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My DIY LED Fixture V2.0 cluster redesign plan


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#1
phasezero

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It's been 1 year since I've built the 14RB/8NW fixture and it's time to redo this fixture to address many issues. All parts have already been ordered, so i will update this thread with pictures as i go along with before and after pictures. The goal for this redesign is to address the following:

1. Disco fever - The very second i put this fixture over the tank i was not pleased with the disco dance floor all over the tank. This may have been magnified by how i arranged the LED's. I used 3 rows of led's, 2 RB rows and 1 for the neutrals. If they were alternating it might have reduced it, but i have no doubt the disco effect would still exist.

Solution:
-I will arrange the led's to create 2 major clusters with led's packed tight as possible.
-Removing the 60 degree lens and just run without optics .
-Will be using a diffusion filter on an acrylic shield.

2. Lack of color - A year ago cool whites were standard and neutrals were just starting to become recommended. It didn't take long to see that NW/RB is still lacking in the color department.

Solution:
-Adding the following colors: True Violet, Deep Red, Turquoise, Cool Blue, Cool White

3. Cleaner Installation - The wiring was a jumbled mess with too much slack. The look of the bare heatsink and led's is pretty ugly and takes away from the tank imo.

Solution:
-Use DC jacks and plugs
-Use wire loom and sleeving
-Screw all drivers and dimmer box onto a wood board
-Create an acrylic enclosure for the LED Fixture

After messing around with Photoshop I've come up with the following layout. Just for reference, the pinkish color are the TV's and the Purplish colors are the RB. Each center has a single Cool blue.
Layout - 8 NW / 6 CW / 14 RB / 4 Red / 14 TV / 4 Turquoise / 2 Cool Blue
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Edited by phasezero, 16 March 2012 - 07:26 PM.


#2
ajmckay

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Looks nice! What size tank is this going over? Also, this is replacing a 14rb/8nw setup?! Seems like a significant increase in light...

Anyways I am in the process of designing a fixture for my 40B. I'm not sure if I want to "cluster" or not.

To help I'm considering using the 3up LED from LEDGROUPBUY.... (1 XP-E NW with 2 XT-E RB on one star).
This should eliminate the "disco" effect, but I'm not sure about optics at this point. Here's my initial plan:
http://www.nano-reef...?...t&p=3784110

#3
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DISCO IS DEAD

#4
FireCorals

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What size tank is this? I would of done 3 even clusters, gone with just RB:CW:TV:DR:T
Or just add more RB to balance it out.

I see it's 52 LEDs. If you have LEDs lying around try this ratio:

24 RB
12 CW
10 TV
4 DR
4 T

Will give you a crisp spread with some nice "pop".

HTH
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#5
phasezero

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Check out my signature
DISCO IS DEAD


Ideally if i was starting from scratch i would have bought those, unfortunately after spending 300+ on everything, i must re use as much stuff as i can. They are nice though.

Looks nice! What size tank is this going over? Also, this is replacing a 14rb/8nw setup?! Seems like a significant increase in light...

Anyways I am in the process of designing a fixture for my 40B. I'm not sure if I want to "cluster" or not.

To help I'm considering using the 3up LED from LEDGROUPBUY.... (1 XP-E NW with 2 XT-E RB on one star).
This should eliminate the "disco" effect, but I'm not sure about optics at this point. Here's my initial plan:
http://www.nano-reef...?...t&p=3784110



What size tank is this? I would of done 3 even clusters, gone with just RB:CW:TV:DR:T
Or just add more RB to balance it out.

I see it's 52 LEDs. If you have LEDs lying around try this ratio:

24 RB
12 CW
10 TV
4 DR
4 T

Will give you a crisp spread with some nice "pop".

HTH


These are going over a 26g Bow front. I wanted to add more royals but that meant tacking on another 50 bucks for more drivers.

Mike do you have pictures of the combo you listed?

#6
Rome

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I'm not trying to hijack or anything here,but what is the disco ball effect everyone is talking about? I built a DIY led setup back when RB/CW was the setup of choice, I had 3 rows and 30 leds 2 inches apart alternating on a 20 inch heatsink. I never saw what people refer to as the disco ball effect. I haven't had my tank running for about 2 years now, but am building a full spectrum led fixture now and want to avoid the disco ball effect, except I have no idea what it is, HA!. Again sorry, I didn't itend on hijacking this tread, I just couldn't find any search results explaining the disco effect.

#7
FireCorals

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Phaseball, I will see what I can do later this week when our new kits come in.

Rome, disco ball effect is when you have several different color combinations and you don't blend them well enough and you can see all the different colors spot lighting in your aquarium.

There are ways to avoid it by matching and blending colors together appropriately.
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#8
phasezero

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Here are some pictures of the upgrade process. I'm pretty much finished and tested the lights. I hung it over the tank and am impressed with the amount of pop the true violets give when they are on by themselves or with the blues. With all lights on full blast the violets are hard to notice. Currently I'm still waiting for my cheapo drill to charge so i can actually mount the shield with the diffusion filter.

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The carnage in my living room.
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I changed the layout a tad as i found that i could not re use some of the old LED's because the superglue i had used to mount the optics had trashed the base lens. I'm also dealing with an issue with the 4 Red/ 4 Turquoise string, when turned up even slightly the whole string blinks on and off. I think it might have something to do with running 8 LED's as it happened in my previous setup when i had 8 whites. The wierd thing is that this only happens at this particular AC socket, because when i move to a different part of the house it doesn't happen. I don't believe the socket is getting overloaded because it's just the lights and a few small accessories like pumps.

Edited by phasezero, 27 March 2012 - 07:38 PM.


#9
blasterman

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It didn't take long to see that NW/RB is still lacking in the color department


Missed this one originally, but NW / RB looks fine on my tank. If you stick with a high quality neutrals to start, and this excludes Aquastyles or any other Chinese white, then you should have pretty good color.

There is nothing 'broke' with Neutral / RB provided you stick with quality neutrals. If you want add the additional colors - fine.

It's weird, but just the tiniest bit of disco flicker drives me nuts, along with other reefers, but it doesn't bother others. I want seamles color, and this means using tight clusters and keeping the design simple.

I learned the hard way about superglue - for some reason it trashes the dome on emitters, and it tends to be brittle after it gets warm. I now use pads (if I have them) or just plain clear epoxy. A trick with epoxy is to heat it up first in hot water, and this makes it easier to press the star and get an insanely tight contact because warmed up epoxy has very low viscosity. I've measured better thermal transference this way than using fancy thermal epoxy which tends to be a lot thicker

Edited by blasterman, 27 March 2012 - 09:04 PM.


#10
phasezero

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Missed this one originally, but NW / RB looks fine on my tank. If you stick with a high quality neutrals to start, and this excludes Aquastyles or any other Chinese white, then you should have pretty good color.

There is nothing 'broke' with Neutral / RB provided you stick with quality neutrals. If you want add the additional colors - fine.

It's weird, but just the tiniest bit of disco flicker drives me nuts, along with other reefers, but it doesn't bother others. I want seamles color, and this means using tight clusters and keeping the design simple.


Either i got some cheap Cree Xpg neutrals from rapidLED or the combination simply didn't fit my taste. I felt the tank was either too yellow or with the blues turned up, I'd get too much of a purple look.

After spending a bunch of time messing around with my new setup, I've come to the following conclusions.

1. The 4 Red/4 Turquoise didn't add any significant improvement in color IMO. This is probably due neutral whites. Since you're only adding these colors in small amounts, like i mentioned before, they will give you crazy disco. If i could do it over again I'd probably just omit these colors from my particular setup. A key thing to note is that i have these two colors on the same string, so i can't experiment with them separately.

2. I was surprised by much of an effect the regular Blues had on the overall look. I feel like it brightened up the tank a bit. I'd say it's a nice addition, although i wouldn't recommend more than 2.

3. True Violet adds a nice small touch of color. You definitely need a lot of these to notice anything. It's mostly fun to just mess around with when it's the only color on. If you think playing around with just RB's on is fun, wait till you see these. My most boring Acro's like my turquoise Horrida and Acropora Verde's looked radio active.

4. I'd say the most improvement is from removing the optics, clustering, and adding the diffusion film. It's a matter of personal preference, but i enjoy the much improved brightness in the tank by doing these 3 things and the absence of any sort of disco color balls all over the sand bed.

#11
dling

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Here are some pictures of the upgrade process. I'm pretty much finished and tested the lights. I hung it over the tank and am impressed with the amount of pop the true violets give when they are on by themselves or with the blues. With all lights on full blast the violets are hard to notice. Currently I'm still waiting for my cheapo drill to charge so i can actually mount the shield with the diffusion filter.

Posted Image

The carnage in my living room.
Posted Image

Posted Image

I changed the layout a tad as i found that i could not re use some of the old LED's because the superglue i had used to mount the optics had trashed the base lens. I'm also dealing with an issue with the 4 Red/ 4 Turquoise string, when turned up even slightly the whole string blinks on and off. I think it might have something to do with running 8 LED's as it happened in my previous setup when i had 8 whites. The wierd thing is that this only happens at this particular AC socket, because when i move to a different part of the house it doesn't happen. I don't believe the socket is getting overloaded because it's just the lights and a few small accessories like pumps.

That looks sweet.Great job.Looking forward to seeing it lit.;)
DIY tank 34L x15W x 14L
DIY Lighting 26 x RB's , 8 x B's ,4 x CW's , 8 x NW's
6 Turquoise ,8 TV's , 6 DR's total of 64 LED's
Dim4 ledgroupbuy sunraise/sunset controller
25 lbs Live rock
40 lbs Caribsea Arag-Alive Fiji Pink sand/30lbs live rock,
15 g sump /Refuge with 30w pc light
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Current USA 1/3hp tower chiller
MP10 Circulating Pump x 2 nano koralia's

#12
McJosh13

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Either i got some cheap Cree Xpg neutrals from rapidLED or the combination simply didn't fit my taste. I felt the tank was either too yellow or with the blues turned up, I'd get too much of a purple look.


This is the same problem that I am fighting with (i.e the purple tint problem). If you think of what makes a tank look purple it is too much red/orange mixed with blue not balanced by enough green (purple= blue + red, white=blue+red+green). I think we have gone to neutral whites which are too warm and hence have too much red/orange and not enough green. The old cool whites that used to be standard were too cool (6500k or greater) and didn't have enough red/orange. Maybe the sweet spot is at 5000k or 5500k. What color temp neutral whites are you using?






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#13
phasezero

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This is the same problem that I am fighting with (i.e the purple tint problem). If you think of what makes a tank look purple it is too much red/orange mixed with blue not balanced by enough green (purple= blue + red, white=blue+red+green). I think we have gone to neutral whites which are too warm and hence have too much red/orange and not enough green. The old cool whites that used to be standard were too cool (6500k or greater) and didn't have enough red/orange. Maybe the sweet spot is at 5000k or 5500k. What color temp neutral whites are you using?






-Sent from the NOW network on my HTC EVO


I got them from rapid led which shows a range of 3700 to 5000k. I must have some on the lower end. The cool whites + cool blues seemed to get rid of the purple tint.

#14
phasezero

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Finally here are a ton of pictures of the new setup and some before pictures. I'll start off with some tank progression. Here's a shot when this particular tank when it was about 6 mo old with a 2 bulb aquatic life T5 fixture.

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Here is a side by side of the old setup on the right.

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Another shot with the old NW/RB fixture

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The new gloss acrylic housing. I copied the look from another build i saw on RC and used glossy black instead. It was a bit pricey for what it is but it was definitely worth it to get rid of the typical DIY look. I was surprised how well i actually estimated the exact dimensions i needed along with some tolerance room. I normally would screw something like this up.

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Here's a shot of the acrylic shield + sand diffusion filter

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All colors BUT white. This is a good example of how all the different colors come together to create somewhat of a white. Makes the corals pop like crazy.

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Whites still not turned on. Left is with blues around 50% and right is with them at 100%

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All colors at 100%. It's no surprise the whites are overpowering to give a daylight look. This was expected considering how many i installed.

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All 100%. I thought this was a good picture because to me it shows that my fixture can display all the different colors accurately where none of the colors are misrepresented. Don't mind the bleached coral on the right. That was an already bleached freebee from the LFS that is slowly recovering.

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This is probably how we'll run the tank for now. Whites ~30% / Blues ~ 75% / Turquoise + Red ~ 40% / True Violet ~ 100%

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Edited by phasezero, 28 March 2012 - 11:17 PM.


#15
phasezero

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Just to address a previous post i made, I take back what i said about the red/turquoise as i can tell it played a role in giving me the color i want. Just not as significant as the other changes i made. I think I tend to be more critical of any DIY project i do and expected a world of a difference.

#16
McJosh13

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Nice! Colors look great, and not too purple

#17
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I think it turned out quite well to be honest.

I love the new case and the colour looks great. I have a DIY LED fixture over my 30 breeder. It's 24:12 RB:NW. I agree it can either be too white or too purple. Once I get some parts I ordered from eBay I will be rebuilding my custom controller to provide 5 channels (six strings though) of colour.

Ch0: 24 Royal Blue @ 1000mA (on two drivers)
Ch1: 12 Neutral White @ 1000mA
Ch2: 6 True Violet (420nm) @ 600mA
Ch3: 4 Cool Blue (475nm) @ 600mA
Ch4: 2 Deep Red (660nm) @ 600mA

I am hoping to get a decent upgrade in colour like you did. I might also add some more of the supplemental colours if required.

Edited by Cintax, 30 March 2012 - 05:57 AM.


#18
Veng

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I can't see all the photos from work, but the ones I can see look really good. You are definitiely influencing my decisions on my fixture.

Can you get a picture of the frag rack under just DR, T, and TV to see which each is pulling out? Maybe another set with everything but the DR, T, and TV?

#19
phasezero

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I can't see all the photos from work, but the ones I can see look really good. You are definitiely influencing my decisions on my fixture.

Can you get a picture of the frag rack under just DR, T, and TV to see which each is pulling out? Maybe another set with everything but the DR, T, and TV?


I'll get those shots you requested soon. I'm still waiting for my camera's battery to recharge. In the mean time here are other pictures i had.

This is melbell86's spotted mandarin. We are on a mission to turn it into a sausage. Top pic is with the old RB/NW. Bottom is with True Violet, Turquoise, Red.
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There isn't much SPS in her tank, so we hung it over my sps 55g. This is a blurry shot of what True Violets do to Acroporas. It becomes harder to notice when the other lights are on, but i'll show you that the effect is still noticeable in some more comparison shots later.
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#20
McJosh13

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I think it turned out quite well to be honest.

I love the new case and the colour looks great. I have a DIY LED fixture over my 30 breeder. It's 24:12 RB:NW. I agree it can either be too white or too purple. Once I get some parts I ordered from eBay I will be rebuilding my custom controller to provide 5 channels (six strings though) of colour.

Ch0: 24 Royal Blue @ 1000mA (on two drivers)
Ch1: 12 Neutral White @ 1000mA
Ch2: 6 True Violet (420nm) @ 600mA
Ch3: 4 True Blue (475nm) @ 600mA
Ch4: 2 Deep Red (660nm) @ 600mA

I am hoping to get a decent upgrade in colour like you did. I might also add some more of the supplemental colours if required.


I believe that the addition of the tq and deep red brings out color in coral and fish and may brighten up the tank a bit but in terms of getting rid of the purple I believe it was the addition of the cool whites that did that by raising the overall color temp of the whites.

#21
Veng

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I'll get those shots you requested soon. I'm still waiting for my camera's battery to recharge. In the mean time here are other pictures i had.

Thanks a bunch.

This is melbell86's spotted mandarin. We are on a mission to turn it into a sausage. Top pic is with the old RB/NW. Bottom is with True Violet, Turquoise, Red.
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:eek: I can't believe that's the same fish..... Amazing. The coloration is simply stunning in the bottom photo.

#22
phasezero

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As requested, here are some comparison pictures of different colors and color combinations. I can't do red and turquoise separately because they are wired into the same string. If you want to see larger images, you should be able to right click the image and open the image in another tab to get a better view.

Violet
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Red + Turquoise
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Red + Turquoise + Violet
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Blue + Royal Blue + Cool White + Neutral White
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All Colors
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Some of my observations.
-The Reds and Turquoise don't make any noticeable impact on how the corals look in this particular tank. Fish and other inverts are a different story. So depending on your livestock, you might enjoy the extra touch of color from them. This string does help reduce any blue or purple cast you may have over your tank by turning the feel into a more neutral state. That probably doesn't make much sense but it's the best way i can describe it.

-The NW+CW+B+RB is an all around good combo without getting fancy with the exotic colors. I expected this after reading a thread on RC where someone just added strings of neutral white to their AI Sol Blue. If i had started my first fixture with this combo i probably would not have decided to upgrade.

-The True Violets can really get certain corals to shine. I think people with Acroporas would really appreciate adding these. I can see why people with less than 6 over their tank were not impressed by them. I have 12 and can see how having any less would go unnoticeable. I liked how adding the violets didn't change the overall look of the tank, instead it just brings some color out of certain corals.

-Diffusion filter - A must have. I could never go without one. It makes it seem like my fixture turned into a T5/LED Hybrid. I still have some shimmer and the disco was reduced by at least 95%. Makes the tank much less distracting.

Edited by phasezero, 30 March 2012 - 12:21 AM.


#23
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I believe that the addition of the tq and deep red brings out color in coral and fish and may brighten up the tank a bit but in terms of getting rid of the purple I believe it was the addition of the cool whites that did that by raising the overall color temp of the whites.


When I was designing my fixture initially, I was thinking I should go with 24:6:6 RB:CW:NW and now I wish I had. Oh well, since my light fixture is Ardunio based and expandable this might happen in the future. I also feel that I will be ordering 6 more True Violet and a few more of the Cool Blue LEDs. I'd like to add turquoise so whenever I order the other LEDs I will grab some of those and add them to the Deep Red string.

Your pictures of each string look great. I can really see how the true violet enhanced the colours of your corals; especially that blue acro.

Edited by Cintax, 30 March 2012 - 05:57 AM.


#24
Veng

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Thanks for the pictures, they tell a lot of what's going on with the different colors. It's nice to see them on a frag rack vs just a FTS where you can't see everything.

#25
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Some of my observations.
-The Reds and Turquoise don't make any noticeable impact on how the corals look in this particular tank. Fish and other inverts are a different story. So depending on your livestock, you might enjoy the extra touch of color from them. This string does help reduce any blue or purple cast you may have over your tank by turning the feel into a more neutral state. That probably doesn't make much sense but it's the best way i can describe it.

-The NW+CW+B+RB is an all around good combo without getting fancy with the exotic colors. I expected this after reading a thread on RC where someone just added strings of neutral white to their AI Sol Blue. If i had started my first fixture with this combo i probably would not have decided to upgrade.

-The True Violets can really get certain corals to shine. I think people with Acroporas would really appreciate adding these. I can see why people with less than 6 over their tank were not impressed by them. I have 12 and can see how having any less would go unnoticeable. I liked how adding the violets didn't change the overall look of the tank, instead it just brings some color out of certain corals.

-Diffusion filter - A must have. I could never go without one. It makes it seem like my fixture turned into a T5/LED Hybrid. I still have some shimmer and the disco was reduced by at least 95%. Makes the tank much less distracting.

Very nice write up. I kind of feel that adding the Tq and the DRs are LEDs that take a little bit of time to actually see results from. Coral can take a while to color up and I think that adding TV, TQ, and DRs contribute to that long term color up. I know I wanted a huge immediate color boost, but that's really rare. I mean, when I was using T5s, it took a while for my corals to really get the most out of a Fiji Purple when I added one so why would adding a small amount of exotic LEDs be any different?
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