Planning a DIY Canopy
I've been thinking about building a DIY canopy since about March, and i now have the cash available to start work on it. I've been designing the thing for about 2 weeks, weighing the pros and cons of using CFL's, T-5's, T-8's and other lighting methods. I figured i'd run the plans by you all to see what your reactions were and what sort of advice and/or improvements you could suggest.
I have a 29g tank that is meagerly planted right now, and has stock lighting hung above it. I want to replace that hood with a nice wooden canopy. I plan on using some maple, mohagony, or oak, staining it, and sealing it with polyurethane. My plans call for 80w of lighting consisting of 4x20w 24" t8 bulbs. These would be wired to two separate ballasts (and starters) hooked to 2 independent circuits, allowing for complete autonomy (for timing purposes). I also planned to add a third circuit derived from a cannibalized DC transformer to power some LED moonlights and 2 computer fans for ventilation of the ballasts (electrical ballasts, of course). I'm an electrical engineering student, so the circuitry is the easy part of of the entire design. I plan on having a glass or plexiglass covering over the opening below the lights (to prevent splashing of the electronics), and the ballasts will be completely isolated from the water (on either end of the lamps). I want to paint the inside of the canopy white, but also include a parabolic reflector from an 8" diameter heating duct. If the duct's interior is not reflective enough, i'll find a way to better the reflectivity. I was planning on having the lighting box be 6" deep x 4" tall x 28" long, with 2" gaps on either side to accomodate the ballasts. Any of those dimensions can be tweaked to fit the components inside. Anyway... any advice will be appreciated! Thanks!