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Nano sapiens 12g DIY PWM LED Build

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DIY PWM LED Array – (5) Channel/Coralux 5up Board/STORM controller

 

This was my first stab at a LED PWM (‘Pulse Width Modulation’) build. I had been using an Inventonics driven two channel array with manual dimming plus a few Exotic Stunner Strips for quite some time on my 12g nano, and while quite successful, I eventually ran into limitations with just two channels to work with and Royal Blue Stunner Strips that were starting to burn-out LEDs after just a year or two. Having just a basic knowledge of electronics, I searched the Web and found lots of build threads and videos, but still had some unanswered questions.

 

Firstly, a little background. The LEDs that I already had on hand were good quality solderless from Milad at LEDGroupBuy. Whenever possible, I had bought the most efficient LEDs available at the time to keep heat buildup to a minimum since I prefer a passively cooled system (no fans, large heat sink). I only had to buy a few additional emitters to complete this build and I have nothing but praise for the customer service and speedy delivery of product from this company. The Storm controller and 5-up board are Coralux products and a big thank you to Ben for his assistance so I didn’t blow anything up (j/k). The heat sink I’m using is a healthy 12” x 6” that originally came with a RapidLED canopy (the canopy itself turned out to be a bit too small for my needs, however the heat sink was a near perfect fit for my stock Cadlights canopy and required only minor modifications). The plan was to create a five channel ‘complete spectrum’ array using lots of closely spaced emitters to provide increased overall light coverage and reduce/eliminate ‘hot spots’ by running the individual LEDs at lower power. This type of array also reduces/eliminates color banding (aka ‘disco’effect) and since there is less heat per emitter they should have a longer life. I also wanted to have just one cable from the Project Box up to the tank’s canopy for a neater look.

 

 

Completed ‘Project Box’:

 

DIY%20LED%20Project%20Box_011716_zpsrdkz

 

 

Completed array:

 

DIY%20LED%20Array%20Unlit_011716_zpsbcpr

 

DIY%20LED%20Array%20Lit__011716_zps64kbu

 

 

Parts List (from ledgroupbuy.com unless otherwise noted):

 

1. (1) 180w 48v 3.75a DC Power Supply

 

2. (1) Coralux 5up LDD Driver Board

 

3. (1) Storm LED Controller

 

4. (1) 3D Printed Case for Storm LED Controller

 

5. (1) ‘12 Pack’ of Jumpers for Storm LED Controller

 

6. (1) Thermal Grease ( ‘arctic silver céramique’)

 

7. Solderless LED Chips (‘Lime’ from rapidled.com)

 

8. (1) 12” x 6” Heatsink (came with 12” canopy from rapidled.com)

 

9. (1) 3-Prong Power Cord for Power Supply (existing, originally from hardware store)

 

10. (1) Plastic ‘Project Box’ (‘Sterlite’ box from hardware store)

 

11. (1) 3/8” (Metal) Clamp Connector for NM Cable (hardware store)

 

12. (5) Meanwell 700mA Drivers (wireless)

 

13. (2 small rolls) 24 gauge wire (18-24 recommended by LGB) - (Fry’s Electronics)

 

14. (1) 5 ft long 3/8” ID (inside diameter) Black Sheath (Fry’s Electronics)

 

15. Terminal Blocks (10 connections needed for the five channels and attached in the canopy with double-sided tape) - (Fry’s Electronics)

 

 

Looking at these components when they came in:

 

1. Power Supply: Checked to make sure it was set to ‘110V’ (USA). Looking at the connector screws head on, the three on the left are all for the power cord (‘L’ = black cable (Line), ‘N’=white cable (Neutral), ‘Ground Symbol’ = green cable (Ground):

 

2. Power Cable: I already had this from my previous array (bought a ‘replacement’ cable for appliances from Home Depot with a three-prong plug already attached).

 

3. Coralux 5-Up Board/Meanwell Drivers: Carefully plugged in the five 700mA Meanwell drivers. I read cautionary posts about this as the pins are rather delicate and the drivers need to be oriented correctly (the driver pin pattern will determine orientation):

 

4. Storm Controller/3-D Printed Case: Checked to make sure the controller fit properly inside the case.

 

5. Jumpers for Storm Controller: Cut off one end only on 5 pcs. (one for each channel)

 

I positioned all components inside the project box to suit. Drilled holes for the power cable and jumper cables and created wires to go from the power supply (PS) to the 5-up board (PS ‘COM’ = ‘-’ and connects to a 5-up board ‘GND”, the PS ‘V+‘ connects to a 5-up board ‘VSS’):. Plugged jumper cable connector ends into the Storm controller and then the corresponding red wires into the 5-up board (board has 1,2,3,4 and 5 numbers printed on the back). Attached only one of the jumper black wires to the 5-up board’s ‘GND’ as this is a ‘common ground’ (the other four black wires were capped with electric tape and wound together). Created (10) wires of sufficient length to go from the 5-up board to the canopy (plus extra length to allow for movement). Using masking tape, marked each wire as ‘1a’, ‘1b’, ‘2a’, ‘2b’, etc. on both ends to avoid mixing wires up later. Used electric tape every foot or so to bundle the wires together and threaded the lot through a sheath. Attached all 10 wires (same sequence as the 5-up board) to the terminal blocks, stuck double sided tape to each connector and secured these into the canopy. Attached power cord to the power supply. Arranged LEDs (thermal grease, screwed in place) and wired each individual channel to the double-sided connectors (checked each channel as I went along). Velcro’d 5-up board to side of box, velcro’d PS to the box bottom and used the Storm 3-D case’s screws to attach the Storm controller securely through the front of the box. Finally, programmed the Storm controller.

 

110V switch location:

 

Power%20Supplu%20110V-220V%20Switch_0206

 

 

Power supply 'in' (AC) connection:

 

Power%20Cable%20Connect%20to%20Power%20S

 

 

(DC) 'out' to the 5-up board:

 

24%20Gauge%20Wire%20Connect%20ot%20Power

 

24%20Gauge%20Wire%20-%20Power%20Supply%2

 

 

LED wire connections to 5-up board:

 

Coralux%205-up%20Board%20Top_020616_zpsc

 

 

DC power and Storm Controller connections (PS ‘COM’ = ‘-’ and connects to a 5-up board ‘GND”, the PS ‘V+‘ connects to a 5-up board ‘VSS’):

 

Coralux%205-up%20Board%20Bottom_020616_z

 

 

Jumper cable connections to Storm Controller (started at the left-most side):

 

Wires%20Into%20Storm%20Controller_020616

 

 

Bundled jumper black ground wires (only one needs to be connected from the controller to the 5-up board):

 

Bundled%20Ground%20Wires_020616_zpsijohp

 

 

Single cord from box to canopy:

 

DIY%20LED%20Single%20Cable_011716_zpslw5

 

 

CH 1 ('White'): (4) Cree XML-2 'NW', (1) Cree XML-2 'WW'

CH 2 ('Blue'): (6) Cree XT-E 'RB', (2) Cree XML-2 'B', (2) OCW 'B'

CH 3 ('Violet'): (6) Exotic 'HV' 428nm, (2) Exotic 'V' 403nm

CH 4 ('Lime'): (2) Philips 'Lime', (2) OCW 'Cyan'

CH 5 ('Red'): (2) OCW 'Red'

· 'Daylight' total: 10 hrs.

· CH1/CH4/CH5 = 8 hrs. (incl. ramp up/ramp down)

· CH2 = 10 hrs. (incl. ramp up/ramp down)

· CH3 = 9 hrs. (incl. ramp up/ramp down)

· All LEDs at their highest programmed settings: 4 hrs.

· 1 day/wk 'Cloud' setting (set at '1')

· Spectral Description: ~ 14k

· PAR: 155 (center, mid point of tank)

 

Pic of the current light field mid-day (sorry, really old digital 'point-n-shoot' camera):

 

12g%20Nano_0207016_zps8867syjh.jpg

 

 

This was an interesting project with a great outcome, but as seems to be typical it took twice as long as I had planned for. My original estimate to put it all together was 8 hrs., but it ended up at 15 due to troubles with CH2, mostly. This channel would light up and then go off randomly and I eventually traced the issue down to a few screws that were just barely in contact with the metal contacts on the surface of the LED chips. Once the screws were repositioned to avoid metal contact, all was well. I also had some difficulties with individual LEDs not lighting up which required some rewiring to fix. Lastly, I had some initial difficulties with the Storm controller in that it occasionally changed settings for the ‘Night’ mode, but after permanently secured the controller to the project box it has been functioning properly.

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Looks good. Any reasons you didn't go with 3up boards? Would be a tighter layout. Also, how hot does that psu get?

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Just out of curiosity, what does it cost to build something like this, if you don't mind me asking? I've debated building something but wasn't sure if there was savings or benefit over just buying a plug and play fixture.

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Looks good. Any reasons you didn't go with 3up boards? Would be a tighter layout. Also, how hot does that psu get?

 

Thanks. I went with individual LED chips to have a greater spread. I also wanted to be able to change out and/or position individually and not have three LEDs tied up in one chip.

 

The PSU gets a touch past lukewarm at it's hottest. I can still comfortably hold it in my hand, though, even when the LEDs are at full programmed power.

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Just out of curiosity, what does it cost to build something like this, if you don't mind me asking? I've debated building something but wasn't sure if there was savings or benefit over just buying a plug and play fixture.

 

If you were to order everything all at once for a build like this, I'd say around $300.00. That's using the most efficient CREE LEDs that LGB sells, which are relatively expensive compared to lower efficiency LEDs.

 

If you are looking at cost only, then DIY really doesn't offer much, if any, advantage once you factor in the time required for the build. DIY is about customization, so it's a great choice if you are attempting to create something that isn't available on the market...or is prohibitively expensive to buy. It also makes sense if you just can't find a commercial LED unit that puts out the type of light field that you prefer.

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That's a lot of individual stars. How were the solderless terminals? The last time I messed with the solderless three ups they sucked balls but that was when they were new.

 

Looks like a good setup for coverage purposes.

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That's a lot of individual stars. How were the solderless terminals? The last time I messed with the solderless three ups they sucked balls but that was when they were new.

 

Looks like a good setup for coverage purposes.

 

The only issues I've ever had with solderless were with a few early OCWs. Just had to forceably drive a small jewlers screwdriver into the wire slot to force it open, then it was fine.

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