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Biocube 29 LED DIY Retro


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Lots of pics and general info out there, but with this post, I plan to share the intricacies of what I did not understand and had to figure out on my own.



12 XR-E Q5 Whites - Deal Extreme $4.36

12 XR-E Bin 16 Royal Blues - LED Supply $7.36

Heatsink - Nanotuners custom AIO - $49.99 AWESOME!!

24 Bernquist Thermal Pads - Nanotuners - $0.49 each - HIGHLY RECOMMEND OVER DRILLING/TAPPING

Wire - $15 for all the wire

Build your own RCA cable ends: $0.39 each

2 12 volt regulated ac/dc adapters - $2.95 each

2 LM317 Circuits - Parts = $3

2 92 mm Fans - lying around (go with 80 mm fans!)




Followed the circuit design (first image, by Evil66) and built it. I went through 6 iterations of physically wiring everything up, testing, it works, solder it up, it doesnt work. This was caused by my testing adapter pumping out 2 amps, and the LM317 has a max tolerance of 1.5 amps! I also discovered that the power adapter for the dimmer circuit doesnt need to be 1000ma either - the driver will create the 1A current. My adapters are 400ma output, and I believe the dimmer line for the meanwell only needs like 30ma, so 400 is more than enough. I also found some DC female end connections, and wired that to my LM317 so that all I had to do was plug in the power adapter, and didnt have to cut the ends off. (Use two power adapters - one for each dimmer - this allows for you to use your timers properly.)


After the LM317 was built and stuck in a project box, time to wire up the goods! In the future, I will be attaching the fans first, and THEN the LED's. This time around though, I attached the LEDs first, and it was a pain having to be so careful to attach the fans. I also recommend 80 mm, as you have to cut some screw offsets to get the 92's to fit. I tore my knuckles pretty good, and dont think the larger fans provide that much benefit. I also recommend having both fans blow down onto the heatsink, as I experienced the heatsink to be cooler on the side where the fan was blowing down. No temperature readings were taken, just held my hand to the heat sink and could tell one side was cooler.


Some main notes:

I used RCA cable ends to connect my cables. I did this as I wanted an easy way to have quick disconnects between the drivers in my stand, and my lights in my hood, so that I can easily move it for waterchanges etc. (Mostly greens cause they didnt have much of the other colors in stock) In the garage, my connections were tight and awesome. When I moved it to the house and set it up, I had several shorts. So be very careful, and go ahead and put electrical tape between the connections if you make your own ends. They were super simple, and on the back of the stand I installed the female RCA connection, so the cables plug in just like on your stereo, and inside the stand, I put RCA ends on the meanwell connections, and am able to just plug those in also. So, easy quick disconnects.


I have my meanwell drivers plugged into a power strip that is always on, and have the dimmer power adapter plugged into my timers. This eliminates the blinding flash from the leds when the drivers empty their capacitors.


I also had an issue with one driver where I could not adjust the SRV2 setting. I am waiting on Meanwell to replace that one, but since I am still in the acclimation stages for at least 2 weeks, I am not concerned about that yet.


Currently running zero optics, but thinking about putting 80 degree ones on the lines around the edge of the tank, to prevent light from overflowing onto the stand/carpet. All I can really say is this tank looks awesome now, the color is amazing, and I want more more more!


Have yet to find great camera settings to capture LED light, but here are a couple of build and tank shots:







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So the project, in total, set you back what... about $250?


How difficult would you say it was?


I'm 'mechanically inclined' but don't have any specific electrical experience. I'm sure I can handle soldering just fine. Think I'd be able to manage?

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Yeah about $300 with all the mistakes and extra parts I bought that I didnt use (3 different power supplies till I found what I liked) - I had no soldering experience myself, and was able to complete it, so it should be fine for you to attempt. (I do have a nasty burn from the iron, so watch out for that)


Now that I have this first version done, I'm already thinking of how to make it better, and am about to install 6 blue and 6 white on a standard 10 gallon I have. I did find that a 40 watt iron was better than the 60 watt I initially bought, and I took one guys advice and tinned the wires before soldering them to the LED stars. I also prefer the lead solder to lead free, but I guess I will try to be kind to the environment, and continue using the lead free stuff that doesnt flow as well.

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Lead free solder requires much higher tip temperatures on the iron. Most cheap irons aren't set up for that yet. Wattage doesn't determine tip temperature BTW. 60/40 rosin core solder is so nice to work with.

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