I'm new to the world of hydroponics, and so I thought I would start out simple. I'm currently working on completing a home-made coke-bottle ebb and flow system using 1" PVC and a rubbermaid tub, but in the mean time, I got a spark of an idea and put together a super-budget gurgler system.
Actually, I wasn't sure exactly if it would work when I did it, but I thought why not. And it was CHEAP!
Okay, first the pic:
Okay, now for the price list... starting at the cheapest.
Coke bottle, cut down and curled under - free (after I drank the Coke)
32 oz soda cup from the gas station - free (after I drank the soda)
Straw to use as tube for air/water feed - free (came with soda cup)
Water resevoir (large bowl from a $ store) - $0.99
Aquarium air pump from Walmart - $6.95
Aquarium air hose from Walmart - 1/2 of $0.98
Which comes to a grand total of $8.92, not including the growing media. Since I bought a HUGE bag of small pine bark for $2.98 and used only a tiny bit of it for this, I'll say it cost me $0.08 for this unit... for a total of $9.00
Now, the coolest part, no glue or any other adhesive is required. Into the lid, I cut a small hole, just big enough to fit the bottle neck through, but smaller than the diameter of the lid. I simply screwed the bottle neck through and then screwed the lid onto it on the other side. Solid, tight seal. Oh yeah, I drilled a 1/2" hole into the cap so water can go through.
Into the soda cup, I poked many holes with a soldering Iron. In the middle of the cup, I carefully melted a slightly larger hole just BARELY big enough to fit the gas-station straw through ( CAREFUL, HAVE TO GET ONE OF THE BIG STRAWS. MCDONALDS STRAWS WOULD WORK PERFECTLY ) and then simply slide the straw into it and it will hold firm.
Then I drilled a hole into the lid of the container just barely big enough to fit the air hose. Then I slide the hose through, left some slack, and slid it into the bottom of the straw about 1 1/2" in. If you use a big enough straw, there's plenty of extra room for water to be drawn in.
Then I added my nute mix (1/2 strength Peters Azalea, Camellia & Rhododendron plant food - 24-12-12 plus micronutrients & 1 tsp of epsom salts) into which I dropped about a teaspoon of crystalline gypsum (which dissolves nicely to add calcium into the mix) and filled the soda cup with the pine bark and plant.
The water rate is awesome and can be adjusted some by moving the straw up or down. You have to adjust it BEFORE you add the media since the straw goes right up into the middle of the bottle/cup.
Try it - it works great and is incredibly cheap and simple.