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Advice for Noob: Snake Tank Project

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Newbie level 2
Jun 24, 2015
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Gday fellers, well I want to learn more about electronics and circuit’s and I feel the best way that I can do this is to make something sort of complex (well by my standards anyway).

I’m a light vehicle mechanic and I currently work in a forklift repair place but have done heaps of work with customising cars wiring and pcs and general s--- and I can solder fine and whatnot so I’m not a complete newb with electronic but not far off.
I’m making a new elaborate snake tank out of an old huge hardwood TV cabinet (which suits it perfectly) and want to put a big wiring system in for many things. I can get a few components off ebay for it all (where’s the fun in that) but won’t learn anything and I know it’s a big ask but would a few of you kind people help me out by drawing a diagram (I can read them fine and know what all the components are) and then help me out by answering my (probably many) questions after?

So here goes.
I’m thinking the best way to do this is via 12VDC and have relays in place for actuating the two 240VAC heat and UV lamps. Obviously circuit breakers in there to.

Firstly I want three temp sensors and three humidity sensors and all displayed on six three number displays.
I want to use one of the temp circuit’s to actuate a relay for a 240VAC 100W heat lamp at an adjustable temp that can be displayed on one of the temp displays when you press a button and another two buttons to adjust it whenever I need.

Secondly I want to have an adjustable time for turning on a relay for the UV lamp in the day and off again at night.
Thirdly I need a circuit that controls 2 separate red led strips that will be on at various brightness at different times all day and night (both strips need to be at a different brightness to each other all the time as one strip will be in a brooding box) and I would like to have them slowly fade in and out when the need to and not just suddenly if not to hard?

Fourth I have 5 3.5V 350mA led’s that I want to run on two circuit’s (one with two that point up and one with three that point down) that need to run only during the day. And I want them to be on at different brightness’s at different times of the day again and different brightness’s to each other again

Fifth I have a 12V 300mA water pump that I want to run only during the day but at a varying rate so I can monitor how much humidity is being made (heaps of water pumped all over the tank will create heaps of humidity which is fine during the winter but not at summer)

I also want 5 pots to vary the brightness of the two red strips, the two white led’s and the speed on the pump and that will just disregard the power the circuits have them at (via diodes?) and to turn the pot all the way off to put them into “auto” mode

I would also like to have two SPDT switches for the UV and heat lamps (on/off/auto) and have a little rgb led for everything so when it’s in auto mode it will be green, blue for on and red for off.

And finally I would like a total wattage display just for s---- and giggles.

If you can help out that would be great as everyone needs to start somewhere.
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Hi there!

Sounds quite a complex design you have in mind, probably a bit time consuming to put together for people who are busy with their own electronic efforts (and headaches in my case!)...

Because you said you are fine with schematic diagrams and component symbols, and you seem to know how the individual parts/functional sections of the snake tank should look and fit together, perhaps one way of going about your project could be to break it up into each stage, then source the relevant information via manufacturers' datasheets and endless resources on their webpages. I don't know... try Texas Instruments, Fairchild, NXP, Intersil, Analog Devices, Microchip Technologies, etc., etc. - many of the component datasheets have quite detailed application schematic diagrams, and this way you can find circuits which fulfil your objectives (some needing a little adaptation) for the snake tank and put them together to make the whole. Another option is to read up on these same companies application notes, very useful for many things when datasheets or schematics create doubts or when troubleshooting design problems/hiccups.

Many, many web pages have schematics and explanations, some are great, others are not totally accurate, so maybe it's best to stick to (I hate to say this, it sounds unfair) reputable websites, which it can take some time to figure out which they are. Check out: **broken link removed**
it's one example of a good site for hobbyists I trust to be accurate and reliable information.

Your project sounds a great idea, and a bit of a complex thing you want to put together, and that might take a fair amount of time, but no doubt worth the effort indeed. Maybe doing half DIY, and the other half using purchased devices might be a good idea to begin with. Circuits are (mostly) fun, especially project based ones, so I hope it goes very well for you, and for your snakes. :)

Best of luck!

When you are a beginner, gobs of function get lost when reliability is a problem due to fine details difficult to communicate.
Digital timers mass produced make it easier to integrate. Consider a furnace digital thermostat with programmable setpoints daily. The contact closures are usually rated for low voltage , but sufficient to drive Triacs or "some" Relays.

This is what I use at home.
The thermistor can be relocated with twisted pair magnet wire as long as not too long. Shielded wire may improve immunity. Twisted Magnet wire is good for hiding the wires.

A programmable chip would make it much easier, but in hardware, counter timer Resistor D/A ladder to bias a current regulator to LED's is possible synchronized to the programmable thermostat.

We may not have as much free time as you need to design this.

Cheers guys, I will do some research over the weekend, and yeah I understand that this will take quite a bit of your time to design, so I might try to find a similar circuit on the interwebs and just see what you guys reckon about it and maybe explain it to me a bit. I actually just finished a big snake tank for my mate and just put all prefab components into it from ebay which I can do to my tank also but I wont learn anything and that's the whole reason of me making this from scratch, so I can learn and understand how, why and what each component does and how it will effect the end result.
And I cant quite get my head around what the second last paragraph you wrote means Sunnyskyguy. I know I will probably need a micro processor for the LED auto timing and brightness control though.

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