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DIY LED's for My 34G Solana Finally!

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Finally finished my DIY LEDS from www.ledgroupbuy.com This hobby is awesome. I have learned so much on so many different topics outside of just "saltwater tanks. The newest "skill" is soldering and DC electric circuitry. Lets just say it was a challenge and I would never make it as a surgeon.


I set off to replace my 175W Disco Ball Metal Halide. Not because it wasnt preforming but I wanted to save energy and get enough punch to successfully keep SPS. Lets be honest I also just needed a project and wanted to join the cool crowd here a nano-reef.




After doing tons of reading in the lighting forums I settled on a 12" MakerLed heatsink. I am thrilled with the choice. Im not much of a DIYer as far as fabrication but I wanted some thing that looked like a commercial fixture.


I decided to go with a "full spectrum" layout that includes 135W of LEDS with all supplies coming from www.ledgroupbuy.com


9 - 3up's that have 2 royal blue and 1 warm white.

9 - True Viloets

3 - Ocean Coral White 3 ups that include the reds and greens and blues missing from most layouts.


I decided on 3 clusters spread out over the heatsink to avoid anny hot spots or disco effect.










The LEDS are powered by 4 drivers all independently controlled and dimmable through my APEX.


17 Royal Blues on 1 channel powered by 40W 700ma invetronics driver

9 Violets and 1 Royal blue(that wouldnt fit on the other driver) powered by a 25W 700ma

9 Warm whites powered by a 25W 700ma invetronics driver

3 OCW 3 up's powered by a 25W 700ma invetronics driver


I wired them all in parallel to run on one plug. The fan is on its own plug and I used an old phone charger. Everything was placed in a project box. To solve the issue of bringing 10 different cords from the box to the fixture I used a VGA cable that has 15 wires in it.






Here is the test before I hung the unit




The next issue was how to hang it. The MakersLED guys thought of everything. They make a great hanging kit thats only $12 but it came out after I ordered all my stuff.


After pricing things at the hardware store I decided to go a different route rather than the steel hanging cord.


I bought two 5 foot metal conduit poles and used a bender right there in the store to bend a 90 degree angle in both poles(Saved $35 on a bender!) Spray painted them black.




Like I said the Makers guys thought of everything and they designed slots in the unit designed specifically to take 1/4 20 bolts.






Drilled holes in the top of the conduit slip the bolt through and screwed on the nuts. Slide it into the premade slots and tighten everything down.




Test Hang








Secured the conduit to the back of the stand and assembled everything. Again the MakersLED guys think of everything and you slide in the premade rubber stoppers to give it that real finished commercial look.






So happy with the final Product. I couldnt have done it without all the help from nano-reef!












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Awesome build man, I just started my 6" one for my 12" cube last night. I saw you used a cable for a clean connection from your fixture/control box. I have the same idea brewing in my head and plan to use a 15 pin d-sub high density plug (VGA). I bought two female plugs and pins for it....how'd you make the hole in the end cap for the female plugs? I totally spaced out but you made me realize the cord needs those bolt/nuts to screw into to lock it in place, the female parts I bought look like this:




Did you buy the nuts the cable locks to separately or did yours come with some? Any issues with carrying all the voltage/current to the LEDs from your project box which I'm guessing is a few feet away? Thanks!

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Honestly I tried 4 different ways to get the High density 15 dsub connector cable to work the right way. Im not sure during which failed attempt I got the nuts.


I ended up using the VGA solder connector. Its different from what you posted. I tried what you pictures and it just didnt work for me. It took up too much space inside the heatsink. Not saying it wont work for you. It will probably even be easier.


Soldering those things was driving me crazy. Im terrible at soldering but I finally got them all on there. What finally helped the most was using the shrink tube. I would solder 1 terminal and put the shrink tube on it before I did the other one.





Also, when I installed the van and turned it on it must have been vibrating ever so slightly and created a rattling noise against the heatsink. I just put 2 very small pieces of cardboard under 2 corners of the van and its silent now.

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Ya I tried to find the solder ones but they were out of stock, it has the little "buckets" where you tin the spot and tin the wire then just heat and slide the wire in then shrink tube over it, I'd really prefer it...I may wait on finishing my fixture until I get. I totally know what you mean about soldering it took me a good like 3 hours probably and afterwards I realized I covered the lens mounting holes for the 3-ups :angry: It looks like you're running yours without lenses? Thx for the tip on the fan if I notice any noise I'll check first.



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Yep thats exactly what I used. Im running them without lenses although now thats its hanging above the tank I think I may need them. There is a ton of spread over the carpet and walls a good 4 feet in either direction.

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I think I'll wait till I can get the solder type, I dont want to deal with the pins and I can unsolder it if necessary to change things etc. Doh means I wont be able to enjoy my fixture soon. How long have you been running your LEDs now? How're the corals reacting?

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I literally just hung them today. It took me like 2 months to build especially with the distractions of the holidays. Back in full gear now though.


I am starting them out at 35% evenly across the 4 channels and Ill ramp them up slowly over a few weeks. It will take a while to get the exact balance Im looking for. Im just going to have to play with it. So far today all the corals reacted normally with full extension.

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How is it all controlled by your Apex? With the Vdm?

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Yes the apex has 4 variable speed ports connected through 2 cat5 connectors. Each port is capable of controlling 1 driver each by supplying the 1-10v dimming signal to the driver.


The first RJ45 connector(cat5 wire) sends the signal for port 1 through internal cat5 wires 1 and 2 and port 2 through wires 5 and 6.


The second RJ45 connector controls ports 3 and 4 through the same intrrnal wires on another cord.


The invetronics drivers I used connect the + wire from the APEX which if was wire 1, to the 10v input wire on the driver and the - on the APEX wire 2 to the ground. The yellow wire is not used.


Repeate with wires 5-6.



Hopefully that all made sense. Sorry I forgot yo take pictures of that step.

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LED Update


So far happy with the results.


Leds seem to fool you a bit with how bright they are. I started them off at 35% and have slowly ramped them to 50%. They seem as bright as my MH was but my zoas ares till reaching for light. It seems LED's initially put out bright light but lack the punch at lower settings then the brightness levels off and the punch is delivered at the higher settings. When I test them at 100% it is only marginally brighter.


No loss in colors on the coral. In fact it seems the corals are starting to display deeper and more vibrant colors. The florescence is starting to come back in some of the zoas and my superman monti which was always very red is starting to show the blue undertone again.

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