Another Way to Hang a Light - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 21 (permalink) Old 10-25-2010, 11:34 PM Thread Starter
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Another Way to Hang a Light


A few days ago while playing around with lighting possibilities it occurred to me that I could make a light support that would allow me to raise and lower the light easiely, using the parts shown above. I have no real need for this right now, but I couldn't resist letting my Rube Goldberg side have some fun. So, I spent about $16 on parts, and gave it a try.

The goal is to use these PVC tees to make hinge fittings, so that three of them connected in a line will make an adjustable height support. First I modified the tees slightly, by gluing in a plug on one end of 6 tees, then drilling a 1/4 inch hole through the plug, and so my bolts would fit, I used a hack saw to cut the plug flanges off, resulting in this:


These will make 3 hinge joints like this:


Using 4 inch stubs of PVC pipe the hinges connect to make this:


Continued on next post.

Hoppy
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post #2 of 21 (permalink) Old 10-25-2010, 11:37 PM
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Interesting Hoppy. I can't wait to see how this turns out.

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post #3 of 21 (permalink) Old 10-25-2010, 11:42 PM Thread Starter
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It wasn't obvious how much load a linkage like this can hold up, since it relies on friction between the ends of the tees to resist the hinges turning. So, I connected it up with a 4 foot piece of 2 x 4, figuring that would just about equal a 4 foot T5NO fixture in size and weight.






The last picture is with the "light" raised several inches.

The good news is that the idea works, and the hollow PVC piping provides a place to hide the power cord for the light. The less good news is that 1/2" PVC is probably not enough for a 4 foot light fixture. It takes wrenches to get the bolts tight enough to hold the linkage in position with that much weight. But, I suspect one of these made of 3/4 PVC would work fine, and with 1" PVC it would work very well. If the tank is close to the wall, the linkage has to fold above the light, but if the tank is several inches from the wall, the linkage could fold behind the tank. However, then retightening the joints would be a big problem. This 1/2" PVC linkage is probably limited to 30 inch or shorter lights.

This is easy to make, and takes less than a couple of hours total. It is cheap, so even if it ends up not working, you don't lose a lot of money.

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post #4 of 21 (permalink) Old 10-26-2010, 01:11 AM Thread Starter
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The attachment to the "light" is a 1/2" pipe flange, with a PVC 1/2 NPT to slip joint adapter. There are PVC slip joint flanges available at McMasters and Carr, but for 3X the price. If I were making this for a living room tank I would use the PVC flange.

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post #5 of 21 (permalink) Old 10-26-2010, 01:19 AM
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I'd suggest thread lock nuts or thread locking compound on the finished project. Wing nuts, or any not locked nut will work loose. At the worst possible time, and usually causing the most possible damage - at the worst possible time.

Cool idea though.
post #6 of 21 (permalink) Old 10-26-2010, 01:27 AM
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Just because I think it would be neat to know, what exactly were you looking at or doing when the light bulb went off and sent you to work creating this?
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post #7 of 21 (permalink) Old 10-26-2010, 01:49 AM
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nice!



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post #8 of 21 (permalink) Old 10-26-2010, 03:32 AM
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How would it connect to the wall? That's the important part, hopefully not with a clamp


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post #9 of 21 (permalink) Old 10-26-2010, 03:33 AM
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looks like he has a vertical pipe running that could be attached using pipe hangers.


That is how I attach my conduit light stand to my tank.
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post #10 of 21 (permalink) Old 10-26-2010, 04:02 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by over_stocked View Post
looks like he has a vertical pipe running that could be attached using pipe hangers.


That is how I attach my conduit light stand to my tank.
Yes, exactly. This leaves you with almost none of the vertical conduit/piping showing, and if the hinge linkage is painted white it will almost be invisible if the wall is also white.

Quote:
Originally Posted by [email protected] View Post
I'd suggest thread lock nuts or thread locking compound on the finished project. Wing nuts, or any not locked nut will work loose. At the worst possible time, and usually causing the most possible damage - at the worst possible time.

Cool idea though.
I have been thinking about this some more. The tees I got have raised lettering on one end, making the end sort of pebbled. I mistakenly put this together with the smooth ends of the tees together, figuring they would lock up if I had the pebbled ends together. But, that might have worked much better. Another potential problem is the tendency of PVC to creep under load. This could cause the friction in the "hinges" to disappear over time, allowing the light to drop. I thought of using star washers to keep the bolts from loosening, but if the PVC creeps star washers would be of no use.

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Originally Posted by intermediate_noob View Post
Just because I think it would be neat to know, what exactly were you looking at or doing when the light bulb went off and sent you to work creating this?
I was doing my monthly attempt to find a way to make standard LED light modules work out well, and not cost so much. For some reason I drifted off into thinking about how such modules could easily be suspended, which led me to the idea of a hinge bracket, which made me think of DIYing hinges someway, which eventually got me to thinking about PVC fittings.

This idea clearly needs some refining.

Hoppy
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post #11 of 21 (permalink) Old 10-26-2010, 05:00 AM
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Great ingenuity, as always, Hoppy. I would imaging you could use one of those for a small light fixture, or simply use two for a larger one. Lights would be easy to raise and lower with one of these. Bravo!

-Chris

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post #12 of 21 (permalink) Old 10-26-2010, 10:05 PM
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While they can be a lot more expensive, the mounts for LCD monitors are very sturdy. Some use adjustable tensioners to keep the balance.
post #13 of 21 (permalink) Old 10-27-2010, 12:04 AM
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if you make "V" notches in your pipe fittings you can get a solid incremental setting with less torque on your bolts and more reliable against accidental slippage that may result in a light system sitting in your tank.

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post #14 of 21 (permalink) Old 10-27-2010, 03:35 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ReefkprZ View Post
if you make "V" notches in your pipe fittings you can get a solid incremental setting with less torque on your bolts and more reliable against accidental slippage that may result in a light system sitting in your tank.
Do you mean notches across the faces of the tee ends, which rub together for most of the friction that holds the angles? Or are you referring to pipe threaded fittings? I'm still thinking about how best to do this, so your idea interests me a lot.

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post #15 of 21 (permalink) Old 10-27-2010, 03:47 AM
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^ he means cut the places that use friction like gears. great idea - hard to do.
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