Make your own High output light for less than $30 - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 17 (permalink) Old 04-07-2011, 01:53 PM Thread Starter
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Make your own High output light for less than $30

I've been around aquariums since i was a kid but Just recently decide to go to a planted tank. Theres nothing like the realizim and beauty of a totally natural tank. We lucked up at the lea market one day and found a woman selling aquqrium supplies from her failed business. Long story short, we got a Deluxe Tetra 29gal setup for $45!

It's been a learn as you go deal, but Im the type that once I get bitten by the bug of a new passion, I immerse myself in it and learn everything I can as fast as possible.

My 1st problem was I only had a stock light fixture that put our 20 watts. Not nearly enough for a tank as lush as Id like to have. I was hoping to be able to propagate enough plants from this aquarium to populate one or 2 10 gallon ones later.

I cant afford to drop $50-$200 on a light like I wanted so I started thinking of how I could buuild one. I came up with a rough idea that I just put together and am currently using. The difference was amazing in even 3 days. My Ludwigia Repens have turned up to the light and the reds are outstanding. And I think now I may be able to save my Baby tears dwarf(HC).

Heres a step by step with pics tutorial on how I did it. I made some mistakes along the way and plan on redoing this later. So this is a rough run thru on how to do it and its much more satisfying than paying $100 for something you can do in an hour for less than $30. Hell, most of the needed materials you probably already have around the house.

List of Materials: All are available at Lowes

1 piece of plastic gutter.
2 plastic guttter endcaps
Heavy duty glue suitable for glueing the endcaps to the gutter.
2 Keyless socket light sockets, black.
1 in-line on/off switch
2 15 to 23 watt 6500K CFL lights (walmart, 2 for $4.44)
ONe 8 foot piece of ext cord. Use the heavy duty kind wit a ground wire.
(I used one from a broken pump I had)
2 small L brackets found in hardware
2 small washers for the brackets
1 measured the length of hood strip of lattice work wood. (again. laying around)
2 wire ties
about 6 1/2 inch screws with nuts.

Here is the piece of gutter cut 28" to fit the space on my aquarium top, layed out with endcaps.


Trial and error lesson learned #1, mount the endcaps on the inside of the gutter.
it will fit better in the slot if you are using an existing top, and it looks better.
However At the end I will tell you how to add 2 tiny slotsthat will make the
hood fit as snug as factory.



Simply glue on the encaps and seal in any cracks or open gaps with your
finger and more glue as needed. YOu should wait 24 hours after this before
proceeding with hood stuff... but you can assemble the sockets in the meantime.




The aboce pic shows the light socket, one "L" bracket and the washer.
Next you want to remove that piece of metal screwed to the back of the socket.
THis is where you will secure the socket to the bracket.

Next reinsert the screw into socket then plae the bracket on the back of the
socket followed by the washer and hand screw the nut on just until its in
place.... Depending on the size of your hands... THis part may have you mad as hell!


Now you can tighten it. Slowly! Dont crack the socket.
Repeat this step for the next one.

You should end up with this:


Next get your piece of Lattice wood..... You'll see that its very flimsy, but
for this lightweight application. It's perfect and you can cut it with a
pocket knife! You simply score one side pretty deep, then snap it in the
opposite direction.

You want to mwasure to the length of your hood. It should fit inside and
almost touch each end cap.



Depending on hhow you want your light concentrated in the tank will
determine how far apart you mount the sockets. I attached my brackets
4" from each end.(After much thought, i think i am going to move them
out about 2.5" to the end of the hood. It seems to concentrate more light
in the center and not far enough into the edges to suit me)

Last edited by gh0ul; 04-08-2011 at 04:58 AM.
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post #2 of 17 (permalink) Old 04-07-2011, 03:35 PM
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very cool. I am definitely doing this. Is there a way to make it to fit T5 bulbs too?
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post #3 of 17 (permalink) Old 04-07-2011, 03:48 PM
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Nice. If I can't end up getting a coralife aqualight for cheap ( nobody even has them anymore!) then I'll probably do this. Thanks!


You can call me Bob

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post #4 of 17 (permalink) Old 04-07-2011, 04:53 PM
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U could also OD a shop light. U just need a extra ballast

125 ga. Pressured co2. T5ho
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post #5 of 17 (permalink) Old 04-07-2011, 04:58 PM
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whats OD stand for?

would this be a substitute for a t5? you could spray paint the outside of the gutter to make it silver or black if you dont like the white


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post #6 of 17 (permalink) Old 04-07-2011, 05:21 PM
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OD = over drive

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post #7 of 17 (permalink) Old 04-07-2011, 05:33 PM
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Thanks!


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post #8 of 17 (permalink) Old 04-07-2011, 05:39 PM
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I've done this with SunBlaster T-5's (http://sunblasterlighting.com/fixture-only.php) from the local hydroponic store. I add aluminum tape to the inside as a reflector. They work great!
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post #9 of 17 (permalink) Old 04-07-2011, 05:57 PM
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I wonder if there are parabolic shaped gutters or anything of the like, I'm thinking that shape would result in more efficient light reflection.
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post #10 of 17 (permalink) Old 04-07-2011, 06:08 PM Thread Starter
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I still have to finish the tut, but you guys will not believe how easy this was.... Here's a pic of the finished thing for now.

Closer up:


So you can see the hood before Painting:


I know it looks bare.... THis tanks only been going 3 weeks... but its getting there!
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post #11 of 17 (permalink) Old 04-07-2011, 06:14 PM Thread Starter
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Takadi:
Im sure u could use T5's.. I just cant afford them. Hence the ease of the CFL's in this
application. I like them because I can go up or down on the wattage if I need to.THe
implementation of T5's in a setup like this I'm not familiar with, It's beyond the scope
of what I'm trying to do.
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post #12 of 17 (permalink) Old 04-07-2011, 06:20 PM
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Are you using the corkscrew type CFL's or are you using the tubular types?
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post #13 of 17 (permalink) Old 04-07-2011, 07:12 PM
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Compact Fluro = Corkscrew
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post #14 of 17 (permalink) Old 04-07-2011, 08:32 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by takadi View Post
I wonder if there are parabolic shaped gutters or anything of the like, I'm thinking that shape would result in more efficient light reflection.
4 inch PCV drain pipe cut in half might work.
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post #15 of 17 (permalink) Old 04-07-2011, 08:54 PM
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This is actually a pretty neat setup, but with poor reflectors and horizontal CFL's, over a 29g, I'd bet you're not getting higher than low-med light. Maybe just low.
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