DIY Dock Bubbler Controller System

Water agitators and dock bubblers are used in cold climates to prevent ice damage to float and pier pilings. My boat dock bubbler like many others needs to run unattended during the winter and should only operate when the water temperature is cold enough for the water to start freezing.  Bubbler systems involve pumping air through weighted hoses that lay on the water bed that circulate the water by releasing the air through small holes along the pipe.

After using ioBridge technology for many years I decided to design a new system using the Sonoff TH16 Temperature And Humidity Monitoring WiFi Smart Switch.

The Sonoff TH16 can be monitored and configured using the rather oddly named but effective EWeLink App available on the Google and Apple stores.  EWeLink allows you to set and save set-points for the TH16 and save them to the device.  The temperature and state of the EWelink can be viewed and controlled remotely like any decent IoT system.  Unlike many poorly designed IoT systems, the TH16 saves the setting locally so the device will still act as a thermostat when the network connection goes down.

The system includes a temperature controller for the pumps and a separate controller for enclosure cooling fans.  For higher reliability high power relay contactors were added to switch the pumps and the fan power.

Parts Used

Existing Bubbler Pump System

  • EasyPro 3/4 HP Rocking Piston Pond Aerator Air Compressor 115 Volt ERP75 (2) ~$1800
  • ERPA Replacement Air Filter for ERP compressors -3/8″ mpt (2)  ~$18
  • ERP1V ERP outlet assembly – no valve (2) ~$53
  • DPS2Out 2 air inlets and 2 air out ~$111
  • HC3 Stainless Steel Hose Clamp 7/16″ – 1″ (3) ~$4.50
  • G50L 0-50 PSI liquid filled gauge 1/4″ npt ~$20
  • 0423652 1/2″ ID Hose, Air / Water Hose, 250 Degree F — per foot (10) ~$17
  • 63159KIT Garden Hose Threaded M/F Connector with 1/2″ Barb ~$9.11
  • L5PVC 1/2″ ID X 1″ OD – Self Weighted PVC Hose – Cut to Length – per Foot (12) ~$23
  • LC75ASSM12 1/2 Check Valve Assembly and Accessories (2) $62
  • BUB12F 1/2″ Weighted Bubble Tubing – per foot (160) ~$1,050

The controller hardware consisting of the two TH16 smart switches and two contactors were connected and mounted in a PVC enclosure.  The pumps and controller were mounted in a brown deck box.

Photos of the assembly:

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Assembling the outdoor deck box. Air pump in the foreground.

  • Assembling the outdoor deck box. Air pump in the foreground.
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Enclosure with Sonoff TH16 WiFi thermostats and contactor relays. One thermostat controls the pump and the other the fans. Each Sonoff is connected to a DS18B20 temperature sensor. One sensor is mounted in the water and the other inside the pump enclosure.

  • Enclosure with Sonoff TH16 WiFi thermostats and contactor relays. One thermostat controls the pump and the other the fans. Each Sonoff is connected to a DS18B20 temperature sensor. One sensor is mounted in the water and the other inside the pump enclosure.
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Mounting one of two pumps on the plywood board that mounts inside the outdoor deck box.

  • Mounting one of two pumps on the plywood board that mounts inside the outdoor deck box.

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