evilc66

Fix your Odyssea 250W Ballast for less than $15!

123 posts in this topic

Ok, write-up time!

 

Disclaimer: I in no way take responsibility for you doing something stupid like electrocuting yourself, your dog, your cat or your grandmother. I also don't take responsibility for you burning your house down. This is a simple mod and can be done by anyone who has a little bit of experience with a soldering iron, and can follow directions. DON'T HURT YOURSELF!

 

Now that's out of the way, on to the fun stuff. I want to thank Saltfish35 for the inspiration for this mod. Without him poking around inside the ballast, we wouldn't have a fix for this. Again, thanks Saltfish35.

 

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The Odyssea 250W ballast is our victim today. Many people know that these ballast underdrive the bulb considerably, and as a result affect the total light output. The low cost of these fixtures attracts a lot of people, but having to upgrade the ballasts later is a hassle just to get it to do what it should have done in the first place.

 

I would suggest leaving the ballast unplugged for a few hours to let the capacitors inside discharge. They are large and can give you a very nasty shock if you short the outputs. Luckily, we don't mess with them during this mod, so just watch where you start putting screwdrivers/soldering irons.

 

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First thing, remove the four screws holding the end cap on that looks like a fan grill, ie. not the end with the cords. Remove the cover and put it aside.

 

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Next, remove the four screws holding the end cap with the cables. This end doesn't come off, but just gently pull it out.

 

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Slide the top cover off and put it aside.

 

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Pay attention to the corner on the end with the cords. There is a ground wire that grounds the case that is pinched between the case body and the end cap. Be careful with this, as it can be delicate and needs to be put back into place when you reassemble the ballast.

 

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Next, remove the screw holding this block in place. Keep an eye out for washers under the nut. You don't want this falling onto the pcb and shorting something out. This ballast didn't have one, but the last one I modded did. Your mileage may vary.

 

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There is a white glue holding the pcb in place. Sometimes they put it on both ends. Just slide a knife down to cut most of it. A good push will unseat the rest of it.

 

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When you take the pcb out of the case, remove the insulating layer (cardboard) from underneath and put it aside. Don't forget to put this back in when you reassemble.

 

The two heatinks on the end are what we will be dealing with. They are attached to two MOSFETS that are causing the trouble.

 

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If you turn the pcb over, you will see the two groups of three large solder points for the MOSFETS towards the end.

 

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Other than the obvious soldering iron and solder, you will need solder-wick. This can be obtained from Radioshack or online if you don't have one close. It is a copper braid with flux in it that will pull the solder away when you heat it over a solder joint. This will make life much easier. A solder sucker (vacuum pump) will also work if you have one.

 

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For those of you that haven't used solder-wick before, just lay it on top of the solder joint, and apply the soldering iron. Careful though as the solder wick will get hot quickly. Once the braid is full of solder, move up the braid a little to a fresh spot until all the solder is gone from the joint.

 

Once all the solder is removed, you should just be able to gently wiggle the heatsink to pull it out. If it does not move, go back again with the solder-wick.

 

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Hey presto, they're out!

 

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Remove the screw holding the MOSFET onto the heatsink. You will notice that there is no thermal paste between the two parts. This is not good.

 

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These are the new parts. They are Fairchild FDH44N50 MOSFETS. They can be found at Mouser Electronics for $5.59 each, plus a little for shipping. You will need two per ballast. They work the same as the original parts, but won't limit the current at the same temperatures like the old parts did.

 

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I highly recommend using a thermal paste when you put the new parts on the heatsinks. I like using Arctic Silver, but any thermal compound from Radioshack will work. This stuff will stain your clothes, so be careful.

 

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You only need to apply a thin coat, but cover all the metal on the back side of the MOSFET. Here you can see a before and after.

 

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Screw the MOSFETS back on the heatsinks, metal side down, plastic side up.

 

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Inset the pins through the holes, making sure that the heatsink has the fins facing the end of the pcb. Getting this backwards will almost certainly destroy the part and could set something on fire in the right circumstances.

 

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Reapply solder to the pins. Make sure you have a good solder joint. It should be shiny when cool. If it is dull, you need to redo the solder joint (needs more heat).

 

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Once everything is soldered, clip the pins as short as possible, but don't cut into the solder.

 

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It should end up looking like this

 

 

After that, reassemble everything in the reverse order you took it apart. Remember to put the insulating layer back under the pcb, and put the ground wire back around the front of the case. If the pcb is loose in the case, a little silicone can help to hold it still. You don't want it moving around.

 

Once you are sure that everything is put back together correctly, go ahead and fire it back up. I found that the ballast now pulls an average of 247W measured on a Kill-a-Watt meter. It still takes a lot longer to warm up the bulb than an Icecap ballast, but produces the same lux on the same bulb.

 

I hope that some of you find this useful and we can finally get the most out of an inexpensive, but fairly well built fixture. Please ask any questions if anything I have described is unclear.

 

If you need a soldering tutorial, there is a decent one here. There are many more on the net if you need. If you are new to soldering, I suggest you buy some perf board and some resistors from Radioshack to practice on. It's not hard.

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Sweet that looks easy, I am ordering m parts now!

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fantastic mod! now lets see some shots of the light on, too bad there is not before/after shot! :D

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You would never see it. There was about a 16% increase in lux when we swapped out the stock ballast for the Icecap, and the mod produces the same lux now. Besides, I don't actually own these, or a 250W lamp to try it on. We did put it back on my buddies fixture, and thats where we found that it produced the same lux. No PAR readings from the mod, but the Icecap made a 12% increase over stock. Still using the original crappy 15K bulbs.

 

A Phoenix on this mod would be awesome. Looking forward to seeing SDT's fixture once she mods it and gets it fired up.

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I am ordering the MOSFETS on tuesday!

 

You know, the color of the stock bulb isnt that bad, and if it can burn at the full 250 I might keep it for a while, as it is brand new.

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Maybe if they are run at 250W from the get go they might look ok, but I think now that these old bulbs have been run under powered for the last 8 months, there is not much saving them. There is a slight fluorescence from them, and the coral certainly appreciate the extra light, but the color on these still suck :)

 

If I were in your position, I'd go for the Phoenix right from the start, especially considering the killer deal you got on the fixture.

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Hey evil

 

 

Nice post! ahm but uhm.... Those don't look like LEDs :o

 

I guess its good to be well rounded.

 

 

 

Cheers

NRG

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You caught me!

 

Anyone see any glaring errors in the write-up yet?

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Hey

 

The write up looks great. Good job on helping out the folks who "haven't seen the light" on LEDs yet <groan>

 

 

Cheers

NRG

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Don't quit your day job :lol:

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Looks like I am one of the first test subjects to try this one out.

 

Gonna order the Oydssea 30" some time this week , and have a buddy of mine with soldering experience , do the mod for me. I'll post some pics once I get it modified.

 

Should be a good start for my first tank.

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Cool. It's a simple mod that is well worth the few dollars you put into it.

 

Let us know how it goes.

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Cool. It's a simple mod that is well worth the few dollars you put into it.

 

Let us know how it goes.

 

I have the 30" model now....Do the Fairchild FDH44N50 MOSFETS work in the 30" as well?

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The 30" is the 175W model, and I don't know if that ballast shares the same fate as the 250W.

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Cool. It's a simple mod that is well worth the few dollars you put into it.

 

Let us know how it goes.

Give me a week or two , I was ready to go ahead and order but I've come into a problem with the used tank I purchased. ( Previous owner might have added copper, which ruins the live rock) So I need to save up and buy some more. ($$$$$) :angry:

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Ouch, that sucks.

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I ordered my mosfets today, we will see how it goes!

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The 30" is the 175W model, and I don't know if that ballast shares the same fate as the 250W.

The 30" is 250w. Even the 24" has a 250w with it.

Link

 

 

On a side note , if you go to the home page for Aquatraders there is a add on the page for a 150w articulated arm halide w/ 18w pc's soon to come out.

Edited by Grendel0501

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Well, SWFFAN actually contacted me this morning about the 30" 175W, which is why I responded like that. You are right though. The Aquatraders 30" Odyssea is 250W, but you can find a 175W made by the same company on ebay.

 

I saw that 150W fixture. Seems interesting, and you can't beat the price.

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The 30" is 250w. Even the 24" has a 250w with it.

Link

 

 

On a side note , if you go to the home page for Aquatraders there is a add on the page for a 150w articulated arm halide w/ 18w pc's soon to come out.

150W MH plus 2-18W PC, fan and digital timer for $130?

Great price, and will also fit on my 20H without hanging or mods.

Might have to get me one. Next time i'm at my LFS i'll have to ask when they are available.

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Tried this mod today. Did not help. Still only using 164 Watts. I will be buying the Icecap ballast.

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Really? I have two ballast modded successfully by doing this. You used the part I linked to right? Thermal paste on the heatsink after reassembly? I am truely suprised that you did not get any change.

 

What were you using to measure the draw?

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Really? I have two ballast modded successfully by doing this. You used the part I linked to right? Thermal paste on the heatsink after reassembly? I am truely suprised that you did not get any change.

 

What were you using to measure the draw?

 

 

Yes, the exact same part, and used thermal paste. I used a model P4400 Kill A Watt.

Not sure what I did wrong. The light still looks yellow when actinics are on, and even worse without. It is still the bulb that came with the unit (2 weeks old).

 

 

Yes, the exact same part, and used thermal paste. I used a model P4400 Kill A Watt.

Not sure what I did wrong. The light still looks yellow when actinics are on, and even worse without. It is still the bulb that came with the unit (2 weeks old).

 

 

Now that is the draw through an on/off timer (Kill O Watt between timer and ballast). Maybe I should test without the timer.

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150W MH plus 2-18W PC, fan and digital timer for $130?

Great price, and will also fit on my 20H without hanging or mods.

Might have to get me one. Next time i'm at my LFS i'll have to ask when they are available.

Local fish places usually don't carry odyssea. Atleast none of mine do.

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