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post #1 of (permalink) Old 10-01-2012, 04:32 PM Thread Starter
Algae Grower
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Join Date: Sep 2012
Location: Spring, Tx
Posts: 6
Question DIY LED lighting for a 55gal long planted Tang tank

Hi. I'm new to the hobby and I have decided to try my hand at LED lighting. I have a standard 55gal long Tanganyika Cichlid community tank. It's planted with Val and Lotus at the moment, I was considering adding some Java fern as well to some of the holey rock in the tank. It's currently lit by two 8 watt 12" fluorescent bulbs. It's nice, but I'm a nerd. I want full control over the lighting, color and brightness.

There is so much wonderful information here on LED builds. I'm currently reading through, but as I get closer to deciding on supplies I thought I'd ask for opinions.

Right now I'm gravitating towards cheap (component-wise) and heavily DIY.

LEDs: Chinese "Bridgelux" 3W
Heatsink: 2"x4"x12" Rectangular 6063AL Tubing
Fans: 50mm Case fans side mounted into the Tubing
Drivers: CAT4101 - 1 A Constant-Current LED Driver with PWM Dimming
Power Supplies: LiteOn 24V 4A power brick (or other online auction similar brick)
Controller: Arduino Nano
Clock: DS1307 Real Time Clock Module for Arduino

White LED Mix: (6 and 6 per 24" side of tank)
14 - 18000K Cold White 3W
14 - 3500K Warm white 3W

Spectrum Filler: (one cluster of 3 per 24" side of tank)
2 - 660nm Deep Red LED 3W
2 - 400nm Violet LED 3W
2 - 500nm Turquoise LED 3W

I had an electrical engineering course back in college, but the only two things I remember from that class were "blue smoke is bad" and the lab where I wired a set of T-Bird tail lights. This project is my way back in and I'm not afraid to spend some quality time at a soldering station to do it.

That said, I'm having trouble figuring out the best way to power my LEDs. I have mismatched counts and voltages (for red) and most of the DIY help is aimed at matched sets of LEDs. Add to that I want each color to be addressable individually. That is five channels with three different sets of parameters. Also I want to make sure they are powered at about 70% for longevity, which means a current of around 500mA. It look like that is not common for any commercial LED drivers or power sources. So where should I start?


This may be a case of "you get what you pay for" but usually I find starting cheap a good learning experience. Still, if anything I picked is going to just make this a nightmare, I'd rather learn than crash and burn.

I'm open to component changes, recommended reading, constructive criticism, or any other ideas you may have. Thank you for your help.

"A laurel will protect you from the poison marsh."

Last edited by RelatedToTheFish; 10-08-2012 at 04:19 PM. Reason: more specifics
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