LED Light for 36" High Tank - Page 2 - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #16 of 269 (permalink) Old 05-12-2011, 05:22 PM
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haha i wish i new more about metal working and where to find some of these metal pieces....lol. Did you get the C channels from a scrap yard?
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post #17 of 269 (permalink) Old 05-12-2011, 05:42 PM
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If you can't find the metal stock locally, there's always McMaster-Carr

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post #18 of 269 (permalink) Old 05-12-2011, 05:48 PM
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I can find big company's the sell huge quantities of aluminum. But not like a store like home depot or ace hardware that sell a much smaller quantity.
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post #19 of 269 (permalink) Old 05-12-2011, 06:52 PM
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You can order single pieces from McMaster-Carr. You don't need to order a pallet's worth. I only mentioned them if you couldn't source it locally.

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post #20 of 269 (permalink) Old 05-12-2011, 08:34 PM Thread Starter
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The aluminum pieces, are 2" x 1" x .06" 6061T6 aluminum channel. There is a store near me that sells surplus metals, from aluminum to brass to steel to stainless steel, etc. in many forms. They have a good supply of aluminum extrusions, and even some heatsink aluminum. It is called "Blue Collar Supply". http://www.onlinemetals.com/merchant.cfm?id=64&step=2 is where I would get it if the store wasn't here. I bought an 8 foot section of the channel and cut two 32 inch long pieces from it for this project. It is very thin walled channel, not good for a heatsink, but I want it to act as a shield to protect people's eyes, and to prevent bumping the LEDs. It does add some heatsink mass, but not much.

Those two pieces are attached to the heatsink by drilling and tapping 6-32 threads in the heatsink, and using 3/8" long pan head screws.

I got the electric connector from a local electronics hobbyist supply store. It is a 4 conductor DIN connector, with the female socket on the light, and the male plug on the 4 conductor cable, to connect it to the power/control box. It would be better to have the male connector on the light and the female on the cable, but I didn't see a way to do that easily. The wire in the cable is 22 gauge, a bit small, but still adequate for the 10 foot length. And, it is nice and flexible. One conductor will carry the positive voltage for each of the 3 rows of LEDs, and the fourth will be the common negative conductor for all of the LEDs.

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post #21 of 269 (permalink) Old 05-12-2011, 08:40 PM
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any reason to not use self tapping screws? to attach the c channel?
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post #22 of 269 (permalink) Old 05-13-2011, 01:02 AM Thread Starter
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any reason to not use self tapping screws? to attach the c channel?
Yes, it is difficult to tap 6061T6 aluminum. The metal shavings tend to become a gummy mess on the tap. This way I don't have to worry about that. I just back off the tap, clean it, and continue, a couple of times. I think self tapping screws would tend to seize up. In any case I had the tap, and I knew it would work, so why risk something different?

I got the wiring from the light connector to the LEDs installed today.


I used silicone sealant to fill the holes in the channels where the wires go through, to keep them from rubbing on the wire insulation. And, I used a few dabs of the same sealant down the middle between the channels, which is a wire chase, to keep the long wires from drooping down.

Tomorrow I will wire up the matching DIN plug, ignoring which wire goes where. Then, I can connect it to the light and use an ohmmeter to identify which color goes to which LED, and label them with tape, for the next step, which will be assembling the power/controls box.

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post #23 of 269 (permalink) Old 05-13-2011, 06:14 PM Thread Starter
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Soldering the wires to the male connector was more difficult than I expected, but, with patience, it was doable. Next is the power/control box.

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post #24 of 269 (permalink) Old 05-13-2011, 07:11 PM
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Yes, it is difficult to tap 6061T6 aluminum. The metal shavings tend to become a gummy mess on the tap. This way I don't have to worry about that. I just back off the tap, clean it, and continue, a couple of times. I think self tapping screws would tend to seize up. In any case I had the tap, and I knew it would work, so why risk something different?

on smaller pieces of aluminum can you use self tapping screws? like if you're trying to attach a 1/2 inch strip to a heat sink?


Also great job this fixture looks amazing.
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post #25 of 269 (permalink) Old 05-13-2011, 07:59 PM
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If you predrilled the heat sink to just slightly less than the outside screw thread diameter, it should work. If it starts to get hard to turn the screw in, back off and try again. If not then the hole needs to be reamed slightly more with the same drill bit.

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post #26 of 269 (permalink) Old 05-13-2011, 09:21 PM Thread Starter
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Most of the big stuff is mounted in/on the project box now. The Meanwell drivers on each side and the tiny moonlight driver on the end. The 10 volt DC reference adapter is mounted inside the box, since the power it will consume should be trivial. It looks very crowded now, but most of that is excess wiring. The Ammeters, pots for dimming, and a switch to turn off the ammeters, will all be on the box cover. I still haven't received the ammeters, but those should arrive any day now, based on my experience with another order to the same guy in China. And, as expected, the LEDs and optics aren't here yet. I can still do a lot of wiring before needing the ammeters to finish that job. It has been fun so far - except having to run off to Home Depot (near) and Metro Electronics (farther) so often.

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post #27 of 269 (permalink) Old 05-14-2011, 12:35 PM
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Very nice write up Hoppy, I'm reading it eagerly.

Are the blues for moonlights? I'd recommend not using optics then, or at least make them easy to remove.


If they are there to raise the K temp, the 60's will work fine .


And this is the first build using XML optics I've seen. You may have said this already but where are you getting these hard-to-find optics? LEDgroupbuy?
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post #28 of 269 (permalink) Old 05-14-2011, 02:39 PM Thread Starter
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Very nice write up Hoppy, I'm reading it eagerly.

Are the blues for moonlights? I'd recommend not using optics then, or at least make them easy to remove.


If they are there to raise the K temp, the 60's will work fine .


And this is the first build using XML optics I've seen. You may have said this already but where are you getting these hard-to-find optics? LEDgroupbuy?
The blues are for moonlights, and will probably run with the other LEDs to give a bit more color for neons, cardinals, etc. I will use 60 degree optics on them to avoid spillage, given the 1 foot height of the light over the tank. All of the LEDs and optics are from LEDgroupbuy - or will be if I ever get them. (I'm a very impatient person when I start a project)

Very few of the ideas in this light are mine - I copied from other light builds I have read about here. I think this is how we can eventually find the "best" ways to do LED lights - keep building on each other's ideas.

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post #29 of 269 (permalink) Old 05-14-2011, 09:18 PM Thread Starter
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I have about all that I can do done, until the ammeters or LEDs arrive. I cut the holes for the ammeters using a utility knife, first putting masking tape on the surface, then marking the needed cutout outline. Since the box is polypropylene it cuts pretty easily with a utility knife. About the hardest part so far was installing the strain relief bushings. The first one took me close to an hour, with drilling the hole and reaming it ever larger until the bushing would go in. But, those sure make a neat installation.

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post #30 of 269 (permalink) Old 05-16-2011, 01:20 AM Thread Starter
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Progress report:
Yesterday I wired up the dimmer circuits - 2 10K ohm pots and a 10 volt wall wart type power supply. When I tested it one pot raised the voltage going clockwise and the other raised it going counterclockwise. I quit for the day in frustration.

Today I took another look, and found that I had made two mistakes. One was to confuse the rotation directions because I'm working on the back of the pots, and the other was that both pots raised the voltage in the counterclockwise direction. So, I moved one wire and now both operate correctly - raise the voltage with clockwise movement of the knobs.

Then I noticed another mistake: the switch to turn off the ammeters was wired to turn off the dimmers. That fix was just moving one wire, too.

All that is left on the power/controls box is to install and hook up the ammeters, once I receive them. I double checked on how long it took to get the first one I ordered two months ago - it is still early, based on that. They should arrive this week.

The LEDs and lenses are still shown on the ledgroupbuy site as not yet fulfilled, so it may be some time before I see those. They don't provide estimated times there.

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