DIY Canopy Lift - Need help from physics or math Geek! - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 17 (permalink) Old 12-08-2014, 02:53 AM Thread Starter
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DIY Canopy Lift - Need help from physics or math Geek!

This is my plan for a stand and canopy combo. I wanted something really nice when I get my hands wet in the tank so I want an automatic canopy lift. The canopy is being lifted using a 16" linear actuator rated for max 200 lbs. The canopy will be supported by 1.5"/1.75" telescopic aluminum square tubing. The tubing will be 4+ ft high. FYI.

My estimate weight for the canopy is max 10-15 lbs. and I wanted to know if the tubing will be enough to support it or I need to figure out how to put some tubing @ the front which I really don't like.

The canopy will be 8" tall and the backpanel is a 1" thick plywood with the front and side panels being 1/2" plywood.



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post #2 of 17 (permalink) Old 12-08-2014, 03:12 AM
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Why did u get a actuator that has a ax weight capacity of 200lbs? Seam like a way way way over kill?

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post #3 of 17 (permalink) Old 12-08-2014, 03:20 AM Thread Starter
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Why did u get a actuator that has a ax weight capacity of 200lbs? Seam like a way way way over kill?

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I could not find anything lower. It seems that these actuators are being used for vehicles so I guess they are designed to carry that much weight.


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post #4 of 17 (permalink) Old 12-08-2014, 11:29 AM
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Originally Posted by PortalMasteryRy View Post
I could not find anything lower. It seems that these actuators are being used for vehicles so I guess they are designed to carry that much weight.
Fun w/ equations..
One here should help.
http://www.botlanta.org/converters/d...c/bending.html
Hollow rectangular beam one..
I'd worry more about the box than the lift..
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post #5 of 17 (permalink) Old 12-08-2014, 01:48 PM
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Is this an actual automatic lift or are you using the cylinder like a car would? To assist raising it up and holding it? If so I would worry about the stresses incurred when you try lowering against the cylinder. In a car deck lid you've got stronger metal there and a mechanical advantage when lowering it back down. Not so on the lid you've made. If you try lowering it from the front you're making the inner 1.5 x 1.5 go down on an angle instead of straight down the outer tubing. Situations like that generally require a bearing or wheel to lower the friction.

Even with the automatic actuator you're friction or torquing on the uprights might be too much.
I doubt there would be any trouble with the canopy itself.
The tubing itself should hold the weight.

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Last edited by GraphicGr8s; 12-08-2014 at 04:17 PM. Reason: Rethink
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post #6 of 17 (permalink) Old 12-08-2014, 02:46 PM
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I don't see what size tank but I might question the weigtht of the canopy? That seems like a lot of stress on the rear canopy joints so they will need to be beefy. Have you considered there is often no reason to lift the entire canopy but just the work area. considered just using lifts on the top flap as a can hood might?
From a technical challenge design, you have a good one but is a challenge what you wanted? Simple can be good.
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post #7 of 17 (permalink) Old 12-08-2014, 08:44 PM
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The mechanism that will lift the canopy is the linear actuator which extends X" amount inches which in this case is 16 inches. It supports maximum 200 lbs of pushing power (don't know what it is called) and is only attached to one leg. I wanted to purchase 2 but I thought it might be overkill. Basically the actuator is pushing one of the legs that the canopy is attached to and lifts it up. I want this system because I want clear access to the all parts of the tank without the requirements of moving the lights around.
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post #8 of 17 (permalink) Old 12-08-2014, 09:33 PM
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Hah! I was totally going to do something really similar on my tank.

I was going to do it with counter weights and a gas-spring, similar to older large windows.

I ended up not doing it because:

- Once I built my canopy it ended up being in the 50 lb range (100 gallon tank, so a pretty big canopy)

- I didn't have a lot of confidence in actually making everything work

- If the system didn't work, or broke, it would really hard to fix/redo with the tank full of water and fish.

- I couldn't think of very many scenarios where I needed the whole canopy off, I already aquascaped the whole tank before building the canopy

- I put electrical connectors on all my stuff in the canopy so that I could remove it if I had to.

- After mocking up a simple door on the front of the canopy, I concluded that it was more than enough room to do anything I could think of needing to do in the tank

That being said, the way you propose to do it seems like it would probably work. My main concern is exactly how the actuator lowers the hood, as GraphicGr8s pointed out.

My old canopy on my 50g I made it like a huge toolbox lid, the back was solid on the back of the tank, and the front half lifted up to give easy access to the tank. I had a 20lb rated gas spring to help lift the front, but after a few months the wood warped really bad from the constant pressure of the gas spring and eventually one of the hinges came off and I removed the gas spring and just put a "hold up rod" like on a car hood.

Depending on how this all works out, my final piece of advice is to consider making the hood out of metal, and skinning it with wood. Wood just really doesn't hold up well when it has pressures from odd angles.

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post #9 of 17 (permalink) Old 12-09-2014, 04:02 AM Thread Starter
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50lb canopy is a little scary unless all 4 corners of the canopy are supported when you "push" it up and down. . The only reason I would be doing this is because I am only housing LED fixtures and some DC fans for cooling the aquarium.

I don't think a steel frame is doable without adding another actuator. An aluminum one is possible but I'd have to figure out how to connect the aluminum tubing to create the shell of the canopy.

The actuator is reversible. They actually sell wireless kits so you can have a mini remote to control it.

Below is a link to a youtube video of how it works.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qjrc_fyU9e4


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post #10 of 17 (permalink) Old 12-09-2014, 01:07 PM
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OK I was wrong in my first assumption. There is one sure fire way to see if it will work. Do it. I would. If it does work you're golden. If it fails at least you learned from it. And have parts for another experiment. I've got a bunch of projects I was unsure of that did work.



I've got even more that didn't but have rehomed the parts into other projects.

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post #11 of 17 (permalink) Old 12-09-2014, 03:14 PM
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We use system simillar at work if i get permistion i will put a picture but it work with a counterweight. First the 2 side post will be more of a pain then what they will be usefull unless they have roller so they dont have any resistance while going up. I would use a 1.5" × 2" steel pipe with 1/8 wall.Your canopie is 20lb but don't forget to add the weight of the tube. its going up with the rest too. Inside the canopie where it bolted to post put a steel plate so you have a bigger surface of suport. Bolt will brake of sink in the wood with time (if its what you are using to make canopie ).
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post #12 of 17 (permalink) Old 12-09-2014, 03:27 PM
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A couple additional questions need answered first. What is the maximum distance from the fully extended height of the canopy (at the center of the canopy) to the first connection point to the base of the aquarium?

Also what is the dimension of the canopy towards the front of the aquarium?
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post #13 of 17 (permalink) Old 12-09-2014, 05:00 PM
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You will have big problems using aluminum on aluminum sliding "bearings". Aluminum tends to weld itself to aluminum when sliding under load. You have the hood cantilevered so you will have a big bending load on the vertical supports.

I think I would look for heavy wall brass tubing for the outer tube of each support, with a polished steel tube or rod for the inner moving part. And, you would need to use a lubricant.

I would keep the vertical supports as widely separated as possible, to handle the twisting loads better. With these changes, the idea should work.

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post #14 of 17 (permalink) Old 12-09-2014, 08:13 PM
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So, a 200 pound lift assist and a 50 pound canopy. Is this going to take 150 pounds of downward force to lower it?
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post #15 of 17 (permalink) Old 12-10-2014, 04:08 AM
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He is using a lifting actuator, not a lifting strut like on a car tailgate. The actuator moves the hood up and down, and the tubular supports keep it located where it belongs and resist the bending loads from the cantilevering of the hood.

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