I have been searching for a small test tank design so that I can check the action of my baits prior to going out to the lake etc. I have limited room and often move things around so it is not very prudent for me to build a large static tank. I've not been able to find anything, so after a few failed attempts, I ended up with the design below. I'm sure it can be improved on, but I figured there would be others in my situation that might find this useful, so I figured I would share.
1 20 gallon long aquarium (they sell these in regular, tall and long... get the long)
1 roll of 10' X 10" aluminum flashing (found at Lowes)
1' (2x6") 6" sewer pipe
1 7" section of 1.5" x 3/4" PVC (I know you have some of that crankbait PVC laying around right)
4 3" 95 pound pull magnets from Harbor Freight
1 1200 GPH bilge pump (walmart)
1 6" section of 1" PVC pipe
1 el-cheapo 2" brush
1 tube of clear silicone
Start with the tank:
Just make sure it's clean and hold water
Next layout the aluminum flashing. You will need two sections cut at 17" long.
Then mark a line 1/2" in from each end and 2" from the top and bottom. We are going to fold and crease these to make the final 6" x 16" piece a little more rigid.
Make your folds as straight as possible, folding the long side first. Otherwise it you will have open sections on the final sheet.
Make sure to hammer the creases to get it nice and clean.
One one of the two sections, You will need to cut a notch on the side for the pump nozzle and a notch on the bottom to let water in.
the side notch starts about 1.25" from the bottom and is 2" tall and 1.5 inches deep
The notch for the water will go on the bottom and is 3/4" tall and 4" long
Next, make the nozzle for the bilge pump.
The nozzle will need to be about 5.25" long when complete. Cut a section of the 1" Pipe and use a heat gun to soften the PVC.
Once it is flexible, push the PVC onto the handle of the brush and press it until it cool. I used one of my wife's oven mits so i wouldn't burn myself (shhhh don't tell her)
Next, heat the other end and push it onto the bilge pump to get a tight fit. Make sure that your nozzle is vertical when doing this and try not to get too over zealous with the heat gun like I did.
Yours should be a little longer than this picture. this from from an earlier attempt, but you get the idea.
Now plaxe the pump in the corner and make sure it will line up with the notch in your aluminum sheet. Assuming it looks like it will fit pretty good, silicone the aluminum sheets in.
One of the aluminum sheets should be about 4" from the end of the aquarium (using the inside glass to measure) assuming the sheet is centered on the glass. The other sheet will be about 8" from the end of the aquarium to allow for room to block off the pump and reservoir. I put a mark in the center of the sheet and on the center of the glass, duct taped it on and then pushed the ends into place. The end result should give you some curved ends in the aquarium.
Next, Build the center section.
Cut a piece of aluminum about 45.5" long. Mark 2" in the top and bottom and fold it like the other sections. Use some self tapping screw to screw the aluminum into one of the 6" sections of sewer pipe.
Place the other 6" section inside the aluminum and then concave the ends of your PVC trim. the inside of the PVC trim should be about 6.5". Next, wedge the PVC in between the pipes to make a tight fit.
Next take two of the magnets and put a knotted lop through the center and put some duct tape on the bottom of the magnet to help protect the glass.
Use a screwdriver to pry the magnet out of the metal part for the other two magnets and put a piece of duct tape on them also to protect the glass. You will use these to help hold the center section of the tank but also allow you to adjust your flow.
This next section is optional, but I got a Pulse Wave modulator from amazon for about $7 and I use it to control the speed of the motor to test swim baits. i like the current a little slower for those.
I put the PWM in a little plastic case and stuck it to the side of the tank with carpet tape.
and here she is... all done. Compact, portable, easy to fill and empy and you can put it away nicely with very little cost of real estate.
Here is a short video of it in action. One word of warning, when you move the center piece to adjust your flow, you may need to hold it for a second until the current gets established so that your center doesn't move. The magnets help to hold it in place if you move then around. since the metal part is gone from the magnets on the bottom, they fit under the aquarium and can move if on a table surface.
Well, I hope this helps someone! It's not perfect but it's gives you a good idea of how the bait will act.
Edited by atlasstone, 27 January 2013 - 11:32 PM.