LED Build - Future Saltwater, so excuse the overkill. - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 23 (permalink) Old 07-15-2011, 03:08 AM Thread Starter
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LED Build - Future Saltwater, so excuse the overkill.

Hi all,

****MORE PICS ON POST 12******

So it seems like us on the freshwater side are much much behind the salty's for the past few years on lighting. About a year ago now, I bought a Nova Extreme 2X24W fixture for ~90$. A year later I've spent an additional 50$ in bulbs and probably 30-40$ to light it for 10 hours a day. That totals up to ~180$ for a single year of operation.

For the past 3-4 months I've been researching and researching LED's, Drivers, heatsinks, etc. More or less to find out as much information as I could, just how my brain works. O.o

In the midst of this, I've decided that I will set my first saltwater tank up at the end of this summer when I have everything together, so one of the major things in Saltwater reefs is light. Thinking about it, I would have to buy at least another 2X24W or sell the 2X24W for ~50$ (130$ loss) and buy a 4X24 (200$+). Even with 96W T5HO over a 16" tall tank, it wouldn't be enough for some corals. Not to mention a decent amount of heat and electricity used.


WELL! I said the heck with that and kept getting more into this 'LED craze' all the salty's are going into. 3 months later, I have everything to finish it.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~
For my setup, I decided that 18 3W LED's would be plenty, spread over an 18" heat sink in 3 rows.

For the power house (LED's of course!!)

12 Cree XP-G (cool white) LED
6 Cree XP-E (Royal Blue) LED

After that I decided that the LED's would be spread out with having the 2 RB in each row alternating so they mix well.


PRICE LIST (I've tried to keep tabs on as much as possible for this build):

12 Cree XP-G - 4.94 each -
6 XP-E - 4.** each
buck puck 700mA, with potentiometer - [email protected] 19.99 ea
buck puck 500mA with potentiometer - [email protected]
20G wire - - 10ft @ .26$ per foot
thermal adhesive - [email protected] 6.99
heat sink 19X6 [email protected] 40 (ship inc.)
drill and tap *already have* - ~15$
power supply -17$


Total Cost: ~220$


Tools needed!

Solder iron - at least 40W
solder
wire cutter
drill and tap
bench
wire stripper


Alright so here is some pictures. I didn't take any during the process, but I took some at intervals along the way. If you any questions, I'll try to answer them!

Here is the heat sink after I drilled and tapped the heat sink. I tried to miss the fins as much as possible, to avoid as much trouble as possible when putting screws in.


This is after I put a SMALL dot of artic silver 5 thermal compound on the bottom of each LED. A SMALL AMOUNT - if it comes out when your screwing it down, it's too much. I used a 6-32 tap, with nylon flat head screws. 6-32 thread and 1/2" long.



Close up of 1 LED


This was the first test.... was in the kitchen. I admit to this - I wired the buck-pucks wrong. I put positive to negative off of the buck-pucks and since LED's are diodes they only light in 1 way...I had the wrong way. So after cutting and re crimping the wires, it worked! DOHH!



Here's with both cool whites running at full power. The lights are much brighter...trust me. The camera auto brightness took FOREVER to tone these babies down.



Today I went to Radioshack and picked up one of their 'project boxes' for 5$... not bad. (6X3X2.5, i think) Drilled a 1/4" hole in each end (for the positive and negative LED wires). 2 holes in 1 of the long facing sides (for the power supply), and 3 in the lid (for the potentiometers).

It looks like a complete jumbled mess, but it's quite organized. I just haven't bothered putting quick ties around them, so it is how it is for now.



Closed, MUCH BETTER!




Any questions I'll be glad to answer! So far so good!


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Last edited by fishykid1; 07-18-2011 at 07:31 PM.
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post #2 of 23 (permalink) Old 07-16-2011, 10:58 PM Thread Starter
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Well, started at 10AM this morning.. Just finished the powerhouse part of it.(7PM) It runs warm, as expected.

I will upload pictures of it once I get home. turned on my 4X54W on the 75 and hung the LED retro on one side (it covered the bulbs) and it made the t5's look like nothing

I'm only running these at HALF their rated current, so at full current they'd be substantially brighter.


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post #3 of 23 (permalink) Old 07-16-2011, 11:27 PM
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Any pics? What size tank? Electrical diagram? How will the light be supported above the tank, and how high? The Devil is in the details.

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post #4 of 23 (permalink) Old 07-17-2011, 03:34 AM Thread Starter
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Any pics? What size tank? Electrical diagram? How will the light be supported above the tank, and how high? The Devil is in the details.
****UPDATED FIRST POST WITH PICTURES***

Slowly uploading pics....


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Last edited by fishykid1; 07-18-2011 at 04:19 AM.
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post #5 of 23 (permalink) Old 07-17-2011, 03:43 AM
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Keeping an eye on this thread. I decided I want to do an LED build, what I had in mind is very similar to this.


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post #6 of 23 (permalink) Old 07-17-2011, 04:03 PM Thread Starter
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Keeping an eye on this thread. I decided I want to do an LED build, what I had in mind is very similar to this.
It just takes a lot of patience.


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post #7 of 23 (permalink) Old 07-17-2011, 09:53 PM
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Do you think 14 cool white XP-G R5's are overkill on a 29 gallon?
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post #8 of 23 (permalink) Old 07-17-2011, 11:50 PM Thread Starter
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Do you think 14 cool white XP-G R5's are overkill on a 29 gallon?
Nope, just make sure you have a dimmable ballast and if for whatever reason they are too bright you can dim them...that's the great thing about LED's with dimming ballasts. Usually anywhere from 20%-100% power.


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post #9 of 23 (permalink) Old 07-18-2011, 12:39 AM
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Sweet, dimmable driver is already on the list. I plan on doing two rows of 7, with LED's placed 4 inches apart. The two rows will be placed 4 inches in from the from and back, and 4 inches from each other. I was planning on using 65 degree optics. In your experience, are they necessary? How do you like the color (temperature) of the cool white LED's? The fixture will be suspended ~6 inches above the water surface.
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post #10 of 23 (permalink) Old 07-18-2011, 01:01 AM
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LEDs have been in use on this forum for years. Nothing new here. Reason commercial products are lagging behind is because the wavelengths and colors needed for plants aren't as common as the blues and reds that are not only aesthetically pleasing on saltwater tanks but also grows coral quite well. Pure crisp white lighting LEDs are more expensive to produce.
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post #11 of 23 (permalink) Old 07-18-2011, 01:43 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JimmyYahoo View Post
LEDs have been in use on this forum for years. Nothing new here. Reason commercial products are lagging behind is because the wavelengths and colors needed for plants aren't as common as the blues and reds that are not only aesthetically pleasing on saltwater tanks but also grows coral quite well. Pure crisp white lighting LEDs are more expensive to produce.
I wouldn't say they were used extensively though. Nothing like the reefers. LEDs being used within this forum really took off in the last year or so. I haven't counted too many builds with XREs around.

This forum goes through heavy fads. I'm not saying the info and knowledge quits, but the rush goes away after things become common place. I took a break for a couple years a few years after I joined. Came back to everyone using drop checkers. Same thing with regulators, t5ho, mts, shrimp, etc. and now lots of led builds happening.

I like it.


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post #12 of 23 (permalink) Old 07-18-2011, 04:10 AM Thread Starter
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I wouldn't say they were used extensively though. Nothing like the reefers. LEDs being used within this forum really took off in the last year or so. I haven't counted too many builds with XREs around.

This forum goes through heavy fads. I'm not saying the info and knowledge quits, but the rush goes away after things become common place. I took a break for a couple years a few years after I joined. Came back to everyone using drop checkers. Same thing with regulators, t5ho, mts, shrimp, etc. and now lots of led builds happening.
I like it.
I'm a member of Nano-Reef (which is why I'm building this fixture) and most of their lighting forum is FULL of nice LED builds. I think they're up to 130 or so on the designated sub-forum for them.

As I said in my first post though. By the time you buy the MH fixture, pay for the bulbs and electricity after 1 year, you pay for a LED fixture that can compete with it and save money after just a few years. Granted it involves work and some are more handy than others, when those LED's burned bright the first time I fired it up, I felt accomplished.

Quote:
Originally Posted by JimmyYahoo View Post
LEDs have been in use on this forum for years. Nothing new here. Reason commercial products are lagging behind is because the wavelengths and colors needed for plants aren't as common as the blues and reds that are not only aesthetically pleasing on saltwater tanks but also grows coral quite well. Pure crisp white lighting LEDs are more expensive to produce.

I'll agree with cost, but the cost difference between white and colored is minor. The RB LED's were 4.54$ EACH, the Cool white with R5 bin where only 4.94$ EACH. The cost is negligible at best. I think commercial products haven't caught on as much because the demand for LED's on freshwater tanks isn't as high. Most freshwater people don't need near the light that our fellow salt water guys and girls do.


Quote:
Originally Posted by h2oaggie View Post
Sweet, dimmable driver is already on the list. I plan on doing two rows of 7, with LED's placed 4 inches apart. The two rows will be placed 4 inches in from the from and back, and 4 inches from each other. I was planning on using 65 degree optics. In your experience, are they necessary? How do you like the color (temperature) of the cool white LED's? The fixture will be suspended ~6 inches above the water surface.
How deep is this tank? With LED's being that far apart you may get a bit of spot lighting going on, unfortunately. With the setup I'm using I have each LED 3" apart from each other with no optics, as the tank I'll be using them is only 16" minus the substrate.

I do like the cool whites. However, I do like a more crisp white light then the yellowish from 6500K and down.

Since you are doing 7 LED's in 2 rows you may want to look into the Meanwell ballasts. Buck-pucks like mine can only run up to 6 LED's.


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post #13 of 23 (permalink) Old 07-18-2011, 08:06 PM Thread Starter
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Some more Pictures!

Full setup with everything finally wired and zip tied together and wound marker




Here's the hanging part using Eye hooks, steel picture hanging wire, 1/16" Ferrules, and a looped chain. (More pictures when it is actually hanging to come)





More to come...


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post #14 of 23 (permalink) Old 07-20-2011, 11:57 PM Thread Starter
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My sketchup model of it.





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post #15 of 23 (permalink) Old 07-22-2011, 09:27 PM
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http://www.reefcentral.com/forums/sh....php?t=1885076

http://www.nano-reef.com/forums/inde...owtopic=246394

I thought I would give you these two links because there has been debate over colors in the spectrum missing with cool white LEDs and blue, specifically green colors and warm colors/red. This makes some corals look bland (yellows, oranges, reds) but by adding the suplement colors they can look much better. It is not simple though, trying to get the colors to blend correctly.

The first link is more technical and the second one seems easier to understand though I haven't read to much of it. But don't trust me too much, I have never built one this is just what I have read over the past few days. But the bottom line is the like are good and I am not in any way saying your will not work just that it will be very bright and different from Metal Halide that kinda thing.

Good Luck!
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