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).


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.

Arduino led controller sunrise video

Diy arduino Led controller sunrise test video. Maco timelapse of zoa corals wake up.

The sunrise starts from zero and will add 7% power to Royal Blue leds and few % for white leds. This happens in two hour period. After that the other leds will be ramped up (Royal blues: 63%, whites 55% and Green and Cyan to 51%) in one hour time. Then leds are kept in these levels 6 more hours and then system starts to leveling them down (same way as sunrise).

Today I had to change measure PAR levels and spectrum distribution of DIY led I build for the pico reef. It seems that there is quite much power under the fixture. Of course there is massive falloff to left and right side. I think the fixture can handle some SPS corals if positioned correctly. I used Seneye device to run measurements and it was taken without water on the tank (so there is some reduction of PAR levels when water is in the tank).

Diy led part 4

Finally I got everything together. Heatsink temperature is at 100% light under 50c. I might put fan into hood but I have to check how to control it from arduino first.

Control unit. Aluminium enclosure from ebay (few usd).

Everything packed into plastic box from Ikea. Its little bit messy, but it should work just fine. I can update software easily.

Another shot from ikea box.

And the light unit for Fluval Edge..  The Splash guard is still in the works. This will replace the fluval edge own lights. Metal clips keep the light in place under the fluval edge hood.

Now it is time to start building actual reef…:) (few more weeks before I can purchase live rock).