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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
so my initial plan was to go full out diy, with dimmers and all, but the cost is still quite high despite being much cheaper than most configs. The issue is the heatsink cost to me, its like 1/3 the cost. I was going to bite the bullet and pay up, then i stumbled upon a thread on a reefer site. Its called GU10 LEDs. Most people buy them from ebay and the result has been great growth of even clams for dirt cheap. Many reefers are on their third or second build of them already.

About GU10 builds:

Generally speaking most people use 3x1W or 1x3W bulbs with the formula since they are the most efficient heat wise (all types use the same style and size housing) tank length/2 - 1 for number of bulbs
12 inch width tanks = 1 tight row
larger = 2 or 3 rows of as much
you can play with the config, but generally this is enough to light a standard tank depth for sps and clams, some of fried their corals for going with more bulbs or putting the fixture too low, i think many put them at 6-10 inches above the tank.

most bulb manufactures sell several kinds of white bulbs (warm, natural, pure, daylight and cool), some sell blues, greens and reds. Very few use a royal blue LED, and i've not heard of anyone verifying it really is royal blue.

the typical blue needs a 1:1 ratio with cool white to get around a 14k MH colour temp. I've seen many go 2:1 or 1:2 aswell. Most who used red took em out cause they are so over powered.
Some manufactures on ebay already sell the 2 blues/1 cool white bulbs at a bit higher cost, if you go for these make sure they are royal blues if they are the only ones you are buying, or buy other bulbs to alternate with to add more white since the typical blue is powerful. Going factory direct rather than ebay can save a bit of chunk of cash and give you more custom bulbs.

Types of customization:
optics, 30, 45, 60, 90, 120 (45,60 for low mounted LEDs, 30 typical)
Base: ER27 (standard light socket), GU10, MR16 - mr16 sometimes is 12 volts so be careful, er27 works but cant space bulbs as tightly. gu10 recommended, also cheapest socket to buy.
colour: warm, natural, pure, daylight and cool whites; Red; Green; Blue. STAY AWAY FROM THE RGB BULBS THAT YOU CAN CHANGE THE COLOURS WITH A REMOTE!
Wattage: single 3W, 3x1W recommended. higher wattage will need fan cooling with tight spacing (more heat) or you will have bulb burn out.

My build:

The plan is this, a fixture for my 20 G, but built to stand length mounted to the wall. This will allow me to simply add more bulbs if i need more light or change the tank size. the sockets will be mounted in two rows, but just slightly alternated apart, giving me more bulbs in a tigher space and make it easier to blend colours the way i want. I can fill all sockets above the tank, or leave a single space hear and there without worrying about spot lighting. since i plan to fan cool, i will make a "splash guard" despite it not needing to be that higher, it will just wood with holes cut in for the bulbs, so the air is channeled through better.

So i've contacted a few factories and one has agreed to make me whatever config i want, including mixing LEDs on single bulbs. But they sell in lots of 15 through the wholesale site i practically live on :p works out to around $70 a lot, more lots i buy the cost goes a bit down. Free shipping of course :D

Here is what i am ordering next friday (need to space out my purchases to avoid the wrath of wife)
3x2W bulbs of Two configs
2 blue, 1 cool white
1 blue, 1 cool white, 1 pure white

I was tempted to get a bulb config with red, but in reality i need maybe 3 or 4 at most with red and they risk overpowering, Most people i've read about who tried red just took them out in the end because they couldn't blend them in nicely, mind you they used the single bulbs, so it may work with 2 other colours in a bulb. Still not worth a whole lot purchase imo though. To try to add more red i took a shot in the dark by changing 1 led to pure white (some go warm white, but often its really yellow in LED), overall its still a 1:1 ratio of blues to white as recommended. with two lots, i will have extra bulbs to switch out configs to give more blue or more white if needed :)

if someone wants a lot, PM me and we can work something out, to whatever specs you want, just remember i've yet to try this out and its recommended to buy a bit more than you need due to DOAs and broken sockets.

I've not figured where im buying the sockets from, but they are cheap, easy to find and with free shipping.
 

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I did just order a marineland double bright for my big tank but I have 4 other tanks that need new lights soon. I am gonna wait until I see how this turns out... then I will probably make an order :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
ordered the bulbs, really happy i wasn't forced to go with UPS ground, as they have horrible brokerage fees and don't follow the laws when it comes to wanting to do a self clearance in most jurisdictions. The manufacturer actually made the bulbs ahead of time based on my inquiry and tested them out. Unfortunately for them i used examples to see if it could be done, so they made an extra lot with 1 cool white, 1 blue and 1 red. i ordered 2 of the lots they made anyways, 2 cool whites 1 blue and 2 blue 1 cool whites, and told them i will order the red one in the new year as i still want to try them out. i did tell them that i was only asking questions, so was suprised to see they made them, offered to take the 2 cool whites and 1 blue version instead of what i was going to order with a pure white in there. I doubt the difference will be noticeable :p
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
The sockets arrived Monday and the bulbs today. The package of sockets had 1 broken but the shipper threw in 2 extra so 51 out of 52 arriving intact is pretty good for ceramic gu10 sockets.

The lights all work and the manufacturer even corrected the bulbs they premade. So I got my pure whites. Tomorrow I'll start making the fixture.


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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Here we go, a photo journal of the guts of my fixture.

a bin containing half the bulbs i got, the only way to tell them apart is the colour of the led emitter, whites are yellow, blues are clear. looking directly at the pure whites and cool whites, i notice the pure white is actually lighter yellow emitter, so there is a difference i guess.



The layout, the guide i followed said one tightly fit row is good enough for a 12"depth tank, but i wanted a bit better colour blending, but not too intense, so i grabbed a bulb and traced out a row of 3 bulbs right together, my goal was 2 rows, but as tight as possible with 4 bulbs in that pace of 3, going 5 bulbs would have spread the rows further apart. heres the plank with the layout


the sockets have the two rivet holes which are used to mount the socket, and the othe way has a groove in the ceramic, so its really easy to center the sockets. i figured out the distance between the mounting holes and measured out all the others. for the holes to push the wire through, i resorted to tracing where the wires come out since i couldn't find my circle stencil from high school. by the way #5 screws work great. #6 are too big.



heres all the plank drilled,


a few sockets mounted to test out spacing before i finish all of it off, theres a bit of play so you are slightly off, it will shift the other bulbs to make room, the joys of a spring lock socket.



how the wires look out the other side


All sockets filled to see how it looks, only using enough sockets for my 20G foot print though for now. My wife even jumped in to help screw them all in, didn't use the drill for two reasons. one, lost the chuck key, and two, ceramic breaks. Some of it chipped at the top a little bit from rushing driving the screws in without paying attention, the driver did the chipping, not the screws. have to look for it to notice though.


all the wires out the other side and my wires for splicing, #18 wire should suffice. Some people yell about how its "illegal" but they are referencing a building code for permanent wiring (in wall), not the requirements for manufacturing. Generally speaking you will see cords rated for 7 amps (840 watts) 'light duty' being #18 AWG wire, these bulbs are far below that threshhold total, when LEDs, or if incandescent, bang on the limit for 14 bulbs on a string. But if someone is picky, then someone can write in sharpee, DO NOT EXCEED 60 Watts and feel happy that they are safe. Just remember that all DIY electrical fixtures are 'illegal' since they lack CSA approval. Im doing 2 strings, one of 13 bulbs, the other 14.


Everything spliced


the finished product
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
for a preliminary test i decided to mount it temporary (since its only the guts) and compare to my beamswork 1300. This fixture was about 1.5" higher than the beamswork. Ignore the crappy mounting method, i don't have the basic fixture framed enough allow it to rest nicely on the wall so i used a couple angle brackets i had out, plus with it being like 5am, i didn't want to wake the house rummaging around for something better.


beamswork 1300

gu10


both pics taken at same zoom, same distance and all the same settings on the camera. THe water was cloudy thanks to me forgetting to clean the glass before pics, so i gave it a quick clean.
 

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Nice work neven... How did you run power? Just wired straight to a plug? Also.... Are ya gonna paint your plank? :p

Sent via the Shining.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
each device has its own power supply built in to the base, so its just a matter of supplying line voltage. some models are dimmable, some aren't because they are designed to regulate the voltage and supply a constant current no matter the input voltage (85-285 Volts). as for painting the plank, when the fixture is done i will paint it all flat black, since thats the colour my wife wants the tank stand to be. it will be raised higher so i dont think salt creep will be an issue.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Mini update. Its been raised to a better height and its framed around to hide the bulbs and wiring. I still need another 1x6 to get the right side framed in. Comparing the to the beams work the overall colour of the tank is bluer, but still an overall daylight look. The colors pop a lot more now so I'd say a blend of near 1 to 1 blue to white is optimal. Mine is closer to 3 blue to 2 cool white to 1 pure white. Needless to say my wife likes the colour temp and I can now control the lights better.

Thinking of putting it on a cycle of 2 hours moonlights, 3 hours bluer bank, 3 hrs both banks, 3 hours white bank then another 2 hours moonlights

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Thanks to Rob for sharing a few of the bulbs. This is so easy to rig up something quick.

On the left is a Vertex Dolce Sole. The right is 4 of Rob's wonderful bulb.



Set up is likely temporary and parts will be recycled for other projects.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 · (Edited)
Looks good Gordon. Only suggestion would be to shift the bulbs into two groups with each centered a third in from the edge. I got mine mounted around 2 feet from the substrate so no spot lighting occurred so by tightening the bulbs together the blending may be enough but you may still need to Mount higher. You could even try to orientate the colors by flipping bulbs 180 degrees if necessary

Edit... Zooming in I see the slimmer so the tanks aren't nanos like I thought. You just need 4 more bulbs

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Those are my 25g 24" tall tanks.

Very good suggestion Rob. Tighter spacing would have made the wiring easier too. I am stretching the pig tails.

This is a temporary arrangement until I decide what to do with the whole set up.

4 or 6 more bulbs will make this s very nice set up.
 

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Very ingenious lighting system Rob. I think I might try this for on 1 of my 135 gal African tank. It's got the typical 72" x 18"x 24" footprint. What configuration would you recommend? The Africans do not need the high light requirements as Marine corals. I'm thinking of trying a bank of blue and a bank of white along the 72" length. The spacing may not need to be as tight as your marine setup. With that in mind, how many do you think I would need?

I would like to piggy back on your next order of parts to try the build once we brainstorm on the final configuration. Any suggestions and advice would be greatly welcomed.

For my build, I may try using ABS sheets for the mounting board from Industrial Plastics. The thermoplastic has excellent water and heat resistance. Have you thought of using this product?
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
well here is algae beaters tank with a couple of bulbs (3x3W version though) just notice how high he has mounted them:


these may be the 2 watt version emitter version but you will still need to mount them high for freshwater
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
I'd have to read a bit into it since planted tanks require a lot less light and fish only tanks even less. On a hunch I'd say the 3x1w bulbs would be perfect. As for my next order I would say mid January before the wife gives me permission. Before I order I will mention it hear.


For those interested, these are cree 2w emitters being driven at 40% so each bulb draws between 2.3 to 2.4 watts. My fixture currently draws 40 watts over a 20 gallon and its enough light to bleach everything had I went directly to full lights all day. I will say the bulbs definitely run hot, I can touch them fine but its at least 50 Celsius so prolonged holding does burn a bit. Definitely will be rigging a fan up

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