'm adjusting something from the head unit, the green light won't blink to let me know that's the PC4 I am tinkering with. Additionally, the blue lights don't come on when a channel comes on. The channels still work, but the lights do not. Both issues are on the same PC4 so maybe it needs to be updated. Other than that I've been happy with it. Hear a lot of great things about the Apex though, almost wishing I woulda done a bit more research before making my purchase.
 
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