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Jon Lazar

Red Sea Max LED retrofit

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Jon Lazar

Red Sea Max 130D LED retrofit

Probably the most attractive aspect to us of the Red Sea Max is the finished appearance of the tank itself. We really wanted something that all fit together and looks like a piece of furniture, not a project that I cobbled together out of different parts and stuck on an Ikea end stand. This meant an enclosed hood with no pendant light, and while the stock compact fluorescent lighting is adequate for a lot of critters, I knew early on that I'd want to upgrade to LEDs. The tank would run cooler, require less power, and avoid the expense of frequent bulb changes.

 

To make things tougher, I wanted to keep the hood's stock appearance. No holes in the top for cooling fans, or cutting out space where the original lights were mounted. We chose the RSM mainly because of the clean look of the hood, tank, and stand, and I wanted to maintain that look.

 

 

 

LED Fixture Build

I decided to go with 24 CREE LEDs on two Meanwell drivers so I could independently adjust the output of the white and blue drivers. I could have gotten away with fewer LEDs, but for me it was worth it to have more LEDs running at lower power on two ballasts. More LEDs also gives me better color mixing and less of the funny shadows you sometimes see with LED fixtures.

 

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LED layout and wiring diagram. LEDs marked “1” are on the “blue” Meanwell driver, and those marked “2” are on the “white” Meanwell driver.

 

I would use my old Aquacontroller 2 and DC-8 to turn the lights on an off, so I planned to remove the stock light timer and use the following schedule:

 

1300 Blue LEDs on

1400 White LEDs on

2000 White LEDs off

2100 Blue LEDs off

 

 

I drilled and tapped the heat sink for screw mounting so I could change LEDs to adjust the colors if needed. The heat sink is thick and I ended up snapping two taps by trying to cut the threads too quickly, and not backing the tap out more frequently. I also drilled holes for the stock moonlights, but had to countersink the backs of the holes for the LED panel mount clips to seat properly. Wiring the LEDs was straightforward and has been covered on lots of other threads. I did find that it was very easy to short the LEDs to the heat sink when soldering the leads. I discovered this when I test fired one of the strings and a few LEDs (the ones between two shorted LEDs) stayed dark. I could have blown a bunch of LEDs that way. I tested every LED for shorts before I powered up the second driver.

 

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Heat sink with LEDs installed

 

 

 

Hood disassembly

Hood disassembly was fairly straightforward. I found the most difficult part was removing the flush screw covers without marring the plastic. I used a jeweler’s screwdriver to pry them out and didn’t mark the hood up, but it wasn’t easy and I did leave a few marks on the screw covers themselves. It’s worth noting that the hood comes with two cooling fans, and has snap in mounting brackets for up to two more fans. I was confident that two fans would be enough for our LEDs, and didn't want the extra noise of more fans. But others may benefit from knowing that the RSM hood is ready for additional fans.

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Hood disassembly

 

 

 

Mounting the Fixture

I used some 1" aluminum material to build mounting brackets for the heat sink, and mounted the brackets in the same screw holes which originally held the stock reflector and bulb clips. The heat sink fits snugly inside the bracket, and I fixed it in place with #6 sheet metal screws from the side. (After the picture of the bracket was taken I drilled holes in the vertical ends of the brackets, and pilot holes in the sides of the heat sink. You can see the screw heads in the picture below, right.)

 

2466865030042290226S500x500Q85.jpg 2949889710042290226S500x500Q85.jpg

New brackets, and LED fixture in place

 

 

 

Driver Installation and Wiring

I removed all the stock components in the hood except the fans, the 12V power supply, and the metal mounting plate. There's not much vertical clearance for the Meanwells, so I had to mount them at an angle to prevent the driver case from sitting on top of the mounting plate screws. I used short screws to mount the ballasts as there’s little clearance below the metal mounting plate, and I didn’t want to screw through the metal and into the plastic below it. I also found that I needed to leave one of the ballast covers off to provide enough clearance to get the two pieces of the hood back together.

 

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New ballasts in place

 

 

 

The only change to the hood was to drill holes to route the power cords and LED dimmer cable through. I used a forstner bit to make sure I didn't crack the plastic, and drilled 1/2" holes to fit snap-in cord grips. These will help keep humidity out and reduce tension on the wires. The stock cable that exits the hood here runs straight into an opening in the RSM electrical box. I planned the additional holes carefully so that they would fit into the same opening. There's one power cord for the blue LED driver, one for the white & blue driver, and a third for the stock 12V power supply that runs the cooling fans and moonlights. I could have done away with the third cord if I had replaced the 12V fans with 120V fans and done away with the moonlights, but I'd rather just have the third cord. There’s also a hole for the gray cable to the LED dimmer pots, which is wired according to the standard instructions at rapidled.com. I repurposed the cord from an old computer mouse, and used another Molex connector inside the project box so I could disconnect the project box and route the cable through the narrow space between the tank and wall, and into the stand.

 

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New cord hole layout, and snap in strain relief widget

 

 

 

Fans and Moonlight

Without the original lighting timer, I needed a way to control the fans and moonlights. I replaced the stock 12V relay with a new 120v relay, and wired the 120V coil side in parallel with the blue Meanwell driver. I wired the positive side of the stock 12V ballast to the center of the SPDT relay, and the moonlight and fans to each of the other relay terminals. The result is that the cooling fans would run whenever the blue LEDs were on, and the moonlights would be on whenever the blue LEDs were off. That's hard to follow in words, so here's the wiring diagram.

 

2276315680042290226S500x500Q85.jpg

The 12V power supply is always on, powering either the moonlights or the fans.

 

 

Reassembly

Installation complete, and ready to reassemble the hood. After I routed the various wires I used plenty of zip ties to keep things in place. I used an old Molex connector from my spare computer parts to make a quick disconnect between the LED fixture and drivers. I reused the original quick disconnect for the moonlights.

 

2710481040042290226S500x500Q85.jpg

Ready to put the hood back together

 

 

 

Conclusion

All in all we're very happy with the LED retrofit. The project cost about $240 in parts, and with the savings in bulb changes and power consumption will pay for itself in a few years. More importantly though, we like the color and performance better. We're able to adjust the blue/white mix to something between 15k and 20k, using the color of the 20k metal halides on our other tank for comparison. The corals have much better coloration under the LED fixture too, as they had appeared washed out and less colorful under the stock compact fluorescent lights. We also enjoy the change up provided by the hour of actinic-only LEDs at the start and end of each daily cycle. The hood exhaust is very noticeably cooler too, and the increased intensity of the LEDs should give us the flexibility to keep even the most light-demanding coral or clam should we choose to.

 

 

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Dawn/dusk mode (left) and full daylight lighting(right)

 

 

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Lights off, moonlights, dawn/dusk mode, daylight mode

 

 

There are a couple of things I may improve in the future. The stock moonlights came mounted in the sides of the reflector, providing a diffuse glow throughout the tank. I mounted them pointing straight down, and they look like narrow spotlights. I prefer the diffuse look, so I'd like to try putting a small piece of lighting diffuser over each moonlight and see if that helps. Also, I may install a toggle switch for the moonlights to turn them off if desired.

 

 

 

Parts list

4.230" x 20" heat sink (heatsinkusa.com)

4-40 machine screws 3/8" length (McMaster Carr #90279A108)

Nylon #4 flat washer (McMaster Carr #90295A059)

120V SPDT relay (McMaster Carr #7098K52)

1" wide straight aluminum stock (2 pieces ~4" long each)

1" wide ell aluminum stock (4 pieces ~1" long each)

 

-12 Royal blue XP-E

-4 Blue XP-E

-4 Cool white XP-G

-4 Neutral white XP-G

 

2 Meanwell drivers ELN-60-48D (rapidled.com)

Thermal paste (rapidled.com)

DC adapter socket (rapidled.com)

2 10k ohm linear taper pots (rapidled.com)

2”x3" project box (Radio Shack #270-1801)

4 LED holders (for moonlight LEDs; Radio Shack #276-079)

 

 

References

ELN-60-48D wiring instructions

RapidLED controller dimming instructions

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sushiROX

Very nice job! I really like that you retained the stock look.

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lilj104

that is real nice, job well done

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BigAl07

Great project and superb attention to detail.

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smarcus3

Like it. Glad to see LEDs coming into their prime.

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metrokat

:blink:

 

:bowdown:

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Needreefunds

Excellent job Jon- Thanks for sharing!

 

B)

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picoreef78

Great write up, thanks.

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Roee1982

nice job :D

did u use any lens for the leds?

do you get good lighting coverage?

do you see any blending problems?

i`ve been waiting for a project like this. ever since i biult a led fixure for my nano i`ve been planing a retro for my RSM130...

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metrokat

any more pictures showing the hood disassembly? especially where the additional fans could be installed?

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Jon Lazar
nice job :D

did u use any lens for the leds?

do you get good lighting coverage?

do you see any blending problems?

i`ve been waiting for a project like this. ever since i biult a led fixure for my nano i`ve been planing a retro for my RSM130...

 

Thanks Roee. I didn't use lenses. I wanted to get the widest light spread possible, and lenses would have focused the light too much. Also, lenses wouldn't fit.

 

Light coverage is about the same as the stock lights. The center of the tank gets the most light, but the sand bed is well lit from front to back.

 

The LEDs blend together very well. I've seen other LED fixtures where there's weird shadows, and I really dislike that look.

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Jon Lazar
any more pictures showing the hood disassembly? especially where the additional fans could be installed?

 

2295013440042290226S500x500Q85.jpg

 

There are two additional sites for fans in the hood, visible in the picture above. On the left side of the hood (in the picture), there's a rectangular socket where you can snap in a fan. It's right in the middle of the vented area, and looks like two plastic ells molded into the plastic of the hood itself. On the right side, there's another socket adjacent to the two existing fans, on the side closest to the small ballast. It's pretty obvious once you open the hood.

 

I don't have any additional photos of opening the hood, but it's pretty easy. First remove the hood from the tank. Once the hood is off you have to pry out the 6 round plastic covers which keep the screws dry. Then unscrew the screws with a phillips screwdriver and the inside and outside parts of the hood should come apart.

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metrokat

thank you

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Spirofucci

WOW! Fantastic.

 

No way I could do that. I think I'm stuck getting a Radion.

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TheWeaz

wow.. Nice work! very impressive.

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metrokat

Jon, what about wiring for the additional fans, is there a place on the circuitry that will take the additional load?

 

Also, if I were to install a fan on the left side, where currently there is no fan, should it be blowing air into the hood or pulling air out?

 

One last question, the vent fan at the back of the hood in my tank right now blows air out, is that correctly installed?

 

Thanks again.

Kat

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Jon Lazar
Jon, what about wiring for the additional fans, is there a place on the circuitry that will take the additional load?

 

Also, if I were to install a fan on the left side, where currently there is no fan, should it be blowing air into the hood or pulling air out?

 

One last question, the vent fan at the back of the hood in my tank right now blows air out, is that correctly installed?

 

Thanks again.

Kat

 

Kat,

 

Not sure whether the stock LED/fan driver will support extra fans. I think you'd have to compare the amperage of the four fans to what the driver is rated for.

 

If you can do the rest of the build, you'd have the basic skills to wire in the other two fans in parallel with the two stock fans...it wouldn't be too hard.

 

I would try three hood fans blowing out and one hood fan blowing in, unless someone has done it otherwise and it worked better.

 

I'm away from our tank today, but IIRC our vent fan blows in. I'd have to check to be sure. At one point I had the vent fan connected to my Aquacontroller and set to only come on when the water got too warm. I ended up with the inside of the hood covered in condensation. So now the fan runs 24/7.

 

Jon

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emmanuel

8 just did a similar 24 3watt Cree led on my rsm at first I used the 2 stock fans as exhaust and 2 more 50 mm fans as air intake ran the light for an hour and thhe heat sink was hot to the touch with LEDs at full power then I ran four fans all exhaust still too hot I added two computer fans on the heat sink with the 4 small exhaust fans and everything is perfect . I used the stock led driver for the power supply of the fans and checked amp draw it was exactly .83 ma like the supply says I guess it limits how much comes out of it so maybe the fans are just not running at full power I can live with that ? The power supply also says 10 watts and adding all the fans stay bellow that so it should be fine

Kat,

 

Not sure whether the stock LED/fan driver will support extra fans. I think you'd have to compare the amperage of the four fans to what the driver is rated for.

 

If you can do the rest of the build, you'd have the basic skills to wire in the other two fans in parallel with the two stock fans...it wouldn't be too hard.

 

I would try three hood fans blowing out and one hood fan blowing in, unless someone has done it otherwise and it worked better.

 

I'm away from our tank today, but IIRC our vent fan blows in. I'd have to check to be sure. At one point I had the vent fan connected to my Aquacontroller and set to only come on when the water got too warm. I ended up with the inside of the hood covered in condensation. So now the fan runs 24/7.

 

Jon

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