Reef Link by Ecotech Marine
The Reef Link is one of the most anticipated items that was shown at MACNA 2013 and they are now available so we thought we would do a quick write-up on what it is, its features and how it works.
Right out of the box it has a very Apple type feel. The high quality white packaging and the compact sleek form factor of the Reef Link itself reminds me of an Apple TV though a tad bit larger.
What’s in the Box:
Quick Start Guide
Body: 4.5″ x 4.5″ x 1.5″
Power Cord Length: 6′
Ethernet Cable Length: 6′
The EcoSmart Live program and the ReefLink are part of the new trend in reef keeping equipment interfacing with a “cloud” environment. In an ever growing world of connectivity this really helps to simplify a setup like this. You don’t have to deal with the networking hassles of things like dynamic IP address, etc. All of this information is basically figured out behind the scenes between the ReefLink and EcoSmart Live so on the user’s end it’s as simple as connecting the ReefLink to your wi-fi network and typing in a user/name password.
Setup of the Reef Link is a breeze. Assuming you already have your Radions setup on EcoSmart Live as I did, I think the physical setup of the Reef Link took a whopping 1 minute. The quick start guide consists of two steps, plug the Reef Link in via USB cable and run the setup application.
Once you run the setup application it connects via USB and asks if you want to use Ethernet or Wi-Fi. If you choose Wi-Fi it scans your Wi-Fi networks and it prompts you for your choice of networks (and Wi-Fi password if applicable). After that it tells you to plug the power cable in and asks you to enter your EcoSmart Live ID and password. That’s it, you’re done. If you go into EcoSmart Live now you will see your Radions with the status as “connected wireless”.
If you haven’t setup your lights with EcoSmart Live before, you should get prompted with the Aquarium Setup Wizard. The first step is for you to name you’re Aquarium. After you name your Aquarium it will begin to search for available Radion units. At the time I wrote this there was a note at the bottom that said to have one Radion connected via USB. In my experience this seemed to be a legacy note (pre-reef link) as for my tank it was able to find my Radion wirelessly via the Reef Link with no USB connected. First it scanned for connected Radions, then scanned via the Reef Link and found my Radion.
Next you select the Radions you want to program. Most of the time this is going to be all of the lights, but if you have multiple aquariums setup and you want them to follow different programs you would just select the ones you want to program under that aquarium’s profile. If you click on each light listed in the browser that Radion will blink its LED’s on and off so that you can identify which light is which.
If you have already programmed the Radion via the EcoSmart Live software then you know how easy that process is. The aquarium setup wizard will ask you some simple configuration questions such as what time you want the lights to turn on and off and what the maximum intensity you desire for the tank is.
One of my favorite options is the ability to enable an acclimation period.
If you enable the acclimation period the lights will start off at a dimmer intensity and ramp up over the set period of time. In my experience if someone isn’t successful switching there tank over to LED’s it’s almost always because the LED’s are significantly brighter then there existing lights and the end up overpowering the tank. The acclimation feature allows you slowly ramp up the intensity to the desired level over a much safer period of time.
The last setting is the most exciting one. Time to select which lighting profile do you want to use. There is a variety of options, including some profiles modeled after real reefs as well as artificial modes that are popular (like high growth). Personally I set my own to “Radiant Color” as it emulate that “Actinic” look in the mornings and evenings.
Once you choose your profile you click the next button and the Reef Link will upload the program to the Radions. This way the program is on the Radion and in the event that communication with the Reef Link and the light disconnects will still have your normal program downloaded to it.
As far as the basic setup for the Radion and the installation goes, that it, pretty easy! The big fun isn’t setting up the lights if you ask me though. It’s the ability to tinker, tune, and manipulate your light on the fly via your computer or smart phone that’s fun. The easiest way to do this is with a smart phone. At the moment it is compatible with Apple IOS devices and the Android version is on the way. Once you download the EcoSmart Live app you simply log-in with your EcoSmart Live ID and you’re on your way.
Aside from being able to program the schedule for your Radions in the same simple manor as the computer it’s a great way to set up custom light profiles for your schedule. There are three screens under the Color Channel option that allow you to adjust each color LED live as you adjust the sliders.
As you adjust the sliders if you find a particular color profile you like, you can tap the yellow star button to save that as a preset. Then if you want to recall it, it will show up in the presets menu with the others. A pretty handy feature if you want some mood lighting (or just want to show off that coral under the blue lighting)!
The iPhone app also gives you fast access to what EcoTech calls “preview” options. Some of these options are great for showing off the different color LED’s and others for more daily functions.
The demonstration mode for example turns each color on individually for a few seconds and phases threw many of the different presets. Great if you’re trying to show off the different colors. “Disco Time” is just what it sounds like, basically a random strobe effect with all of the different colors.
The two options that most people are looking for and most likely to be used though are the cloud cover and the thunderstorm button. The cloud cover button adds a random dimming to the lights to simulate clouds passing over the tank. The thunderstorm button takes the cloud cover feature and adds strobes of white light to simulate lighting. Oh, and did I mention that the app plays rain and thunder noises at the same time? It’s what everyone wants to see when they come to my house! Using the website you can also program these events to randomly happen throughout the various set points throughout the day.