Aeroponic, CFL, 2 Strain Closetmaid Cabinet Grow (w/Plans and Pix)

Discussion in 'Micro Grows' started by farm Boy, Nov 11, 2011.

  1. #1 farm Boy, Nov 11, 2011
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 11, 2011
    This journal will chronicle my experience, stealthily growing two clones (Train-Wreck and White Russian) in a highly modified cabinet, using CFL lighting and aeroponic feeding techniques.

    I'm now 16 days into the grow, but almost six months down the road, if you count the time I spent researching, designing, and building the cabinet.

    Let me start by admitting that I don't know anything about growing weed that I haven't learned on the internet. Or, to put it more succinctly, this is my first grow. That being said, the cabinet came out pretty well and has several innovative features that should be of interest. And the weed is looking great as well!

    My first couple of posts will be spent describing the cabinet and its various elements.

    The setup consists of a:

    · 30-inch Closetmaid Wardrobe (30” X 20” x 72”)
    · 264-356 Watts CFL Lighting in a custom fixture
    · Aeroponic, stinkbuddy-style root chamber with 10 gallon reservoir
    · Two 140mm computer fans and homemade carbon filters
    · Hanna continuous pH, ppm, and liquid temperature monitor
    · La Crosse Technology wireless weather station (Inside and outside temp and RH)

    Setup Details:

    30” Closetmaid Wardrobe (30” X20” X72”) available at HD for $95, and modified as follows:
    closetmaid closed.JPG
    Closetmaid 30x20x72 (AERO version with SHELF).jpg

    cab open.JPG
    The cardboard back replaced with slightly sturdier 1/8” hardboard.

    The top structural shelf was moved up a few inches to make more room in the grow chamber. The top, Exhaust compartment now has 9.5” of vertical space.
    top shelf.JPG
    A second shelf is set about 9.5 inches above the cabinet's bottom so there's just enough room for the Centrex 10 gallon tote/reservoir to fit below it. This leaves 49” of vertical for the grow chamber.
    Lower half.JPG

    Pieces of ¾ X ¾” hardwood are drilled to the cabinet sides in place of the weak-ass peg-style shelf supports.

    A PVC Scrog frame is set about 19 inches above the shelf so that it will be 15” above the root chamber.

    Two cheap 16” X 6” louvered vents are affixed to the back of the cabinet, one in the top (exhaust) compartment and one in the bottom (reservoir) compartment.

    A small shelf mounted on Twin tracks shelf supports for the adjusting the height of the fan shelf (note I used the cheaper single support track and it's too flimsy.

    Locking hasp added for security.

    Liberty Double Roller Catch with Spear Strike assemblies (4 total) added at the top and bottom of each door to pull them tightly closed.

    Shiny Mylar added to walls and doors of the grow chamber.

    Strips of weather stripping to keep light from seeping from the grow chamber to the reservoir and exhaust compartments.

    A strip of wood screwed to one of the doors to prevent light from escaping.

    Contined in the next post...
  2. Setup Continued...


    Six, 30 watt CFLs and two 42 watt CFLs in a PVC fixture provide 264 total watts of light. A couple of photos are posted below, but you can see all the details in this post.
    light fixture.JPG
    Light fan, yoyo.JPG
    After a couple of weeks I added four more 23 watt CFLs on two “Y” splitters.


    Passive intake through the 16” X 6” vent in the Reservoir compartment and a 16” X 3” cut out in the bottom shelf.

    Exhaust venting provided by two Lian li 140 mm (6 inch) computer fans (60 cfm each) mounted on the top shelf. The fans suck hot air from the grow chamber and blow into the top (exhaust) compartment. The air then passively vents out through the 16” X 6” louvered vent in the back. Fans are extremely quiet. Purchased from, great resource.
    Internal ventilation provided by an [ame=""]Oscillating Holmes Mini Desk Tower Fan[/ame]. It gets some bad user reviews, but has worked flawlessly for me.

    Odor Control:

    Carbon filter cloth over homemade wood and dowel frames above each fan.
    Filter Box.JPG

    Monitoring system:

    Hanna Continuous pH/TDS/Tmp - HI981507 monitors the pH, ppm and temp of the reservoir.

    A La Crosse Technology wireless weather station monitors the garage temp, grow chamber temp, and grow chamber RH.
    Pump Control, Rez Monitor.JPG

    Aeroponic System:

    The root chamber is a 4” X 4” by 16” long vinyl fence post Stink Buddy-style system, that's fed from a Centrex 10 gallon tote reservoir. The reservoir is located below the bottom shelf to isolate it from the heat in the grow chamber.
    Lower Half finished.jpg
    Inside the reservoir are two Ecoplus 160 gpm pumps. One supplies four EZ Clone sprayers in the root chamber and the other is used to circulate the solution and for pump-out.
    spray bar.JPG
    Bench Test 1.JPG
    Aero System for Closetmaid.jpg

    An Ecoplus two-outlet air pump is connected to a 12” inch stone at the bottom of the reservoir.

    Nutrients are added and pH adjustments are made in a Home Depot 5 gallon pale with a third Ecoplus 160 gpm pump, and then pumped into the reservoir.

    This configuration makes adding nutrients and pH adjustments a little harder than most systems. This inconvenience was a design-concession made to maximize the size of the grow chamber. While mixing nutrients in a bucket and pumping them into the reservoir takes a little longer, at least I know they are completely mixed.

    But the system has a more serious flaw that I won't be able to fix until the next grow. That is that after only about 10 day of growth, the roots have found their way out of the root chamber and into the reservoir. This may not be a big deal. Roots in the rez is the norm in DWC systems. But, still I'm a little worried that the pump might get clogged.


    Train-Wreck Sativa Dominant- from PR Collective

    White Russian Indica Dominant - from PR Collective

    Next up, the Grow Journal.
  3. Now that the preliminaries are complete, let's start the show.

    Day 1 October 26, 2011 to Day 15

    I actually tried to start growing a week earlier, but the clones I purchased from Clone Queen sucked. The better of the two, was healthy but small. The second clone was really not much more than a fresh cutting. After nursing these two dogs for a week, I pulled the plug and replaced them with clones from my local dispensary (PR Collective). Check the difference.
    good vs bad.JPG
    Disregard the plant in the pot. It had been living in its little clone bag on the bathroom counter for over a month. I was trying to keep it alive for my wife. But eventually, we yanked it.

    Here are the new Clones... Nice!
    Left Clone.jpg
    Right Clone.JPG

    Nutrients: GH Flora Micro and Flrora Bloom mixed at a ratio of 1 part micro to 2 parts bloom. This is consistent with the Lucas ratio of 0G-8M-16B. The plan is to slowly ramp up to between 1,000-1,200 ppm.

    Water: I started with about 40% tap and 60% RO water from the local supermarket. Initially I purchased the RO water from the machine outside for $.25/gallon to fill the rez to 8 gallons. After that, I started buying 1 gallon jugs of purified (RO) drinking water in the store for $.79/gallon. The RO water runs about 6.4 pH and 30 ppm on my .7 Hanna meter. My tap water tests at 8.0 pH and 300 ppm.

    On day one, I added 10ml micro and 20 ml bloom to the 8 gallons of water. This got us to 6.9 pH and 250 ppm.

    The next morning the pH was up to 7.2.

    I got the light too close on the first night and burnt both plants. The scars can still be seen on the Train Wreck (TW) 16 days later.

    These shots are after the first night home. Not so nice.
    Day 1 Light Burn- Left Plant.jpg
    Day 1 Light Burn- Right Plant.jpg
    By Day 5, I'd got the pH down to 6.1 and the nutrient concentration up to 400 ppm by adding more nutrients and pH Down.

    The White Russian flourished from Day 1, but the TR has been more temperamental. I think the five days of above-optimal pH caused some problems. But by about Day 6, the TW was making improvements.

    I kept bringing the pH down by adding nutrients. On Day 8, I recorded 5.6 pH and 880 ppm.

    Between Day 8 and Day 16, pH hovered between 5.6 and 5.8, while concentrations topped out at 1280 ppm, but were brought down a little by the addition of a gallon of RO water.

    Over this time, the WR has turned into a solid round bush. With unbelievable growth over the past two weeks. The TW has also taken off, but there have been issues. Early on, there were quite a few spiraling leaves. A few leaves had light coloring at the edges. And then the main stem felt a bit weak and really tilted to the side.

    Low humidity was a problem. So I added a couple of wet dishtowels positioned so that, as wind from the fan causes the water to evaporate, the rags keep wet by wicking up water from containers I top off every couple of days. This has worked well so far. But I'm afraid that it is attracting bugs.

    The TW was looking better every day, but the stem was heading off at a dangerous angle.
    WR D14.jpg
    TW D14.jpg
    Then late on Day 15, I added four 23 watt CFLs.

    By the next morning, the TW was responding to the light and straightening up.

    Day 16 Photos next!
  4. Day 16

    Garage Temp: 68
    Grow Chamber Temp: 81
    Grow Chamber RH: 31%
    Reservoir Temp: n/m
    Reservoir pH: 5.6
    Reservoir ppm: 1210-1200 (note that this is a 30 ppm increase. Are salts building up?)
    Reservoir volume: 7.25 gallons
    Light Distance from Plants: 2
    WR Plant Height: n/m
    TW Plant Height: n/m
    LSD Height: n/m

    It appears that the new lights are already helping the TW's stem to straighten up.

    The RW is becoming a dense bush.

    I pinched the top most buds both plants. I want to stop further vertical growth.

    Added 1 Gallon of Ralphs RO water.

    Readings after the addition:

    pH: 5.6 (no change. Interesting)
    ppm: 1070

    Then and Now (well, yesterday):
    The Lineup Day 1.jpg
    Day 16 Line Up-small.jpg
    WR D16-1.jpg
    TW D16-profile small.jpg
  5. Day 18: 11-12-11 @ 6:20 AM

    Garage Temp: 68
    Grow Chamber Temp: 81
    Grow Chamber RH: 44%
    Reservoir Temp: n/m
    Reservoir pH: 5.7
    Reservoir ppm: 1200
    Reservoir volume: 6.25
    Light Distance from Plants: 2-3
    Left Plant Height: n/m
    Right Plant Height: n/m
    LSD Height: n/m

    Added 3 ml UP
    pH 5.8 after the addition.

    Reset the scrog screen mounts to 15” above the rail. (fixes a measurement error)

    Then at 9:00 AM…

    In 2 gallons of Vons purified (RO) drinking water (6.1-6.4 pH; 100 ppm), I added
    10 ml of Micro and 20 ml Bloom
    4.7 pH and 720 ppm

    Added 3 ml pH UP
    5.9 pH and 740 ppm

    Added 1 ml of pH UP
    6.1 pH and 750 ppm

    Emptied the 2 gallons of solution into the reservoir
    Final readings of the reservoir:
    5.9 pH
    1100 ppm
  6. #6 farm Boy, Nov 13, 2011
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 14, 2011
    11-13-11 @ 6:45 AM

    Garage Temp: 68
    Grow Chamber Temp: 81.5
    Grow Chamber RH: 46%
    Reservoir Temp: n/m
    Reservoir pH: 5.8
    Reservoir ppm: 1140
    Reservoir volume: 7.75
    Light Distance from Plants: 2-3
    Left Plant Height: 14.5”
    Right Plant Height: 13.5”

    Topped the TW

    The mottled leaves on the TR are worrisome. There are light areas between the veins. Check the photos and tell me what you think?
    TW D18 Profile.jpg
    TW D18.jpg
    TR D18 Detail.jpg
    TW D19 Detail.jpg
    Because the permanent RH sending unit is mounted above the lights, I think it understates the RH. So today I added a temporary RH meter under the foliage. I checked it at 11:30 this morning the RH was 59% under the foliage and 49 above the lights.
    WR D19.jpg
  7. 185 vews and no comments. Why?
  8. Nice custom cab! Hows the ventilation working out with just using the computer fans? And has the plant started to smell? Im wondering how your filters are working because I made some of my own which are very similar, but Im worried as to see if they would actually do anything to mask the smell of a budding plant.

  9. because you keep concise posts and look like you have a solid idea of what you are doing. my grow journal is on page 8 and quite few posts outside of mine.

    i'll be watching this. i want to see how your cab works. i am planning a DWC for when my GF and i find and get ourselves into a house of our own.
  10. WooHoo, I got comments!!!

    Thanks guys.


    The ventilation is working well so far. Temps in the cabinet have been running between 9 and 14 degrees above those in the garage according to my weather station data. But the temps are probably a little off. The sending unit in the cabinet is about 2/3 of the way up, which at this point, is above my lights so it reads hotter that the actual temp in the plants' canopies. Also, the garage temp is being measured about chest high so it's easy to look at. But air is being drawn in near the concrete floor, and is several degrees cooler.

    Still, I'm quite happy with the cabinet's ventilation. For summer, fans could be added at the louvered vents to increase air flow. And these fans are basically silent. The loudest element is the air pump.
    The oscillating fan is also working well. But I wish I would have painted it white. The black seems to suck all the light from that corner of the cabinet.
    Regarding odor... I had no idea that weed plants smell prior to budding. But they do and unfortunately so does my garage. Not sure if the filter's aren't doing their job, or if there are too many leaks, or if the time with the door open is causing the odor to escape and stick to the walls. In any case, before switching to 12/12, I'm gonna have to do something more.


    You're probably right. Not enough drama or spectacle to get people interested. Oh well, we’re only three week in, and there’ll be plenty of opportunities to screw things up in the future.

    In any case, thank you guys for stopping by and for the kind words.

    Keep grow'n!
  11. Definitely subbed. Yeah thats what I thought would happen smell wise with that kind of filter system. My computer fans just couldnt move the amount of air through a thick enough diy filter for myself. Are you going to update the filters for the cab? or is the smell not really an issue? Im inerested in what you do with hose fans and filters to completely hide the smell. Why did you decide to go with CFL by the way? Thats a pretty good size cab.
  12. Mornin' Budz,

    Don't have a plan figured out for the odor situation yet. But I have some ideas...

    I wish I knew for sure how the odor was leaking out. Through the filter? Maybe. Through various cracks in the cabinet? I sorta doubt it. It's pretty solid. But it could be the two holes in the top shelf for cords and the air hose. I guess I should secure those before I do anything more radical.

    If that doesn't work, I'll have to beef up the filters. Currently, I'm running just one layer of filter cloth. I could add one or two more. But I would then need to add an additional fan, probably at the louvered exhaust vent to create a pressure differential between the grow chamber and the exhaust compartment, in order to help the air to get through the filters.

    If more filtering doesn't help, I'll have to go with the masking option, which I haven't began to explore. And really want to avoid.

    Regarding the CFLs. You're right, it's a big space for CFLs. But I don't want the noise that comes with inline fans. And I doubt that I could keep even a 150 watt HID light cool with computer fans.

    Has anyone done this successfully?

    If this grow (and maybe the next) is/are successful, I'd like to switch to LEDs. The problem with LEDs is the 14-18 inch focal distance. So I'd have to remove all but the edges of the top structural shelf and hang the lamp from the cabinet-top in order to get enough vertical grow space. I would then move the filters into a tote fixed to the top of the cabinet.
  13. Done what youre doing successfully? Yes I have read tons of journals very much like your with some great results. And yeah I guess I just wasnt thinking, with computer fans theres no way youre gona cool a HID. Im guessing youre gonna need more layers of filter, and thatll slow down the exhaust and you end up adding another fan..Alot of people I see doing a grow like yours use the diy pen cup filters, or multiple layers of carbon filter. And yeah I want to avoid the masking as well. Its just costly and an easily avoided hassle.
    On another note, whats your full plan on LSt? Just topping till scrog? How long is that veg supposed to take?
  14. I guess, by successful, I mean that the project continues to be fun and not interfere with other aspects of my life. I've been spending about a half an hour a day, which is OK. But I'm worried about the stealth aspect.

    Regarding training pruning and topping...

    I expect to add the SCROG screen in the next couple of days.

    The White Russian is extremely thick without a single top branch. I'll add photos from this morning before long. Some of the bottom leaves are deep in the impenetrable (at least with CFLs) forest, and should probably be removed. But I'm really not sure how to go about pruning it.

    The Train Wreck is lankier, but not too streachy. I've topped it a couple of times and now there are two definite branches at the top and several other good sized branches farther down the stem. So it's looking OK.

    Today is Day 21, so that means only a week or 10 days until flowering starts. At the current rate of growth, the screen should be at least 70% full by switch time.

    In both cases, I can really use some advice regarding setting up for the Scrog.
  15. #15 farm Boy, Nov 16, 2011
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 16, 2011
    Day 21: 11-15-11 @6:10 AM

    Garage Temp: 69
    Grow Chamber Temp: 84
    Grow Chamber RH: 47/63%
    Reservoir Temp: n/m
    Reservoir pH: 5.9
    Reservoir ppm: 970
    Reservoir volume: 8.5
    Light Distance from Plants: 3-4
    White Russian Plant Height: n/m
    Train Wreck Plant Height: n/m

    Recalibrated the pH meter using both 7.0 and 4.01 solution. It was reading about .1 high.

    I'm starting to notice a small amount of lightening between the veins of some leaves on the White Russian. Bad news!!!
    WR D21.jpg
    TW D21 Above.jpg
    TW D21 Profile.jpg
  16. Day 23: 11-17-11 @ 5:45 AM

    A Major Turning Point; or Too Little Too Late

    Garage Temp: 69
    Grow Chamber Temp: 81
    Grow Chamber RH: 48/66%
    Reservoir Temp: n/m
    Reservoir pH: 6.3
    Reservoir ppm: 1,000
    Reservoir volume: 6.0
    Light Distance from Plants: 3-4
    White Russian Plant Height: 15.5 approx.
    Train Wreck Plant Height: 15.5 approx.


    • Over the past three days, salt concentration has risen from 950 to 1,000 and pH has gone from 5.9 to 6.3. To me, this means that something in the solution is being rejected by the plants and falling back into the rez. And the something is causing the solution to become more basic/alkaline. So. The locked out nutrient is probably basic.

    • More mottling is showing up on the older leaves of the White Russian. And I'm seeing a few leaf tips that look burnt.

    • The Train Wreck has caught up with the White Russian in the height race.

    • The White Russian needs some major pruning. I just don't know where to start.

    • Bugs! I'm noticing some flying around and dead in the humidifier ponds. No damage to the plants yet noted. Need to take action ASAP.

    Goodbye Lucas, it's been fun.

    After taking the above readings, I removed 6 gallons of solution from the reservoir (all that I could siphon out). The marking on the Tote shows that 1.25 gallons remain. But the math doesn't quite work (6.0 gals - 6.0 gals = Empty. But there's still some left).

    Then to six gallons of Ralphs Purified (RO) Drinking water, I added:

    85 ml HydroponiX (X Nutrients) Grow
    67 ml HydroponiX (X Nutrients) Micro
    4.5 ml pH UP

    This equates to approximately 75% of the recommended dose (20 ml Grow and 15 ml Micro per gallon).

    Readings after the big change:
    pH: 6.1
    ppm: 1050
    Reservoir volume: 8.25 gallons (questionable)
    Line Up from Above D23.jpg
    Line Up Profile D23.jpg
    WR D23.jpg
    TW D23.jpg
  17. awesome cab man! i also used a closetmaid from HD, but a slightly smaller version. out of curiosity, why didn't you go with a hid? seems like you have the technical know-how to have set up a nice cooling system for it if heat was the concern.
  18. Hey Foo, thanks for dropping in and the props.

    This is a stealth grow in my garage. The cabinet is next to a fridge, so the pump noise just blends in, and the computer fans are totally quiet. But I think an inline fan, needed for an HID would be way too loud.

    I'd really like to go LED on the next grow, but the $500 price tag is still a little steep.
  19. yeah, i'm kind of in the same boat. i had to buy a speed controller for my blower to slow it down a bit and when i have company over i also turn on a box fan i have in the room just as an added precaution. isn't it ridiculous that we have to go to these great lengths to hide growing a plant found in nature? i wish ron paul could become president, but i doubt the corporations that really run this country would ever let it happen. a man can dream though...
  20. Did some major cropping of the undergrowth this morning. Don't really know what I'm doing here. Hope more good than harm was done.

    Foo, not sure what Ron Paul and your corporate conspiracy theories have to do with growing weed, but I'm gonna have to go with some ONA starting tonight. The smell is starting to cause some lifted eye brows ‘round the ‘hood. I plan to build an ONA bucket with a computer fan.

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