So, firstly the ordering experience was painless, I ordered online, and while ordering, noticed they happen to be in San Jose, now that's pretty much the next city over from where I live, and their address was about five minutes from where I work. Anyhow, I placed the order, and then talked to the husband, we figured, hey, what the heck, see if they'll let us will-call it.
Turns out, I emailed them and got this response back:-
Yes, you can pick it up. We'll give you call/email tomorrow or Wednesday when it is ready.
Curt it seems handles the phone orders, and will-call stuff. Had the hubby go and pick the system up when they called today around 1:30pm saying it was ready.
Okay, so the what I got was the AquaController Apex System with a few extra bits and pieces. So the whole list of things I had to hook up was :-
- 1 Apex Base Unit
- 1 Temperature Probe
- 1 Lab Grade pH probe
- 1 Apex Display Module w/ 10’ AquaBus cable
- 1 EnergyBar 8
- 1 AquaBus Lunar Simulator
- 1 IO Breakout Box
So, I mounted all this to a offcut piece of plywood we had around the house, the EnergyBar is basically an Apex-controllable 8-port power strip with the ability to power the base unit directly, so that got mounted first, I actually mounted it low on the board as I wanted to keep the cables low, amongst other strange ideas.
Then across the top, I mounted (in order), the base unit, the lunar simulator, and the breakout box. I mounted the breakout box on the end as it is the one most likely to have weird cabling concerns from the various float switches.
The sticker you see on the plywood is the sticker that covers the AquaBus connectors on the bottom of the EnergyBar.
So, now for the really weird bits, checking the manual on how they recommend powering the whole thing up was interesting... first off they basically said I should plug the probes in first, so, okay, the temp probe was plugged in (I'd downloaded the full manual because the manuals that come with them are basically quick-setup instructions, and I'm paranoid, and like manuals in general *grin*), they claim that is pre-configured at the factory, so I don't need to readjust, so that went straight into the tank. The pH probe had to be handled specially, it got plugged in, but they recommend calibrating that before use, I was happy to do that (even bought the solution off them to calibrate it), but I wanted to deal with that after I knew it worked, so I left that as shipping with it's tip in it's little cover with solution.
Okay, so... the manual pretty much claims everything can be plugged in at first, but it's possible to plug devices in on the fly, so I hooked up the base and the display, ran the ethernet cord (Oh, did I mention, this thing is network-enabled *cackle*), then plugged the EnergyBar into the mains... And whammy, everything just worked, like the instructions claimed, and first time, no special fiddling.
Of course, I didn't have the lunar module plugged in, but I wanted to play a little bit first... after I got the "wee, webpage of fishyness" out of my system, I plugged in the lunar module, as they claimed, it worked out just by plugging it in, no reboot or powering off or anything needed.
Okay, so initial testing done, I set up the system basically, moved over the power cords from the stuff from the fish tank, and it's all working (okay, yeah, had to fiddle for about 15 minutes with some things first).
I consider this an amazing achievement as in the past 10 years or so this is one of the few items I have bought that were edge-use (as in, not everyone needs/should have one) that something has just a) done what they claimed first time no special fiddling or tweaking, b) just damn worked, and c) been so freaking easy I didn't need to read the manual.
I'm greatly impressed by these guys quick order handling, professional product construction, and simplicity of design, oh, and that the English manual appears to have been written by people who speak English, not drunken lemurs or something. If you are planning on getting a tank controller for your Aquarium, I definitely would recommend buying yours from these guys if you are in the US/Canada... I'm going to badger them in a few years I suspect for a 220v model for when I move back to Australia And I know I'm going to be buying my probe calibration solutions and other supplies from them, as I feel businesses who treat their customers with this level of respect deserve to be kept in business, and while my little purchases for those supplies isn't much, I would rather give these guys the money rather than any other company.