The Light Build - yea it finally happened! Big shout out to @jeffkrol
for all the help. In this
thread he basically told me exactly how to build this light and what to buy which is hugely appreciated. I could not have done it without this assistance because at the end of the day, when it comes to electronics I am only one very small step above a monkey who stole a soldering iron.
I got in the heatsink, drivers, power supply, and my red LEDs earlier this week. I used thermal glue to attach them to my heatsink in the proper locations. That was as far as I could go until the rest of the LEDs came in. Here is what it looked like once everything arrived:
First thing I did was lay out all the leds to figure out the locations I wanted them in. I marked certain key locations with a red dry erase marker and then removed the leds.
I added a tiny dab of thermal glue to each LED and shmushed it down into place:
This is where I made 2 mistakes. The first is that I got pretty good coverage on the back of these leds with thermal paste... shouldn't have done that heh it made tining the PCBs really hard and in the case of one pad, impossible. The second mistake is that I didn't realize the cyan LEDs had the positive and negative pads on the opposite sides compared to all other LEDs I had.... so yea I could have easily fixed this by rotating them 180 degrees but didn't notice till the glue had set...
Anyway after a bit of work with soldering iron, wire, and solder I eventually got them all wired up:
The heatsink I bought is actually pretty cool, they made it easy to make your LED look like a proper LED light instead of just a hunk of aluminum you glued stuff to. It comes with plastic ends that screw into place. In order to wire this up I drilled a hole for my cord into one end. My cord meanwhile was the same 22 gauge wire I used for everything else but was wrapped around itself using an electric drill. Then I slid an expanding mesh wire sheeth over the bundle. This is purely for aesthetics but I liked the effect. Getting all of this not to put pressure on the solder points was it's own challenge. I ended up settling for extreme low tech and tied a knot in the wire after I poked it through my plastic end cap. This way it couldn't be pulled back through.
This essentially concluded the wiring of the heatsink and LEDs. Meanwhile I had to wire up the power supply and drivers. When I realized I was going to have little plastic boxes called drivers (yes.. this is the level of my knowledge on electronics) I decided I need a place to shove all this stuff so it wouldn't become too cumbersome. With that in mind I bought a project box
on amazon. I ended up using double sided carpet tape to secure the drivers and power supply in this box. There is no venting in this box which makes me concerned for heat build up. Anyone know if they can live in there all sealed up or should I drill holes for venting?
Anyway I wired the drivers to the power supply and then the other end of the cord from the LEDs came through the side of the box in a hole I drilled and I soldered those to the drivers in appropriate locations. Knots tired in the LED cord and power cord once again were employed to stop the cords from being pulled back through the holes.
With that done my light was complete. I tested it before sealing it up (because if I hadn't I just KNOW that something would not have worked and then I would have to open it again). It mostly worked the first time though. I say mostly because the middle row of LEDs didn't light up. I checked the connections and one of my pads had let go of it's solder. I fixed that and tada! LIGHT.
After that I added the piece of acrylic sheeting to the bottom of the heatsink effectively sealing the light up and the other plastic side. Then it was done. Pretty good looking for a DIY affair I think.
Now it was time for testing.
I had not taken any par readings since I planted the tank. So before I removed the old light I got out my par meter and took some readings. From the darkest spot in the tank I got a miserable reading of 2-3 ppfd.
The front center being one of the brightest spots was around 40 ppfd.
Then I added the new light. First off the colors are SOOOOO much better. It doesn't show up well in the pictures but wow, it looks good. The old light had a LOT of greenish hues to it unless I really turned down the green and blue levels significantly. I didn't want to do that because when I did my ppfd at substrate dropped too much for me to be happy. The new light has none of those issues.
It is not as powerful as I thought it was going to be (I am assuming because the LEDs have a crazy wide 150 degree coverage area) but I think it will be bright enough for my needs.
In the same corner as before I now got around 10 ppfd:
And in the same front center location as before I now got just over 50 ppfd:
If you look at the pictures with the par meter in it from the old light and compare to the new you get some idea about the color shift between the two lights.
Meanwhile I bought a new lens for my camera! It's a macro lens so finally I can take some decent macro shots. Using it simply as a portrait lens I did give in to temptation and shoot the tank with the new light.
And now enters a longish period of little happening. I need for the tank to 'cycle' which basically means the bugs I put in it need to establish and the plants need to grow a bit. Once that is done I can add froggies but that won't be for a minimum of a month and maybe 2. Probably the next thing I will do is begin my culturing of fruit flies. I don't 'need' to do that now but I want to get reasonably good at it before the froggies come which basically means having a few cultures started up, boom, bust, and replaced etc.