The Wife Built the system - really
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Old 03-04-2015, 04:22 AM   #1
jengineer
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The Wife Built the system - really


23 April 2007



So the wife bought herself a tank 55 gallons 2 years ago (2005) 48L 15W and 17H. The height is from the top of the substrate to the lights. She told me no worries she would take care of everything. Everything means she will feed the fish and I will do everything else. .
Location of the system is 15 minutes from LAX

What she bought - the tank, stand, filter, cheapie lamps

Filter Fluval 400 series (2 clamps not the newer 4 clamp)
Started out with a 2 bulb lamp system - all plants died. Added T5 compact florescent , it helped but not enough - so I was told. Latest rendition, 4 VHO's



What I had to build - the back drop, substrate, fish, plants, canopy/hood and light box, added floor support piers and in the attic a heavy duty system to float the light box as it weighs close to 30 lbs.



Right Side with Corkscrew val. This is 2nd growth and is flowering.

A friend of ours was re-doing their home. We were visiting them in San Diego one day and he asked for help in loading up his truck for a dump run. After most of the truck was filled he came out with a sledge hammer and was about to pound a large slab of "spare: granite countertop. I told him to wait and we had the wife come out. She said "I have found my tank backdrop". Our walls are plaster (over 50 years old) and are not quite flat. The bottom stile is screwed into the studs of the wall. Then I added a framing board to keep it from falling. The unpainted wood is two fold - one is to keep toddler fingers away from an electrical power strip, and to keep the heat register from blowing hot air under the cabinet.



The top has a similar treatment. I could have cleaned up the edges but we have an eclectic home and the wife said leave the holes. In this pic you can probably see part of the electric ballast by Icecap for the VHO's. My electric usage went down a wee bit when I got rid of the old style ballast system - why do they still sell these archaic systems?



After mounting the backdrop and getting the tank set up I decided that I did not like the idea of just plunking down the light box (a plastic contraption for the 2 florescent bulbs) on top of the acrylic top. Time for routing nailing and screwing. Since I have been scuba dining (instructor) for over 15 years the wife said lets do a cave system. The canopy is painted as though it is the surface of the cave system. Think Wakulla Springs in Florida. Use your imagination. This was kind of cobbled together. It uses a full length piano hinge (brass) and opened up in 2 places. Almost useless now with the new light box but was ok for a 4 pound light system.



back side



front side

The lightbox uses 4 VHO's powered by the Ice-Cap and uses a dimpled reflector from Hamilton (Hamilton is just down the road in Gardena). The icecap comes with a wire harness that has bare leads. In the diving biz (technical diving) I noticed that there had been a move away from bananna plugs and now they use quick connects that are square shaped. A call to Allied Electric got me a few of these buggers and some heat shrink as I didn't want to see all the coloured wire out the backside of the unit. The box is uses Baltic Birch plywood, this stuff is worlds apart from the Big Box places you buy wood from. Ganahl, a local South California, lumber/hardware store is where I go for cabinet wood. This stuff has almost zero voids and is very tight. I ruined a low grade router bit on this wood, good wood calls for good bits. Also in Gardena is a plastic shop Van Ness & Rosecrans that cut me the lens for the lights. Since VHO's pump out the heat it is quite desirable to cool the lamps down. Doubly so since I enclosed them. If they aren't enclosed and your tank does not have lids on it you will evaporate a bit of water.



The steel hardware is from Lee Valley, the four attach points are really for building screen doors. I bought an extra one and tested it up to 100 pounds of weight (static load, I am a registered Mechanical Engineer and we like to break things) It didn't break so I figured it would work.

Since the light box is a tad on the heavy side I knew I couldn't leave it on the tank - actually I didn't want to risk it. It floats about 1/8 of an inch above the canopy. Of course where I needed to screw in the bolts was not near the ceiling frames. A trip to the attic and some extra bracing and a 4X4 post pre-drilled gives a solid holder for the lights.

So the stainless steel clips are to hold the light box up and out of the way for water changes. The wife has about 25 tetras in there and as you see a few plants. The left side gets picked up higher than the right to accommodate dumping in 5 gallon of water at a time. The light box is also lifted when I do the weekly floor cleaning and water change (gee just like I used to do the The Aquarium of The Pacific in Long Beach)



Finally our neighbour behind us has a high pressure sodium lamp that is on all night. You can almost read a book with this light. Of course we have a 12 foot floor to almost ceiling sliding door. For the night time I add this very rare Nauga Hide.



Nighty-Night

next up, what happens when you don't change the bulbs for 4 or more years. New lighting system

aka joe engineer
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Old 03-05-2015, 04:22 AM   #2
jengineer
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Mods,

I think I may have violated one of the posting rules on part two of this thread. Please drop me a line & I will clean up the proposed post.

je
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Old 03-05-2015, 05:00 AM   #3
Diana
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I like how you handled the background. Interesting re-use of the countertop material. Nice wood working to hold it in place.
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Old 03-07-2015, 06:20 PM   #4
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left over wood from a making hall closet doors on a fixer upper house and from making 3 beds. Not fine cabinetry but sufficient. I will update with the latest views once the mods release it,
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Old 03-07-2015, 08:12 PM   #5
jengineer
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Feb 2015

Well the above was all nice. I was looking at 2 forums back in 2007 after the tank had been up and running for 2 years and I only posted once on the other forum. Well that other forum is not as lively as this and things have happened. The tank flourished with minimum support. The plants spread and filled out and once a year I changed the 4 VHO's. That was ok for 4 years but then the price of the VHO's got a bit pricey and they have not been changed so all but 2 plants have died off. Yep you really need to change tube lights once a year. The plec outgrew her vase and so we made a ceramic tube which she made her own.



In September of last year the wife said hey what did you do to my plants? I said the lights need to be upgraded and I think it is time to transition to LED.



Bump: I spent a few weeks reviewing the machinations of O2Surplus someone has too much time on their hands. He has the most impressive home builds. Fissure in Sweden also had a real sweet set-up. Tank envy. I determined that as much as I thoroughly enjoyed the improvements of the O2Surplus Control system I really needed something that was more turnkey. I knew that I would not have the copious free time needed to fully appreciate the freedom of the board.

Taking the lumen/lux spreadsheet from Hoppy I played around with a few options. I initially was going to use the Cree XML2 LEDS but a few conversations off line with an LED vendor offered a slightly cheaper solution of using the XTE. Well there is an offset to it. The Hoppy spreadsheet resulted in almost twice as many LED's. Then again you can tweek the driver run 'em harder and use fewer. Arrgggghhhh so many choices. I decided to not run em harder so they might last longer.

Time to start accumulating parts and pieces.
30 XT-E white (cool white), 327lm at 1,000mA
30 CT-E white (warm white), 252lm at 1,000mA
6 XT-E RoyalBlue 1,050mW at 700mA 450-455nm Moonlight mix with CW & WW
4 LDD-1000H LED Driver
1 LDD-700H LED Driver
1 5 Up driver board
1 5 Up manual dimmer
1 Controller, not super fancy but it will control 5 stings
48 inches of heat sink
66 lazy man's method of attaching via quick Lens Holder and Star connectors
1 Supply SE-350-48/70230339 need about 230 Watts to run the full setup
1 Power supply for the 4 fans.

Once all of it arrives I will determine if I can adapt the wood hood to house the metal one and use the flow through fan.
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Old 03-07-2015, 10:30 PM   #6
jengineer
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Default From VHO to LED the trip begins

March 2015

The parts a trickling in. The heat sink (sled) came in first. I have yet to unbox it but I have verified the drawing to the part.



I do not like the idea of gluing the lens onto LED so I started looking for other alternatives. One option is this base and lens holder




So the hunt was on for a 60degree lens that would fit in the holder. Critical dimensions are the diameter of the lens lip and height. One possibility if the lens is too tall is to end mill the base of the holder to get about 2 mm more clearance. I bought a few lenses and determined which ones won't work and by chance found some on e-bay that would.




If the sled fits in the light box I will not need the four fans that came with it. I should fully unbox it to make sure they are in there. Otherwise the extra power source will get the fans spinning



the current power source for the Ice-cap is mounted on the wall behind the light box. I could mount the power source in the same spot or put it in a box and mount it on the wall behind the cabinet. Jury is out. I am leaning to keep it off the ground and above the water line.



I will put up a photo of the led layout next

Last edited by jengineer; 03-07-2015 at 10:49 PM.. Reason: messed up on the links / 'spelling' erors
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Old 03-08-2015, 03:59 AM   #7
jengineer
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Default 4 rows but 3 strings

X-axis spacing is inches
The Royal Blue (RB) row will be used when the other rows are off, between 7pm and 10 pm.
Although there are 3 rows for Cool White (CW) and Warm White (WW) they are powered in groups of 13 of the same style. The only mix of CW and WW will be the row with the RB.

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