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Discussion Starter #1
Hey guys - I've given up. I just don't have the time to learn how to work with LEDs. And let's face it - I got into the hobby to grow things... not become an electrician. Haha.

Basically, I want something for my 5.5 gallon reef. I'd like it manually dimmable, as well as a dawn-to-dusk simulation with moonlight.

The only constraint is that it's got to fit in the alcove with my tank - there's about 3 1/2 inches above the rim of the tank.

If you're into building these things, and up for the challenge... let me know! I'll pay for all the parts and your labor.

Thanks!
 

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Only a 5.5 gallon? Isn't that a little too small for a reef tank? I'd assume you want around 3-5 watts/gallon for coral growth?

I've built LEDs for my 72G, 38G and 12G, but they don't come cheap. My 12G LEDs cost around $100 to build and I still in the process of making the automation for dusk to dawn dimming.

The 12G is a planted tank with shrimps, so I got 3 modes so far.
1. Daylight mode, 2W/gallon
2. Growth mode, 3W/gallon red/blue spectrum
3. Full mode, 5W/gallon

Maybe I will take your challenge after I finish mine.
 

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What's your budget ;) It wouldn't be cheap, especially with the automation. That alone will probably need another $100 in parts plus labour and programming.
 

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If you're going to go LED, then make sure you get the 3watt CREE leds, ie. XR-E. and a quality dimmable constant current driver and heatsink the LEDs properly or they won't last.

I would help but my hands are tied on my own project. If in a month time you still haven't gotten someone to help you out then PM me. I should be done mine by then.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Pico reefs are actually a lot of fun! Mine's doing alright under my jerry rigged cold-cathode and power compact mess.

I'd say $200 would be my maximum budget, yeah. Your setup looks pretty neat, Blue.

Does the WPG really apply to LEDs? I figure we should be talking PAR more than anything else, right?

...maybe I should just bone up, read a book, and build it myself. Hurm. I mean, what are you guys thinking this'd cost me for the parts alone?
 

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WPG doesn't apply in the same way. It is more about PAR as you say and that is handled by adjusting the number of LEDS and the optics used and the spacing dictated by the optics. I would stick with decent 3W LEDs and you don't need optics for a 5.5 gallon.

Cost depends on what you want to do. Do you want to dim the LEDs? Do you want to dim white and blue independently? If you want to dim whites and blues independently then parts alone would probably be around $180 to $200 (10 to 12 LEDs, two buckpucks, a power supply, a heatsink and then a bunch of misc. bits and pieces). If you want to get fancy with an automated controller add another $80 to $100 to that.
 

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Thanks Otter,
I actually did not design my LED system using PAR. I measured using a light meter and found that the LEDs I am using are about 2.5~3 times more intense (W/m^2) than fluorescent tubes per watt of energy consumed, so I assumed WPG using that data.

I would say $120 bucks will get you the parts for a decent system, but as for automation (auto dimming), you are looking at between $100 to $200 depending on the power supply, controller, heatsinks, etc... like ron99 said.

For my just started reef tank, I used a bunch of SMD white LEDs, 12 blue 3W LEDs, a couple resistors and computer heatsinks powered by 24V power supply. It is doing roughly 5 WPG on a 38G tank. Although it's manually controlled, I spent about $150 already. Still working on the automation... Let me know if this is something that you want.:D
 

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Go to Lees Electronics on Main street,

They can build it for you or you can do it yourself super cheap. I put moon lights LEDs in my shrimp tanks and my 90 gallon reef for all aunder 20 dollers :)
 

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Thanks Otter,
I actually did not design my LED system using PAR. I measured using a light meter and found that the LEDs I am using are about 2.5~3 times more intense (W/m^2) than fluorescent tubes per watt of energy consumed, so I assumed WPG using that data.

I would say $120 bucks will get you the parts for a decent system, but as for automation (auto dimming), you are looking at between $100 to $200 depending on the power supply, controller, heatsinks, etc... like ron99 said.

For my just started reef tank, I used a bunch of SMD white LEDs, 12 blue 3W LEDs, a couple resistors and computer heatsinks powered by 24V power supply. It is doing roughly 5 WPG on a 38G tank. Although it's manually controlled, I spent about $150 already. Still working on the automation... Let me know if this is something that you want.:D
A light meter may give you some approximation of output but it won't tell the whole story. A 3W blue LED has much lower lumen output than a 3W white LED but puts out about the same amount of PAR. To really test and compare light systems you need to use a PAR meter. Only your blue 3W emitters will put out significant PAR. The SMD LEDS do not produce much PAR and will not support corals very well. So to build something for a reef tank that will support a range of corals you need high power LEDS. You might get away with 1W emitters on a small tank with soft corals only. If you want anything that needs more light or have a deeper tank you will need 3W emitters all around. I use six 3W Crees on my 2.5 gallon pico and underdrive them at around 1W (350mA) as they will put out more PAR at 1W than actual 1W LEDs.

So for a 5.5 gallon I would suggest 10 to 12 LEDs at $6 to $7 each. Adhesive pads for the LEDs at $5 or $6 (about $0.50 each). Two buckpucks with manual dimming at about $20 each. A heatsink of two for that size tank will be $40 to $50. A 24V 2.7 amp power supply $40+. A fan or two for another $10 to $20 and then you will need wire, connectors, maybe some aluminum or acrylic for a bracket and other misc. bits and pieces. That doesn't include shipping costs for the LEDs, drivers and adhesive pads as you won' find them locally. So realistically you are looking at over $200 without a computerized controller and $300+ with. Not trying to be negative to the idea of LEDs; both my tanks are lit with them. Just want you to go in knowing what you are needing and what it will cost.

Go to Lees Electronics on Main street,

They can build it for you or you can do it yourself super cheap. I put moon lights LEDs in my shrimp tanks and my 90 gallon reef for all aunder 20 dollers :)
Lees's does have some stuff you can use for the build but they won't have the right LEDs and drivers. Do NOT buy the generic chinese LEDs. They have less than half the PAR that the Crees put out by my testing (A single Cree LED put out 130 PAR at 4 inches distance and a single generic one put out 47 PAR using the same driver and at the same distance)
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Ron, awesome projects, man. Those are great.

So, perhaps I should get serious about building this myself. I do want separate dimming between white and blue, and a computerized timer.

I mean.... I can always pirate the parts if I ever wish to upgrade to a bigger tank, right? No sense in shying away from the cost just because the tank is small. ;)

I'm going to draw up some plans... do most parts need to be ordered in, or can I get anything locally?
 

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Building yourself isn't super hard and you could use the parts for a larger array in the future if you want to.

But you will have to order as I haven't found any local (or even Canadian) sources for any of the LEDs, drivers and heatsinks at reasonable prices.
 
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