RUFS Plans

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RUFS Tower Build List

RUFS 2.0 Tower Diagram


For construction of model pictured above, 2 banks of 10 towers


Parts and Pieces (What to buy)

Support Frame

(5) 10' - 2" PVC pipe - See It!
(1) 10' - 3" PVC pipe - See It!
(4) 2" PVC 90° elbow - See It!
(8) 2" PVC tee - See It!
(4) 3" to 2" PVC tee - See It!
(4) 3" PVC endcaps - See It!

Note: All PVC pipe and fittings are Schedule 40 - cellular PVC

Towers/Return

(10) 10' - 2" x 3" PVC downspouts - See It!
(1) 10' PVC extruded gutter 4" - See It!
(4) PVC gutter end caps (make sure to get 2 left and 2 right) - See It!
(2) 1" threaded to 3/4" barbed adapter - See It!
(2) 3/4" PVC female threaded connectors - See It!

Water Supply/Return

(1) 10' - 1"ID potable water tubing - See It!
(3) 1" threaded to 3/4" barbed adapter - See It!
(1) 1" barbed tee - See It!
(5) 3/4" PEX 90° elbow - barbed - See It!
(1) 3/4" PEX tee - barbed - See It!
(1) 1" to 3/4" PEX reducer - barbed - See It!
(2) 10 pack PEX crimp rings - See It!
(1) 25' - 3/4" PEX - See It!
(20) adjustable 0-10GPH drip emitters - See It!
(1) 14 gallon soft plastic bucket - See It!

Build Instructions

Support Frame

The support frame is constructed from standard Schedule 40 PVC in 2" and 3" OD(outer diameter). The frame was constructed from this material for is modular properties (easy to fit together) and the ease of use for sizing (easy to cut straight with basic tools). This does not preclude the use of other structural material such as wood, plastic and metal as the frame is structural and does not carry water.

Tool note:

  • PVC pipe for this project is best cut using a mitre saw. These are readily available as an inexpensive hand tool or an electric/power tool. A mitre saw provides good 90° cuts that help add to the stability of the frame. Here is a list of the best mitre saw to consider using.
  • PVC is glue using a two part glue system. Instructions on PVC glue can be found here.

Support Frame Overview

Support Frame Overview(Figure 1)

The support frame is (2) main leg components joined by the (2) "top bar" components and (2) "cross supports".

The length of the "top bar" and "cross supports" dictate the capacity of the towers your system will support.

There are two additional leg extensions made from the 3" PVC that can provide addition support against the elements when used outside. These can be omitted for indoor use.

At 4' we are supporting (10) grow towers spaced at 4.5" on center apart.

Support Frame Construction Steps

Part 1: Support Frame - Main Leg

The core to the frame structure are (2) identically constructed leg units.

We glued our individual leg components together for stability but did not glue them to the cross pieces for ease of disassembly when the unit is moved indoors.

The majority of the legs are 2" PVC with the exception of pieces #4 and #8 which are 3".

Support Main Frame - Legs(Figure 2)

Main Leg Cut List
  1. From a 10' section of 2" PVC
    1. Cut (2) sections at 32" - (these are Part #1 - first set)
    2. Cut (2) sections at 28" - (these are Part #3 - first set)
  2. From a 10' section of 2" PVC
    1. Cut (2) sections at 32" - (these are Part #1 - second set)
    2. Cut (2) sections at 28" - (these are Part #3 - second set)
  3. From a 10' section of 2" PVC
    1. Cut (2) sections at 24" - (these are Part #2 - first & second set)
    2. Cut (4) sections at 3" - (these are Part #7 - first & second set)
    3. Reserve remaining 60" for cross pieces
  4. From the 10' section of 3" PVC
    1. Cut (2) sections at 24" - (these are Part #4 - first & second set)
Main Leg Assembly Instructions

Part #5 and Part #6 are 2" 90° PVC tee's. You will need (8) in all to complete both legs. Part #8 is a 3" to 2" 90° PVC tee. You will need (4) in all to complete both legs.

Dry fit the following:

  1. Fit 3" pipe Part #4 into (2) Part #8 90° tee with 2" opening on the top - See It!
  2. Fit small 2" pipe Part #7 into top of Part #8 90° tee - See It!
  3. Fit 2" 90° tee Part #6 into Part #7 with the opening of the tee at 90° - See It!
  4. Fit 2" pipe Part #3 into Part #6 90° tee - See It!
  5. Fit 2" 90° tee Part #5 into Part #3 with the opening of the tee at 90° facing towards other side of leg - See It!
  6. Fit 2" pipe Part #1 into Part #5 90° tee - See It!
  7. Fit 2" pipe Part #2 into the (2) Part #5 90° tee adding support to the leg - See It!


Part 2: Support Frame - Support Top

The top support dictates the size of the grow system and the number of towers the system can support.

Our current plan includes a 4' length of 2" PVC with towers spaced at 4.5" on center. The spacing can be modified to support larger growing areas by increasing spacing between the centers of the towers.

Additional you can decrease the length of pipe to support a smaller number of grow towers.

The support top structure are (2) identically constructed units.

Support Frame - Top(Figure 3)

Support Top Cut List
  1. From a 10' section of 2" PVC
    1. Cut (2) sections at 48" - (these are Part #1 - first & second set)
Support Top Assembly Instructions

Dry fit the following:

  1. Fit 2" pipe Part #1 into (2) Part #2 90° elbow - See It!


Part 3: Support Frame - Support Bottom

Like the top support, the bottom cross dictates system size, the piece must be the same width as the support frame top.

Our current plan includes a 4' length.

The support bottom piece are (2) identically 4' sections.

Also included in the bottom of the frame are (2) optional extension legs that are good when the unit is set up outside to provide additional support against wind.

Support Frame - Bottom(Figure 4)

Support Bottom Cut List
  1. From a 10' section of 2" PVC
    1. Cut (2) sections at 48" - (these are Part #1 - first & second set)
  2. From the remaining section of 3" PVC
    1. Cut (4) sections at 12" - (these are Part #2)
Support Top Bottom Instructions

Dry fit the following:

  1. Fit 2" pipe Part #1 into the Part #6 90° tee of the main leg component - See It!
    1. Note:You man need an additional person to help hold up the legs when installing bottom cross pieces
  2. Optional: Fit 3" pipe Part #2 into the Part #9 90° tee of the main leg component - See It!
  3. Optional: Install cap Part #3 into the 3" pipe Part #2



A note about gluing

At this point you can decide if you want to use glue to assemble the leg or leave it "pressure fit" for later dissasembly.

Additionally you can use "set screws" to affix the pipes to joints. Because of the wet nature of the project we recommend stainless steel screws for this type of application.


For our implementation we glued the individual main legs in Step #1. We glued the 90° elbows on the top support from Step #2.

We pressure fit the remaining pieces of the support frame for portability.



Towers/Return

The towers provide the grow area for the plants in this system.

Or current design supports a very high density of plants by spacing the 3" vertical grow towers 4.5" apart on center (distance from center of tower to neighboring tower), providing approximately 1.5" between towers.

The current 4' length supports (10) towers with (8) slots per tower. With two sides we get (160) plants for our entire system.

There are some limitations to this high density and vertical grow systems to the types of plant you can grow. We are continuing to test the limits of what we can grow and will share our successes and failures in our What to Grow sections of this wiki and user forum.


Towers/Return - Overview(Figure 5)

Towers/Return Overview

The towers are 2" x 3" PVC modified downspouts. The downspouts are generally available in 10' sections.

The availability of 10' sections dictated the 5' height of our design.

The water returns are 4" PVC rain gutters. Also available in 10' sections. They are cut and capped on the ends with gutter caps. Make sure you pick up both left and right versions of the end caps as they are different.


Towers/Return Construction Steps

Part 1: Towers
Towers Cut List
  1. From a 10' sections of 2" x 3" PVC downspouts
    1. Cut (10) sections in half at 60"
Tower Shaping Instructions

We constructed a wood template tool to help form the plant pockets (See It!).

  1. Divide the (20) towers in to (2) sets of (10).
    1. To improve grow space we offset/stagger the plant slots in the grow towers. - See It!
  2. Mark a horizontal line across the front of the first set of (10) towers every 6" starting 6" from the bottom for (8) lines.
    1. A speed square is helpful and getting a straight line across the down spout material.
  3. Mark a horizontal line across the front of the first set of (10) towers every 6" starting 9" from the bottom for (8) lines.
  4. Using a Oscillating Multifunction Power Tool with the straight cut bit, cut a 2" slice on the drawn lines.
  5. Using the Electric Heat Gun soften the plastic for a few seconds (approx. 15-30 seconds depending on wattage of your heat gun) 3" above and 3" below the cut. The PVC will start to pucker or sink and takes on the appearance of wet saggy paper.
  6. Use your wood template to slide into the softened PVC at the cut. Hold in place for approximately 30 seconds. - See It!
  7. Repeat for remaining slots in the tower.
  8. Use the best drill press to drill a 3/16" hole on the top, back side of the tower to put the screw for the tower hanger. - See It!
Part 2: Water Return
Water Return Cut List
  1. From a 10' sections of 4" PVC gutters
    1. Cut (4) sections at 46"
Water Return Assembly Instructions
  1. Identify the right and left gutter end caps. - See It!
  2. Test fit end caps on the sections of gutter.
    1. We roughed up the gutter plastic with some 150 grit sandpaper where the caps overlap the gutter (about 5/8") for a better adhesion.
  3. Spread a liberal bead of silicone PVC adhesive on the inside overlapping edge of the end caps.
  4. Carefully fit the end cap on the gutter making sure glue contacts all around the gutter material.
    1. We used our finger to push excess adhesive around the edge of the gutter and cap to ensure good contact.
  5. Place a piece of masking tape or other easily removable tape on the cap till the recommended dry time.
  6. Repeat for other 3 sides and set aside till dry.

Water Supply/Return

We choose 3/4" PEX for the main water supply lines for it's potable water safety properties and the ease of installation because we had a PEX crimp installation tool. CPVC would also be an excellent choice if the crimp tool was not available, CPVC is also certified for potable water but requires glue and joint connectors for assembly.

Water Supply/Return Overview

The water supply is laid out so there is a single rise that forks at the center cross piece of the main leg. This design was implemented to reduce the overall height load on the water pump. Instead of (2) 6' rises reducing overall water flow, the rise is slightly more efficient to the pump.

Water Supply/Return Construction Steps

Water Supply/Return - Overview(Figure 6)

  1. Parts #1 - #6 are 3/4" PEX cut to mirror the main leg dimensions.
    1. These are best sized by taking the measurements of the legs.
  2. Crimp Part #1, Part #2 and Part #3 together with Part #7 - 3/4" barbed PEX tee.
    1. For crimping detail follow this tutorial.
  3. Crimp Part #3 and Part #4 together with Part #8 - 3/4" PEX 90° elbow.
  4. Crimp Part #4 and Part #5 together with Part #9 - 3/4" PEX 90° elbow.
  5. Crimp Part #2 and Part #6 together with Part #10 - 3/4" PEX 90° elbow.
  6. Drill holes in Part #5 and Part #6 for Part #11 - drip emitters.
    1. Starting at elbow end of Part #5/Part #6 - measure from end 4" and mark first hole at the bottom of the PEX pipe.
      1. It is helpful to draw a line along the bottom of the PEX pipe marking the bottom for the remaining marks.
    2. Measure 4.5" from first mark and make a second mark.
    3. Repeat every 4.5", the last mark should be 4" from the opposing leg from the elbow.
    4. Using 3/16 drill bit drill on the mark.
  7. Fit in the the drip emitters - Part #11
    1. The hole is slightly snug for the drip emitters to prevent unwanted dripping, soften the PEX briefly (30 sec.) with the heat gun, this will allow for easier insertion of the drip emitters into the PEX.


Water Supply/Return - Overview(Figure 7)

Water Supply/Return Part 1

For information on the electronics, check out the RUFS Electronics


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