With a lot of people starting to jump into DIY LED's. I have decided to post my DIY LED Fixture housing build. Hopefully this will help others build housings for their DIY LED's .
Tools required for this build are minimal. Just some basic tools and a couple of things from radioshack and home depot is sufficient.
I decided to go with acrylic because I am comfortable with acrylic. I used to mod computer cases and have used acrylic extensively. Also I have tons of 3/16" acrylic sitting around, acrylic seemed perfect for the build.
That said, I am not completely happy with the edges on this build. I did this in a hurry and did not spend enough time getting the edges perfectly straightened out.
Acrylic will warp under high heat, even T5HO's will warp acrylic. I do not use an acrylic splash guard. The fixture is about 10" from the surface of the water and I did not see a need for one.
Acrylic can be used for the housing as long as the heat put out by the LED's isnt high. The heatsinks that the LED's are mounted will get really hot if there isnt sufficient air moving over them.
I use a 40 CFM 120mm San Ace Fan (These are considered the best case fans around) . The fans pulls air in through the bottom and exhausts it over the top of the fixture. The reason that you dont want the fan pushing air down on the heatsink is because
1) It will cause air turbulence when the air hits the heatsink in turn increasing noise.
2) It will lead to dust being deposited on the heatsink because air is flowing into it.
The housing is its own entity and can be easily taken out to be serviced without disconnecting resoldering any wires.
This how-to assumes that you already have your DIY LED built and only deals with building the housing.
1. Drill bit for acrylic or a step drill bit
2. Something to cut the acrylic (Table Saw / Circular Saw / Router with a straight bit or an acrylic knife)
3. Acrylic Cement (Weld On 2)
4. Spray Paint Can (I used krylon Fusion Satin White)
5. Hole Saw for the fan hole.
6. Glue or Epoxy
Hardware for the Housing :
1. Acrylic (3/16" or 1/2" is sufficient)
2. Male and Female Connector plugs
3. A computer Case Fan + 12V or 5V Adapter
4. 2 Ferule and Stop Sets
5. Hanging Wire
First off I cut the acrylic up for the housing. You will need 5 main pieces (A Top and 4 Sides)
The idea behind making the cuts is to make the front the longest piece, that way allowing all the joins to be on the side, leading to a nice clean appearance.
I always mark and cut the top first. This has to be about 1/2" bigger than the footprint of the LED heatsink on both sides.
I then cut the sides. The sides need to be at least as tall as the heatsink and the width of the fan, In my case the sides are 3" tall and as wide as the shorter edge of the top acrylic piece.
The front piece is cut last. This is again as tall as the sides and the width is the top + 2 x the width of the acrylic (In my case 2 x 3/16" )
Once you have all the pieces cut, Go ahead and use a hole saw to drill the top in the center. This will be the exhaust for the fan.
Then drill two holes on the top that allow the hanging wire to go through.
Then drill out the holes on the back piece for the quick disconnects.
Once this is all done. You can put together the housing using Weldon 2. I let it dry for at least 24 hours and then painted it.
The hard part is done. Its now time to put everything together.
First I stick the fan on to the housing using some epoxy. You can also use some screws and attach it to the housing.
Then take the heatsink and drill the holes for the hanging wire. It is essential that the holes be spaced out perfectly, or else the housing is going to be twisted at an angle when hung and will require adjustment.
I drilled the holes 1/2" from the edge.
I cut 2' lengths of hanging wire and threaded them through the holes on each end of the heatsink. Then one end was capped using a ferrule and stop set. I also wrapped the wire around a couple of times to ensure that it wont slip out.
When this is done on both sides. Then thread the wire through the holes on the acrylic housing (Dont cap it yet)
Now its time to place the quick disconnects in the appropriate locations. I used epoxy to secure the disconnects to the housing.
Once this is done test out the led's and make sure all of it is working.
Now take ONE of the wires and make a loop on one end. The placement of this loop will depend on how high the fixture needs to be hung. Cap it with a ferrule and stop set. Now hang the LED fixture using this completed loop and complete the second loop while the fixture is hanging. This will allow you to judge that the fixture is completely level, any adjustments can be made to this loop to ensure that the fixture is level.
That should be it
Comments / Suggestions welcome. Please also post your ideas , DIY's in this thread. I will be really interested in seeing what others think.
Here are some pictures of the completed housing.