Learn Steps to Build Your Own Hydroponic System – Part 1

Learn Steps to Build Your Own Hydroponic System – Part 1

In this article, I am going to attempt to explain how I built my very inexpensive homemade hydroponic system. First of all, we need to collect the materials. You may already have some, if not, all the parts and pieces needed for this hydroponic system can be purchased online. The hydroponic system I built is considered a deep water hydroponic system. In my opinion, this is the easiest one to build not to mention the least expensive too. 

Here is the list of materials needed to build this hydroponic system.

  • 1 18 gallon plastic container
  • 1 package of sturdy 18oz plastic cups
  • 1 aquarium pump 2 hose type with check valves
  • 8 foot clear plastic tubing for pump
  • 2 12″ air stones for aquarium
  • 6 large zip ties
  • 1 small bag of pea gravel

Next you will need some tools mentioned below;

  • 1 Drill
  • 3 1/2 inch hole saw
  • 1 inch hole saw
  • Small drill bit to fit your zip ties

That’s it, now we can start putting the hydroponic system together.

18 Gal Tub

Take your tub and set the plastic cups on the lid of your hydroponic system with the open end down. You can use any configuration you want when you set up your cups.

Tub and Cups

Use a marking pen and draw circles around the cups.

Lid with circles

Your lid should look something like this. Next you need to find the center of your circles. A nifty way of doing this is to put a cup on a plain piece of paper and draw a circle around it, so you have a circle the same size on the paper as you do on the lid. Then you cut out the circle.

Cut Circle from Paper

  • Next you fold the paper circle in half.
  • Fold paper circle in half
  • And fold the paper in half again
  • Fold paper in half again

You then need to take a pair of scissors and cut of a small piece off the pointed end and unfold your paper circle.

Paper Circle with Hole

  • Now you will have a paper circle with a hole in the center.
  • Marking center of circle
  • Next line up the paper circle with each circle on your lid and use a marker and mark the hole in the center of the paper circle and that will mark the center on the circles on your lid.  
  • Now the next step is to cut the holes.   

To continue reading the steps about building hydroponic system, click here. 

Learn Steps to Build Your Own Hydroponic System – Part 2

In my last post I started sharing with you the tips to make a homemade hydroponic system. In this post, I will show you more information in this regard, so let’s continue with the steps of building a hydroponic system at home.

3 1/2″ Hole Saw

To cut the holes, I used a 31/2 inch hole saw, my cups are 3 3/4 inches wide at the top. This made for a perfect fit. If your cups are a different size then you have to use a slightly smaller hole saw than the width of your cup or container that you are using.

Hole Saw and Drill

Put your hole saw on your drill and get ready to cut out your circles.

Lid and Board

I recommend putting a scrap piece of wood under the lid where you are going to cut your hole. Put the drill part of your hole saw on the center mark of your circle and start drilling. I found it best to use light pressure and rocking the drill in a circular motion helped make cutting the hole easier. You should put your foot against the side of the lid because once the hole saw contacts the lid it will try to spin.

1″ Hole Saw

I cut a 1 inch hole in one of the corners as an access hole. I used a 1 inch hole saw for this.

Finished Lid

When you are finished cutting your holes you should have a lid that looks similar to the picture above. After cutting the hole I used a razor blade and scraped the plastic flashing that’s created when you drill your holes. This leaves nice clean looking openings in your lid.

Finished Lid with Cups

As you can see the cups fit in the lid perfectly. Again the spacing, size and arranging of the cups is up to you. Many people that build homemade hydroponic systems prefer to use net pots which look like little baskets, but the goal here was to keep costs down and to use easy to obtain materials.

Standard Airline Tubing

Next you need to take your tubing and unroll it, fold it in half and stretch it out. Take a pair of scissors and cut the tubing at the fold. Now you should have (2) 4 foot pieces. The tub I bought conveniently already had 2 holes in the handle part that were just the right size to accommodate the airline. If your tub does not have these holes, you will have to drill your own. If you have to drill the holes, one on each side, try to make them just large enough to snugly fit the airline.

You can see the final steps by clicking here.  

Learn Steps to Build Your Own Hydroponic System – Part 3

This is the last post of the steps required in building your own hydroponic system, so let’s complete the system and start growing the best crops at home.

Air Hose Hooked to Bubble Stone

Now feed your airline through the hole and connect your bubble stone(s) and feed enough airline through the hole to have your bubble stone sit flat in the bottom of the tub.

I found once I put water in the tub and turned on the air pump the bubble stones tend to want to float a little. So you might want to use a non-toxic waterproof glue and glue the bubblers to the bottom of the tub. I just let mine float as they only float about an inch off the bottom.

Bubble Stone in Tub

If you haven’t already guessed the purpose of the stones, it is to keep oxygen in the water, so that your plants don’t drown. I use two bubble stones in my system but you could probably get away with using one. I just wanted to make sure there was plenty of oxygen getting to the root of the plants.

Zip Tie Lid to Tub

The next thing you have to do is drill some holes through the lid and the tub and zip tie the lid to the tub. The best way to do this is to put the lid on the tub and turn the tub upside down. Now drill the hole from the underside of the lid. Drill 2 holes on each of the long sides of the tub evenly spaced.

Now turn your tub right side up and put the zip ties through the holes and pull them tight on mine I pulled the ties so the clip would be hidden under the lid. Trim the end of the tie flush with the clip.

The purpose of the ties is to secure the lid and to keep the sides from bulging out from the weight of the water. You can add a zip tie in each corner if you want. My tub has snap in sides so I didn’t worry about putting zip ties on the short sides of the tub.

Plastic Cups

We will be using our 18 oz plastic cups for this part of our project. You want to use a cup that is sturdy with a lip on top and one that is tapered from the top down. In other words, the top should be larger than the bottom. When you shop for your cups, try to squeeze them and make sure they are firm, because you would not want a cup that collapses easy when you squeeze it. Most of the better quality plastic cups fit this criteria.

Burning Hole in Cup

For this next step you will need an old soldering iron and of course some cups. Let me warn you first. We will be melting holes into the cups with the soldering iron and this will get a little smoky. Plastic fumes are toxic so you do not want to inhale these fumes. You may want to do this outdoors as the fumes will dissipate faster. There are other ways to put the holes in the cups but I found using the soldering iron was the easiest.

Holes in Bottom of Cup

Once your iron is good and hot you simply touch the cup as you can see in the picture on the right and apply very light pressure. This will burn a perfect little hole in your cup. Now you need to repeat this many times until you have enough holes in your cup.

Holes in Side of Cup

Once you have poked holes in the bottom of your cup you need to poke holes in the side of your cup. I only poked holes about half way up the side of the cup, this seems to work well.

More Cups with Holes

You need to repeat this for as many cups as you have holes in your Hydroponic System. When you are done with all your cups, your project is pretty much complete and you can start getting ready to find a spot where you will do your Hydroponic gardening. I chose to set up my garden outdoors but if you want you can use this system indoors as well, this of course will be an added expense as you will have to provide lighting for your plants.

Fill Cups with Pea Gravel

The last step is to fill your cups about 3/4 full with your growing medium, in my case, this would be pea gravel. There are many growing aggregates that are available for hydroponic gardening and some are better than the others, but in my case I am getting good results with just plain ordinary pea gravel. We are done here, so just wait and get the freshest home grown produce.

You need to show absolute patience through the process since it takes a great deal of time and being a beginner, you will make a few mistakes as well even you have learned all of the steps here. If you do not have enough time, I suggest you to go to review more information about the best hydroponic systems and buy it online. 


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