Jump to content
BBOSS

Yet Another BC29 DIY LED retro - by bboss

Recommended Posts

BBOSS   

This LED retro project for my BioCube 29 (BC 29) had been in my mind for the past year and I have read many LED retro threads on internet forums and conversed with many people in the hobby on this subject. Last month, I finally pulled the trigger and purchased a couple LED DIY kits from “AquastyleOnline.com” a 36 dimmable LED kit for my BC 29 display tank and a 8 LED kit for my 10g TropiQuarium frag/quarantine tank. This write up describes in detail the LED retro effort for my BC 29.

 

The goal of my BC 29 LED retro is to provide suitable lighting for a mixed reef with both LPS and SPS, and make the florescent corals’ colour pop. The original PC-R bulbs that came with my BC29 simply were not providing enough intensity to help me create the desired effect. Upgrading my light fixture to T5 or MH are not as attractive to me as LED since I am cheap and I found a lower cost LED retro option that can help me keep the overall cost down to a minimum.

 

I have a couple of criteria for the LED retro project. First: the project must be simple, clean and not require special technical knowledge or skills; second: the project cost must be kept as low as possible since funding for this project is limited. I researched many LED threads and aquarium forums on the web for a LED solution that provides the best value for money, and can achieve my goals without altering the original Biocube look since the Biocube’s sleek design was the reason I chose BC in the first place.

 

I chose AquastyleOnline’s kit for its low cost and because many people on aquarium forums recommended them. It certainly seems to offer the best value for money.

 

Thanks to Bjbass, it was his elegant and clean build that finally convinced me to jump in. His thread BJBass BC14 LED Build Thread, Using Nanotuners heat sink and Aquastyle's Kit also contained all the information I need to know to actually proceed with my BC retro.

 

Here is a list of components I purchased for this retro project:

1. AquastyleOnline 36 LEDs DIY Dimmable kit includes:

a. 18 x Royal Blue 452-455nm 3 watts Bridgelux LEDs

b. 9 x cool white 10000K 3 watts Bridgelux LEDs

c. 9 x neutral white 4500K 3 watts Bridgelux LEDs

d. 2 x Maxwellen LED dimmable drivers for (12 – 20 X 3 Watt LEDs)

e. 2 x potentiometers

f. Heatsink plaster (thermal adhesive)

g. 20 ft wire

2. AquastyleOnline 7.1” X 0.9” X 15.8” aluminum heatsink

3. 2 x standard North American 3 conductors computer power cords – NEMA5-15P to C13

4. 2 x computer power cord extensions - C13 to C14, only C13 connector (picture below) are used

post-50463-1324836300.jpg

5. 12 X computer motherboard standoffs

post-50463-1324835332_thumb.jpg

6. Various size wire connectors

Stock Components re-used:

1. 3 x Moonlight LEDs and power adapter

2. Transformer for mini circuit board

3. Mini circuit board that controls moonlight LEDs and fans

4. Clear plastic splashguard

5. Sheet metal reflector cover

Tools I used:

1. Electric drill

2. Hacksaw (resize the heatsink)

3. Keyhole saw (cut heatsink fins)

4. 13/32” drill bit (to drill holes for potentiometers)

5. Needle nose pliers and pliers

6. Solder and soldering iron

7. Wire stripper

First, I removed disassembled components on the BC 29 hood, except for the fans, mini circuit board and its transformer.

post-50463-1324835722_thumb.jpg

Then, I cut the heat sink into desired size by using a hacksaw. I cut two 2 ½” X 1 7/8” rectangles from the top corners to accommodate the fans, and I also trim off 1 3/8” along the edge between the two cut-off corners to mount the LED drivers.

post-50463-1324833989_thumb.jpg

I enlarge the tapping screw holes to 5/64”, make four 1” posts (by putting two or three computer motherboard standoffs together), and then screw the posts onto the appropriate tapping holes. The diagram shows the cross section of how I mounted the heat sink to the Hood.

post-50463-1324834237_thumb.jpg

I could not line up the heat sink and posts in such way that heat sink fins will not interfere with all four posts at the same time, so I had to use a keyhole saw, snipers and pliers to cut off small part of heat sink fins to accommodate two of the posts in my build - I think this is the hardest part of the whole projects. Once I got the heat sink mounted nicely on the posts, the LEDs are ready for wiring.

Wiring Instructions:

Below is the wiring diagram I prepared to help me planned the actual wiring.

post-50463-1324834254_thumb.jpg

Careful planning for wiring is important because a good plan will make the job much easier. First, make sure you can tell the difference between the different colours of LEDs. I also suggest separating LEDs to different holders by colours; you don’t want to mix different LEDs up before you glue them to the heat sink. Also, it is worth taking the time to properly orient +ve & -ve terminals of the LEDs in such way so that the distance between two soldering points is as short and straight as possible.

I used thermal adhesive (Heatsink Plaster) that came with the package to glue LEDs on the heat sink according to the plan. It is important to wait for at least 6 hours (12 or more hours preferred) for the thermal adhesive to cure properly - the thermal adhesive worked very well for me on this project.

Edited by BBOSS

Share this post


Link to post
BBOSS   

Now, I am ready to connect the LEDs together. I cut each wire to the length required according to the diagram, and I prepared each wire segment by pre-tinning both ends of the wire, for easy soldering. I suggest pre-tinning each contact terminal on the LEDs as well, if possible.

It took me about 2 hours to connect all 36 LEDs on the heat sink because I was taking it easy. I must say a good soldering iron is an essential for doing a good job on soldering.

post-50463-1324836642_thumb.jpgpost-50463-1324836677_thumb.jpg

Then it is just a simple matter to connect the LED wires to the dimmable drivers by following the instructions from AquastyleOnline. I mounted the two Potentiometers on the top of the BC 29 hood by pre-drilling two 13/32” holes and add silicone gel at the mounting points for water proofing. I did not use the original switches but used the robber covering to cover the opening instead.

post-50463-1324836698_thumb.jpg

 

Note: I connected the stock transformer for moonlights and fan to the power plug with the white LED driver, so the fan will turn ON at same time as the white LEDs, exactly the same way the original stock lights worked.

I was inspired by BJ’s moonlight setup and wanted to emulate it, but I did not have enough room to position the moonlight LED as he did. So I did the next best thing I could think of. I took the LED out of its original casing, glue them to a metal stand made from a small piece of sheet metal (cut from the stock reflector which is no longer needed), and then glue the stand onto the heat sink (see photo below). It worked well enough, but it certainly is not as elegant as BJ’s design.

post-50463-1324836713_thumb.jpg

Finally, I replace the rear sheet metal cover back (modified to accommodate the drivers) to cover the wires and electrical components, then I put the clear splashguard back on, and that’s it! Put the hood back on to the tank, connect up the power and viola!

post-50463-1324836744_thumb.jpg

 

 

post-50463-1324837164_thumb.jpg

So far I enjoyed the new lighting very much. Below are couple of pictures with all LED on at 75% and just Royal blue at 75%.

post-50463-1324837281_thumb.jpgpost-50463-1324837297_thumb.jpg

Share this post


Link to post

Nice write up! Glad that you made this post as there are a few things that I didn't realize when looking at the 3 pictures you originally had posted. I can't wait to start on my own setup. Thanks for the write up and the time to reply to my questions. Merry Christmas to you and your family.

Share this post


Link to post
BBOSS   
Nice write up! Glad that you made this post as there are a few things that I didn't realize when looking at the 3 pictures you originally had posted. I can't wait to start on my own setup. Thanks for the write up and the time to reply to my questions. Merry Christmas to you and your family.

 

You're most welcome. Good luck with your build. B)

Share this post


Link to post
OpTiCz   

That seems like a lot of leds for just two drivers.

Have you had any issues?

Share this post


Link to post

Nice job. Thanks for the write up. I've been trying to decide which direction to go with lighting for my BC29.

Share this post


Link to post
BBOSS   
That seems like a lot of leds for just two drivers.

Have you had any issues?

 

The drivers are Maxwellen LED Dimmable Drivers, came with the kit. They are rated to support 12 to 20 3W LEDs each, according to the specification. In my case, each driver is driving 18 LEDs. I have the LED set up for only one week, so far so good, no issues. Initially I was worried these drivers will be too hot in the enclosed area, but they are not even warm at 77F (75% intensity), so I am not too worried at this point.

 

Nice job. Thanks for the write up. I've been trying to decide which direction to go with lighting for my BC29.

 

Thanks.

Share this post


Link to post
cberglof   

Very nice. You did a really clean job. Love how you used the old reflector to cover up the wiring. Was the heat sink difficult to cut?

Share this post


Link to post
BBOSS   
Very nice. You did a really clean job. Love how you used the old reflector to cover up the wiring. Was the heat sink difficult to cut?

 

Thanks for the comment. It is not difficult to cut the heat sink (made of Aluminium) with a hacksaw. Patient is the key. I had used hack saw only couple times prior to this project, so if I can do it, anyone can. Go slow at beginning if you don't have the experience, but you will get hang of it soon after.

Share this post


Link to post

Very good write up, one of the better ones I've seen. I hope to tackle this upgrade soon and am really torn between the RapidLED kit with the CREE's and the AquaStyleOnline kit.

Share this post


Link to post
BBOSS   
Very good write up, one of the better ones I've seen. I hope to tackle this upgrade soon and am really torn between the RapidLED kit with the CREE's and the AquaStyleOnline kit.

Thanks for your feedback, Drew.

 

I also had hard time to decide between the RapidLED kit and the AquaStyleOnline kit. I think it was the price that made the final decision for me at end. I like my kit so far, it is doing everything I had expected. I'm kicing myself for not doing it sooner. :lol:

Share this post


Link to post
bjbass   

Wow this turned out amazing! I really love your design!

 

Are the drivers staying cool inside the hood? I like how you wired the female power connector to the drivers so that it mimics the original design. This is so sweet man!

Share this post


Link to post
BBOSS   
Wow this turned out amazing! I really love your design!

 

Are the drivers staying cool inside the hood? I like how you wired the female power connector to the drivers so that it mimics the original design. This is so sweet man!

 

Thanks so much for your comments, Bjbass. It is great to hear from you.

 

Yes, I am very happy with my final design :happy: and thanks to you, for inspired me to finally took the plunge into the LED world.

 

All my corals are much happier now with the new LED lighting. With my current setting, the royal blue LEDs at around 75%, and white at 60%, the Maxwellen drivers are performing well and staying cool (never exceed 79F) inside the hood, I intend to continue increase the intensity slowly for the next while, and will continue to monitor the temperature. I have the Silenx fans ready if I need them, but honestly, I don`t think they will be needed at all.

Share this post


Link to post

Have you noticed any growth with the new lights? I just got my hood all done this weekend. I cut all the posts of the inside of the hood except for the 4 used to mount the heat sink. This way I didn't need to use the stand offs but the top of the hood gets a little warm also. Have you had this problem at all? Did you cut the cut outs for the LED drivers to help cool them?

Edited by basicfisherman

Share this post


Link to post
BBOSS   
Have you noticed any growth with the new lights? I just got my hood all done this weekend. I cut all the posts of the inside of the hood except for the 4 used to mount the heat sink. This way I didn't need to use the stand offs but the top of the hood gets a little warm also. Have you had this problem at all? Did you cut the cut outs for the LED drivers to help cool them?

 

Congratulate on your completion of your build, pictures please :D .

 

I am not sure about the coral growth yet; however, I have noticed that most of my zoas, softies are extended much bigger under the new LED lights, LPS are also doing better; but one thing that impress me the most is the coral are colouring up slowly, the neon like lights are now popping at me, especially under the blue lights. All these are happening under just about 75% light intensity. Like I said, I'm kicking myself not doing this retro sooner.

 

The heat given out by the drivers was my biggest concern for this project. It took me a long time and with the information from Bjbass, finally decided to install the drivers inside the hood. Heat is also one reason why I decided to use the standoffs for mounting, because it allowed me to lower the heat sink; the heat rise to the top and suck out by the fan unimpedely. The LED drivers are mounted on the side of the heat sink, again there are rooms above the drivers for the air to flow freely. I did not need to modify these LED drivers at all.

 

I don't have heat issue at moment. Mind you, I am running only at about 75% - 80% intensity, to me, it is already bright enough; I am also monitoring the exhaust air temperature, it has never gone over 79F yet. I will post my finding here in the future if I ever decided to dail the LED intensity to 100%.

 

One more bonus have been observed, my water temperature is now stabled between 78 and 79 since the LED were installed. I used to set my heater at 75 degree F so the water would not heatup over 81 degree F by the stock PC lights. Now I set my heater to 78 degree F and water temperature never raise above 79 degree F.

 

I have also ordered couple SilenX fans on standby, they are ready to be installed if the temperature gets too high. Not sure if they are neccessary now.

 

Ray shipped a digitial thermostat with my LED package, I use it to measure the exhaust air temperature by laying the probe on top of the exhaust air outlet. With the old PC bulbs, the exhaust air temperture was measured at 99 - 100 degree F., after the PC light was on for a while. With the new LEDs, air stay cool at 79 degree F. If your exhaust air temperature is not much more than 99 degree F. then I would not worry too much about it.

Share this post


Link to post
BBOSS   
like this build looks great, nice job

Thanks alot. I am pretty proud myself. ;)

Share this post


Link to post
BBOSS   
do you like your overall color? :)

Yes, I am happy with the colour so far. I may want to try some UV and blue to my RB loop sometime down the road.

Share this post


Link to post
bjbass   

Dude... you should definitely post this over the in the Comprehensive DIY LED Project List. This one deserves to be seen by all. I just love it.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
BBOSS   
Dude... you should definitely post this over the in the Comprehensive DIY LED Project List. This one deserves to be seen by all. I just love it.

Thanks so much Bjbass, just add my build in the Comprehensive DIY LED project List.

Share this post


Link to post

Wow, I'm impressed, i've been considering the aquastyles for my biocube 29, and this really makes me want to pull the trigger, I don't understand how you wired the moonlights in and the fans to turn on with the lights though, I fail at wiring, so these projects frighten me..

Edited by impactfour

Share this post


Link to post
BBOSS   
Wow, I'm impressed, i've been considering the aquastyles for my biocube 29, and this really makes me want to pull the trigger, I don't understand how you wired the moonlights in and the fans to turn on with the lights though, I fail at wiring, so these projects frighten me..

 

I have to say this LED retro project is worth every penny and time I have spent on it. I will post a mini review on my setup when the LED is up and running for two full months, in about two weeks time.

 

If you remove the back reflector inside the splashguard, you will find a small circuit board, where the fans and moonlights are connected to. This circuit board is also connected to a transformer and power AC adapter for the moonlights. This small circuit board is the brain that controls the fans and moonlights, it decides when the moonlights and fans to go on and off. I liked the way the fans and moonlights work originally, so there was no need to modify or re-wire anything. The fans and moonlights are all connected back to their original connectors on the small circuit board, as well the AC power adapter for the moonlights, and the connection from the transformer. The only re-wiring required was to cut the two red wires connected between the transformer and the old lighting cables, and connect these two red wires from the transformer to the power wires of the Daylight (white) LED driver; so the the fans will turn on and off at same time as the white LEDs.

 

Once I figured out how the small circuit board worked, everthing else become very easy. :)

Share this post


Link to post

Thank you for sharing this build! Great write-up and great outcome!

 

Ill share my results (no need to do a build thread as i am goin got follow yours!)

Share this post


Link to post

just pulled the trigger! Order awaiting shipping.

 

One thing of note: Adding a heatsink adds $25 to the shipping! Going to DIY one to save the $60 total.

Share this post


Link to post

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

  • Recommended Discussions

  • Sign Up or Sign In to hide this.

×