Lochaber, Hoppy, Betta tail, thank you all for your input. I considered going with several belt blanks, and using leather instead of foam to carry on the look I wanted. In the end, I just went with some foam from a cut up yoga mat (very squishy, and the only bloody foam I could find) The distance from the top of the wood stand to the bottom of the tank (including foam) on the right, is 1/8th, and on the left is 1/4, so I've removed 1/16th of rise for a total of 1/8th. The tank is also only 1/3 full, and the foam should compress a little more when it's completely full (I'm guessing).
Also, I have some 90 degree angle aluminum which I'm planning on bracing the corners with, mainly for bumper protection as this is a 20+ year old craigslist tank. One corner does have a very small crack in it, and all corners have some chips. The corner with the small crack has a large amount of calcium buildup around the crack as well, but doesn't leak. However, the aluminum I got is 1.5 inches wide on each side, and I have some RTV marine silicone I am planning on using to hold the pieces on. Again, this is just for bumper protection and to help the stand, tank, and lights to flow a little better with each other.
And a question for the engineers
Will the bracing help to strengthen the tank? If so, will it make the gap below the front left corner be less... important? I'm not coming up with the word I want right now.
In any event, I'll go through my pics and start uploading, and explaining my story and thought process. Feel free to chime in with any questions or recommendations. The stand can't get changed too much, but the lights still have some work to be done.
Now I'll go into these flood lights a bit, and I'll let you know how they work out for me. The 20W and 10W floods worked great for a medium planted, low light, dirted 75 gallon. But this will be osmocote (I'm done playing with mud) and eventually I'll get a PAR meter to let y'all know how they REALLY work. In any event, I mentioned the 50W LED lights needing some work before, so here's what I did, why I did it, and what I'm planning on doing:
There are four screws holding the glass on to the light in each corner, which are easy to remove.
The screws holding in the reflector are VERY easy to strip out. Some of them were loose, some were missing, and some were installed at 1 Kelvin. I say this because it's the only way that one screw could have been so incredibly tight, without any glue/loctite compound. Also, there's a silicone gasket in there which I originally thought was glued on, but was just held on with pressure.
The LED chip obviously has a positive and ground side, but the positive still needs to be marked. The chip has tabs which can be snapped off to show which side is which, but one of the chips had an extra tab broken off, so it was impossible to tell. Also, I tried using my multi-meter to check the polarity, but it wouldn't work. another question
why won't my multi-meter tell me anything? Even at 20M ohms, I read infinite in both directions. The lights are reassembled now, and everything works, but in the future I would like to know how to test these emitters. Obviously you do something different than you do to check small LEDs. Or maybe my multimeter just needs a little more junk in it's trunk to push through that big emitter?
Anyway, the emitter is held in with four screws. These are the same screws which hold the reflector. Removing them is easy enough, but try not to strip them. I had to drill one out, and it looked like someone in China had to do the same thing. So one of these lights only has two screws holding in the LED.
I de-soldered the connections, and removed the screws to find a giant glob of what I think is supposed to be thermal grease, but doesn't look like any thermal grease I've ever seen.
After removing the LED, I sprayed the inside with 91% rubbing alcohol and cleaned everything up. I didn't go full blown clean like I do when replacing thermal grease on processors. I went about as far as I do when cleaning a firearm before re-lubricating it. For those of you without firearms or computer processor cleaning skills, just clean the thing really well with cotton swabs and rubbing alcohol.
Your 91% alcohol can be picked up at your local pharmacy. The first time I tried to buy some, I went to four stores before I thought of a pharmacy. I went to hardware stores, figuring it would be with the solvents. I went to best buy, thinking it would be with electronic stuff. I tried radio shack. I tried the grocery store. I don't know why I didn't think of a pharmacy. haha.
Oh, and the picture is a bit poor. The reason it looks like there's still grease on the aluminum is because of a very minor amount of corrosion which has occurred since installation of the thermal grease.
No before pic (sorry) but I obviously cleaned the back of the LED with alcohol and cotton as well.
I put about a pea sized dab of arctic silver mx-2 thermal compound in the center of the LED.
Then I placed the LED lightly near the center of where it would screw in. I screwed in one corner until the screw stopped with light pressure. Then the opposite corner, etc. This is an attempt to squish the thermal paste evenly across the back of the LED. When all the screws are screwed in lightly, I tighten the screw I began with, as tight as I can comfortably go without stripping the screw head. I then repeat that process in the same pattern. Re-solder, and reassemble. It's all pretty simple.
The orange thing in my hand on the left is a soldering iron. It was still hot, and I wanted to take a quick shot and get along with the process.
The yellow thing on the floor behind the soldering iron is a wire detector. Ignore that, you don't need it for this. I didn't realize it was in the pic.
Phillips head screw driver (I don't know screwdriver sizes, sorry)
One more question for engineers/Hoppy
So far I've had the 50W lights run for about 4 hours straight. With a laboratory grade thermometer resting between the cooling fins of the heat sync (heat sink?) resting roughly near the center of the LED emitter, I am reading 120 degrees F. I've stripped all the paint off the lights already. Is this a good temperature for me to be reading? If it's too cool, is it possible I'm still not getting good heat transfer between the LED and the housing? If it's too warm, I'm planning on ordering some 40mm 12v DC fans anyway, that I can power off the same driver which is going to power the blue LED moon lights.
I don't have any before temps because I've heard about these things burning out immediately, and I wonder if heat transfer is the problem or not. Regardless, I wanted to give my lights the best chance of survival right off the bat.
And one pic before I go back to playing with my tank. The lights still need two more cables, but I think I'm going to put them at a different height than the cables which are currently there. Visually speaking, the lights don't take up enough "room" I really want a 50/50 split between aquarium and aquarium features. I want about 25% focus on the stand, 25% focus on the lights, and 50% focus on the tank itself. Currently, the lights look neat, but they appear too thin to keep your attention for very long. You just look at them, say "wow, that's bright!" and look away.
Again; advice, suggestions, ideas, and wake up calls are always welcome.