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Red Sea MAX 250 retrofit and a big thank you to Dave

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A sign of a great business is when you find a seemingly endless amount of unsolicited positive customer reviews and stories of service exceeding expectation. In Nanobox's case - it is a testament to Dave's dedication to deliver both a great product and a great end to end customer experience. I wanted to share a bit about my own recent upgrade project, the results and the great product/experience provided.


In late 2016 I was looking to upgrade the original light I bought for my very first reef tank - a cheapo black box chinese LED fixture I managed to buy direct from a manufacturer before they moved to a bulk/channel sales only model.


After a bunch of research I ended up getting a good deal on a used Nanobox Duo - the model that used the older v2 arrays. It came in the mail and upon trying to put it on my tank I ran into issues - the gooseneck on it was too short to fit over my tank properly. I'm also fairly certain I plugged the light power into the fan input and the fan power into the light input and instantly fried the fan - if I remember correctly.


Either way, when I contacted the seller since the gooseneck was a non-standard size and they neglected to mention that, they told me to talk to Dave because he would help. And help he did - he had me send the entire thing back to him, he took it apart, cleaned everything, upgraded to a newer setup that ran the fan power off the main driver board, and added a new (longer) gooseneck all for more or less the cost of the parts. I'm sure he was busy so I really appreciated that he took the time to help with all of this while a normal company would tell you just to buy the newer model.


Then I bought a house and subsequently did what everyone does when they go from an apartment to a house -- I got a bigger tank. I bought a used RSM 250 and ended up shelving the nanobox unit with the intent to eventually retrofit the stock 6x39w t5 fixture with LEDs.


Fast forward a bit - after the house came the baby, and I was too busy to get around to actually taking the project on so the nanobox sat collecting dust until a few weeks ago.


I decided it was time to take the project on, I went to the nanobox website to see what was going on and saw that Dave had commercialized the retrofit kits. There was an "off the shelf" kit for $550 designed for the RSM 250 tank. The thing is, I already had a nanobox duo.. I also had 3 v2 arrays (I bought a used one at some point in time) and really wanted to do the upgrade with 4 v2 arrays instead of a one off v3 that I'd have to figure out how to wire correctly. I didn't need the full kit, just parts of it.


So I messaged Dave - let him know what I wanted to do and what I needed. He responded quickly, priced out exactly what I needed and by the next weekend I had the parts, including another v2 array he still had.


I wired it all up, and of course, like any novice doing any electrical project, it didn't all turn on. I managed to diagnose that the 3rd array I bought used was the culprit - I'm not an expert but I used my voltmeter and it wouldn't pass a current so I figured it was dead.

I sent Dave a message and asked if I could buy another v2 array. Of course, he went above just selling me the array. He asked for a picture of the dead one and through my cell phone shot was able to circle/highlight the problem - the white LEDs on the array were all visible toasted.


A week later, the new array was here and wired up.




And it turned on!




Retrofit the original hood




And put it all back together




Was a really fun project. I hadn't used my soldering iron in years so I had to relearn how to use it while soldering a bunch of tiny wires and through hole connectors on the driver board.


I also blew the breaker in my house twice because I had the relay switch for the remaining t5 bulb driver wired wrong. 😅


But in the end it is awesome and what I have wanted for a long time.


4 Nanobox v2 Arrays running on 4 channels:

  • Center blues
  • Center whites
  • Outside blues
  • Outside whites

All hooked up to the bluefish mini providing a nice sunrise starting at 9am and a sunset ending at 9pm.


2x39w t5s providing supplemental lighting and hopefully helping reduce any potential shadowing issues from the LEDs -- using 2 ATI Blue+ bulbs right now but have a bunch of coral plus, purple plus, Actinic bulbs to play around with. The t5s turn on from 12:30-4:30pm to provide a few hours of "peak" light. 


Was definitely fun. I have a new appreciation for how much work goes into putting these together by hand! 

I'll say my electrical experience is novice at best - I'v installed some lights/light switches, but this was the most involved project I have under taken.


I didn't electrocute myself, I didn't blow anything up, and in the end it all turned on (eventually) and works - so I am calling that a win :) 

Thanks a bunch!



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Just curious how this is working for you? I've been thinking of doing the same thing. I would prefer to keep 4 of the T5 bulbs if possible. Do you think you could have done that? Thank you. 

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