DIY canopy: initial pics for now, step by step to follow
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Old 03-07-2003, 08:52 PM   #1
jart
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hello all, bear with me, this'll be a long post...

my diy hood is somewhat near completion. it's not wired or painted yet. however i thought it might be reasonable to post some pics here to give some of you who may be in the planning stages some different ideas. i know from experience that it is very frustrating to think that you are limited to a certain design, then do all the running around to track down the necessary equipment, and then someone posts something a few days later that makes you change your plan (and thus, the cycle repeats itself).

for starters, you'll see from my pics that, due to the design of my tank (i think the guy i bought it from a few years ago may have made it himself), i had to break from the usual canopy design. look at the pics: the piece of glass that rests on the front of the tank has to be taken into consideration. the piece of glass makes it difficult to make a design that allows for easy tank maintenance.

that's where the drawer slides come in handy. as you can see from the pics, these allow the lights to be slid back and forth, allowing me access to the tank (for replanting, etc) from the front or the back.

as i said, some of you may be interested in a step by step description. i have to take it apart to glue and paint it, but i thought some of you would find it worthwhile to see the pics now. in case someone out there has some time on their hands and would like to do such a project in the immediate future ie faster than the step by step will appear (i'll be a little busy this weekend), send me a private message and i'll try to steer you in the right direction.

regards,

jart
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Old 03-07-2003, 08:55 PM   #2
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this is how the hood will be orientated most of the time...
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Old 03-07-2003, 08:56 PM   #3
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...and here it is with the lights slid out over the front for easy access.
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Old 03-08-2003, 06:17 AM   #4
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Ingenious idea on how to open the canopy! Mine just has a hinged lid that doesn't even lock open, so I have to prop it open with a mechanical pencil being used as a strut and even then it's so closed that I often burn/cut my hands on the reflectors of my PC lights when putting my hand in to feed. And forget about doing any maintenance with the canopy on! But I have to ask...what's up with that tank looking like crap? Have you just not cleaned it out and gotten it up and running yet? That's what I figured, but it'd almost seem like you're putting the cart before the horse with the whole custom canopy thing if that's the case. So...explain.
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Old 03-08-2003, 02:17 PM   #5
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in the third pic you can see the hardwood floor that i just refinished. for that reason (if you've ever sanded a wood floor, you'll know what i mean) i had to take the tank out of room. my plants weren't really doing that well at the time.

so, i decided to go for the gusto. i moved my fish into another tank for the time being. the old canopy, which was based somewhat on the same design but blinded anyone in the room, had to go.

sooo... the plan is (no point doing this half a**; might as well get it all set up at once, especially if you're going to plant heavily from the start):

1) diy canopy with odno 36" t8 tubes (75% finished)
2) pressurized co2 (awaiting the needle valve; still planning the reactor)
3) new custom made cabinet to accomodate the co2 tank and fluval (for the most part still in planning stages)
4) 2 bags of flourite (over $100 canadian :shock: )
5) etc etc

so it'll be a while before i get to enjoy the view. i think you'd all agree that a few extra weeks of careful planning and design pay off in the end. not like when i was a teenager and ended up taking my first aquarium home from the store along with a bag of a dozen fish.

as an aside, you'll probably all agree that the finished floor looks not too bad. so, why would previous owners cover it up with a layer of plywood (nailed down as if to preserve their very souls :evil: ) and then shag carpet?? makes you wonder. perhaps the decorating styles dictated by the 60s and 70s should be forever banished from human memory.
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Old 04-20-2003, 12:33 AM   #6
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i apologize for taking so long to get this post put together. Thanks to the Buckman for formatting my pics. all prices canadian.

Materials:

#1) 1/2" thick MDF (2 ft x 4 ft). about $10.

Why medium density fiberboard (MDF)? Well, it's cheap, easy to work with (dusty though) and I'm going to paint it anyway. It also comes in 1/4" and 3/4" thicknesses, but 1/2" seemed just right.

#2) 3/4" x 3/4" utility pine (6 ft). If you don't have a table saw you can usually get this ripped when you buy it. About $10. This pine serves two purposes: i) I used it to make a rectangular "frame" which rests on the tank (the main assembly then attaches to this frame), and ii) it is useful to reinforce the 90 degree joints (rather than just glue them).

#3) A pair of drawer slides. Try to get a pair the length of which are slightly shorter than your tank is from front to back. I got mine at a liquidation store for $2. Expect to pay upwards of $20 for good quality new ones. Previously I had used lesser quality slides and learned my lesson. The sturdier the slides, the more solid your hood.

#4) Paint/primer/sealer. I chose Varathane Colours Plastic Enamel (exterior/interior, rated for marine use). Others have advocated spar varnish as a sealer. The consensus seems to be that polyurethane is best avoided. MDF would probably not last long exposed to water if not properly sealed.

Tools:

Circular saw (table saw would have been nice)
Jigsaw
Router (optional)
Drill
Sandpaper/ palm sander
Several 1" and 3/8" screws
Carpenter's glue
Swear jar
Various clamps (useful but not essential)
Lighting of course, but I won't get into that here (ballasts will be mounted under the tank to minimize weight/bulk).

Once i get the whole beast wired and hooked up i'll post a follow up pic.
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Old 04-20-2003, 12:40 AM   #7
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the frame is made from the 3/4 inch square pine, and rests on the top of the tank. simply glue and screw the 4 pieces together at right angles as shown.

(in case you're wondering why the piece at the back is a different colour than the others... i stole the other pieces from my previous hood which was stained.)
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Old 04-20-2003, 12:44 AM   #8
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each drawer slide is screwed to a piece of 3/4" square pine. the pine is then screwed to the frame. the cleanliness of the aquarium glass and living room in general are clearly depicted here.
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Old 04-20-2003, 01:00 AM   #9
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this stuff generates a ton of dust when you cut it.

as the pic shows (thanks again buck) there are only 4 mdf pieces needed in this design:

the side supports (A and B)
the front (C) which prevents those viewing the tank from being blinded
the top (D) (the square resting on top is 8 inches long)

obviously there was a fair amount of tedious measuring involved here, making sure the pieces fit together just right, and the bulbs would be resting the correct distance above the water.

i have included a closeup shot of the front (C). the several cuts made at each end were made to allow clearance for the slides. you can get a better idea of how these cuts come into play by looking at the very first pic in this post.

the long notches visible in the side supports A and B were first made with a friend's band saw, but i later got better results with a router. let me know if any technical questions, i don't want to add too much unneccesary detail if not required.
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Old 04-20-2003, 01:13 AM   #10
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hopefully the pics will fully explain this step.

i found the 3/4 inch square pine really secured the joints well. the pic "hood8" shows the pine glued to the top (D). "hood9" shows the top (D) with a side support (A) attached.

the last step: screw the drawer slides to the side supports. see the earlier pics in this post.

paint/seal, attach lights/wiring, avoid painful shocks, then have an ale. in that order.

questions? 8)
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