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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