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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I'm looking for solutions to a unique idea I want to try in the near future.

I want to intermittently light a tank to simulate sunlight coming through gaps in the trees. I was also thinking LED's because I like the idea of sunrise/sunset. I have a couple of basic related questions that I don't believe were answered in the stickies and FAQs (though i could be wrong). Some background on the planned setup: standard 65 gallon (36" long, 18 wide, 25 high) with a few inches of substrate, heavy wood hardscape, lightly planted with swords and perhaps other amazonian low light plants. Lights will be at minimum 25 inches from substrate, I'm alright hanging them a little higher, but I feel like that would lessen the effect I'm after.

I guess the first question, has anybody ever seen this done? Or tried it? Do you think it is possible to have enough light in the lit areas for plants without having too much light (I don't want to battle algae forever, small skirmishes are ok, but not full blown war)? My idea would be to have enough spillover to gently light the "dark areas" such that if a fish is over there, I can at least see them, but still be very dimly lit. I feel like this could give a really cool natural effect, and the plants would actively try and grow towards the light spots, giving a great focal flow (in my head anyway)

I would also like (as I said) to have appropriate sunrise/sunset capabilities. Furthermore, I like to be able to see into my tank almost whenever I am around. Many of the dimming timers I have found only allow for a half hour dimming period (according to the specs I could find anyway, maybe I have been misled). Ideally I would like more like 3 or 4 hours of ramp up, a few hours of full bright, and 3 or 4 hours of ramp down. I figured I could play with the full bright period until I got the timing just right for the plants to be happy. If i had more than one light bar and/or pendant, I could offset the light cycles to achieve longer light period without over cooking.

Is there a lower limit of cost effectiveness for DIY? I ask because a while back i did some research into DIY tanks, and its not really cost effective until you get to really big tanks (over 300gallons or something). I was wondering if there was a similar curve. DIY would be cool as I can make a weird mixture of light bar and spot light that would suit my strange needs. But if you turn around and say "but hey, stpeter, there is this light that is fully programmable, you could make it work by doing this ______, and is $200 cheaper than it would cost to make your own!" than it doesn't make sense to make my own. The other thing I've noticed is that price doesn't necessarily scale with light bar length (a 36inch bar is rarely 3 times more than a 12 inch for example.) so buying 2 or 3 bars to get this effect would not be as cost effective as a spot lamp. Unfortunately, I'm having trouble finding a dimable/programmable spot lamp, and secondly, I feel like a spot lamp might be too much light to pull this off.

Whats the most cost effective fully programmable set up that you can think of? I like many of the options out there, but they all seem to be missing just a little something. They either are missing the option of adding a controller, or they play nicely with this controller but not that one. And most of the controllers I've looked into are both way more expensive and way more capability than I need, I only want to run lights, as I plan on this being a "low tech" setup which means the lighting system becomes less price friendly (and it seems like to me that the more cost effective lights like to play with the more expensive controllers and vice versa)

Thanks everybody, I'm looking forward to your unique solutions to this idea (a problem that doesn't really need to exist in the first place!)
 

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Off the top of my head I see using 2 Typhon controllers.. 1 for "spotlights" and one for fans..
Find fans large enough and that are variable speed via pwm and you can sue them to "chop" the light if you put them between the LED's and the tank..

You can fairly easily "pulse" leds i.e "Cloud effects" ect.. but this would be simpler at the present..but unfortunately fairly uniform.. "as is" Remember the programming part..
Using Typhons (or adruno et. al. ) as PWM controllers you really have few limits besides "programming"..though that is not a "small" hill.

Many of the dimming timers I have found only allow for a half hour dimming period
Using clear bladed fans you can color mottle the blades..
http://www.coolerguys.com/840556086550.html

No not the Typhon..

EXAMPLE:
http://www.nano-reef.com/topic/328216-reprogramming-the-typhon/

BTW :I've not used it

Updated 2/23/14.

Features:

-Bell curve option instead of straight line

-255 dimming steps

-Calculations each second

-5 dimming settings per channel

-Lighting test to preview different mixes of power

-Acclimation mode from 0 to 60 days
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Now THAT is an interesting Idea. I like it. It would also be fairly simple to audition. I figured there would have to be fans anyhow, just moving them before or after the LED's could change up the look and effects, maybe even one of each? I really like it. That's going in the idea folder.

The typhoon was looking to be the top runner from my investigations as well. It seems like the best option with the most capabilities, with the drawback from the programming part. Its been a long long time since I've had to write any code, but I'm sure I could figure something out. There seems to be a lot of scripts out there that people have already done, which I could adapt to get just right, so that would save some of the trouble.

To give everyone a better idea of what kind of look I was thinking, this tank (not mine) is demonstrating spotlight effect, though in my case I feel like they would need to be considerably brighter to grow plants. In nature you get beautiful effects like this here. Which is very similar to what I had in mind, but in a larger scale.

Now i just need to figure out the larger part of the equations. Kicking around ideas i figured on 2 options.

2 or 3 true spotlights. Probably DIY as the only controllable spolight I've been able to find is the Kessil a360, which is way more than I would need i think (and way way more out of the pocket, I'll bet I could make something for less)

A standard bar with 2 or 3 clusters of lights concentrated over a small area with narrow optics. The benefit here would be that I could also make smaller "side spotlights" that would help illuminate some of the dark areas without making it too bright (small LED's dimmed way down with wider optics i feel would work well).

either way, These are both going to be DIY options, which I'm not opposed to, unless it ends up being way more expensive than something right off the shelf.
 

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To give everyone a better idea of what kind of look I was thinking, this tank (not mine) is demonstrating spotlight effect, though in my case I feel like they would need to be considerably brighter to grow plants. In nature you get beautiful effects like this here. Which is very similar to what I had in mind, but in a larger scale.



2 or 3 true spotlights. Probably DIY as the only controllable spolight I've been able to find is the Kessil a360, which is way more than I would need i think (and way way more out of the pocket, I'll bet I could make something for less)
2-3 3W LEDS w/ 10 degree optics is all that seems to be..but a fan "chopper" w/ a random pwm output.. sweet..... ;)
I can picture the code.. Random number generator between 0-100 and using them to be the % fan speed.. changing at set intervals ..say 1 min. You could set a "limit" say only 0-20 ect..

Putting on my McGyver hat.. but yet making it "simple..
50 degree "spot" (may still be a bit "floody" though..)
http://www.ledgroupbuy.com/lumia-5-1-optic-lens/
Layout of plants version:

Channel 1 - Warm White 3200K (growth spectrum) (36V @ 700mA)
Channel 2 - Cool White 6500K (base white spectrum) (36V @ 700mA)
Channel 3 - Deep Red / Royal Blue (enhanced growth and color) (33V @ 700mA)
Channel 4 - Cool White 6500K (base white spectrum) (36V @ 700mA)
Channel 5 - Warm White 3200K (growth spectrum) (36V @ 700mA)
http://www.ledgroupbuy.com/lumia-5-1-100w-full-spectrum-5-channel-led/


http://www.ledgroupbuy.com/lumia-5-1-optic-lens/

Of course each spot would be $90..... plus electronics..

2 @ 100w each is plenty of light... ;)
not cheap though.. for cheap
10.. 45 degree dimmable (how???) spots 12 W each $39.99.. ;)
choice of 2 colors.. ww and white..
360749396072

It's a jungle out there... ;)

There are plenty of narrow optic choices for DIY..to mate w/ 1-3W leds........
http://www.ledsupply.com/led-optics
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Now we're talkin. Though, as much as i would like to get that monster 5.2, I think it would be wasted in this application.

I did find this thread which outlines a build that was similar to what I was looking to do. His cannons are way way more than I would need I think, and might still be too... flood light-ish?

So now I'm thinking of trying two routes at once, to see what I like better and rebuilding the other to match, as I see fit.

One is a mini cannon, half (or smaller than half) the size of the one outlined in that thread. I was thinking maybe 2 to 3 neutral whites, 2 warm whites (give it a little more yellow-ey hue) A couple of those might be enough to spotlight some plants (though maybe still too much cannon) my major concern with this approach is outlined in that thread a little bit. There are huge PAR values in one spot, which is ok, as that is kind of what I am after, but I'm afraid it will be more than what I can deal with (i want this to be low light after all) I would prefer to not lift the light way up the tank, as that would fill the area more, and I'm really going to a spotlight effect (its hard to find much info and guidance on the exact thing everyone else is trying to avoid!)

The second idea is back to the perpendicular strip light, possibly even tilted to enter at an angle. a strip LED's front to back i think would create a "strip" of light that could create the feel I'm looking for (offset zig-zag style could make it even more irregular). concern would be the opposite of the cannon effect, that I might not get enough PAR out of this setup, even in the localized area that the plant would be in.

Another concern is the color mixing. As I feel like I am unlikely to need 9 LED's (as in the other build) I feel like reds and blues and greens would overpower the whites if I were to limit the numbers. would a mix of whites (cool, neutral, warm) give me the right feel? I suppose I could build the full cannon, and run it at very low power... but that increases the cost without significant improvement (it seems anyway.)

Maybe a combination would be more appropriate. A mini cannon over the main area that I want lit (i would really rather have 2 "main areas" but if the tank size prevents this without major spill over into dark areas, than i can settle for 1) and a few sparse LED's with tight optics in the "dark zones"

And for bonus points, maybe a fan in the cannon to to create some "wind through the trees" movement.

Now the question remains... will this setup grow plants... I suppose there is one way to find out...
 
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