DIY Led hybrid

After seeing Nanobox reef T5 hybrids at Reef Builders web site I decided that will try to upgrade my DIY led which includes two Nanobox reef V3 led arrays. After figuring out my options I decided to order Arcadia T5 ULTRA SEAL LAMP CONTROLLER from my favourite aquarium web shop. Also ordered arcadia reflectors and two T5 24W tubes (ATI Actinic and Osram 67).

I did temporary fix for the light fixture and it came out about good. I need bigger frame to fit T5 tubes inside the lamp but this will work meanwhile. With reflectors I can limit the amount of light hitting out of the aquarium.

After running this few weeks it seems that coral coloration is getting better and the overall look is nicer. I do not how this work in the long run but it will be seen in the future.


Building the new WIFI & IOS controlled led light

For the new nano reef tank I decided to build new led light. The led light idea is based what I build for Fluval Edge diy led but instead of using led chips on star I ordered few Nanobox reef V3 arrays. I ordered two since I similar led chips on stars as well.

First I had to find good heatsink for the led. After spending few hour searching from ebay and other sites I ordered one from The heatsink dimension were 600mm x 140mm x 20mm. Fluval Edge heatsink was only 160mm x 90mm so there is plenty more cooling capacity in this heatsink. After a while I got an idea how to make enclosure to heatsink. I visited in painting/photo framing company and ordered empty frame with exact heatsink dimensions. I also ordered few plexiglass (white and transparent) with frame dimensions.

After ordering the enclosure items I started drawing the actual leds. I had chosen to make new tank aquascape with “two island” approach. That approach helped me with Nanobox Arrays placement. I wanted some shadows in the tank as well so that is why I have only 3 light sources with 4 channels of controllability.


Initial design of actual leds and spare holes.

After a drilling and tapping the heatsink I started the building process.



Nanobox reef V3 arrays are very nice. 


Arctic silver Ceramique 2 for heat trasfer between leds and heatsink.


Stainless steel bolts with nylon washers is used to secure leds on the heatsink


Led chips on star screwed in.

After some hours every led was in place and the heatsink was ready for soldering and wiring. The problem with soldering leds already attached to heatsink is the amount of heat needed to solder wires. So I cranked up my soldering station near to its limit and started soldering. I double checked every wire to ensure good quality attachment with the leds.


Wiring 4 channels of leds on star.

I also used wire covering tube much as I could.


Wires are covered with nylon tubes.

The Plexiglasses needed some drilling so I made drilling template. Next time I will not try to make holes by myself and order plexiglass from laser cut house.


Top plexiglass drilling template

The build uses 120mm cooling fan. I bought  Coolink SWiF2-120 fan and screwed it on the white plexiglass with metallic grill.


Cooling swift 120mm fan with fan speed control.


Rubber spacers were used to minimize vibration noise.

After some hours of soldering everything was in place. I used a bit modified version of my own electric imp based controller for driving leds. The led system uses 48v meanwell dc converter and only 4 channels is used (controller pcb have option for 5 drivers, but I will use it to different things in the future). I also placed one thermistor in the heatsink to measure enclosure temperature.


My diy electric imp based led controller/driver board.

The electric imp based controller needed little bit code changes as well the IOS app I have written to control whole thing. After few hours of tweaking the code the system was ready for testing.


Diy led enclosure without wires and hanging kit.



Diy led with WIFI and IOS app, first tests.

The led is very bright. I have to measure PAR’s in the future, but I think it will be enough for growing some nice corals. Light is quite even and I did not notice disco effect at all. Nanobox V3 arrays are awesome. Led chips on 20mm stars working quite nicely between these arrays and there is no noticeable difference between the coloration of the light.

Led light is secured by light hanging kit I got from a friend and the leds position can be changed easily.

After a few days of running led I can say the overall build is very good and the temperatures keep around 40c / 104f. The enclosure fan is dead silent.

Only thing I might replace is that top plexiglass with laser cut one to make light even more prettier. Also some wire covering need to be added since I run out of it when I was routing DC power to led controller.

And maybe some day I will replace leds on star with another Nanobox reef array or two (they are awesome and easy to install).


Modding the Tunze nano ATO

For the new Nano build I have Tunze Osmolator Nano 3152. It have only one float switch (its bigger brother (Tunze Osmolator Universal 3155) have float switch and optical sensor). I wanted my ATO have little bit security and redundancy. So I ordered typical float switch from fleabay and tried to wire two float switch in series. Problem with Tunze nano is that float switch operates in reverse. So when the water level is down the float switch shuts down and when the water level is correct the float switch is on. This is very weird decision by Tunze. I do not get this design because if the float switch wire is broken the water pump starts (and can cause flood in bad case). The ATO has 3 minutes safe guard which helps to prevent this problem but in small nanos and picos even 3 minutes running can be catastrophic situation. 


If the float switch wires are broken the pump turns on. Now it has little bit more security (added second sensor wires on top connector)

First thing to do was found out how to reverse operation of normal float switch.


Normal float switch. It is on when the floating device is down and it is off when the floating device is up.

This can be easily done by just rotating the float device upside down (not the float switch but the magnet part of the switch). Then it works like Tunzes one.


Normal ebay float switch taken a part. The float device direction changes switch operation direction as well.

So the case of wiring two float switch in series is out of the question, because then it would not work as needed. It would then be on if one of the float switches get stuck which I tried to avoid in first place. Answer is to wire them in parallel. When float switches are wired in parallel the pump is only running when both switches are in down position. If one of the switches stuck down the pump will close down when other float switch get up.

I also noticed that it is easy add another (or more) sensors just adding little plastic stick to original float switch holder.


After some soldering and testing the system is working again but now with some redundancy. Time will tell if this any good modification. But it still have the problem if the wire brokes down. I have not yet solved that part of the problem, but now there has to be two wires to be broken down before the pump starts if the float switches are in up position.




New nano

Lately I have been working on a new project and I have not got time to update this blog. The new project is new nano tank!

This time it is a custom job with all the bells and whistles. Its bigger, nicer and easier to maintain than the Fluval edge and maybe more automated in a long run. I will post my progress about this tank here as well.

It will take few more weeks to get this thing ready for rocks and sand. I will transfer my SPS and LPS from Fluval edge here and make Fluval edge more like a softies tank.

I have to say big thanks to staff at net store for great customer service and making this build possible.

Here are current details of project


  • Rimless 100cm x 40 cm x 40cm (39″ x 15″ x 15″) about 160 litres / 42 gal
  • Made of Pilkington Optiwhite glass and drilled for overflow
  • Small sump (56 Litres / 14 gal)
  • Maggie Muffler overflow silencer
  • 1″ pipingreef-2

Example of optiwhite glass:


Optiwhite vs normal glass



  • Based on Ikea Metod kitchen furiniture
  • Custom made top part
  • Steel enforced
  • Wide opening doors (156 degrees)
  • Ikea led lightning with door open switch


  • Dual Jebao RW-4 wave makers
  • Deltec SC 1351 skimmer
  • Tunze Nano ATO (modded)
  • Leakage alarms
  • Tunze Silence 1073.020 return pump
  • Diy led lights with same controller as Fluval Edge. Nanobox Array V3 led units from Nanobox Reef
  • Aquamedic Reef Doser Evo 4 for balling
  • Custom Raspberry Pi based controller (on the works)
  • Nexa wireless power sockets (controller by RPI)


  • Rock base going to be: Real Reef Rock 4th version
  • Caribsea Ocean Direct Oolite sand
  • Tropic Marin Bio-Actif sea salt
  • Tropic Marin original balling with trace elements A & K


PCB models

Here are the first versions of Electric imp LDD board I have been designing. First version uses two different power sources (one for Imp and second for Led string). Second version uses only one DC power input. If somebody out there is kind enough to point my errors on design since these are my first ever custom pcb’s. Size is about 10cm x 7cm and they are made with eagle. First design is based on my current setup and second one is similar but with internal voltage regulation.

Electric imp and the led controlling

While ago I finished new Led controller prototype and the app which controls the controller. So I upgraded my Light controller yesterday. Arduino was replaced by Electric imp device (bought one from adafruit) . This is prototype breadboard but it will be replaced with custom made pcb soon as I have time to draw everything with eagle (board will include LDD drivers, parts needed for Onewire temperature sensors etc). The controller is wifi enabled and it is coupled by IOS app that shows reef temperature and allows users to change lightning ratios during the day and lightning modes. Software and IOS app (iphone and ipad) is custom made and allows me to add more functionality to system easily. Now it uses 4 channels for leds and 2 channels for Onewire temperature sensor.  I will make new version of the pcb which uses only 1 channel for temperatures and allow 5 channels for lights.

This controller is quite similar than real product by bluefish but my system allows temperature logging as well.

In the future I will add more functionalities to the system like :

  • Storm/lightning/clouds
  • Date part timing changes (e.g. you can control how long noon lasts)
  • Additional status information
  • More lightning modes
  • Real moon light for moon lights
  • Real weather data from selected reef
  • bug fixes 🙂