DIY LED Build *Pic heavy* - The Planted Tank Forum
 
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post #1 of 10 (permalink) Old 01-11-2012, 06:30 PM Thread Starter
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DIY LED Build *Pic heavy*

Please be easy on me as this is my first DIY build and writeup after researching the forums.

I should have posted this while it was fresh in my memory a while back but wanted to see results of this build before I posted. I took a electronics class to figure this stuff because electronics is all new to me. Since then I have gained some knowledge that I would like to share with people who are interested in doing a DIY like this. Without further a-do here are some pictures of the process.

Parts list:
1 x Corsair CX-430 Power supply ~$25
6 x Cree XR-E Q5 Emitter on Premium Star (228LM at 1A) (Dealextreme) ~$15
6 x 60 Degree CREE XR-E Lens/Optics (black) (RapidLED) ~$6
2 x 1-1/2 in. x 48 in. Flat Bar 1/8 in. Thick Aluminum (Home Depot) ~$25
1 x Arctic Silver Alumina AATA-5G Thermal Adhesive (Newegg) ~$8
Wires ~$10
Resistors ~8
--------------------------------------------------------------------------
Total: ~$100

The attached pictures show the process in steps.

Schmatics is the last image called parallelled.

The plan was to use a $25 computer power supply CX-430 I picked up off of newegg while it was on sale for the power source instead of using a pre bought LED power driver like a meanwell. What I wanted to do with this light was to run them in parallel instead of series since computer power supply run usually at higher amps and lower voltage as opposed to a LED driver you purchase which is usually higher voltage and constant amps. My thinking at the time was that parallel is better because if one bulb blew out, I would still have lights that would still run.
After that I thermal glued the leds onto aluminum bars, purchased from home depot, for heatsink purposes. Yes I know home depot is not the best choice as it was pretty expensive but I looked around and was not able to find a good source for aluminum locally.

After some soldering and wiring it worked!

After running this setup for over 6 months it is still going strong and shows no sign of any problems. This would be a cool setup for a very low light setup like a shrimp tank with moss.

Some lessons learned from this DIY:

-Was running the leds in parallel over series a good idea? No, I do not think so because if a bulb had blew out, it would throw the voltages out of whack and would still cause troubles.

-I thought running 6 x Cree XR-E Q5 Emitter (228LM at 1A) would be sufficient lighting to grow lights since it is super bright to the human eye and supposedly gives you around 1000 lumens of light. However this was not the case.

-I did not think it would be a problem running a potentiometer to dim the leds to different brightness. However finding a potentiometer at a high wattage rating was close to impossible. After hooking it up it got way too hot real quick so had to remove potentiometer. Using a PWM setup is the way to go to dim the lights.

I may have missed way too much detail as I'm writing this in a haste. So if you have any questions feel free to ask in this thread. Thanks for checking this out and I appreciate any comments and feedback.
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post #2 of 10 (permalink) Old 01-11-2012, 06:41 PM Thread Starter
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LED Light housing build

So in order to finish this project off, the only tasks left was to build a housing to enclose the leds. The housing is to be built out of rain gutter and rain gutter end caps which can be picked up at home depot for around $30. Then there are some metals pieces that I had purchased to attach the leds to which proved to be the hardest part of the project. While I was building the housing I made sure to shrink wrap all the lose connections which is always a good idea.
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post #3 of 10 (permalink) Old 01-11-2012, 07:40 PM
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ok ur running constant voltage...

This opens a can of worms from my experience...

You will eat the life of your LED's a lot faster though constant voltage then constant current.
The LED's get hotter under constant voltage then it would under constant current.

The reason is a LED voltage is not held constant... current tho is, but voltage can fluxuate from what ive been reading.

I have 2 setups... constant voltage on a regulated psu, which is the safe route, and which u are doing also BTW, as well as constant current.

Constant current is also required to get the proper specs in color which the LED emits.

I have yet to see any real big difference between constant voltage and constant current tho, i dont have a real par meter i can test to see if its identical, but i have learned the hard way hoppy is correct. :P
I have not lost any LED either though constant voltage. but i do notice that they do get hotter...
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post #4 of 10 (permalink) Old 01-11-2012, 09:36 PM
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i'll be completely honest, your wiring terrifies me.

however, i havent even come close to attempting a DIY led, so major props for doing one!
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post #5 of 10 (permalink) Old 01-12-2012, 01:17 PM
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Very cool build! I actually looked at that rain gutter material when I was hunting at Lowe's for my build.
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post #6 of 10 (permalink) Old 01-12-2012, 05:38 PM
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What size tank is that? I'm surprised to hear that it isn't bright enough for you. I built a 7 LED fixture for a 16 gallon bowfront with Bridgelux LEDs that are very similar to XR-E's and I easily hit high light with it at 700ma. I'm thinking you aren't driving them as much as you think you are, or that tank is a 36 bowfront. Even then it should be enough for low/med I would think.

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post #7 of 10 (permalink) Old 01-12-2012, 09:11 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dragonfish View Post
What size tank is that? I'm surprised to hear that it isn't bright enough for you. I built a 7 LED fixture for a 16 gallon bowfront with Bridgelux LEDs that are very similar to XR-E's and I easily hit high light with it at 700ma. I'm thinking you aren't driving them as much as you think you are, or that tank is a 36 bowfront. Even then it should be enough for low/med I would think.
It's a 20 gallon tank. I was surprised when it wasn't as bright as I thought it should have been. I say it wasn't bright as a measure from my lack of co2 injection and nutes in my tank. I am going to start co2 injection and adding nutes to see if the plants will thrive. I was so certain this was enough light to grow plants. From the perspective of human eye, it def lights up the tank plenty.
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post #8 of 10 (permalink) Old 01-12-2012, 09:15 PM
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well he has the led's from what looks like a 2 x 3 way serials..

he is feeding the led's 4V each because his regulated psu can only do 3v 5v and 12v. The 3v line is on the main rail of the psu itself, i think and please correct me if im wrong, he is taking a molex head and using the 12V rail which is good for up to 20amps of current.
I am also going to assume he is pulling more then 700mA.

Once again an estimate, of probably closer to 800-900mA vs the 700mA current which is probably drawn at around 3.7V and not 4V.
This is why the LED's would get hotter then if he had a constant current driver.
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post #9 of 10 (permalink) Old 01-12-2012, 09:18 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Naekuh View Post
well he has the led's from what looks like a 2 x 3 way serials..

he is feeding the led's 4V each, so i assume he is pulling a bit more then 700mA. Id wager probably closer to 800-900mA.
Yes, your calculations are correct. I am basically driving these at close to max amps rated.
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post #10 of 10 (permalink) Old 01-13-2012, 12:51 PM
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One thing I learned taking pictures of my build, you can't really go by what someones pic on here looks like as far as how much light there is. If I put my camera on auto my gravel washes out really badly so I had to close the lense quite a bit to get a decent shot. I was thinking about this yesterday and using my camera as a cheap par meter. You can get an idea by what your camera is doing by setting fixed ISO and either fixed lense speed or aperature and watching how the camera compensates with whichever is left in auto mode. Should work from tank to tank if you have a bunch of them like I do.
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