DIY LED: can anyone speak teenage girl language? - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 29 (permalink) Old 12-31-2011, 07:20 PM Thread Starter
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DIY LED: can anyone speak teenage girl language?

After shopping around and trying to find the best-fit led fixture for my needs, I finally decided on DIY. But so far, all the information I've found is all mumbo jumbo to me. I think I need a heatsink...a driver...and the name Cree XP-G has been tossed around, but I'm still lost. I don't even know really where to start.

Can anyone point me in the right direction? Preferable something easy to understand, seeing as I'll be doing most of this by myself (but hopefully with the help of my electrical engineer dad).

The biggest concern is that it needs to be on the cheaper side. I want to avoid all the extra froo-froo and keep it a bare bones project, but with the ability to be upgraded in the event of a salary. This will be for a low tech 10 gallon, but will eventually be replaced with an 18" x 18" x 18" rimless cube, so I will have to leave room for adding more LEDs so that I can have a hightech cube. I plan on suspending the unit from the ceiling so that I have the option of raising or lowering the unit as needed.

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Last edited by Gnomecatcher; 12-31-2011 at 11:37 PM.
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post #2 of 29 (permalink) Old 12-31-2011, 07:34 PM
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I don't speak or understand TeenAgeGirlish but this may be helpful: https://www.plantedtank.net/forums/li...led-light.html

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post #3 of 29 (permalink) Old 01-01-2012, 05:21 AM
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Get your electrical engineer dad to read, with you, through the thread Hoppy listed, and read the links inside it.
Then go to some of the places selling kits and see if you can figure out how the pieces go together. If not, repeat step one.

Super simplistically, The LED emitters are the light sources.
A driver converts electricity from the wall socket to something that can power the LED emitters.
The heat sink is to keep the LED emitters from over heating. The emitters mount on it.

Caveat: simplistically, a DIY LED rig for a 10g will be mostly useless for an 18"x18"x18" cube.
 
post #4 of 29 (permalink) Old 01-01-2012, 04:08 PM
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+1 to the previous post, but I'd like to add that if you are clever in designing the light, you could move a suitable light from a 10g to a 18" cube.. If you made a 3x3 grid of emitters it would be oversized and overspecced for a 10g, but with a dimmable driver that is easily dealt with. I have 8 XPG (~5500k) LEDs over a 10g right now running below 1w each, but it's still easily over 50 PAR (based on the calculator at 1023world). Cranking them up full blast would more than triple the light output, which ought to be just about right for an 18 cube or so.
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post #5 of 29 (permalink) Old 01-01-2012, 05:35 PM Thread Starter
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Oops, shoulda followed my own post. Hehe.

3x3 grid is exactly what I came up with. I also looked up some kits on certain DIY sites and it seems to be much simpler than I originally thought. I found some solderless mounts as well, but that means drilling and tapping my heatsink. I don't know if I need a drill press or not for that. Maybe I'll just go the solder route and use thermal tape.

Thanks for the information Hoppy! I'm looking around ebay right now.

Are there any suggestions for optics?

I moss be in love

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post #6 of 29 (permalink) Old 01-01-2012, 08:46 PM
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Unless you can afford to experiment, don't bother about optics until after you build and test the basic LED configuration over your tank.

Soldering is easy, particularly the type needed for LED stars. if in doubt, buy a soldering kit off Amazon.com and practice. It's a life skill that is well worth the time it takes to learn. My eleven year old took to it and has built some kits. At a Maker Faire, kids as young as six learned to solder - under adult supervision.

Drilling and tapping is easy, but it's easy to break bits and taps on heat sink alloys. I suggest using the adhesive pads or heat sink adhesive - not thermal transfer compound - to glue the stars in place.
post #7 of 29 (permalink) Old 01-01-2012, 09:06 PM
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Optics are for high tanks, where you want the LED light to hang above the tank. Without optics that means a lot of spilled light, and not enough PAR at the substrate level. With optics you concentrate the light into narrower cones of light, which mostly end up in the tank, and because of the narrower cones, the light at the substrate level is brighter. A ten gallon tank doesn't need optics at all. An 18 inch cube could use them if the light hangs a foot above the top of the tank.

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post #8 of 29 (permalink) Old 01-01-2012, 09:32 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by [email protected] View Post
Unless you can afford to experiment, don't bother about optics until after you build and test the basic LED configuration over your tank.

Soldering is easy, particularly the type needed for LED stars. if in doubt, buy a soldering kit off Amazon.com and practice. It's a life skill that is well worth the time it takes to learn. My eleven year old took to it and has built some kits. At a Maker Faire, kids as young as six learned to solder - under adult supervision.

Drilling and tapping is easy, but it's easy to break bits and taps on heat sink alloys. I suggest using the adhesive pads or heat sink adhesive - not thermal transfer compound - to glue the stars in place.
Is it easier than soldering copper pipe? I've done a fair share of that. And I'm sure my dad would be willing to teach me electronic type soldering.

Will thermal epoxy work? I might be able to get some from my dad's work.

I moss be in love

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post #9 of 29 (permalink) Old 01-01-2012, 09:48 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gnomecatcher View Post
Is it easier than soldering copper pipe? I've done a fair share of that. And I'm sure my dad would be willing to teach me electronic type soldering.

Will thermal epoxy work? I might be able to get some from my dad's work.
Easier yes(? #1) and yes(?no#2).




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post #10 of 29 (permalink) Old 01-01-2012, 11:53 PM
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JB Weld (epoxy) works.


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post #11 of 29 (permalink) Old 01-02-2012, 11:27 PM Thread Starter
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A lot of grow lights for hydroponics use 660nm leds. Can I use a few of these on my fixture, possibly?

I moss be in love

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post #12 of 29 (permalink) Old 01-02-2012, 11:57 PM
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Originally Posted by Gnomecatcher View Post
A lot of grow lights for hydroponics use 660nm leds. Can I use a few of these on my fixture, possibly?
Hydroponic growers don't care what the plants look like, just how fast they grow. We want to be able to look at our aquariums and feel some enjoyment, not get a headache. Those 660nm LEDs are very red as I recall, and someone here tried them out and wasn't able to make them work out well.

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post #13 of 29 (permalink) Old 01-03-2012, 12:32 AM Thread Starter
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Haha okay, good call. Not worth the ugliness.

I think I'm just about ready to order all my parts.

Too bad sunrise/sunset controllers are so expensive. I guess I could have 3 different drivers and have different strings turn on progressively, but that is getting a little expensive, too.

I moss be in love

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post #14 of 29 (permalink) Old 01-03-2012, 03:32 AM
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LEDs are definitely coming down in price, but they aren't a cheap option by any stretch of the imagination. If money is a concern, I'd be more worried about getting a quality driver than the latest and greatest LEDs.
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post #15 of 29 (permalink) Old 01-03-2012, 05:02 PM Thread Starter
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LEDs are definitely coming down in price, but they aren't a cheap option by any stretch of the imagination. If money is a concern, I'd be more worried about getting a quality driver than the latest and greatest LEDs.
I agree. Is the Meanwell 60-48 a good driver? I sort of decided on that one because it's pretty popular, so there is a lot of documentation of it's use in aquarium lights so I can figure out how to set it up.

I scoured evilbay and found some 3W LEDs mounted on stars for $1.90 ea and 60 degree lenses for $0.50 ea. Hooray! The lumen difference between the Cree XP-G and this cheapy one isn't that much. Not sure about PAR though. But I still think a 27 watt fixture is overkill on my cube. I hope I don't need to upgrade from DIY CO2.

I moss be in love

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