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Cultivated Reef

Changed - 66 LED High Mount Build


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Hello all,


I was told in a previous thread to post my progress in my build, so here it is. This will be drug out over a little while, but i will be finishing the project as fast as finances will allow.


I got the CPU heat sinks that i will be mounting the emitters to today. Pic:


the bottom surfaces are flat and measure 61mm x 81mm. wide enough to fit 4 in each row, and im hoping to squeeze 3 rows tightly grouped with a bit of space to mount the aluminum rails to. My plan is to use 16 3-up boards from ledgroupbuy.com, 2 rows of 4 on each heat sink for a total of 48, and center each heat sink over each opening on my 75. details of how many drivers, and which emitters each will run are still up in the air. Im trying to figure out what im going to be doing for red, turquoise, TV, and moonlighting.


Heres one of the heat sinks with the 2 1" square aluminum tubing sitting next to it:


I will notch the end of the tubing so the heat sink sits inside of the cut open tubing.


Heres a shot of a hobby wattmeter i used to test the fans.


Im going to use the DIM4 from ledgroupbuy.com so i wanted to make sure if i hooked them up in parallel that they wouldnt draw more than .5A that the DIM4 can handle, and at .39A at 12.2V, i think i will be fine.


I need to get the stainless screws and tap yet to make the holes for the emitters and to mount each sink to the tubes. If anyone knows where i can get an M2 metric tap, PLEASE PLEASE let me know. no hardware stores near me carry anything that small.


Another question im wondering is how thick are the LED star boards? I need to figure that out before i order screws so i know how long to make them.


Thanks, Forced

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sorry about the crappy quality of pics in my last posts. My cell camera lens is scratched. Here are some better ones of todays progress with my digital camera.






I changed how i was going to mount the heat sinks to the tubes. this way it will allow for better airflow. it is a little over 2' wide, and centers perfectly on my 75g.




Im not good at photography, this is the best i could catch of my tank. Foxface, Perc, oscillaris, blue green chromis, and a matted filefish for inhabitants atm. most corals are hitchhikers, but ive added a hammer, favites, blasto, some rics, and trying to keep zoas alive.




Here is how it will hang over the tank. all the drivers and project box with the DIM4 will be stored in the cabinet, along with my dosing pump and dosing chems. using fixture chain, i can adjust the height as necessary. Its sitting 21.5" above water level atm, and i could gain another inch if i need to. using 40 deg optics, i should have enough room to get things exactly where i want.

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  • 2 weeks later...



I've placed the order for all my electronics from ledgroupbuy. I've got 16 3 up boards on the elway along with 4 40w drivers, dim4, relays, exotics, ECT. I've got a project box, and lots of other smaller eBay orders coming for the switches and stuff. It will probably be 2-3 weeks before I have the eBay orders delivered, and I'm not sure how long it will be for the ledgroupbuy order. I will be doing a detailed write up of the project box housing the drivers and dim4, and stuff. I'm looking forward to doing this very much, so as soon as I get the stuff delivered I will have more.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Well, its been a while, but ive finally gotten some work done on the fixture. Most of my supplies came in last week, and while i was home on the weekend, i got a lot of work done on it. Admittedly, i dont take many pics of the progress along the way, but here are some that i did manage to take.





I ran all the wiring inside the aluminum rails except where it connects to the cable i made to connect the fixture to the project box. The center row on each consists of 4 exotic LEDs, 2 true violet, 1 deep red, and 1 turquoise. I can see already that i might be swapping out the true violets for another 2 reds and 2 turquoise.






I overestimated how much room i would have inside the project box, so i ended up mounting the drivers to the underside of the box and running the wires inside. I installed a 12V 5A power supply as well as the relay inside the box, and the DIM4 will go in once i get it. The 12V power supply is running the DIM4 as well as the cooling fan in the project box, and a cooling fan in my cabinet where my sump is. The 2 cooling fans over the heat sinks the LEDs are mounted to are going to be ran off the DIM4.


I had a bit of an issue with the DIM4 that was shipped. I was handling it on the bench while marking the holes and cutouts for it in the cover plate, and when i plugged everything in, it turned on, but only displayed solid square boxes on the display. Im not sure if it was faulty or not, but i will be sending it away to the manufacturer to get it checked out. In the mean time i ordered another one from ledgroupbuy.com, and will install this one when i get it as the cutout and standoffs are already made. Hopefully I remember to take pics of it =P.



This is the cable im using to connect the controller to the fixture. It has 6 circuits total, 2 RB, 1 NW, 1 for the 8 exotic LEDs, 1 for moonlighting, and the last for the cooling fans. I used 12 24AWG wires running inside it and i used a cable wrap for tidying up computer cables to keep them neat. I used RCA connectors on the back of the project box, and JST connectors going into the fixture.


I managed to get the DIM4 to output 10v on one of the channels, and found out that the drivers run the LEDs approx half brightness with no signal voltage, so i did play around with it over the tank, but I dont have any pics of that yet. Once I get the new DIM4 (hopefully for this weekend), I will have some tank shots to post.



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Awesome DIY led light! Again I'm impressed by the build quality... You really went out of your way to make things look tidy, yet functional.


So looks like you're going to run the 3up stars at 700ma?


I'm looking forward to seeing this finished and put over your tank. I'm strongly considering using the 3up stars on my LED build for my 40br. I'll probably use 12 of them.

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Thanks for the compliments guys.


They definitely put out a lot of light. I Ian already planning how I'm going to rework the controller. I would like to put the drivers inside an enclosure with everything else, and after talking to my co workers (electricians) I've decided to use an electrical junction box instead. Probably 12x12x6 or something similar with a hinged door. If I do I want to clean up the dim4 install. Maybe use some sort of plastic bezel around the screen to hide the rough cut edges and I still am trying to figure out a better way of accessing the dim4 buttons without using a pencil through small holes or soldering new buttons onto the pcb

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  • 4 weeks later...
Thanks for the compliments guys.


They definitely put out a lot of light. I Ian already planning how I'm going to rework the controller. I would like to put the drivers inside an enclosure with everything else, and after talking to my co workers (electricians) I've decided to use an electrical junction box instead. Probably 12x12x6 or something similar with a hinged door. If I do I want to clean up the dim4 install. Maybe use some sort of plastic bezel around the screen to hide the rough cut edges and I still am trying to figure out a better way of accessing the dim4 buttons without using a pencil through small holes or soldering new buttons onto the pcb


This build is excellent. Are there any updates?

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  • 3 weeks later...

Holy crap, I cant believe it has been that long already since my last update. Amazing how life and laziness get in the way!


Well, ive had the fixture up and running for about 5 weeks or so now. I bought a second DIM4 and sent the first one to flamin systems to get repaired, but havent heard anything about it yet. Ive ramped up the output on the DIM4 from 40% to 70% on the NWs and the exotics, and 75% on the RBs. It looks kind of purple to me now, but i do like the color. The amount of pop i get is absolutely amazing. I run 2 circuits of 15 Royal blues, 1 circuit of natural whites, 1 circuit of exotics (4 TV, 2 deep red, and 2 turqoise ATM), and 1 circuit of 2 royal blues that run off a 350mA driver 24 hours a day for moonlighting. it is a bit brighter than my previous moonlighting, but i love how it looks when the room is dark. Its incredible.


I had to scrap the project box i used, and temporarily set up the electronics in a rubbermaid tote. It doesnt look very good, but it serves the pourpose until i get all the parts to set up my permanent enclosure. I will update on that when it happens (hopefully =P)


the last thing i did was build shades to cover the pendants. The light coming off the sides was irritating my GF, so i used opaque black acrylic and made square covers for them. I like the finished look a lot, and would probably do the same again next time. I dont have any pics of the shades, but here are some tank shots.


with PC lighting


with LEDs





I cant believe how different the photos come out from how it looks in person. The tank has changed a bit as these pics are a couple weeks old. After doing some research i decided to pull the biopellets off my system shortly after i changed the light, so hopefully both will help my poor bleached palys to come back.


I will try and take some more pics this weekend when i get home.

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nickjqz Posted Today, 08:29 AM

Why did you decide to pull the bio pellets?


Nutrients too low?


from what i can tell, a bunch of problems started happening once the biopellets kicked in. I had a colony of oreo zoas that withered away and died, along with every other frag ive put in the tank. my emerald palys bleached, and pretty much all growth stalled. that plus all the mixed reviews ive seen on biopellets convinced me to try without for a while seeing as i have a low bioload of only 1 oscellaris clown, 1 chromis, 1 foxface, and a matted filefish.


pwreef Posted Today, 07:08 PM

Really cool idea! Do you have any optics on the LEDs?


I have 40 deg optics on the 3 up boards. i like being able to have my fixture 15 or so inches off the water surface!


I forgot to mention an issue i ran into after i had it running the first time. I decided to tap holes for screws instead of using a thermal adhesive to attach the star boards, and am really happy i did. But i learned a very valuable lesson about the conductivity of thermal grease. This stuff is a very good conductor, and when it gets hot, it can seep. some grease pushed out of the holes the optics plug into on the boards and joined solder pads on the boards that i didnt want joined together. it caused some very strange things such as leds lit on circuits that werent powered. i thought i messed up soldering and screwed up some of the 3 up boards. all i did was scrape the area between the solder pads, and everything was ok.


lesson learned. when using thermal grease, a little goes a LONG way. and the solder pads are very close together on the 3 up boards, so extra caution is needed.


but everything is running awesome now, and has been for the last 5 weeks or so. i couldnt be happier!

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ok, got some pics of the fixture today.







Ive done a bit of work with acrylic with building my sump, ATO tank, and a couple other little projects. so i decided to try using opaque black acrylic to build the shades. I drilled the 4 holes out for the mounting screws on the fans and ran them through the 1/8" acrylic. that and gravity are the only things holding the shades on.


So this is where the project is at at the moment. I will be rebiulding the electronics box as soon as i get a few of the fasteners i need and the other DIM4 back from flamin systems.

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  • 6 months later...

Wow, been a while since I updated this one!


I decided that the exotics i had on my fixture weren't enough for my liking. After looking into the ocean coral whites from ledgroupbuy, i thought it would be cool to give them a shot. I replaced the 8 exotic leds in led the center of the heatsinks with 6 OCW boards totaling 18 emitters. With just the OCW on, there isn't much light emitted, bit compared to 16 nw and 32 rb, the colors do look better. Not sure if it's something i could capture on camera with the crappy digital camera i have.


The corals seem to like it. As well i have turned down the rb quite a bit. I think I'm down at 60% on the dim4. i have a foxface in the tank as well, and his colors always looked a little faded and would change all the time. But ever since I've put the OCW on, hes been he's right solid yellow. Not sure if it was from the leds or not, but i thought it worth mentioning.


Still loving the leds and would recommend them to anyone thinking about it!

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