After almost 2 years of life without a tank I decided to get my Nanocube 12 DX back into action. I had started out with stock lighting 4 years ago then eventually decided I wanted to go metal halide. After completing an in hood DIY retro with a 70 watt MH with 36 watts of actinic CFL, I had the power I wanted to keep clams or SPS. The only problem was the incredible heat issues in the summer months. I tried everything short of an expensive electronic cooling system to keep things under control. In the end, having to float ice and promote evaporative cooling (this required daily topoffs) on hot days left a sour taste.
This time around I decided to gut my entire lighting system in favor of an LED system from Aquastyles Online. After reading up on color choice aesthetics and getting some feedback from some pioneering folks, I decided to go with a 27 LED design including exotics like red, cyan and violet actinic running on 3 separate dimmable channels.
All LEDs are either bridgelux or epileds
Driver 1: 4 cool white: 2 neutral white, 2 deep red 660nm, 2 royal blues 460nm, 2 cyan 495nm.
Driver 2: 8 royal blues 460nm
Driver 3: 7 Trues Violet 420nm
The 3 drivers are Aquastyles dimmable maxwellan drivers that are designed for 7-12 LEDs. I am also using one 12v DC power supply for the fans. I decided to use the original JBJ Nanocube ballast box for this design to keep things clean, safe and cool.
These are driven at 680ma max but I prefer them dimmed 50% (adjusted for proper color balance). there are 2 60mm fans moving air into the hood and 1 80mm fan blowing down on the heatsink which is 30cm x 80cm. Imounted the heatsink inside the hood of my Nanocube 12dx using 7/8" standoffs. I secured it with 4 screws into the plastic mounting holes in the hood.
Here are the goodies straight out of the box from Aquastyles.
Gutting the hood and gluing the standoffs in place. You can see the remnants of the metal halide DIY where I had to glue ceramic posts from a security light.
Here you can see my 80mm fan that I decided to use just for overkill glued to the top of the heatsink. It's a nice Silenx fan that was included in the kit. The fan is silent but doesn't move much air. I also used a paper template to drill holes in the heatsink that lined up with the holes I glued the standoffs on.
Test-fit after mounting heatsink. You can see my LED template.
Switching over to the driver box. Those of you with nanocubes will recognize this one. It works awesome as a driver box with some minor tweaks. I retained the power switch and the inline fuse.
Soldering in the pots. These are the weak link in the kit. Very grainy and poor linear scaling of light output but funtional. I had to drill a few holes in the side of the aluminum driver box to mount these. I will say the CNC aluminum knobs are nice!
I wanted to have a 12v DC power and the one included in the kit worked well enough once I removed it from the case and gave it a protective coating of electrical tape.
Finishing up the wiring. I decided to leave as much spare wire as possible in case I needed to use these drivers somewhere else int he future. It doesn't look pretty but I will live with it.
LEDs mounted using using heatsink plaster. 2 tubes were supplied and I used half of one. I actually was hesitant to use this stuff in place of screws but once its dried overnight the bonds are easily strong enough. Provided you press hard enough to spread it as thin and as completely as possible, I can't see why anybody would bother with all the drilling and tapping associated with screws.
Admiring how clean the setup looks looks with splashguard in place before I commence soldering.
Soldering these LEDs in place took longer than expected due to the learning curve with learning to use flux and tinning pads and wires. I was a bit worried working with the 7 star cluster being as cramped as it is but it all turned out out well.
Splashguard in place and all fans and LEDs wired up and ready to test!
It was a Clark Griswold Christmas Vacation moment.
Hood in place.
No livestock, so Buss Lightyear! My son couldn't wait to populate the tank. I laid down a white sheet of paper to see how well the colors blended. Initial impressions are great. There is some slight banding of colors but nothing obvious. I will update once I get water and livestock. Color looks great and I can easily adjust for how much blue or actinic I want.
Really cool looking prism like effect out of the corners of my tank. The blue and violet don't really show in the picture but its pretty apparent each led has its light focused in a laser like line.
The light output is incredible and I will never be able to run this thing at max. It appears plenty bright at 50% which is the output level I used for the photos. Color appears to be great but I want to get the tank filled and see what it looks like before I give a final opinion. Most importantly, I want to see what corals look like under it.
I took some initial readings for power usage using a Kil A Watt and this is what I found:
completely dimmed: 7watts
Full power: 71 watts
Temperature registered 10 degrees above ambient at the center of the led cluster so things appear to be running nice and cool.
I'm excited to see this thing finished and I hope sharing my experience will help those Nanocube 12 owners who want to go LED and keep the stock hood. Given the total cost was about $130 shipped, one can easily justify going LEDS if you are inclined to DIY.
Thanks for checking out my project!
It's been 5 months now and my tank has been doing great. I had one driver go in the first 4 months but Ray sent a replacement no ?'s asked. Growth has been good and I've slowly added a few pieces. One of the first pieces I added was a small frag of green birdsnest. It has become my showpiece and shows no signs of slowing.
Here is a full tank shot with adjusted white balance so it looks as close to reality as possible.
Edited by sliceOreef, 14 August 2012 - 05:15 PM.