Foam tri-fold backlight - The Planted Tank Forum
 
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post #1 of 14 (permalink) Old 11-10-2014, 02:21 AM Thread Starter
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Foam tri-fold backlight

I wanted to try backlighting as I've seen on some other tanks. Since I wasn't able to find any information on how to achieve the effect, I came up with a test design using a foam tri-fold and a strip of LEDs.


A small hole is cut in the side for the cord.


The design allows very little light to spill out behind the tank.


The effect is much more subtle in person, especially when the Radion is operating. Unfortunately my photography is insufficient to capture this, so you'll have to take my word. Overall I'm fairly happy with the result, and will probably only make minor adjustments to the final version. One thing I'm wondering about is whether this presents any particular fire hazard; I'd appreciate input on this point if anyone has some.
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post #2 of 14 (permalink) Old 11-10-2014, 02:25 AM
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Wow. The only words I'm qualified to give are that that is a neat project and it looks great! I think accent/moonlighting in aquariums is something that should be given more thought! You don't see it too often.
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post #3 of 14 (permalink) Old 11-10-2014, 03:26 AM
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I think it would be awesome if you made the thing into a full-blown shadow box. That way you still get a subdued backlighting effect, and you make the tank appear deeper than it really is.


I don't see there being any sort of fire hazard, as long as you don't have something like exposed wires touching the foam board.


Here's a thread over on RC that details some shadowbox stuff. If you want to see some cool effects, check out the pics on pages 1, 11, and 13. My favorite is probably the pic in post #323.

Edit: here's an interesting build thread for a simple shadowbox: http://www.reefcentral.com/forums/sh....php?t=2080031 . You could even probably paint on some tree / driftwood shadows to the posterboard to get a nice effect.
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post #4 of 14 (permalink) Old 11-10-2014, 05:26 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ngrubich View Post
I think it would be awesome if you made the thing into a full-blown shadow box. That way you still get a subdued backlighting effect, and you make the tank appear deeper than it really is.


I don't see there being any sort of fire hazard, as long as you don't have something like exposed wires touching the foam board.


Here's a thread over on RC that details some shadowbox stuff. If you want to see some cool effects, check out the pics on pages 1, 11, and 13. My favorite is probably the pic in post #323.

Edit: here's an interesting build thread for a simple shadowbox: http://www.reefcentral.com/forums/sh....php?t=2080031 . You could even probably paint on some tree / driftwood shadows to the posterboard to get a nice effect.
Thanks! I hadn't heard of the shadow box stuff before - really neat.

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Squrl888 View Post
Wow. The only words I'm qualified to give are that that is a neat project and it looks great! I think accent/moonlighting in aquariums is something that should be given more thought! You don't see it too often.
Thank you. Yes, I think the accent lighting can add much to a tank from what I've seen on here.
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post #5 of 14 (permalink) Old 11-10-2014, 06:31 PM
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That's a good idea.

You can buy opaque acrylic sheet to make a shadow box.
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post #6 of 14 (permalink) Old 11-10-2014, 10:11 PM
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Whoops, apparently I forgot to include the link for the first set of shadowbox pics:
http://reefcentral.com/forums/showthread.php?t=1868825

Again, check out pages 1, 11, and 13.
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post #7 of 14 (permalink) Old 11-11-2014, 12:58 AM Thread Starter
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@ngrubich, after looking at those threads I realized I already kind of have a shadow box, given that I've got a frosted decorative window film on the back of the tank. Based on the examples you provided, I moved the lights to the top, added a black background to dull the light, and added some driftwood.


I think it definitely adds depth to the tank. Is this sort of what you had in mind?
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post #8 of 14 (permalink) Old 11-11-2014, 01:29 AM
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That's what I'm talking about!! See, you only needed to move the light and throw some sticks in there and you've got yourself a deeper [appearing] tank!

Everything will look a little different once the tank is full of water, obviously, so keep in mind that you may need a second or stronger light in the shadow box to allow the shadows to penetrate through the tank while competing with the tank's lights reflection off the back wall of the tank.

I'd suggest filling up the tank and turn on the tank light to see if you really need to add another LED strip in the back or not. You'll be the judge of that since pictures never do shadowboxes justice in person. Maybe even angle the strip towards the back of the shadow box, if you can, so you keep the light from directly reflecting off the glass.

Another thought: I'd personally make the back of the shadowbox taller, that way the LED is "out of the water" in the back so you don't get those spotlight effects. I'll see if I can explain it: make it about an inch taller than the back glass, and put the LED where you currently have it. Obviously, there will be an opening between the top of the box and the top of the tank that will allow the light to escape -- tape or glue a strip of the foamboard in that gap, so you basically have a "step" in the back of the tank from the top of the tank to the top of the box. That way, the light is above the surface of the water, and also so you still get to hide the LED strip in the box.

Last edited by ngrubich; 11-11-2014 at 01:43 AM. Reason: extra info
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post #9 of 14 (permalink) Old 11-11-2014, 02:10 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ngrubich View Post
Another thought: I'd personally make the back of the shadowbox taller, that way the LED is "out of the water" in the back so you don't get those spotlight effects. I'll see if I can explain it: make it about an inch taller than the back glass, and put the LED where you currently have it. Obviously, there will be an opening between the top of the box and the top of the tank that will allow the light to escape -- tape or glue a strip of the foamboard in that gap, so you basically have a "step" in the back of the tank from the top of the tank to the top of the box. That way, the light is above the surface of the water, and also so you still get to hide the LED strip in the box.
Awesome. This was my one remaining question - how to get rid of the spotlights. Thanks!
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post #10 of 14 (permalink) Old 11-11-2014, 02:35 AM
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I made a quick pic in PowerPoint for you to reference, in case my idea was kinda confusing (see below). Be sure to update with some pics of the box!!
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post #11 of 14 (permalink) Old 11-13-2014, 05:09 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by ngrubich View Post
I made a quick pic in PowerPoint for you to reference, in case my idea was kinda confusing (see below). Be sure to update with some pics of the box!!
I added the baffle as suggested.



I also added two strips of white LEDs on a separate control in addition to the multi-color strip, so I now have a number of options in terms of different colors and intensities. And as you can see, the baffle completely eliminated the spotlighting! Thanks so much for your help! Now I think it's time to finally get some plants in this thing.

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post #12 of 14 (permalink) Old 11-13-2014, 05:12 AM
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Awesome! I think I will try this out on my 29 gallon in time! Thanks for the inspiration guys!

Is that nice blue color coming from your LED's or the acrylic? Do you actually have some driftwood sitting in the box there in order to make that shadow?
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post #13 of 14 (permalink) Old 11-13-2014, 05:42 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Squrl888 View Post
Is that nice blue color coming from your LED's or the acrylic? Do you actually have some driftwood sitting in the box there in order to make that shadow?
The blue is coming from the LEDs - the multi-color strip can produce a number of colors. The orange setting is pretty cool looking too.

In fact, there's no acrylic in this. It's as simple as can be. It's just a piece of frosted decorative window film (from HD) on the back of the tank, plus the 'box' portion, which is a $15 foam tri-fold (cut, scored, and super-glued into the appropriate dimensions and shape) with three LED strips attached in the top (two white, one multi-color) and with driftwood sitting in the box as pictured in post #7 (note: I opted for the white background in the final version). The box is held in place using picture hanging wire fastened to the overhead light's mounting system.
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post #14 of 14 (permalink) Old 11-13-2014, 05:45 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LRJ View Post
The blue is coming from the LEDs - the multi-color strip can produce a number of colors. The orange setting is pretty cool looking too.

In fact, there's no acrylic in this. It's as simple as can be. It's just a piece of frosted decorative window film (from HD) on the back of the tank, plus the 'box' portion, which is a $15 foam tri-fold (cut, scored, and super-glued into the appropriate dimensions and shape) with three LED strips attached in the top (two white, one multi-color) and with driftwood sitting in the box as pictured in post #7 (note: I opted for the white background in the final version). The box is held in place using picture hanging wire fastened to the overhead light's mounting system.
Thank you for the helpful description! It looks great!

I might just pick up the supplies tomorrow at HD. Do you still keep the background of the shadow box black?
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