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Old 11-17-2005, 07:27 PM   #1
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Custom canopy and lighting

I posted this in the wrong fourm (duh ) and didnt get many responses. Perhaps this is the correct place to post this so here goes any and all help is greatly appreciated!!

Ok, I am new here and from what I have read so far from all the posts there is a ton of very useful information here and alot of people that most likely know alot more about reef setups and lighting setups that I. Therefore I turn to you folks here for advice tips or anything else you might be able to provide for what I feel is a big project that I am fixing to undertake. I'll try to get all the relevant information here but if I dont, smack me a bit and I will get it posted ASAP. Ok, enough rambling.


I have a 46 gallon bowfront tank which is setup for a reef. It had a set of SHO straight pin 55 watt lights and a set of 36" normal Actinic flourescents. Well, the ballasts in the light strips finally kicked the bucket and I am replacing them all with the following ballast http://www.atlantalightbulbs.com/eca...=120V+128W+MAX


So, while I was doing all this, I thought I would go ahead and attempt to make a custom canopy with the lights installed into it. Bear with me for I have no diagrams or pictures except for what is in my head. It of course will be the same shape as the tank and I am thinking about making it 8 inches tall. Havent really chosen what type of lumber yet. The lid will be hinged and will cover the top of the canopy except for a 2 inch strip that will run the length of the back of the tank.

Now, for the first of I'm sure will be many questions. Do I still need to have the glass lid directly over the water or will the lights and fixtures be ok "exposed" to the water without the glass top? The ballasts will be mounted inside a "trough" so to speak that will run the length of the tank and will have 2 120v 80mm fans installed at both ends for cooling ( one intake and one exhaust). This "trough" will also be sealed when the canopy lid is shut to keep the ballasts and wiring from being exposed to the elements. Each set of lights (SHO, flourescents, and LED's) will also have its own power cord so that each set can be put on its own timer.

Also, I am going to fabricate my own "Lunar Light" system out of some blue (or another color that may be better??) LED's. My question on that is, what brightness LED should be used? I know that the wavelength needs to be something like 470nm but what mcd should the LED's be? 5000, 7000 or 10,000?

Well I guess thats all my questions for now. I will try to get some pictures posted when I get started rolling with this thing. I know that was alot to read and probably confused more than it enlightened, but if I left any information out just let me know and I will get it in here as quick as possible. Thanks for all your help!!
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Old 12-02-2005, 11:37 PM   #2
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WOW, I know this is a kinda long post and all but I cant believe noone can or is willing to read it and answer 2 questions!
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Old 12-02-2005, 11:58 PM   #3
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I would answer you question if I could, but I myself am fairly new to the who lighting systems thing. I think that you may want to consider some type of acrylic/glass to make a barrier between your lights and the water, as well as the addition of a fan to get air moving under your lights for cool down. Good Luck!
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Old 12-03-2005, 12:09 AM   #4
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The thing to remember Jester, is that many people are not always on the site. Also, depending on the type of questions, it can take "some time" before someone knowledgeable enough can give you a answer.

As for the ballast you are mentionning, it appears that "it could" do the job, but I am not an electrician. Whenever you have a power rating, always leave some "elbow room". So, that ballast is rated for 128 watts max, and you could fire up two 55 watt tubes. It is a logical estimate, but the question is can it perform as well as the original equipment.

As for the LEDs, their output is determined by two factors, the current going through them and their size. If I recall correctly, the higher the rating the bluer the light. You can experiment to see what will please your eyes. On a side note, someone here has already worked on this matter. See the thread here:

http://aquariumadvice.com/viewtopic.php?t=29498

As for the light clearance, I think that 8 inches would be the minimum distance between the tubes and water surface.

Anyhoo, welcome to the site and happy DIY.

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Old 12-03-2005, 12:11 AM   #5
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Oh! One more thing! If you build an enclosure/canopy, you should not use a glass cover, it will reduce the air exchange on the surface. Your canopy should do the job at preventing your fishes from going carpet surfing.

Have fun!

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Old 12-05-2005, 07:34 PM   #6
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Cool, well thanks alot for the replies. I have worked on this thing all day today and I have some pics that hopefully you all will like. Its turned out pretty good in my opinion based on my limited woodworking skills and tools. Also, i have decided to remote mount the ballasts for my lights in a NEMA enclosure mounted to the back of the tanks stand. It will include 2 80mm fans to keep the ballasts cool. Also thinking of getting maybe 2 120mm fans to blow some air around inside the canopy to help pull out some of the heat generated by the lights. Well, here are some pics and I will post more when i start to seal it and paint it. The outside will be satin black and the inside will be a high gloss enamel white. Enjoy!!









PS Looks like after the light fixture is mounted inside the canopy that the lights are going to be about 5-6 inches above the water, think that will be alright with no glass top on the tank?? Will post pics of the fixture mounted soon.
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Old 12-06-2005, 12:22 AM   #7
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If the fixtures are water resistant you'd prolly be ok... personally I worry about corosion and what not, and prefer a barrier of some kind.... at least for all the soldered/wire nutted connections.

Acrylic is cheap enough, and fairly easy to work with IME- hard to say what would work for you w/o seeing the fixture.

Looks VERY nice on the outside-must have been fun bending something for the bowfront like that!
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Old 12-06-2005, 08:38 AM   #8
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Lol, thanks. Well the actuall wiring for the fixtures will be enclosed in a sealed section of the canopy, so the only thing really exposed would be the "tombstones" for the fluorescents and the SHO lights.

As far as bending that piece for the front. I originally bought a 2'x4'x1/8" piece of oak that was already bowed some. When i laid across the front it didnt like much so I took a roll of clear packing tape and started on one side after glueing it and got it down really tight with the tape. Afterwards a few finishing nails to help hold in it place and bingo!! I was originally worried aobut that part too. More pics coming soon!
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Old 12-06-2005, 09:03 AM   #9
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Ok, just got some new pics of the lighting fixture. Remeber this is only "dried in" and will have a few extras when it is finished. The reflector and the SHO plugs are out of a Perfecto 36" SHO light strip. I pulled it out and flattened the sides out to make room for the NO fluorescents. All, the parts used for this thing are used from the old light strips that i had that the ballast burned out it (no sense buying new when you can reuse it right? ) The bottom pic shows where the placement of 10 3000mcd blue LED's will be. ENjoy!




This one will give you an idea of about how far above the water the lights will be.....


And the LED placement.......


One more opinion from you folks if you dont mind. As of right now the light fixture is going to have 2 55watt 12000k compacts and 2 30watt Actinic03's in it. Does that sound like a good combinations to you guys?
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Old 12-11-2005, 06:21 AM   #10
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sounds like a decent bulb setup for softies..
it might look a little extra "blue" for some (not many out there that dont like blue.. heh)

as far as the ballast goes.. it can handle a maximum load of 128 watts (usually 4 32 watt power leads).. from the sounds of it you might have a few more watts then that in your setup.. (some of the old and some of the new cheap pre-fab inclosures underpowered CF bulbs so you might not be able to tell the diffence) but you might be able to squeeze a little more light out of those bulbs with ballasts that had more juice.. (not a electritian just an avid lighting reasearch nut)

from looking at your link the ballast looks to be the "L"ong version of the Fulham Work Horse 5 ballast.. thats were Im getting the four 32 watt bulb assumption from.. the power leads can be combined to power more powerfull bulbs.. but right off hand you have two bulbs what would need a pair of leads to get up over there spec. output that would leave the other two bulbs unpowered.. if all bulbs are hooked up to the ballast you would at least have two (or more) bulbs underpowered..
HTH
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