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Ira

LED strip lighting build

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So,  I bought some cheap LED strip lights and put them into my 4ft, 400L tank.

 

So, a bit of a build log:

 

 

lights1.JPG

Day 1, 0 hours.

Here's the tank hood,  was 6 24 watt CFLs(3 burned out) and two 4 foot fluoros(Dead)

 

 

lights2.JPG

Day 1, 1.5 hours

All the old lights pulled out, cleaned up, a bit of bleach and meths to clean up the wood.  And I've started cutting wires ready to solder to the LED strips

 

lights3.JPG

Day 1, 2.5 hours

Pre-tinning the wires and then pressing down onto the little copper pads seems to work...HORRIBLY, These things are horrible to solder,  little tiny pad and melty plastic all around it?!?  Ok, well, I managed to do it, kinda ugly...But ok.

 

lights4.JPG

Day 1, 3.5 hours

Slowly working through all the strips, one by one and throwing them in a pile....

 

lights5.JPG

Day 1, 4 hours

Laying them out in the hood, piling anything convenient on top of them to keep them from rolling up...

 

lights6.JPG

Day 1, 4 hours

I swear, I didn't do that....

 

lights7.JPG

Day 1, 5 hours

All laid out,  wires all joined together...

 

lights8.JPG

Day 1, 5 hours

Ugh...That looks horrible.  I'll figure out how to tidy it up tomorrow.

 

Day 2

I can't be bothered with it...

 

Day 3 

Oh, I know, I'll get some brass rods and solder the wires to it like bus bars.  It will look cool!  Should make expanding it easy too.

 

Day 4

Can't get to a place to buy the rods.

 

Day 5

Got them!

 

lights9.JPG

Day 6

AHHH, this looks even worse!  I didn't consider how much heat it would take to solder to giant rods, big, ugly cold solder joints EVERYWHERE.

 

And I ended up pulling off half the solder pads and wires from the LED strips.  I'm going to have to start this all over.

 

lights10.JPG

Day 7 Hour 1

Got some chocolate blocks/ screw terminals, should work a little better....

 

lights11.JPG

Day 7 Hour 2

Looking much more tidy now.

 

lights12.JPG

Day 7 Hour 4

I cut ends of the strips off, left the entire solder pad this time,  should only lose a little bit of light.

New wires soldered on, went MUCH better this time.  Same process, pre-tin the wires then press down on the solder pads.

 

lights13.JPG

Day 7 Hour 5

First set plugged in and powered up!  Oops, one strip isn't working... Just didn't get the wire into the terminal before screwing it down so it came loose.

 

lights14.JPG

Day 7 Hour 6

The rest of the strips are wired in and powered up,  I've adjusted the voltage on the power supply to 13v and it's drawing 90 watts.

 

lights15.JPG

Ok, 12.85 volts, the voltage dropped a little...

 

 

lights16.JPG

Day 7 Hour 7

All ready to go, I've put some liquid electrical tape where the wires are soldered to the strips, and on each of the solder pads the rest of the strips.  I've put on the sides too there, so hopefully it will hold the strips down, the adhesive backing isn't the greatest.

 

Oh, and there are a couple LEDs in the lower right that are dead.  I...Uhh....May have not noticed that strip fall on the floor at some point and then I may have stepped on it...

 

lights17.JPG

Day 8

Fish are happy to have some light, I think.


I turned the voltage back down to 12v, the lights are drawing 60 watts at this voltage.   They look brighter than the 3, year or so old 24w CFLs, but that's not hard.  It's a moderate brightness, I'd say, not really bright but good.  I'm pretty happy with them.  I think I'll buy more strips and add a bit more power.

 

 

The parts:

The LEDs

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00D83BGVS/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o00_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

 

Total about $25

 

The power supply, 150w 12v

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00DECSE8G/ref=pe_2602560_239856390_em_1p_0_ti

 

Bought locally, $80

 

All the wires, screw terminals, solder etc you can find anywhere, I'm not going to link to those.  A wire stripper, liquid electrical tape, odds and ends another $50 NZ

 

Total cost: About $155

 

Maybe I should have spent a little more and bought a nice LED fixture....Oh well.

 

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What excitement and suspense! I was thinking "Oh good" then "Oh no!" then "Phew, thank goodness" etc etc etc all the way through that post B|

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11 hours ago, Caryl said:

What excitement and suspense! I was thinking "Oh good" then "Oh no!" then "Phew, thank goodness" etc etc etc all the way through that post B|

I tried to make it a little bit entertaining. :)

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A small addition...

lights18.JPG

 

Now the front panel of LEDs is on a switch, so it automatically turns off when I open the lid.  That means I don't get blinded every time I want to feed the fish.

This was in the original plan, but ended up being dropped because I was getting impatient.

 

I used a screw to give some adjustment in the switch otherwise it would have been just luck if I got the switch to turn on and off correctly.

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Nifty trick using the switch!

When I originally did my canopy the glue on the back of the strips eventually gave way causing them to droop. Fixed it by simply hot gluing them on with strips of hot glue over the top between the LEDs.  My canopy is painted with white acrylic on the inside so it may not happen on a varnished one.  After awhile some of the LED's started to die (a problem with some cheap strips) & I ended up replacing them with a commercial LED light.

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Yeah, the glue holding them down is garbage.  So, I used a bit of liquid tape across them, you can see in the pic,  it's surprisingly seems to be working.  At least on those points, it's coming loose between them.  If they start falling off I'll try hot glue, I love hot glue. :)

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Wow, just over a year later I got around to putting more strips in to bump the power up.

My good camera's battery is flat and I figured if I waited for it to charge it would be another year until I got around to this sooo.... You get potato pics with my phone.

Of course, as expected when buying from china, the LED strips weren't actually the same as the first batch!  They're a higher color temp.  And looks like higher output.  Not really a problem though.

 

I cut up a bunch of the strips to length, soldered wires on just like before.   I was lucky, I could slip the new wires right into the chocolate block alongside the old ones.  Awesome!

lights19.JPG

 

And nicely laid down in place.  The adhesive on these ones seems a little better, but I think I'm going to put some lines of hot glue across them just to hold them in place.  The new strips have the leds arranged vertically, the old strips horizontal.

lights20.JPG

And it works!...Wait, one led is burned out.  Oh well.

lights21.JPG

Time to do the rear set of lights...Except I can't slip the new wires into the chocolate block like before...For any of them!  It's the SAME WIRES, SAME EVERYTHING! WTH is wrong with you wires?!?!

lights22.JPG

 

Ok, I gave up and put them along the bottom,  I have a couple more strips with thinner, stiffer solid core wire that I might be able to slip in more easily I'll try eventually.  You can see they're crooked because I was too annoyed to care by then...

lights23.JPG

Power draw is up from 60 watts at 12.5 volts to 160. 

I'm also using a modified server power supply for power, not much to see here.  The PSU is rated at 450 watts, but there's a part of it that's getting hotter than I like, I don't think my hacked on fan is blowing as much air through it as it is designed for.   But I'm running it at 1/3rd its rated capacity, I think I'll see if I have a heatsink laying around I can stick on the side.

lights24.JPG

 

 

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Hmmm, now Grant has retired, I think this would be a good project for our tank.

Any particular LED strips you would recommend, either to buy, or avoid, in particular?

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Odd, the link to the ones I bought above redirects back to this thread. :)  https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00D83BGVS/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o00_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1   Try copy and pasting. 

Part of the problem is you can't really trust you're going to get the exact same thing each time, or the quality.  Like, I bought two orders of 3 rolls.  The second order was different.  BUT!  They're cheap enough it's not really a disaster if they're not exactly matched.  Try aliexpress or bang good for SMD 5630s, might be cheaper than Amazon

 

 

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I had a thought just now while doing a water change.  They do get pretty warm, which at the very least probably doesn't help the strips stick down.  You could probably use something like a sheet of aluminium, stick the strips to that.  They might stick better, and it will help by heat sinking them a bit.  Then maybe space it from the lid a little with a few 5-10mm thick spacers for some airflow under it.

I say you because I can't be bothered. :P

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Or depending on the design of the hood if any, spiral around a pvc tube then line the hood with Mylar.  This would allow for more led's in the space, avoid the de-sticking issue and the mylar will reflect all the light from the top of the tubes back down (could just paint white but mylar is more reflective).    Could even add more then one tube if set up like a double fluorescent light.   Disadvantage is that the hood would have to be 10-15cm high.

Not my idea but think Joey's way could be improved upon: 

 

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Wrapping it around a tube like that would seem to defeat one of the major advantages of the LEDs, that they're relatively directional so not much else needed to be done.

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2 hours ago, Ira said:

Wrapping it around a tube like that would seem to defeat one of the major advantages of the LEDs, that they're relatively directional so not much else needed to be done.

Thus the use of mylar or similar reflective surface.  The pro's of using tubes should be that more LED's per m2 could be fitted thus a higher wattage light system.  If aluminium tube is used heat could be easily dissipated and by using dim able LED strips then the user can set it from much more then needed to almost nothing and if dimmed down LED's will last longer.  Have only done a diy light like you have but if I was going to do one again I would wrap a tube.  Just a lot tighter then the one in the vid to fit in more LED's.

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Do you know what brand the PSU is or what it was originally out of? 

 I know a lot of the enterprise grade stuff out of older servers always gets quite hot... and some ( from the likes of HP and IBM) were deemed as "fine" that way, as they were sitting in the back of what was basically a wind tunnel... 

 I'd recommend ( if it worries you enough to bother) removing the casing, butchering some more holes into it on opposing sides and throwing a second fan on it... especially with that much headroom capacity wise...

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It's an HP DPS-460BB.

I've used some arctic silver and a zip tie to the hot side, the sides of the psu that aren't covered by the heat sink are a lot cooler.  Good thing I keep all this junk laying around. :)

 

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Knowing Ira, he may already have done so since the thread was started in 2018. Always more good stuff available to use in the aquarium (or to control parts of it) as time goes by and it is good to see what others have done in their own set-ups to give others ideas. They are often cost saving too!

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I was switching it on and off with a Sonoff smart switch.  Still using that, But I sold the tank and lights a couple months ago, got a new tank that I've put a couple cheapish LED pendants off trademe over until I get around to DIYing something or getting a high end pendant.  Or more likely I'll just stay with these for ages.  Most of my plants didn't survive the move to the new tank and the severum kills anything I put in it.

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I must admit I have not got around to putting LEDs in my aquarium but should do so. It has very old fluorescents at the moment and I fear if I change it I will blind the fish 🙂

Will build up the LEDs slowly, just in case.

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15 hours ago, nomad fish said:

Programable LEDs is another of my hobbies hopefully soon I'll have something aquarium related to show,

Just wondering how much you sold the lights for?

Sold the tank/stand/lights for $200.

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